Nature of Me – Michael Greilsammer

A particularly touching sub-genre of love songs is the love song from a father to his spouse once they’ve had children. The Nature Of Me is one of these – it’s got a quality to it that is at once anthemic and intimate, and Michael’s wife and long term musical collaborator Shimrit features on backing vocals.

You might remember Michael and Shimrit from the Israeli national Eurovision final in 2011, where they delighted us with Tou Dou Dou. If you don’t remember that, you should definitely check it out. In fact, check out all his work, it’s delightful.

Michael has a website. 

Michael is on Facebook.






Driving Under Stars – Marika Hackman

It can’t have escaped your notice that it’s now December and the statute of limitations on Christmas music is well and truly over.

Our first Listen Outside Christmas song is Driving Under Stars by Marika Hackman. It’s a real talk, mellow, non-cheery version of Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas. As we nomadic youth all make our way to wherever we’re spending the festive season, I think we’ll all feel what’s evoked in this song. There are jingle bells, but they’re deployed with the utmost taste. The song is from Marika’s Christmas EP which also features some lovely chill versions of traditional songs.

Marika Hackman has a website


Гісторыя майго жыцця – NAVI

It’s a busy week in Eurovision land. Yesterday, at roughly the same time as the very exciting Melodifestivalen launch the good people of Belarus were live-streaming their Eurovision national selection auditions. They give every single applicant a go in front of the cameras, resulting in high jinks and shenanigans as you can well imagine. You can watch them all if you’ve got 61 x 3 minutes to spare. Quality is varied.

NAVI are my pick of this year’s crop though – they are so joyous and their sound is so beautiful and accomplished that I can’t really see past them for the win. I trust that the people of Belarus will not let me down. It’s not their first time in the competition – last year was a similarly folky effort but it maybe lacked the frantic bounce of this year’s song?

Also, if you’re making your Christmas playlists can I suggest that you include their gorgeously snow-swept song Plakali Vetry in the mix.

In short, NAVI are great and we should get behind them even if it means going to Minsk in January. Especially if it means going to Minsk in January.


Ongeveer – Eefje de Visser

From the Netherlands, we have Eefje de Visser. She’s a singer/songwriter who won her section of Grote Prijs van Nederlands back in 2009 and since then has released three substantial albums full of emotional heft. This song, Ongeveer, is from her 2013 album Het Is and gives me all kinds of Suzanne Vega vibes – there are some extraordinary harmonic moments in the chorus and the overall mood of intimate reflection makes it sound like a long lost track from Solitude Standing. It’s superb.

Eefje has a website

Aline Reis – Johannina (Ladybug)

While we’re all drinking our fill of televised elite sports from Rio, let’s continue with some Brazilian music. This is the brand new debut album from Brazilian singer Aline Reis, who is a different Aline Reis from the woman who has been playing in goal for the Brazilian Olympic football team.

This is probably a bit more what you’d expect from Brazilian music than last night’s parody metal excesses. There are beautiful acoustic guitar parts, there is gently groovy Latin percussion and the whole thing has an air of hushed tropical celebration.

I haven’t found the web presence of Aline Reis (the singer) because Aline Reis (the goalkeeper) is algorithmically winning out at the moment. She used to be in a band called Saia Rodada, but now she’s gone solo. This is as much as I know [EDIT: I think it turns out that is a different Aline Reis who is a singer, I think this might be the equivalent of being called Rachel Smith in the UK].  Please enjoy.

[EDIT 2: We’ve heard from the woman herself! You can enjoy the album on Soundcloud too]

Aline Reis is on Facebook

Aline Reis is on Soundcloud


Game on! Mexico vs Germany

And we’re on Day 2 of sport in Rio, but we’ve still yet to see the opening ceremony. There are six games of football on tonight – the most intriguing of which is Fiji vs South Korea at midnight (imagine!) but the most Listen Outside match is Mexico vs Germany. I’ve developed a real soft spot for Mexico after doing an extended business trip there (it was the food that got me) and I’m really glad to have an excuse to listen to some Mexican indie.

For Mexico we have Natalia Lafourcade, who is a huge Grammy winning star and wonderful songwriter. Hasta la Raíz is her latest single, which is beloved enough to have a 1300 word wikipedia entry and is just absolutely gorgeous acoustic pop.

For Germany we have Sebastian Block, who is a former indie band member turned solo artist. I don’t think he’s the guy trying to attend the totally Pinteresty birthday party in the video, but I think he might be one of the chaps playing the guitar at the end. Either way, this is super cute and one of the nicest German language indie-pop songs I’ve heard in age

Which country had the better song? Mexico or Germany?

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Hasta la Ráis – Natalia Lafourcade [Dreamy acoustic pop]

Halb so schlimm – Sebastian Block [Adorable folk pop]


Friday’s Swedish Genius Special – Säkert and Hello Saferide

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Säkert or Hello Saferide yet you should get round to  it. I’ve been listening these acts for ages now, and this Friday night you could take the opportunity to get in on it too. Both of these bands are really the work of songwriter Annika Norlin. Her lyrics are frank, sweet, explicit, dark, hilarious, tragic and always sit beautifully on top of an adorable melody.

I love her work. A great introduction is probably the album “Säkert på engelska” which has great English language versions of wonderful songs (particularly The Lakes We Skate On, Can I, November, and Dancing, Though) or “Introducing Hello Saferide”  which is funnier, sadder and has more extreme stories – I particularly like Long Lost Penpal and My Best Friend on that record.

These are the kind of songs that you don’t ever totally forget, with tunes that you’ll find yourself humming years down the line. They’re the kind of highly specific but totally universal songs that you could give to a younger friend or relative as a guide to how adulthood is essentially a game of pretend.


Game on: Portugal vs Iceland

A bit of delightfully relaxing stuff this evening, after the full-on nature of Austria vs Hungary. In a first for Listen Outside, I’ve got a rather nice song from Portuguese band ÁTOA which is very chill, very different to what you’d expect from a Portuguese boy band. I’ve also got a lovely bit of acoustic pop from Icelandic band Ylja, which has gorgeous harmonies and can be recommended to those who like The Staves and First Aid Kit.

Which song was better? ÁTOA or Ylja?

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Distancia – ÁTOA [Very relaxed guitar pop from what I believe to be a boy band]

Út – Ylja [Beautiful harmonies and a bit of cosy/chilly Icelandic gloom]