10 Days of #100happydays

A good friend of mine jumped at the chance for #100happydays early. She’s almost done! And I hesitated for a long time – I didn’t want another project that I was sure to drop, especially when days got hard. Seeing more people join in, though, and seeing all their happy things? I caught the happy bug and now it’s been ten days of happy things. I have to say, there is something wonderful about planning ahead, picking the one thing that represents the things that made you happy that day. The best days are when you can’t pick what to do. There are the days where it’s a struggle, but I’ve been making myself go out and find a happy thing. I think this little project is doing what it’s meant to.

100happydays1. “Take Me to Church” by Hozier – I started #100happydays at about 9PM when the only thing making me happy was curling up into bed and going to sleep. Oh, and listening to this song on repeat.

2. A rose! When I was in college, I often passed by a florist on my way home from studying in a coffee shop. I would buy just one flower for a dollar or two and put it in an Orangina bottle on my desk. We were walking through Queens when I decided I wanted to do that again. Michael bought me this rose and I put it in a Cheerwine bottle and it’s living on our kitchen table.

3. “Pulaski At Night” by Andrew Bird – I used to listen to Andrew Bird all the time, but I didn’t fall in love with his last few albums and he sort of fell off my radar. Until I heard “Pulaski At Night” in the first episode of season 2 of Orange is the New Black. Hearing that song was like coming home. Needless to say, it’s been on repeat since. I’m only allowing myself one music post a week, though, because otherwise it feels like cheating. I’m not REALLY taking a picture of anything, just a screenshot.

4. Homemade Strawberry Popsicles – Last year Michael and I went crazy with our ice cream machine, which was awesome because homemade ice cream is infinitely better than the store stuff, unless you’re getting it at a small-batch ice cream shop (yes, I just got a little ice cream snobby – don’t get me wrong, pretty much all ice cream is good, but some ice cream is better than others). This year, though, we went a little bit lower maintenance and bought a popsicle mold. These were the first ones! And they’re delicious and so easy it’s silly. Just pour lemonade into the mold about 3/4 full, slice up some strawberries, freeze.

5. My best friend and college roommate (remember when we went to Luray Caverns together? #tbt) sent me a postcard with our cute faces on it. I immediately put it on my cube bulletin board of love, filled with post cards, birthday cards, photos of me and Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Galentine’s Day cards, and pictures from my calendars that I like enough to stick on the wall. It makes me happy to look at every day.

6. Finally, ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream, because it was a crappy day and this made it infinitely better. Plus a cameo from spiderman.

Not pictured: Some amazing times with friends (I don’t want to post these pictures without asking! They know the photo is up on Instagram, and that’s one thing, but I’d prefer asking them all before I posted it on the blog) and Thursday night’s #100happydays, which will almost certainly be a picture of The Three, because I can’t put it down at all.

 

On repeat this week.

The Family Crest – Beneath the Brine

I discovered the band The Family Crest listening to a radio station and I’m so happy I did because Beneath the Brine has been my go-to album this week. I love the song “Beneath the Brine,” but also “She Knows My Name” and “Love Don’t Go” and “Howl.” Beyond just being a great album, I love the story behind the band of two musicians who wanted something different and something they could be proud of, so they called up all their musician friends that they knew, and all the musician friends they knew and asked everyone to contribute to the album. There are something like 400 musicians who added instrumentation or back up vocals, with recordings done in living rooms, cafes, and churches around the country. You would think that would make the album sound disjointed, but it doesn’t at all. Every song sounds a little bit different, but in the best way.

Kishi Bashi – 151a

Something between Andrew Bird and Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett, with some Sufjan Stevens thrown in there, so you know, those are pretty much magic words to 2008-Lu. This album at once feels fresh and nostalgic, plus he’s from my home town, so I’m excited to support someone local! Like The Family Crest, every song sounds just a little bit different and Kishi Bashi is hard to pin down, hard to define, but that’s how I like it. Unlike The Family Crest, Kishi Bashi is just one guy and I don’t even understand how that’s possible. My favorite song on the album is probably “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me” but I think you’ll all really like “Manchester.” It’s the song that got me hooked on the album. Like Owen Pallett, it’s just so cool to see him in action, layering sounds by himself to make it sound like there’s a huge band behind him when it’s really just him making music on a loop. I’m absurdly excited to see him do this all live in a few weeks!

Stromae – Racine carré

I’m so thankful for tumblr for introducing me to Stromae and his crazy cool videos, but also his infectious songs. Sometimes it feels like it’s so hard to discover awesome international music, Stromae is Belgian and his songs are all in French, and this is a good reminder that I just need to try harder. I’m constantly looking for translations of Stromae’s songs when I listen, because he’s so good at communicating what’s going on in his videos and I feel like he has such interesting things to say. Plus it sounds pretty good, too.

Jamestown Revival – The California EP

“California (Cast Iron Soul)” has lovely lyrics with perfect harmonies and a great sound. And honestly that’s all you really need to know.

The season finale of Once Upon A Time

Okay, I know this isn’t a song. But I just wanted to talk about for a second how incredible I thought the 2-hour season finale was. If you haven’t watched it yet, spoilers below! You’ve been warned!

First – TIME TRAVEL. Have I mentioned how much I love time travel stories? No? Well I do. I really liked X-Men First Class, it got me into the X-Men stories in a way I’ve never cared about, but I’m absurdly excited for Days of Future Past because, obviously, TIME TRAVEL!!! I mean, obviously someone had to go back in time after every character except Zelena pretty much said that it was impossible, but I was so glad it was Hook & Emma. It was light-hearted, even among the changing-the-past drama, which was really needed, especially for Emma’s character. Plus, I’m pretty happy with Hook & Emma hanging out.

I’m also super into Regina & Robin Hood. I’m not a big shipper, I’ve just never gotten seriously invested in a couple, but I like Good Regina (though I sorely miss Evil Regina’s outfits) and I think Robin is just so wonderful, and I like them together. I knew that something horrible was going to happen at the end of this finale and I there is a moment 3/4 of the way through when everyone is happy. Robin & Regina are hanging out, Regina is getting to know Roland. Marian, as in Robin Hood and Maid Marian, is back!  I also had a hard time believing that Robin would have ever forgiven Regina for executing Marian, unless they’re going with he just didn’t know that that’s how she died, but I have a hard time believing that as well. This was my least favorite part of the episode because that just didn’t add up for me. It makes no sense! (Okay, after I wrote this up, I read that Robin DID NOT know that Regina executed Marian. So, all is well for continuity and logic etc.) I am, however, very happy that Roland has his mom back and Robin Hood his first true love. And I am kind of interested to see where this leads Regina, but at the same time… man, I am going to miss Happy Regina. The show runners are promising that this isn’t a return to evil Regina. That she’s grown and we’re going to get to see how she reacts to this as a new person.

Then that ending! I love that Once Upon A Time has so much story to play with. I think it’s interesting that they’re bringing in a character that’s so recent and I cannot wait to see where they go with it.

What’s on repeat for you this week?

Music for your winter blues, part 2

songs

 

Part one was about songs that let you escape winter and the cold and relive long summer drives with the windows open, but sometimes that’s not what I want. Sometimes all I want is to wallow in my winter blues, to listen to songs that reflect the dreariness outside. Here’s that list.

music 1

Acts of Man / Frightened Rabbit / Pedestrian Verse – “I’m here, I’m here, not heroic but I try” – There comes  a moment every winter when it feels like I’ve just had enough and nothing could accurately express how done am, but the anger, frustration, exhaustion that comes across in Frightened Rabbit’s lyrics does. Bonus track: Keep Yourself Warm.

Gravity / Sara Bareilles / Little Voice – “No matter what I say or do/I still feel you here until the moment I’m gone” – Sometimes winter songs are just sad songs. This is one of my go-to sad songs, but with Sara Bareilles’s smart lyrics and beautiful voice it’s one that’s worth listening to again and again.

Retrograde / James Blake / Overgrown – “You’re on your own/In a world you’ve grown” – James Blake’s soulful voice screams winter to me.

music 3

Human / Daughter / If You Leave – “Underneath the skin there’s a human/buried deep within there’s a human/and despite everything I’m still human/but I think I’m dying here” – Dreamy vocals and lyrics like poetry, plus a beat that’s just a little bit faster than the other songs on this list.

Holocene / Bon Iver / Bon Iver – “And at once I knew I was not magnificent” – It was not a question of if Bon Iver would be on this list so much as which song and can I include more than one. I never thought I could love a song off of Bon Iver’s second eponymous album as much as his debut, which included the forever-on-repeat “Skinny Love,” but “Holocene” is almost as frequently on repeat in my house.

Norman’s Walk / Jon Brion / ParaNorman Soundtrack – On one level, this is just another opportunity for me to tell you to PLEASE go watch ParaNorman because you will adore it, but also the music is just so lovely and I especially love this song and there are plenty of winter mornings when I don’t want to listen to songs that have words that tell me how to feel. I’m very cranky on winter mornings. Bonus tracks: “Intro” by The xx and “Bom Bom” by Macklemore (featuring The Teaching).

 

Music for your winter blues.

songs

 

I know the winter blues are hitting hard this year, if my own mental state is any indication. I’m sick of snow and cold like I’ve never been before and I’ve been gobbling up books set on lush farms in warm summers. I’ve been alternating between two playlists, one of songs that let me wallow in the cold and the winter sad and another that helps me fight it with songs that sound like spring and summer. This post on Lady Business inspired me to share my two lists with you. The first list are songs that make me forget that I don’t know what above freezing feels like.

album art 1

Shapeshifters / Sam Roberts Band / Lo-Fantasy – “It’ll be all right in the morning/try to keep them fires burning/when the sun did rise everybody was gone you were far from home/you were on your own” – Breezy and summery, just like their album cover, with a beat that lifts even the worst cold-weather mood.

Oceans / Coasts / Oceans – “We fell in love/right by the ocean/made all our plans/down on the sand” – Coasts’ harmonies and the beach setting of this song make it perfect to escape all the snow.

On Paper / Arkells / Michigan Left – “But on paper, I could write it out for you/On paper, I could draw you a picture/On paper, I could finish a story with any ending you please” – I could have picked any of the songs from the Michigan Left album by Arkells. This album has been on heavy rotation all winter. The sound is a little bit harder than Sam Roberts Band or Coasts, so if that is more your thing, check out Arkells.

music 2

Mountain Sound / Of Monsters & Men / My Head is An Animal – “Alone we traveled on/With nothing but a shadow/We fled, far away” – Whenever I need a song that’s going to immediately lift my mood, I pull up My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men. Even though it seems like its been everywhere (in movie trailers and commercials and on the radio), I still can’t get enough.

Danza Kuduro / Don Omar / Meet the Orphans – “Con las manos arriba, cintura sola/Da media vuelta, Danza Kuduro/No te canses ahora que esto solo empieza” – If I am in a bad mood and I need a song to immediately get me up and dancing or excited for a trek through the snow, this is the song.

Forever / Haim / Days Are Gone – “Forever I’ll see you and me/Forever I’ll try for you and I.” – Whenever I make a list like this I’m always attached to the song I had on repeat the previous summer, and this is the one.

1. The xx

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How impossible is it to describe a concert experience? I’ll never be able to write down exactly how I felt when I saw The xx live at Radio City Music Hall on September 24. I remember hearing The xx for the first time on the radio back in 2009 and feeling like the song was “nice.” And, invariably, when I play an xx song for people, trying to get them to understand, their first reaction is often well, that was pleasant. I don’t know enough about music to tell you why it’s so much more than pleasant, but I’d like to sit everyone down to listen to one of The xx’s songs on repeat  until they hear what I hear.

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The first thing I noticed about The xx was the combination of voices. Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft’s voices are perfect together. Her voice is clear and his is gravely and as much as I love the songs they sing alone, their chemistry is really what makes it all work for me. Then there is the actual sound. It’s deceptively quiet music. It’s music that doesn’t really seem to take up a lot of room at first. And, then, I don’t know, suddenly it’s bigger. I enjoyed watching Jamie xx on stage as much as I did Madley-Croft and Sim and it really made me appreciate his role in the trio.

2013-09-24 19.08.20

I enjoy their first album, but I really fell in love with The xx with Coexist. Last October, when I first got my new phone, it was the only album I bothered to download. Every subway ride was nothing but The xx. I guess, you get it, I really love The xx. This was going to be a great concert no matter what. How do you talk about music without sounding like I am a better fan than youI listened to Coexist more times than you? How do you talk about music at all? Music is something of a mystery to me. I can play very basic stuff on the piano and read very basic music, but I always had a hard time hearing what my music teacher was trying to explain. When I am listening to music, I know what I like, but I rarely know why. That’s why this isn’t a review and why it could never be a review. This is just a love letter.

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I guess if you twisted my arm and I had to give one criticism it would be the lights. They were intense. And while it produced amazing pictures like this one, it was also a bit blinding. But this is another credit to how amazing the show was: I stopped caring that I was blinded by a spotlight and just listened. And danced. And sang along. I was amazed at how they played with tempo and also fascinated by Sim’s weird, almost slow motion dance moves. When they came out for their encore and began playing “Intro” was the moment of the whole concert and the moment I didn’t want it to all end. I knew that, soon, we would all be leaving Radio City and I had no idea what I would do when it was over.

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I feel a kind of sadness now that it is over. I will see The xx again (though not anytime soon, since they aren’t touring in the US anymore this year), but it will never again be this particular concert. Which seems so obvious now that I’ve typed it out, but I’d like to go back and experience it all again if only I could. There is something amazing about being in a huge room full of thousands of people who are scream-at-the-top-of-their-lungs in love with the same thing you are. Everything, from the ice cream we got before the concert to the halal truck after, to every single beat in between, was perfect. There are only so many times in life when the thing you are looking forward to far surpasses all of your expectations.

 

Things I Have Loved Recently

For a few reasons, the past month has been one that has felt like a roller coaster. Good things happen and then bad and in between, a whole lot of smooth and steady. I blog mostly on the weekends, so being out of town a lot makes it difficult, but I’m trying to be more organized. (When am I not trying to be more organized?) I thought I might tell you about a few things that I have loved recently, things that are making my days brighter and better, just because they exist. We all need a few of those, right?

Music

Concerts – I am going to see The xx in September. I am not sure I have listened to any other band or musician as much as The xx in the past few years. I think they are perfect and I haven’t been this excited for a show in a long time. I’ve heard they are amazing live.

Songs – “The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES, “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Lightning Bolt” and “Note To Self” by Jake Bugg, “Believer” by American Authors, “Breezeblocks” by Alt J, “Faithful Heights” by NIght Beds, “Synesthesia” by Andrew MacMahon

Albums – Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Movies

So, a few years ago, Michael and I were looking for something to do. How to Train Your Dragon was playing at our local $1 movie theater, so we took my little sister, thinking it would be a fun afternoon. Except I’m pretty sure I loved the movie more than my sister did. I’ve seen it a few times since then and every time I love it even more. It’s funny and beautifully drawn and heartwarming. Anyway, the trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 was released this week and I just keep watching it again and again. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. Just so perfect!

ParaNorman – Did you tell me to watch this? Because if you did, I’m so sorry I ignored you. You haven’t seen ParaNorman yet? What are you waiting for?! I have a predisposition to love ghost stories, and awesome sidekicks who steal the show, and siblings, and autumn, and John Goodman, but honestly. If you like any of those things, or just a few of them, ParaNorman is on Netflix Instant and you are missing out by not watching this.

Television

Gravity Falls – After I watched ParaNorman and stalked the tumblr tags, I noticed a lot of comparisons to Gravity Falls. Michael and I have watched a few episodes now and it is hilarious. Mabel is the 12-year-old I wish I was. See all of the above things that I love (except for John Goodman) and you also have Gravity Falls.

I’m definitely missing the shows that I watched during the winter, especially Supernatural and Nashville. I also finished my first watch of Buffy and Game of Thrones S2, so I don’t really have a show that I’m watching whenever I have a spare 50 minutes. Do you have any suggestions? I prefer something that is available on Netflix Instant or Hulu+!

Books

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo – I listened to this on audio and I loved it. I can’t wait to read the sequel! It always feels so good to get completely lost in a fantasy world that you buy into entirely and that’s how I felt about Shadow & Bone.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – One of my favorite listens this year was The Raven Boys and this book was my most-coveted galley at BEA. Thanks to the amazing Memory, I was able to get a copy. I’m reading it now and it is living up to everything, though I certainly miss having Will Patton read it to me. I will be downloading the audiobook as soon as it is available.

Tumblr

It’s true, I’ve been neglecting most other corners of the internet for tumblr, and I’ve been thinking a lot about why. I suppose there might be a whole post in here, but tumblr gives me a space to just love things. I do not need to comment on it, though I can if I want to. It’s just a space that is full of the things I love. Lately, that’s been exactly what I need. I don’t think it could ever sustain me as my only way of blogging or staying connected, it’s too specific for that, but as a tool to share the things I love and discover new things (like Gravity Falls, for example!), it’s just what the doctor ordered.

What have you loved lately?

January 5 – Listen to new music

Over my trip home to my mom’s, my mom started going through my closet. My mom is turning my old room into an office, but it hasn’t really looked like my college room since I moved. I took my futon with me to my apartment and most of my stuff, but I do still have a closet of, well, mostly books. Come on, you know me. Anyway, she was organizing the room to be her office and she pulled out my huge sleeve of CDs. I mean huge. Michael and I decided to go through them and take a quick walk down memory lane.

We came out of it with one conclusion: we were way cooler in high school. I guess it was mostly that I didn’t know what I liked, so I bought CDs without ever hearing a word and later I combed music blogs for songs and new bands. I would listen to them over and over again before I made up my mind. It was a mishmash of popular music and middle of the road indie stuff and some way obscure bands that I listened to for one of two reasons: I genuinely liked them or I wanted to be cool. But that’s what being in high school and college is. Some stuff you do just for appearances sake and then find out that you really like it. Or the other way around.

Now, I have more of an idea of what I like. I don’t spend time, and don’t have time, to pour through hours of music and pages of music blogs to find the music I like because I made a choice: I decided to do that with books instead. And that’s okay. I’m still totally happy with that decision.

Unfortunately, that also means that my music player is a little boring at the moment. It’s a lot of Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, The XX, and Alabama Shakes on repeat. And that’s totally fine because I love those bands, but today Michael and I decided to do the opposite of going through my old CDs. We went through best of music lists, got a free trial of xBox music (which is kind of like Spotify) and we started listening.

I know what I like, sure. I’m also missing a lot of good music because I’m boxed in. I listen to what’s easy. What’s playing on my favorite satellite radio or my Pandora station. Today I was a little bit more proactive and happier for it. All these thoughts are based off of one or two listens this afternoon, so my opinions are certainly subject to change, but I have a feeling I’m going to be listening these albums a lot in 2013. You know, just a year behind everyone else. Here’s what I listened to:

Macklemore & Ryan LewisThe Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – You might have heard Macklemore’s song “Same Love” when it was making the rounds on Tumblr and Twitter a few months ago. I listened to this album in its entirety today and I really enjoyed it. It’s socially conscious hip hop that blends in all sorts of different music styles and guest artists.

Favorite songs: “Can’t Hold Us” featuring Ray Dalton, “Thin Line” featuring Buffalo Madonna, and “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert

 

purity ring shrinesShrines by Purity Ring – Synthy goodness: two words that perfectly sum up how I feel about Purity Ring and their debut album Shrines. I’m a little bit obsessed with the song “Fineshrine.” I love  the lyrics, the music, and the title. I wonder how well this one will hold up, because all the songs are somewhat similar, but it’s a sound that I really like, so I’m not horribly worried about it. If nothing else, “Fineshrine” and possibly “Ungirthed” will get heavy rotation. Then again, I felt a similar way about The XX when I first started listening to them and they’re one of my favorite bands now.

Favorite songs: “Fineshrine,” “Ungirthed” and “Belispeak”

now now threads

Threads by Now, Now – When I first started listening to Threads by Now, Now, I wasn’t in love. I liked the first song just fine, but it wasn’t something I could really see myself listening to over and over again. But then the next song came on and it was different. And then next song was a little bit different from that one. Each song was a surprise in a way and really just excellent songs. In some ways, I wonder how many people will turn away from Now, Now because of the album’s slow burn beginning, but then again, that transition to the second song is just great.

Favorite song: “Oh. Hi.”

cat power sunSun by Cat Power – I wasn’t planning on including any albums on this list by artists I had listened to before tonight and Cat Power had a place in that collection of high school CDs. I won’t say that I was in love with Cat Power, but I like her well enough. So I clicked on her new album just to see and I really loved the first song. A listen or two to a few others and I was hooked. Sun is definitely going to be in the  rotation this year. And since I haven’t listened to Cat Power since a Bush was president, let’s just say she belongs on this list as a rediscovered favorite.

Favorites: “Cherokee” and “Manhattan”

Have a sufficiently rebelled against the guitar-driven folk-rock I’ve been listening to nonstop for the past year or so? I’m not leaving that behind, but it’s good to have a little variety. There’s a lot more that I listened to that I’m not quite sure about yet. I’m going to be giving them all a few more listens, especially A Different Ship by Here We Go Magic and Milk Famous by White Rabbits.

I feel good about all the new and new-old music I discovered today. It feels good to listen to something new and to do something I don’t really give myself the chance to do. That’s what the whole goal of this month is!

What about you? What was your 2012 music bandwagon that I should have hopped on a long time ago?