Friday, January 9, 2015

Best Albums of 2014

2014 has gone and past, and I say good riddance. It was a real jerk of a year, and I'm crossing my fingers that 2015 will be better. 

However, despite 2014 being crap overall, there were a few good thing. Namely, the new music released. This was a great year for music. 

This was a year for self-titled albums, for some reason. It was a year for many, many sophomore albums. It was the release of my most favoritest album of possibly all time, and I found so many great new albums to love.

Here are my top ten eleven picks:

11. Ben Howard "I Forget Where We Were"

Definitely not as great as his first album, but still merit-worthy. It grows on you after some listening, I promise. My favorite track was this one:

10. FKA Twigs "LP1"

FKA Twigs has received quite a lot of hype this last year, and much deservedly. This is a brilliant album and if you, for some reason, have not heard it yet I wouldn't hesitate to give it a shot.

Favorite track:

9. St. Vincent "St. Vincent"

Same as FKA Twigs- very worthy of the hype. St.Vincent rocks my socks off. She's like a beautiful, female Hendrix (and you know how much I love Hendrix, so this is quite the compliment to her). Honestly though, this album is the cat's meow.

Favorite track:

8. The Fretless "The Fretless"

One of my favorite fiddle bands. I love these guys so very, very much. Maybe it's an acquired taste or I just love them because I play fiddle (I actually know the band personally- more on that here), but I think this album is gold.

Favorite track:

Also, I don't want to bore you with more fiddle music, but if you liked this then I would also recommend The East Pointers (who I also had a chance to take fiddle lessons from) who released a debut EP this year. Super great.

7. Wye Oak "Shriek"

Sort of like Hundred Waters meets St. Vincent. I love it. This notably guitar-less album stole its way into my heart on first listen, and there it has stayed.
Favorite track:

6. Samaris "Silkidranger"

Oh Samaris. There isn't enough time in the world to rant about how amazing you guys are. All the feels. (I wrote actual words about this album here if you're interested.)
Favorite track:

5. Cold Specks "Neuroplasticity"

Once again, this is an album that I have already reviewed on this here blog. Check that out here if you want to read about it, or, you know, just listen to it for a much better experience, overall. The album is quite good, I promise.
Favorite track:

4. Grouper "Ruins"

I am not letting myself listen to this album too much because I'm afraid its magic might wear off. It is a masterpiece. So beautiful and moving and marvelous and glowing. Like I said, magic.
Favorite track: All of them?

3. Alt-J "This Is All Yours"

I love alt-j. This one's maybe not quite as astounding as their debut, but this is still a damn good album. They've changed a lot, but they've still got it. There were tears the first time I listened to it (a little bit more on that here).
Favorite track:

2. Sylvan Esso "Sylvan Esso"

Just chanced upon these guys last month and I fell head over heels. Sooo good. I am still addicted to their album, and it's creeping up on my most-played list. As much as I love listening to their music, I almost love watching interviews with them more. They are just the coolest people in the world, and so much fun to watch live (only on Youtube, sadly. I haven't seen them live. (Yet.)).
Favorite song:

Also, this video is so worth your time to watch. I've seen it, like, 3 times so far.

1. Hundred Waters "The Moon Rang Like a Bell"

Sometimes the best things come to you in the most unpredictable circumstances. This album found me in my lowest of lows, and I grabbed onto it with two hands and I didn't let go.
Oh, this album. I love it more than words can express. The feelings. I'm pretty much choking up just thinking about everything this has gotten me through this year. It has been my best friend in an album, if that's a thing. This album speaks to me on a level I didn't even know existed. Favorite album of the year (maybe ever, I don't know) without any contest. All the stars and thumbs up in the universe.  
Favorite track:
Every last one of them.

I hope you enjoyed some of these picks as much as I do, and with that I am formally saying goodbye to 2014.
Here we come, new year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nothing Better

Everyone drop what you're doing and watch this video. It is positively breathtaking.

I seriously can't believe how good this is. Oh man.

 I mean, you can only imagine the sheer amount of talent and practice that goes into every single one of those musicians' lives. That kind of dedication is unbelievable, and the product is indescribable. This piece has got to be one of the most beautiful (and challenging) songs ever written.

Classical music seems to hit way harder and in a softer place than anything else, and sometimes we forget the power it has to manipulate our emotions when all else fails. I truly believe that it is the clearest reflection of the inside of a person's mind. And if it doesn't show the thoughts and feelings of the composer, conductor, and musicians then it will at least show you what you're thinking and feeling yourself.

So even if you aren't a big classical music listener, I think everyone should give it a shot. And don't just turn it on while you study or multitask- give it your undivided attention and see what comes of it. 
I can pretty much guarantee some soul-stirring.

...Okay, I'm off my rambling-box now. I just felt that it had to be said. 
Excuse me while I go watch that video again and again and cry about how amazing it is. 
One day...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

DIY Christmas Gifts: Mix Cds

Hello there! 

In an attempt to share with the world some of my go-to Christmas gift ideas, I'm going to embark on a series of DIY tutorial-thingies and show you all my heartfelt (if a little messy) presents I give people. I've never taken photos for or explained the process of any of my craft things, so just bear with me here. There's a first for everything.

First up, the mix cd! 

Made for my Canadian pen-pal, Janine.
Just kidding, it's Janelle. I'm not funny.

Who to give it to:

- That person you just became friends with recently and you have no idea what to get him/her
- Secret (or not-so-secret) crushes
- That person whose music taste is super similar to yours
- That person whose music taste is super different from yours
- Pen pals (that's who I make these for mostly)
- Really anyone who appreciates hand-made gifts and/or music (so basically everyone. This is a very versatile gift!)

What you'll need:

- A blank cd
- A few sheets of colored or plain cardstock paper
- Scissors
- Glue/tape/adhesive of any sort
- Ruler
- A handful of sharpies
- Stickers, glitter, collage pieces, goofy photos, washi tape, embellishment, ACCESSORIES! of any sort

How to do it:

(It's very easy.)

Step 1: Make a kick-ass playlist and burn it to a cd.

To be honest, this is probs the hardest part. Put a lot of thought into it- order is important! Think about who you're making it for, and don't just slop it together.

I like to make my playlists and mix cds as sort of an evolution- each song is related to the last, but not all songs fit in with the rest of the playlist. This makes for much more interesting listening, although it is a little time-consuming if you're like me and every song has to be perfect.

Scribe a cute little message on the front and you're good to go!

Step 2: Make the case

Next up, grab your paper, a ruler, and a pencil.
Using your cd as a reference for size, draw a square on a piece of cardstock.

....Then make little tab-y things on 3 of the 4 sides. Cut this out and fold the edges down.

Now use this square to trace a long rectangle on another sheet of paper. It should be the length of two of your tab-y squares. (Man, this is not easy to put into words)

Cut this out and fold it in half.

Next, put a line of glue/strip of tape on the bottom of your tabs and attach that sucker onto your long rectangle.

Tada! Your cd should fit in nicely

Step 3: Accessorize 

Here's the fun part. Grab some glitter, foil stars, sharpies, magazine cut-outs, pictures of your cat, and whatever else you want and go crazy folks!

Write the track list on the inside, scribble a little message, and you're done!

On the one I made today I drew a Triceratops:

But if you or your friend aren't into dinosaurs (for some bizzare reason), you can take all kinds of different approaches. Here's one I made for my friend Becca's birthday last month:

These are fun & easy to make, and I promise the recipient of this marvelous mix cd will love you forever.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The "Sexodus"

I have a serious problem with this article.
These men are trying to shut down the "social engineering project" of feminism (because women wanting to be treated with respect and, you know, NOT getting raped is some specifically formulated plot to take over the world) just because guys can't get away with their skeevy pick up lines and sleep with whoever they want- no, that's not okay. Just to make it clear, these guys are saying that feminism is a problem to guys because...

A. they can no longer have sex without consequence or consent 
B. now that women are doing better in society than ever before, these men have to actually try to keep up with progress (rather than dominating like they used to) 
C. "Nihilistic destruction is part of the feminist road map." (obviously. why else would women want to stop getting treated like dirt?) 
D. boys are being diagnosed with ADHD (an argument that, while posing a serious problem for our boys, is not directly linked to feminism)
E. it's now a source of embarrassment, thanks to feminism, for a boy to talk to a girl 
F. the new rules men are expected to live by are never clearly explained. (because it's so hard to figure out that women just want to be respected as fellow human beings)
G. "Women have been sending men mixed messages for the last few decades, leaving boys utterly confused about what they are supposed to represent to women"

......Oh, excuse me, I'm so sorry about your embarrassment and confusion and discomfort when over four million American women experience physical assault and/or rape by their partners every year. You're right, feminism is a problem and we should get rid of it.

This article poses some fair points about some problems that we are facing today, but you can't blame feminism for these things. Feminism is about equality and support for BOTH sexes- not female domination for no justifiable reason. I don't deny that some women take it too far, but if you look at the other side of the argument the statistics are enough to make any moral person sick. Three women are murdered every day by their partners. 1 in 4 women will be victims of severe violence by their partners in their life time. There is a disgustingly wide pay gap, and women just aren't viewed as equal to men no matter how you cut it.

The writers of this article obviously had skewed views of feminism. They are saying that it is about "driving a wedge between the sexes" when the whole basis of the movement was for both sexes to be seen as equal and united.

To end this rant, I would like to quote a sentence from this article:
"The young men who are struggling the most are conflicted because they are operating under the assumption that feminists are arguing in good faith," he says, "When in fact they are engaged in a zero-sum struggle for sexual, social, political and economic status—and they're winning."

I sincerely hope that people have enough sense to realize this is NOT what feminism is about.

"Feminism: (noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\) the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes"

And THAT is a direct quote.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Amorous Nostalgias

It's nearing midnight and I have a speech and debate meet tomorrow that I am woefully unprepared for and I think it's prime time to make a blog post, don't you?

Apologies for my last few posts, I haven't really been up on my game as of late. Too many thoughts, not enough words.

My life has been consisting of lots of poetry (Sylvia Plath and P.B. Shelley), black and white everything (clothes and otherwise), rap music (this is a new development), tons of violin playing (late at night, mostly), journalling my ass off (I will post on that soon), and filling up my days so I don't have to think about important things.

It's like, everything is really good right now compared to most of this past year, but it still kind of sucks, you know? I feel like there's got to be something more to this whole "life" business, but I am so trapped in this small town. Thank god for poetry.

Here's a poem that I particularly love by Sylvia Plath:

It is a chilly god, a god of shades,
Rises to the glass from his black fathoms.
At the window, those unborn, those undone
Assemble with the frail paleness of moths,
An envious phosphorescence in their wings.
Vermilions, bronzes, colors of the sun
In the coal fire will not wholly console them.
Imagine their deep hunger, deep as the dark
For the blood-heat that would ruddle or reclaim.
The glass mouth sucks blood-heat from my forefinger.
The old god dribbles, in return, his words.

The old god, too, writes aureate poetry
In tarnished modes, maundering among the wastes,
Fair chronicler of every foul declension.
Age, and ages of prose, have uncoiled
His talking whirlwind, abated his excessive temper
When words, like locusts, drummed the darkening air
And left the cobs to rattle, bitten clean.
Skies once wearing a blue, divine hauteur
Ravel above us, mistily descend,
Thickening with motes, to a marriage with the mire.

He hymns the rotten queen with saffron hair
Who has saltier aphrodisiacs
Than virgins' tears. That bawdy queen of death,
Her wormy couriers are at his bones.
Still he hymns juice of her, hot nectarine.
I see him, horny-skinned and tough, construe
What flinty pebbles the ploughblade upturns
As ponderable tokens of her love.
He, godly, doddering, spells
No succinct Gabriel from the letters here
But floridly, his amorous nostalgias.

Man, doesn't that just give you this chills? I just love spooky things, especially when the weather turns colder and the sky is gray and Rickie Lee Jones sleeps on my record player. 
I can't get enough of these cold gray afternoons. 

Here's what I've been listening to of late:

Reminiscing back on when I discovered Samaris and unlocked the secrets to life, the universe, and everything. (Okay, maybe not that far, but seriously, these guys are spectacular.) 

Oh, this song. Let me just kiss you on the face.

Loving this old one of James Blake. The title is so fitting- the whole song feels like someone holding their breath. It's brilliant.

I'm really liking Chance the Rapper, and this song seems so real to me. 

....Wow, talk about musical whiplash, my word.

Hopefully I can start putting words to my thoughts, but until then my blog might be a little bland. Who knows? I'm hoping to do a holiday gift series thing, so stay tuned for that. 

Man, I need sleep so badly right now. 

I'm out. 

....oh wait, I'm not out. Look at this:

Okay, now I'm out. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In Dreams I'm Moving Through Heavy Water

{I'm not feeling very creative and I don't have much to say}

Isn't this picture beautiful? 

And isn't this song mesmerizing?

{That's all} 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gets Me Every Time

For a few days, I was feeling really down in the dumps. I'm talking ignoring everyone, taking long night drives, wallowing in my bedroom, thinking nonstop about depressing things. It was rough, but I didn't even notice until I got out of it.

And what got me out of it was this:

(In episode 2 he punches a cougar. Check it out)

It's actually one of the stupidest things I've ever seen, but it made me laugh. And when I let myself laugh something snapped back into place. Obviously none of my problems were fixed by this stupid video, but it was like I was waking up from a really dull dream that I thought was reality.

And it just went to remind me of the (often overlooked) importance of humor in our lives. I'm not going to go into the science of it (although you can check out here, here, and here for some good articles on it) because I think we can all agree that humor makes us happy (duh). But I do want to share with you some knee-slappers that never fail to crack me up. I hope they make you laugh, too:

Garfunkel and Oates:

Oh, these guys. What's not to love? They're pretty much like weird al, but a thousand times more relatable, less obnoxious, and actually the cutest friends that have ever lived.

Homestar Runner:

I'm sure some of you have seen this cartoon, and if not you have to. It is one of the funniest things on the internet, and it's so stupid that it's almost genius. It was started back in 1996 when there weren't very many similar things going, and I stumbled across it when I was younger and they were still making them (they've been on a hiatus since 2010 but they just made some new episodes this year!!!). The characters are so great. I mean, Trogdor? Brilliant! And I still list Brainkrieg as one of my favorite bands of all time. Strong Bad, Homsar, Senor Cartgage, Bubs, the Cheat, Strong Sad, Coach Z, Marzipan, Pompom, and (of couse) Homestar himself- what's not to love?

You can watch them all here. And don't forget to check for the easter eggs at the end of the videos!

IT Crowd:

This britcom deserves a trophy. At times incredibly cheesy, and featuring a very obnoxious laugh-track, the IT Crowd is gold. And best part about it? All of the episodes (except for the finale) are on American Netflix! So next time you're looking for a crappy TV show to indulge in, check this one of. I can guarantee some chuckles, at the very least.

Monty Python:

Okay, I'm pretty sure we've all seen some Monty Python in our lives. So I'm just going to give some of my favorite clips:

Wolf Pupy:

...In all honesty, Wolf Pupy is one of my heros. His/her/its insight is top-notch, and if I met him/her/it in real life we would be best friends. Here are some of my favorite Tweets:

(He/she/it also did a fantastic article for Rookie. Check it out, and prepare to have your mind blown with wisdom and fashion styles.)

Parks and Recreation:

Parks and Rec is fairly popular here in the states, but some of my friends from other countries are not acquainted with this gem of a TV show. I want to make sure that everyone is exposed to this brilliance, so I though I would throw this recommendation in just to be sure. I mean honestly, it is so funny. April Ludgate is a goddess.
(This one's also on Netflix!)


Here are some of the gifs that get me every time. I have such a stupid sense of humor.

...and finally,
The Go Bwah Girl:

This is the pinnacle of humor and the video embodiment of our modern society. The Go Bwah girl will go down in history.

Honorable Mention:
My Drunk Kitchen
Leslie Hall
Auto Tune the News
Garfield Minus Garfield

Enjoy! xx