Pick Your Platform: I Need Your Help!

Hi, y’all! It’s the middle of finals weeks. I am an exhausted, sappy, why-did-I-put-this-essay-off, stretched-too-thin mess, so real blog posts will resume after graduation (!!!!!!!!!) this Saturday.

In the mean time…

I have been working on a research project this semester about social media behavior and the psychology behind why we post certain content on certain platforms. One of the biggest parts of this project is an anonymous survey about posting habits. It took ages to write, format and get approved, but it’s finally live.

That’s where you come in.

Please consider taking less than 10 minutes out of your day to take this survey. It’s completely anonymous and doesn’t require any critical thinking. It’s simply answering some questions about how much and what kind of ~stuff~ you post online.

You can take it by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/socialmedia_hfj

*forced laughter and general disbelief*

*forced laughter and general disbelief*

Thank you so much for your help! It really means a lot.
Good luck on finals and happy graduation to the Class of 2015! We did it!

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Filed under Adventures in Journalism, Life Events

Bookends and Finish Lines

I always write when things are over. Something about the process helps put my mind at ease. Relationships ending, coming home from traveling, the turning of a calendar year — each tips off my writer brain that it’s probably time to produce some sort of content. I can summarize, analyze and compartmentalize experiences so much more easily in the form of a poem or blog post than with anything else.

But how the [redacted] am I supposed to write about something four years in the making?

I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a while. Trying to figure out how to pay homage to a town that was home for so long without waxing gross-sappy-sobbing poetic about it (probably still going to be sappy). There is no way to talk about it all. No way to adequately describe the soaring highs or disastrous lows, the moments of alienation or of family. The times I couldn’t stop smiling or the times I cried every day for two weeks. A chunk of life this long, this rich in experience is meant to be lived fully, not recounted on WordPress after four years.

But, I still need to write about it.

So I decided on scenes. The characters of my college life. Little things I’m going to miss.
I don’t know how else to say goodbye to a place that has both taken and given so much to me.

***

There’s a man with a yellowing beard and a silver wedding band who has been playing a song on the violin for as long as I’ve been alive probably. He never seems to stop. Never pausing to look at the students streaming by, never breaking the tinny stream of notes. I’ve seen him at coffee shops, but those two times are the only ones I’ve seen him without a fiddle tucked under his chin. Anyone who’s walked past the corner of 9th and University has heard him. There’s usually a hot dog stand there too. He is as much a part of downtown Columbia as any establishment. Few things in life are certain, but I can count on this man playing like it is the only thing he knows.

***

Those good weather days. Columbia humans, you know the ones I’m talking about. Where everything is soaked in sunshine and warm whispers of wind. All of downtown is filled with families and dogs and tiny children clutching Sparky’s kid cones. The Quad becomes a home base, dotted with frisbee games and baseball and how do people even manage to string a hammock up between the Columns? Everything feels good and light and golden. Even on my worst days, when depression and anxiety creep up to settle themselves on my chest, there is nothing quite like a beautiful spring day in Missouri. It lifts my heart in a kind, quiet way, and for that I’m grateful.

***

Wherever I go, I’m going to see someone I know. It’s comforting to know that I can show up at my favorite bar by myself and it will be fine. Jessie will stamp my hand, Joey will pour my drink without asking and half my friends are probably there already. Shake’s will always be full of everyone I’ve ever known. I can walk into a course on the first day of the semester and find out that three people I know are also in it, and none of us knew.

***

 

Bookends. That eerie, wonderful realization that life mirrors itself sometimes (if you’re paying attention).

The boy I lived catty-corner from freshman year, who listened to cool trap remixes and always said hi to me in the hallway, now lives in the unit in front of me. We have the same house number, so if I forget to put “Unit D” on my packages, they’ll be delivered to his door. I made his burrito at work yesterday. I don’t know his name and I don’t know if he remembers me, but the fact remains that we live about as close to each other this year as we did three years ago.

Once, I became friends with someone freshman year in an uncharacteristic blaze of courage (read: “Hi. I also live in Wolpers. Can I sit here and eat lunch with you?”). We run into each other from time to time at the bars or in the library, and it’s always that easy sort of friendship. Friday night, he pulled me into a hug and put his chin on top of my head. I realized that those tiny, brave moments throughout college — as small as introducing yourself to someone — can make all the difference. Somehow, we made it from locking ourselves in the third floor study room and cramming for Sharon Ryan’s econ final to drinking at Piano and going on senior pub crawls. (Hi, Jack, if you’re reading this.)

The concert venue I went to freshman year to see Bon Iver (and when we slept in Julia’s grandma’s basement) is the same one I went to senior year to see Ben Howard with Hannah (who I’ve lived with for three years). Both times, I got a setlist and both times I cried during the show. Also, Julia’s brother’s friend that I went to the concert with was Skyped into my senior capstone class a few weeks ago. A small world, y’all.

The person I sat next to in a psychology course sophomore year turned out to be one of my study abroad roommates this past summer. We found out we are soul sisters and are forever mad at ourselves for not becoming friends sooner. (Hi Shannon. Love you. I would sit on the floor of our kitchen and eat cereal every day if I could.)

***

I’ve already decided that the two weekends I’m coming back to Columbia for the rest of my life at Homecoming and True/False. One is the ultimate tribute to Mizzou and one to Columbia. They fill the whole of this odd little town with vibrant life: unbelievable beer specials and beaming faces and dancing down sidewalks and such palpable pride.

Sorry, future employers. Those are simply weekend that I have to go home.

***

There is so much to talk about. The Diner at 4 a.m. with near-strangers who became good friends. Crying into the phone to my mom in the middle of the mall. Falling in love. The unbelievable monotony of a full-course load. Laughing until I cry, loopy with exhaustion at work. Dying hair in bathrooms. Half-asleep to over-caffeinated in one Coffee Zone cold brew. The powerful crowd mentality that is shouting M-I-Z at Faurot. Red lipstick. Being catcalled at 9 p.m. on a Thursday. Closing down Ellis Library. The post-kicking-ass-on-a-presentation high. Drinking beer on patios. Going on medication. Snowstorms and weeks of rain. Drunk girls in bathrooms. Google Docs. Care packages from home. Cutting your own hair. Being flat broke. Falling asleep on couches with Law and Order on. Loving humans so hard you think your chest might burst. Losing yourself. Finding your voice.

There’s no way to remember it all, but I know I’ll miss it.

***

It’s ending, isn’t it? This huge, pivotal, important experience is coming to a close. Two weeks from today, I will be a college graduate (and my brother will turn 15). I have so much to do before then that my body hasn’t stopped trembling. There are goodbyes that I’m actually dreading — humans who have a permanent place in my heart, who I don’t want to imagine life without. I know there are planes and Facetime, but nothing beats actually hugging people you love. This is a place where I have grown in way I would have never expected, and it feels really weird to know that I’m going to be saying goodbye soon.

I love y’all. To each of the families I have found in this strange, beautiful place: Thank you for everything. Y’all make life so worth living.

tiger hotel

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Won’t Be The Last Time

This weekend has been filled with such incredible amounts of living and loving. I’m still reeling from it.

Kurt Vonnegut said it best: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

So that’s what I’m trying to do.

The weather was lovely and I danced with friends and I saw an incredible concert from the front row and I ate diner breakfast at 4 a.m. and I hugged people I love and I found two incredible books at Adam’s and I bought new shoes. I submitted my senior portfolio and drank good beer with better people and pet dogs and ate home-cooked food and laughed until I cried and ran down the street with friends. I cleaned my room and found shoes I thought I had lost and talked about hockey with my favorite bartender and ate my favorite brunch. I got texts and little notes that filled me with utter joy and I drank good coffee and I listened to good music and I slept in.

I feel full and happy and whole. My body is tired in the sleepy, sun-soaked, you-have-done-something-good way. I have a crazy busy week ahead of me, and I’m going to need the feel-good vibes of this weekend to carry me through.

In one of my classes, we talked about the blog We Are West America, on which two friends documented an incredible motorcycle trip. The “about” page, though, has some of the most incredible prose on it, and it’s stuck in my head for weeks and weeks. Here’s my favorite part:

Family, where ever you find it. Overcoming fears and discovering new ones.  It’s about being nice, stoking out other people, and high fives.  It’s about letting yourself constantly evolve cause you know that you’d have to be an asshole not to. It’s about being rad, and having that full chested feeling of a swollen heart everyday.

That last line. Woof. I know that feeling so well, and I want to spend a minute to thank the Universe for conspiring to make such an experience possible.

Thank you to every person who made this weekend grand. You might not even know how much you mean to me, but I hope I’ve told you at least once.

Thank you to this weird, wonderful little town that’s let me call it home for so long.

Thank you to cheap beer and sunshine and the power of a really good hug.

Thank you to love for making life so damn great.

P.S. I have a big music post coming soon.
P.P.S. In the mean time, listen to this playlist based on colors.
P.P.P.S. Title reference song.

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Filed under Life Events, Motivation and Inspiration

Listen and Learn: National Poetry Month

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. — Plutarch

April is National Poetry Month, and definitely a month I actively celebrate my love for the written word. I remember being introduced to poetry as a craft in elementary school when we read “The Road Not Taken” by Frost and “Little Things” by Julia Abigail Fletcher. I saw poetry as an extension of fiction writing — carefully crafted and more intentional. You had to pay more attention to phrasing, structure, even (God forbid) rhyming. Poems are often full of beautiful metaphors and synesthesia. There are those lines you read and have to sit back and just say “Wow. So that’s how you put that feeling into words.”

The reason why I like writing haikus so much is the same reason I like writing poetry. It’s like a riddle I’m solving as I go. I’m going to try to write and publish some more creative poetry work this month. Until then, here are some of my favorite poems. Listening to poems is a really different experience, so I’ve collected some spoken words and readings. Send me yours!

  • “Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars” by Buddy Wakefield

  • “Convenience Stores” by Buddy Wakefield (PSA: have tissues ready)

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

  • “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski (Here’s a video of Tom Waits reading it. I know.)

  • “Lady Lazurus” by Sylvia Plath

  • “Jellyfish” by Andrea Gibson (ugh)

  • “and a new earth” by Wirrow

  • Kai Davis PYPM final (90 seconds of magic)

  • “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (Miss you. Happy birthday.)

Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green
in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
like a sparrow stunned
with falling.
  • The poem in the movie “Like Crazy” (which gets me every single time.)

  • “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by e.e. cummings (as read by Heath Ledger in “Candy”)(I’m not crying. You’re crying.)

  • “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” by Walt Whitman (the Levi’s Go Forth campaign is my favorite thing. Complete poem here.)

  • “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe (as recited by MGG. He nearly cries at the end. It’s a lot.)

  • “Bright Star” by John Keats (as read by Tom Hiddleston. Welp, indeed.)

While you’re at it, check out these incredible poets I follow on Tumblr.

I know I forgot a bunch, but there’s a good starting place. Let’s write and read and love poems extra hard this month.

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” — Robert Frost

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Filed under Life Events, Other authors' writing, Re: Writing

Five, then seven, then five again

I think one of the most clear realizations I knew I was a writer at heart was when we learned what haikus were in elementary school. Many of my classmates groaned and rolled their eyes. They already didn’t enjoy writing exercises, let alone adding a math component into the mix. I, on the other hand, could barely contain my excitement within my tiny frame. A writing puzzle! A counting game! This is great! (Note: I was a weird child.)

How do I fit my point into 17 syllables? If you’ve ever read my creative writing or poetry, you’ve probably noticed that I care a lot about line breaks. The visual flow of the words has a very direct connection to the emphasis of the poem. It’s always been my favorite part of writing, and involves a design aspect that I don’t get to play with a lot in my more academic life.

I have been feeling very stuck in my life recently, which directly translates to painful, seemingly incurable writer’s block. So I turned to Twitter and the lovely followers of my writing Tumblr and asked for short prompts. I turned around and wrote haikus inspired by these single words. It’s a poet’s baby step. An easily tackle-able task that gets the gears moving again. I thought I’d share some here, then challenge you to ask for prompts.

Who knows… maybe one will be just the spark you needed.

Honey
My honeycomb love,
Forever stuck to my heart.
Worth every bee sting.

Stars
When you stop looking
For distant bits of light shine:
That’s when things will glow.

Sunflowers
Everything must end.
Do sunflowers cry at night
When the light runs out?

The light hitting just right
Some day, morning light
Will not look like your freckles.
But until that day…

Lilies
White petals, soft like
Your Easter morning heartbeat,
Soft like “please come back.”

Tattoos
“But what does it mean?”
It means that I am going
onward to the end.

Sadness
Tumbled bones, short breath,
Waves of every “I love you.”
Morning will come soon.

Let’s write, kiddos.

Additional reading: One of my favorite poets is Tyler Knott Gregson, and he has a daily haiku series that takes my breath away. Check out his Instagram for some absolutely beautiful writing and poetry.  

© Tyler Knott Gregson (via Instagram)

© Tyler Knott Gregson (via Instagram)

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Filed under Motivation and Inspiration, Re: Writing

Tunesday: Casual Heartache Edition

“These are the days that must happen to you.” — Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

I must have stumbled across that quote a million times in my life. It sits with me like a warm hug, a kind smile. It is comforting — that even Walt Whitman understands that life gets really hard sometimes.

Today just happens to be one of those days. Today, I made a really important decision, said some things and was turned down with unbelievable grace and love. Today, however many hours later, my heart is aching and I feel a little bit numb.

Heartbreak happens in three stages. First, you are clinging onto the hope that maybe that person will love you back like you love them. Then, you come to the painful realization that they just don’t love you in the same way you love them. Finally, you let love back in to save you.

1. James Bay performing “If You Ever Want To Be In Love” for The Sunday Sessions

If you ever want to be in love
I’ll come around

We were young
we were side by side
Don’t know when we started losing touch
If you want we could walk around
Maybe that would be enough

No, honestly. Everything is fine. Everything is totally fine.

2. Bon Iver performing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” at AIR Studios

here in the dark,
these final words
I will lay down my heart
and I feel the power
but you don’t,
no you don’t

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Everything hurts.

3. Bear’s Den performing “Bad Blood” at the Red Room at Cafe 939

All my life
I wasn’t honest enough
and I thought
I would never get over you

But I found love
but I found love
but I found love
but I found love

The world spins madly on, y’all. Everything will be okay.

Reading back over this, I sound dramatic and mopey. It’s fine. I know this aching will fade, and when I look back one day, I probably won’t remember too much about this particular Tuesday.  Today is simply one of the days that must happen to me. 

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Filed under Life Events, Re: Music, Tunesday

TFLNM: Weathervanes

He didn’t understand what he’d done to her, but he would by the time she was finished.

She was bee stings, she was hungry mouth, she was lightning eyes. Coffee-stained everything. Her back arched, somehow serpentine, when she stretched every morning. She turned toward the sun every afternoon, desperate for warmth. She laughed with the genuine sort of rumble that shook her entire body. Restless and impatient and kind.

He was quiet with a loud heart. He played guitar in bed when the sadness seeped into both of their shaking hands. He was morning coffee, he was nighttime skylines, he was feet that never seemed to be warm. His movie watch list was a mile long. Always making hot chocolate. Tucked himself around her every night.

Heartsickness hung on her like fog. She did not know why he loved her, or how. But her heart was bird wings, summer rain, new moon, when he said her name. And, oh, when he told her he loved her. “I love you.” Without condition. Without hesitation.

She was her own hurricane. And he was the calm before her.

He didn’t understand what he’d done by loving her, but he would by the time the storm stopped.

This is a new thing I’m trying on this blog called The First Line’s Not Mine. I’m using a random first line generator, courtesy of Claire, and then letting my creative juices flow, however hesitantly. To write fiction (or fact) for the sake of writing. I hope you’ll consider joining me. It’s hard and a lot of fun. 

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Filed under Re: Writing, TFLNM

A Very Dumb Blog Post About Nothing

(I have no blog post ideas. Work with me.)

These are what conversations sound like these days:
“Hi! How are you?”
“Doing well. How’re you?”
“Oh, you know. Living the dream.”
“What’re you up to?”

I fiddle with my rings. I breathe in. I respond.

“Work. School. The bars. You know how it is.”

Big smile. Hug. Continue (speed) walking to wherever I’m going.

But how is it? Does that person know how it is? (Does that person care?)
Why are we so shy to be honest with how we’re doing?

Well…

I’m working nearly 30 hours a week rolling burritos for most of MU’s student population. I need to finish a lit review for a research project I’m actually excited about doing. I’m trying to do the thing where you don’t shampoo every day and it’s really stressing me out because I’m terrified of my hair looking greasy. I am putting off laundry for longer than normal because it’s too cold outside to lug my laundry basket down the stairs. My foot is sore and I’m tired of dragging this boot around. I am on some weird cusp between loving my body’s flaws and plunging into despair about the beauty status quo. Dogs are the best. I talk about my crushes entirely too much to anyone who will listen. I’ve stopped doing my eyeliner every day in favor of minimal makeup and I think I like it. I go to the same bar every time I go out and they know me there and it’s an incredible feeling. I miss a human I’ve never met in person. I cried on my walk home Saturday night. My hands are always cold. I have too many crushes on too many cute people. I need to watch more movies. My depression and anxiety are so much more under control and I feel like myself again. I need to buy groceries and toilet paper. There is so much good music in the world. I think I forgot how to write. Still haven’t gone on a date. I don’t call my family enough. It feels like winter will never end. I miss Brussels. Boys still confuse me daily. I graduate from college in 81 days. I don’t know what I’m doing after. I don’t know what I’m doing now.

That’s how it is.
That’s my world right now.

I am going to try to push myself to blog more, and I’m toying with the idea of posting some of my creative stuff here as well? I miss poetry a LOT. Like, a lot. But posting a blog post in my conversation voice is much different than posting my poems (which I am almost always incredibly self-conscious about). So we’ll see if I work up the courage.

Writing has kept me alive for 21.5 years, and God help me if I let that flame in me dwindle down to smoke. If you have suggestions or challenges to encourage me to post, I’m all ears and open inboxes.

Feigned productivity and my favorite latte

Feigned productivity and my favorite latte

Stay golden, kiddos. I’m sure winter will end soon and we can all get some sunshine.

 

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Filed under Life Events, Thought Stream

Top 20something Albums of 2014

You know that feeling when you bite off more than you can chew? That’s this post about six albums in. I’m still conflicted about it: I’m sure I forgot someone really important, but if I didn’t cut it off at ~20, we all know this would go on forever and ever. This post is really long. Trust me, I understand if you don’t want to read the whole thing. (But I did provide hyperlinks and also spent ages on it so…)(Shannon told me she would read it and that’s good enough for me.)

So, four weeks into 2015, here are my favorite albums from the past year:

1. I Forget Where We Were || Ben Howard

I have loved Ben Howard since my friend Jackson made me a mix CD four years ago. The first track was “Old Pine,” and it took me two weeks to listen to the rest of the tracks because I was so distracted by Ben. This record has a unique sound, completely different from Every Kingdom, but still decidedly Ben. I’m seeing him live in eight day (!!!!), and I couldn’t be more excited if I wanted to be.

Top tracks: In Dreams, Time Is Dancing, Am I In Your Light (the vinyl bonus song)

2. Islands || Bear’s Den

“Agape” came up multiple times on my both my Ben Howard and my Noah Gundersen iTunes radio stations, so I decided to give this band a listen. Best decision ever. Their record came out in October and I instantly lost my mind. Their lyrics are so well-written, and the harmonies are Mumford-esque. They are part of the 2014 documentary “Austin to Boston” with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Staves, so you know they’re good. I also can’t encourage you enough to look up all their acoustic stuff. They sing “Above The Clouds of Pompeii” in an old church and it’s absolutely swoon-worthy.

Top tracks: Think of England, Elysium (watch the video too)

3. Dreaming Your Life Away || Vance Joy 

This human is opening for Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour, which I find strange but lovely. I’ve been listening to him for a while, as “Riptide,” “From Afar,” and “Snaggletooth” circulate on Tumblr relatively often. This record is absolutely lovely, and I really appreciate his lyricism. His voice is that raw singer-songwriter style I live for. I can picture sitting on a porch in Portland in the fall, listening to him pick at a tinny old guitar and sing goofy songs about falling in love. He’s got that kind of voice. (Bonus: he’s Australian. And cute.)

Top tracks: From Afar, Mess is Mine, Georgia,

4. Tough Love || Jessie Ware

My sister and I listened to “Say You Love Me” at least twice a day during our entire vacation. So much so, in fact, that our brother accused us of ruining the song. Not so, Phil. Jessie’s voice is stunning, and her music is very falling-in-love-on-the-dancefloor-and-starting-a-long-distance-relationship. (Does that even make sense?) It’s equal parts power ballads à la Adele and electronic jazz crooner.

Top tracks: Say You Love Me, Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe, Champagne Kisses

5. So Long, See You Tomorrow || Bombay Bicycle Club

I’m late to the Bombay Bicycle Club game (like, I knew two songs before), but this record is so, so flawless. It’s the record I put on when I am getting ready in the morning, when I’m cleaning my room, when I need a dance break. Every song has an impressive number of layers and different things going on that all manage to blend — rather than clutter — the “vibes.” They have a KEXP session where you can watch them singing these intricately built songs, which is entralling.

Top tracks: Whenever, Wherever; Luna; Home By Now

6. In Return || Odesza

I LOVE THIS RECORD. It’s like when An Awesome Wave came out and I would finish Taro and start Intro — I will listen to the entire thing start to finish three times in a row before I move on. I wrote about this album specifically in my study playlist Tunesday post, but it truly is one of my favorite records ever ever ever. This is one of my favorite styles of music (electronic indie? chillwave? indie chill? who knows?), and I am stoked to see this duo when they come to Columbia in February.

Top tracks: It’s Only (feat. Zyra), Memories That You Call (feat. Monsoonsiren), Kusanagi

7. Strange Desire || Bleachers

I was late to this record too (and missed my chance to see them in KC), but man oh man, do I love it. Jack’s voice is so smooth and his range is just lovely. I’m usually wary of albums from band members who have broken away for solo albums, but this one absolutely did not disappoint. There are archive soundbites, reprises and YOKO ONO (who sounds like Grandmother Willow and brings me such joy).

Top tracks: Like a River Runs, Shadow, I’m Ready to Move On / Wild Heart Reprise (feat. Yoko Ono)

8. Four || One Direction

I literally don’t care what you have to say about them. Don’t even get me started on my love for this band. I know they’re ridiculous humans and most of their fan base can’t even drive a car. These five idiots bring me an unbelievable amount of joy and happiness. This record is wonderful because it is starting to actually showcase their talent (I will fight you on this) rather than basic cookie-cutter radio singles. Life is too short to deny yourself the pleasure of pop music. Also, have you ever looked at them?? It’s unbelievable. Angels, the lot of ’em.

Top tracks: Steal My Girl (ZAYN’S HIGH NOTE); Girl Almighty, Fool’s Gold, Clouds

9. 1000 Forms of Fear || Sia

I listened to this record for the majority of my summer. It became the soundtrack to my metro rides and early mornings. Sia’s voice is absolutely unreal, in case you were unaware. Plus, this record is a good balance of full-on power vocal ballads and songs you will dance around your kitchen to while making breakfast. It’s also an incredibly cohesive album, and you can hear the story playing out as you listen. Also, I love the videos, controversial as they are.

Top tracks: Chandelier, Burn the Pages, Cellophane, Dressed in Black

10. Wanted on Voyage || George Ezra

This, along with Sia, defined what I listened in Brussels. It only came out in the US this past week, but it dropped in Europe over the summer. My roommate Shannon and I refer to his vocal style as “sweater voice” — it’s warm and luxurious, and you feel like you could wrap yourself in it on a brisk morning. His range is absolutely incredible, and his lyrics are perfect for lazy summer days. (He’s also friends with Ollie, which is amazing news.)

Top tracks: Budapest, Breakaway, Da Vinci Riot Police (not on the US Spotify version, apparently)

I bought the physical CD in Brussels with store credit I had left over...

I bought the physical CD in Brussels with store credit I had left over…

11. Chapter of the Forest || Trevor Hall

I want to turn this record on and do sun salutations all day long. Trevor Hall is an incredibly spiritual musician, and his work is heavily influenced by his Buddhist faith. His voice has a really interesting quality to it: soft, rounded and raspy. I’ve been listening to his music here and there for a couple years, but not until this record did I ever sit down and listen from start to finish. It’s incredibly calming and centering. Light a Volcano candle, turn this on and take a load off.

Top tracks: Holy Country, Jagadeesha

12. Ledges || Noah Gundersen

The same playlist Jackson made me that got me into Ben Howard had a track on it called “Garden” by some guy named Noah Gundersen. His voice is soft and lovely, and his lyrics are worship that sound like wrestling. I have been eagerly awaiting this album. The minute it dropped, it was the only thing Shannon and I listened to in Brussels for a solid week. His band is made up of himself and a few family members, and the harmonies blend beautifully.The album is heartbreaking, but I still listen to it back to back.

Top tracks: Poor Man’s Son, Cigarettes, First Defeat

13.  Hozier || Hozier

This goober Irish man has a voice that demands a listen. I had heard “From Eden” and “Take Me To Church” from his previous EPs and loved his sound: gritty and dark and begging for black-and-vote music videos. This album is great, y’all. Like…y’all. Maybe not the most cohesive concept, but each song is such a gem that it can be forgiven. They have their own universe, their own important plots — but maybe have the same background cast? I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. It just gives me a lot of emotions. Listen to it all.

Top tracks: To Be Alone, Foreigner’s God, Take Me To Church, From Eden

14. The Pickprint || Nicki Minaj

I will fight you on how much I love Nicki Minaj. When I was younger and was a Bad Feminist (read: internalized misogyny and backhanded slut-shaming), I didn’t appreciate her and was, frankly, terrified of her rapping. But now I just love her endlessly. Her ferocity, her confidence, her take-no-shit-from-sexist-interviewers attitude, her unbelievable skill and rap prowess: it’s all incredible. I love her. This album feels like she has really come into her own image. She’s not in costumes, she’s not putting on airs. There are heartfelt ballads, there are dance jams, there are amazing featured artists (hello, Drake). She’s just real and honest and Nicki.

Top tracks: The Crying Game (ft. Jessie Ware (!!!)); Trini Dem Girls (ft. Lunchmoney Lewis); Feeling Myself (ft. Beyoncé)

15. In the Lonely Hour || Sam Smith

This human’s vocal cords are a blessing. At first, I was nervous that I was going to lump him in with Adele — where the voice is amazing and stunning and powerful beyond all measure…but most of her lyrics just don’t hit me like her voice does (I know, I know). But this album didn’t disappoint. It’s all sorts of heartbreaking, and his range follows the emotions impeccably. My roommate also owns this record on vinyl which is incredible as well. (Also, there’s a version of I’m Not The Only One with A$AP Rocky which is GRAND. Look it up.)

Top tracks: Money on My Mind, Leave Your Lover, Lay Me Down

16. Range of Light || S. Carey

I’ve been sleeping on poor Sean Carey for years, and I’m still kicking myself for it. He did vocals, drums and some guitar for Bon Iver, but also released a lot of his own music. I didn’t even know this new record had dropped until “Crown the Pines” was floating around Tumblr. I recognized the name from his Bon Iver days and decided it was time indeed to listen to him. Good decision. He’s got this ethereal, glowing, soft sound. It’s rainy day coffee shop music that you want to sit around and be sorta sad about things. Not like a lay-down-and-sob cry, but a reflective, nostalgic sad. A good sad.

Top tracks: Crown the Pines; Alpenglow, Fire-scene

17. This is All Yours || alt-J

Let me preface this with the fact that I like An Awesome Wave better. I just have to get that out there. BUT. This record is absolutely wonderful. alt-J just can’t seem to make bad music. They have such a unique sound and vibe that I can’t help but turn to them when I don’t know what else to listen to — equal bits jam-in-your-car and chill-out-and-stare-at-walls-are-ponder-life. Also they sample Miley Cyrus, so what could possibly go wrong.

Top tracks: Hunger Of The Pine, Bloodflood pt. II, Every Other Freckle

18. Sylvan Esso || Sylvan Esso

I want this duo to be president and vice president of the nation. I love this record absolutely endlessly. Claire sent me “Coffee” a while ago (and might have sent it twice?) and it took me ages to get around to listening to it because I am the worst friend. But I did and then I searched out the record and the rest is history. I’ve been listening to it pretty regularly on my way to class — it puts some jam and pep in my step. They’re performing at Coachella this year, but if anyone wants to get me out of work and take me to see them in St. Louis on March, I accept your wedding proposal.

Top tracks: Dress, Play It Right, Coffee, Come Down

19. Ghost Stories || Coldplay

My favorite thing about this band is that every record is a completely different world, but still very much so a Coldplay product. Say what you will about them, but I’ve listened to them as I been doing that growing up thing through middle school, high school and college. I always look at them with fondness; they’ve been steadfast and good my whole life. Basically, Coldplay is my musical comfort food, and I’m okay with that. This record is only nine tracks long, but you can so easily get lost in the 40 minutes of music. There’s this warm bass in the background, and it feels kind of like blankets around your shoulders when you’re sitting in bed alone and thinking too much about life (does that make sense?).

Top tracks: O; Midnight; A Sky Full of Stars

20. Goddess || Banks

One of my 2015 resolutions is to transform myself into Banks. She is absolutely stunning, has an incredible voice and has straight up vibes to her music. I closely relate her to Jessie Ware in my mind, but falling out of love rather than recently married. There’s so much girl power of the best kind throughout this record. She is as strong as she is vulnerable, as confident as she is gun-shy. I like to turn Banks on, turn it up and zone out to whatever I’m working on. Also a good idea with this record: put on your darkest lipstick and dance around your room in your underwear. (Trust me.)

Top tracks: Goddess; Drowning; Someone New

21. Still Life || Dawn Golden

This is my most recent obsession. I saw “All I Want” on Tumblr and listened, thinking it was a Kodaline cover. Wrong-o. Dawn Golden is some magnificent electronic-ambient-indie situation that I can’t even find the words to describe. It’s like… a little Sufjan, a little Greg Laswell, a little Death Cab, a little OMN. Just listen. The sound is amazing and the lyrics are stunning, which lets you get completely lost in the music (my favorite hobby). In the past, he’s done a bunch of remixes, but this record is a beautiful story that I can’t encourage you enough to listen to.

Top tracks: The Beekeeper; Still Life; Last Train

22. The 1975 (Deluxe Edition) || The 1975

We all know how I feel about this band. It would probably be annoying for me to prattle on and on and on about how much I love each member, their experience and their music, so I’m going to just not. I was #blessed enough to see them live TWICE in 2014, and I cannot wait for more.

the 1975

Top tracks (this is a 39-track album…): Robbers, Menswear, Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You?, Facedown, Woman, Me, Head.Cars.Bending., So Far (It’s Alright), Fallingforyou

Honorable mentions:

  1. Talking is Hard || Walk The Moon (top tracks: Portugal, Shut Up And Dance, Sidekick)
  2. Promises EP || Ryn Weaver (I told y’all she was gonna hit it big and now she’s playing at Coachella and I AM SO PROUD)
  3. Leftovers || Cherub (also one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to)

Whew. If you’ve made it to this point, thanks for sticking around.
Send me some of your top albums or let me know who I might have heinously left out. May 2015 be as music packed as 2014.

(Header image photo cred here)

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Filed under Re: Music

Back at it (for the last time)

I might have forgotten how to blog. But today is one of those ~important~ days, so I thought it was as good a time as any to update all y’all on my life. Because the “real world” is hurtling toward me and I couldn’t be more excited. The first day of the semester is a better fresh start than New Year’s. When you have been a student for basically your entire life, I guess that only makes sense.

Here’s a list of recent notable life happenings:

  • Today is my last first day of school. I put on my favorite boots and started my day by dancing around my kitchen in between bites of turkey bacon.
  • I spent eight glorious days in Cabo, Mexico with my family. It was warm and sunny and absolutely what we all needed. Fish tacos, Coronas, beach naps and whale sightings were daily occurrences.
  • I still need to buy my textbooks.
  • My great-uncle passed away yesterday. I know it’s better he’s no longer suffering, as the end of his life was defined by decreasing mobility and increasing illnesses, but it still breaks my heart. Rest in peace, Father Bob. I know you’re making the perfect lamb and grape leaves up there. Say hi to Grandpa and Jay for us.
  • It has been strangely warm in Columbia lately, although today has cooled off a bit. It’s a nice way to start the new semester, rather than bundled up Randy style. I’m a sun child, and winter is hard.
  • I’ve been working pretty constantly at Chipotle. (No, we still don’t have carnitas.)
  • I need to write more.
  • I’m in the process of looking for post-grad jobs. If you have any leads, feel free to drop me a line! I can only have so many tabs open on my computer, and I would love all the help I can get.
  • I promise I’m employable.
  • I’m (finally) seeing Ben Howard live in 16 days.

This semester will be a weird one. In 115 days I will be a college graduate. Shoutout to everyone who has made sure I’ve made it to this point. Y’all are so important to me.

Actual real blog posts coming in the not-too-distant future. Pinky swear.

P.S. — Would anyone be interested in a “Top Albums of 2014?” I think I’ve nailed down my list, but I’m not sure if anyone cares. 

Sunset in Cabo. One of the few non-selfie photos from our trip.

Sunset in Cabo. One of the few non-selfie photos from our trip.

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Filed under Life Events