Book Club: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild Cheryl Strayed

“…I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.” –  Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Reading and I are in a dysfunctional relationship. We have our highs and lows like any other couple: There are seasons where I have to turn down new books because there are too many good ones on my nightstand. But there are also low points where I wonder “Is the world filled exclusively with YA books about terminally ill vampire teenagers, living in a dysotopia future and fighting for their lives, while riding the roller coaster of love?!?”… Not that I haven’t read those books and maybe enjoyed one or two.

Anyway, earlier this summer I was in a drought. Books were letting me down and it was extremely frustrating especially with all of the travel coming up.

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Summer Tunes

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In the winter, my taste tends to reflect the weather…cold and moody. But as soon as the nights grow longer, hemlines inch shorter, and tanlines appear on my body, the music I’m listening to changes.  I need good upbeat jams for the summer!

I’m sharing this Spotify playlist that I created with a little help from the king of playlists himself, Jordan. It’s a mixture of new and old songs with a little 80’s flair thrown in for fun. I love to listen to this mix while I’m getting ready for the day or out driving!

Here are three of my favorites, a peek into what has been on repeat.

1 | “Boom Clap” – Charli XCX

Jordan and I saw Charli perform a couple years ago when she opened for Coldplay and I’ve been a fan since. She’s more known for her collaborations with other artists than her own stuff (at least here in the States), though I quite like her album. Charli notably wrote and sang on Icona Pop’s “I Got It” last summer. “Boom Clap” is featured on The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack (who else used to obsess over movie soundtracks?), but hopefully this means she’ll have a new album soon!

2 | “Fancy” – Iggy Azalea

I could have titled this post, Why Charli XCX is the Current Queen of Summer Pop, because she also cowrote and performed on “Fancy”. Iggy brings a fresh new flavor to hip hop and this song just screams summer to me. The perfect car windows down, hair blowing in the wind, making me feel all kinds of fancy, song.

3 | “Hang With Me” – Robyn

Robyn is a go-to for upbeat sing-a-long pop songs. “Hang With Me” is one of my favorites, but truthfully I could have selected any song from her album, Body Talk. Robyn first arrived on the music scene in the late 90s; the Swedish import to compete with Britney and Christina, but she continued to grow musically. I’ll let you decide on the other two for yourself 🙂

Honorable Mentions: Kylie Minogue, Future Islands, and Arcade Fire.

/ / Check out the entire playlist for more jams!

/ / What are you listening to this summer?

Covering Interests

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I’m still unpacking and trying to organize my life for our summer arrangement, while also attempting to enjoy the beautiful weather we are experiencing. On Saturday, Jordan and I played tennis for the first time in far too long and it felt so nice to be out in the sun!

Here are a few things I’ve been interested in lately.

How I Met Your Mother | OK, Jordan and I are real late to this party; as in the party ended already, but we joined anyway. Our local library has all of the seasons and we have really enjoyed working our way through. I’m not always a sitcom person. I need more character development and less jokes, but this is totally Catherine-approved. I’ve kept myself from any spoilers and I don’t know how it ends, but I really appreciate that this show presents supportive friends in different life stages.

Cover Songs | Chance The Rapper sings the Arthur Theme Song + John Mayer sings Beyoncé’s, XO.

Figs | Jordan and I both enjoy snacking on dried fruit and nuts. Pineapple, cherries, and mango are usually my go tos. On a whim I decided to buy figs and wondered why I waited so long. They are filling and satisfy my sweet tooth…a win-win!

Beauty Videos | Last week, I found myself walking down a YouTube rabbit trail. This trail led directly to the beauty section. I used to experiment with makeup and wear bright lips and/or eyes, but lately I’ve been in a bit of a beauty rut. I was hoping for some inspiration and decided to check what these videos could provide. Through watching tutorials, I discovered a few tips for covering acne and acne scars (which has been my issue of late). I already bought a new concealer after watching several videos raving about it.

A few channels I enjoy: essiebuttonmeghan rosette, and sarah bagley.

Jean Shorts | While preparing for our summer stay with my parents, I separated the clothes I would need for the summer from items that could be packed in our storage unit. I realized through this process that my short collection was looking a little sad. I don’t own a lot of shorts and over the years, many have worn out or become stained (bleach, grease, paint, etc).  Jordan and I are preparing for a few summer trips, so a couple needed to be replaced. These Gap boy shorts fit slightly slouchy and are an ideal length.

/ / What have you been enjoying lately?

Doing it the French Way

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Over the last year or so, I’ve been on a mission, a mission to curate my wardrobe differently. After I transitioned out of college and started building a professional wardrobe, I fell into the trap of over-acquiring. While it was fun browsing stores like Forever 21 and H&M, cheap clothes simply don’t last. After I left that job, far too many pieces became obsolete because I wasn’t buying multipurpose clothes. I wasn’t making smart or wise purchases.

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Rumours

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When I was 14 or 15, I went through a pop country phase (but with a little Blink-182 and The Cranberries mixed in 😉 ). Faith Hill, Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks were in heavy rotation. The Dixie Chicks included a cover song, “Landslide”, on their 2002 album, Home. I was aware that Stevie Nicks sang the original version, but I didn’t know that it was actually a Fleetwood Mac song from their 1975 self-titled album.

I enjoy staying current on all things pop culture. But sometimes I find myself drifting so far into the now that I forget about the past. Recently, Jordan found a really nice vinyl of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, Rumours. Recently, we’ve enjoyed listening to it in the evenings and becoming more versed in the band’s rich history as a result.

The story of Fleetwood Mac is full of twists and turns and corkscrews. Americans, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were bandmates-turned couple-turned singing duo that were approached to join a British import band. By 1974 Fleetwood Mac had already released nine albums, but reached mainstream success with the help of Buckingham and Nicks. Rumours has sold 45 million copies and currently ranks as the sixth highest-selling-album of all time, which is kind of amazing.

Despite members drifting in and out – drug rehab stints for Nicks and others, and the ever changing music scene, they have remained an active band. I’m hoping it’ll work out for us to see them this fall on their On With the Show Tour.

The super deluxe edition of Rumours is available now, which includes live performances and demos. One of my favorite songs on the album is, “I Don’t Want To Know.”

Have you revisited any albums lately?

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^ I’m loving Stevie’s hair and Christine McVie’s head scarf in this photo. There was such an ease to styling in the 70s.

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Currently

My iMac crashed last week. Right after I finished my Oscar post, but not before we finished taxes (Oy vay!) We haven’t had time to take her to the Genius Bar, but at five years, she lived a full life. I’m not sure why my computers die during really important moments; right in the middle of finals my senior year, my Dell computer crashed.

We had a feeling the day was nearing, I just wished I had backed it up more recently.

One day I’ll learn.

A few things I’ve been enjoying lately…

Listening | Diane Birch
Have you ever had this debate?: Delay your arrival to a concert to avoid the usually terrible opening band or risk it on the off chance that they are good? Once, we saw Neon Trees open for Mute Math. This was right before their first single exploded on the scene and we had no clue who they were, but their performance was great. Ever since then, we generally take the risk and arrive before the venue doors open. Last week, we saw Andrew Belle play at Lincoln Hall and we were kind of blown away by Diane Birch. She’s a combination of a little jazz, a bit of smooth rock, some folk, and a touch of ambient electronic awesomeness all wrapped up in a neat hippy package. Fun note: Prince saw her performing at a hotel in LA and asked her out to his house for a jam session!  Definitely check her out.

Reading | Are You Pregnant?
This recent post from Naomi rings so true to me. It’s a good reminder for all of us to be sensitive with our words (I know I need that reminder often.) We all have inner battles (fear, doubt, anxiety, family issues, finances, etc) and maybe they aren’t ready to be made public or discussed out of context. But we can all use encouragement and prayer.

Making | Green Chickpea Coconut Curry with Chicken.
I’ve been dreaming of coconut curry ever since we had some awesome take-out in Oxford last spring. This recipe didn’t taste exactly like that dish, but it was delicious and easier to make than I thought! Now that I’ve invested in the spices, I can experiment with different variations!

Watching | 30 Rock.
A friend loaned me a few season and this show is really that good. I’m not sure why I didn’t stay current for the full run. “I want to go to there.”

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Favorite of 2013: Movies

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I hope you all enjoyed my favorite 13 Albums of 2013, it was a fun list to put together and allowed me to reflect on the year!

Compiling my favorite 2013 movies was more challenging: I don’t have the time or money to see every movie in theaters, plus many never make it to theaters near me or they get released on DVD after the year is over. It’s also tricky when certain 2013 movies that might have been contenders won’t receive their wide theatrical release until January 2014 (example: Inside Llewyn Davis). I decided to include any film I saw in 2013: some in theaters, but most Jordan and I rented or borrowed from the library. The movies are listed in alphabetical order.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

American Hustle | David O’Russell, 2013
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a part-time business owner, full-time con-artist, falls in love with the damaged yet strong stunner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). They quickly become lovers as well as business partners. To help entice customers, Sydney takes on the persona of Lady Edith Greensley, a women with British bank connections. They do quite well for themselves, but eventually an undercover FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act. Richie is trying to prove that he can take down the big guys, and by big guys he means politicians. Instead of keeping the two con-artists in prison, he envelopes them in a scheme to take down several politicians in New Jersey.

While the premise of this movie mirrors a crime drama, David O’Russell is more interested in the quad-love-angle between Irving, Sydney, Richie, and Irving’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Many twists and shenanigans ensue and I couldn’t stop laughing. I had a lot of fun with this movie. The costumes were also incredible; celebrating the disco era in all its gold lamé glory.

Before Midnight | Richard Linklater, 2013
“You remember that guy who loved you and you had that great romance with? It’s me.”

We first met Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) almost 20 years ago after they meet on a train and spend one evening together in Vienna. They promised to reconnect in six months, but circumstances prohibit that agreed upon meeting and sadly numbers weren’t exchanged (in 1994, who had a cellphone?). Before Sunset takes place nearly ten years later, Jesse has written a novel inspired by their shared night and is on a book tour in Paris where Celine is living. She attends the signing and they decide to spend the few hours before Jesse’s flight catching up. The connection they had resurfaces, but life is more complicated now.

That is roughly the plot of the first two films in the Before TrilogyMy older brother, Jon, introduced me to these main characters in high school (and my love affair with french women). I’m not going to give the plot away because if you haven’t seen the first two films, it will be more enjoyable to watch free of knowledge. This third installment beautifully captures the reality of long-term relationships; the lovely, the complicated, but oh-so-worth-it moments. 

Blue Jasmine | Woody Allen, 2013
Jordan and I are huge Woody Allen fans. I love the fluid walk-and-talk scenes and shark, neurotic wit that is evident in all of his movies. We follow Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) who is forced to move in with her sister after a string of unfortunate events leaves her widowed and penniless. Jasmine lived a life that was measured by her wealth and status; she mocked her sister for living a more “blue-collar” life, but the people she socialized with scatter once Jasmine’s life turns up-side down. Through all of this, Jasmine slowly breaks down… the result is mesmerizing and sometimes hilarious.

The Deep Blue Sea | Terence Davies, 2011
This British movie, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, circulated the festival scene in 2011, was released in the states in 2012, and finally in 2013 was available to rent! I had it bookmarked for almost a year.  I have an affinity towards european dramas with their dreamy and controlled stories. Amidst the 18th and 19th century love stories, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Anna Karenina, etc., you will often find me. The Deep Blue Sea is an adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play. Hester (Weisz) is married to a much older man and while it is a loving marriage, it is somewhat passionless. She meets and begins an affair with Freddie (Hiddleston) and while it is full of passion, the choice between the two men begins a complicated journey. While researching this movie, I found out that this title was a reference the phrase, “between the devil and the deep blue sea”; sometimes neither choice leads us to a good place.

Dial M for Murder |  Alfred Hitchcock, 1954
This year I attempted to catch up on few classic movies that I hadn’t seen yet. But I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked. Rear Window is one of our favorite movies, so we figured we should watch the other two Alfred Hitchcock/Grace Kelly collaborations. While watching older suspense/mystery movies, it’s fun to think how the stories would be different if set in modern times with cellphones and CCTV: Would Dial M for Murder have been plausible?

Tony Wendice (Ray Milland), a retired tennis player, is married to Margot (Kelly) who is having an affair. Tony is fed up and begins to plot a plan that involves hiring a hit man, blackmail, and an infamous latch-key that is almost a character. The one-room setting adds to the claustrophobic tension that keeps you riveted for the entire movie!

First Comes Love | Nina Davenport, 2013
I struggled to decide which documentary to include in this list because I watched quite a few really great ones (FYI: Netflix’s and On Demand are great resources for documentaries). Ultimately, I chose Nina Davenport’s personal account of her decision to get pregnant through a sperm donor (who she knew) and subsequently become a single parent. This film, while not a sequel to her earlier work, Always a Bridesmaid (can you guess what this one is about?), could function as a companion piece.

Nina’s journey is fascinating on its own, but what really sold me was her relationship to her parents. Nina comes from a somewhat affluent family in Michigan. Her father would have liked her to become a lawyer or at least marry one, but instead she became a wedding videographer/documentarian. She weaves in beautiful personal video footage that her father took of her mother (who passed away between the two documentaries) on their honeymoon and of the children’s birthdays and early life. Despite all of that, he still can’t grapple with her decision to document life as a career path. This film had me cringing, laughing, and crying along with Nina and her family.

Her | Spike Jonze, 2013
As Dana Stevens explained, Her is a contemporary sci-fi film that asks the question, “How are human beings changing as a result of, and in concert with, technology?” This is a beautiful, challenging, and utterly moving film. It takes place in the not-so-distant-future, with a hybrid mix of 1940s/contemporary fashion, sleek, minimal, and colorful sets; we can see a slightly familiar setting, but the surroundings are also different.

We begin the movie meeting Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who recently separated from his wife. He purchases a new operating system that recently launched where a personal interface, with a soothing voice, interacts with its customer to keep them organized. What happens when that voice seems to know you better than your neighbor, friend, spouse? What if you got along with it better than the humans around you? What is real love?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Francis Lawrence, 2013
I read all three of Suzanne Collins’ novels before seeing The Hunger Games. For this film, I went into the theater already a fan. The protagonist, Katniss, is a female character I find interesting to watch(read); strong, fiercely loyal to her family and friends, but still vulnerable. Catching Fire built upon the world we were introduced to in the first film and also nicely incorporated new characters and obstacles. We find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) dealing with PTSD after returning from the Games. After some unfortunate events transpire, they must return as tributes to the Hunger Games and begin to learn the true meaning of love and trust.

Mud | Jeff Nichols, 2013
Mud begins as two young teenaged boys, Neckbone and Ellis, travel along the Mississippi river to find an abandoned boat that they want to make their own. During their trip, they realize a mysterious (and dangerous?) man is actually living in their boat. The boys are intrigued by this man  (played by Matthew McConaughey) and his plight to reunite with his lost love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Meanwhile, the young boy, Ellis, is grappling with his own feelings towards a girl in town and the fact that his parents marriage is on the rocks, which might force him to move from their houseboat into town. Mud beautifully captures this small town in Arkansas, adolescence, friendship, and most importantly the role that true-love plays in our lives.

Pitch Perfect | Jason Moore, 2012
Comedies, in my opinion, are more difficult to get right. Usually they start out promising, but about 2/3 of the way jokes start to become more important than the plot. Pitch Perfect is a musical comedy about the world of a cappella collegiate singing. This movie isn’t without its formulaic qualities, but because the performances are believable, I loved being taken along for the ride. We learn that with a little teamwork, vulnerability, and a lot of harmony anything can be accomplished.

Ruby Sparks | Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2012
The directors of Little Miss Sunshine collaborated with Paul Dano and his real life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, to create a smart, funny, and poignant romantic comedy. Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a writer, who as a young man hit the big time on his first novel. Unfortunately, he has been experiencing writers block ever since. He begins to fantasize and then write about the perfect girl of his dreams. One day, to his great astonishment, he finds her in his apartment! Ruby Sparks touches on why we need our partners to challenge us; the fantasy of being able to write the script to our life is more appealing than the reality it brings.

A Separation | Asghar Farhadi, 2011
This film swept the foreign language awards in 2012, winning an Academy Award and Golden Globe (internationally it fared even better winning acting awards). The main characters, Nader and Simin, have been married for 14 years and have an 11-year-old daughter. Simin is becoming frustrated with her life in Iran and desires to move out of the country, but Nader refuses to leave his aging father with Alzheimers. Simin requests a divorce, but the court determines there isn’t adequate ruling to approve the divorce. so Simin moves in with her parents. This change forces Nader to hire a women, Razieh, to watch his father while he is at work. Nadar is a little delusional on how well his father can function independently and due to religious restrictions, taking care of a male, non-family member, causes problems for Razieh. There is a scene where she has to call a religious hotline to seek permission to clean him after an accident. I viewed this film as someone unfamiliar with Iranian customs, but it is a beautiful film about the messy aspects of life are relatable to us all.

Three Colours Trilogy: Blue, White, Red | Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993, 1994, 1994
I am cheating a little by including Blue, White, and Red as a single unit on this list, but it is hard to separate them. Renowned Polish director and screenwriter, Krzysztof Kieślowski uses the colors and motto of the French flag to weave together these three movies, while neither of them share a storyline.

Blue reflects on emotional liberty as we watch Julie (Juliette Binoche) wrestle with her new identity, free of family ties after personal tragedy strikes. It is hauntingly beautiful.

White hints on the idea of equality by following the journey of Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant living and working as a hair dresser in France. His marriage falls apart and, because of some spiteful actions from his wife (played by Julie Delpy), Karol finds himself with no money. He quickly hatches a plan to return to Poland, rebuild his reputation, and take revenge on his wife.

Of the three films, Red was my favorite. We meet, Valentine (Irène Jacob), a college student/part-time model who, while out driving late one night, hits a dog. She tries to return the dog, but the owner seems weirdly uninterested so she has no choice but to nurse the dog back to health. Throughout the film we see these characters connecting through unlikely circumstances.

What were some of your favorites, old or new, that you saw this year?

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Merry Christmas

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Wishing you all a beautiful and warm Christmas from my family to yours! We’ve been very blessed this year and we are looking forward to 2014.

In the meantime, I have a little treat for you. Below is a cover of WHAM!’s “Last Christmas” that my husband’s band, Hallows, recorded. Enjoy!

 

Favorites of 2013: Music

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As each year passes, I’ve found it more difficult to remember what I took in culturally: did I watch/listen/read that? I’m going to use this space to catalogue my favorites, starting with music! Please let me preface that obviously this isn’t the list, but just my list as I don’t listen to all styles and genres of music. My list is in alphabetical order, but I if I had to pick my favorite musical discovery of this year, it would be Lorde.

Arcade Fire | Reflektor
Arcade Fire is a band that I regret to admit I didn’t fully understand when I first heard them. Why do they have, like, 20 members? What is with the costumes? I even had the opportunity to see them live a few years ago, but I declined and Jordan brought his brother instead. Despite my earlier mistake, I have grown to like them a lot. This album is a combination of dissonant rhythms and melodies that blend together to create a full rich sound. The dance type songs don’t feel rushed either – perfect for dancing. 

Favorite Song: Here Comes The Night Time |Spotify| iTunes|

Andrew Belle | Black Bear
Everyone needs that album. You know what I’m talking about, the album that you put on to let out a good cry, read a book, take a nap, work creatively or enjoy some good marriage snuggle time 😉 This isn’t background music, but mood setting music: pure emotive and honestly simply beautiful. Andrew Belle’s Black Bear just kind of blew me away.

Favorite Song: Many Lives |Spotify| iTunes|

Beyoncé | Beyoncé
Beyoncé almost didn’t make this list because her album snuck up on all of us! I was a Destiny’s Child fan (I can still recite all of the lyrics from “Say My Name”, despite not having heard the song in years), but Beyoncé always led that train. While, I’ve admired Beyoncé, this album is the first one of hers where I’ve actually liked the entire journey not just the pit stops (i.e. singles). Job well done, Mrs. Carter. Or as Jordan said, “I can’t believe how good this album is.”

Favorite Song: XO |iTunes|

Ellie Goulding | Halcyon Days
Technically, this is a re-release of her 2012 album, Halcyon, so I’m cheating bit. BUT there are ten new songs, so I’m just going to count it as something separate! Jordan and I first discovered Ellie when she performed on SNL in May of 2011. I was so impressed, I bought her album, Lights, and have followed her career ever since. The lyrics on this album are storytelling like a folk song, but her breathy voice and ethereal dance music creates a style all to her own.

Favorite Song: Burn (from the new released songs) |Spotify| iTunes|

Lorde | Pure Herion
It’s kind of amazing to think that a 16 year-old from NZ could take the US music scene by storm in only a few months, but that’s exactly what happened this summer with Lorde. I have probably listened to this album the most this year, particularly when I am getting ready in the morning and I need some extra pep!

Favorite Song: Ribs |Spotify| iTunes|

Paul McCartney | NEW
I love that Paul McCartney still puts out new music… and thankfully, it is also really really good. Jordan and I saw Sir Paul live at Wrigley Field a few years ago and he was amazing: played for three hours without stopping for anything, even to drink water! I also think it’s pretty cool that George Martin’s son was one of the producers on this album. If you like the Beatles sound and Paul’s songwriting then you may fall in love with this album and how some new elements are fused with the old.

Favorite Song: Alligator |Spotify| iTunes|

M.I.A. | Matangi
M.I.A. is just cool and that coolness echoes in her music. Matangi is little mixture of R&B, world music beats, synth sounds, and a whole lot of confidence. M.I.A.’s lyrics are like that friend who says what everyone else is thinking but is too afraid to say out loud. This is apparent in her take on the YOLO trend, explained in the song “Y.A.L.A.”, “If you only live once, why we keep doing the same [stuff]?”

Favorite Song: Only 1 U |SpotifyiTunes|

Paramore | Paramore
I admired Paramore’s earlier music, but it was a little young sounding for me. I kinda got tired of the pop punk music of my youth (Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, etc.). Thankfully, I have Jordan who tends to know what’s up on good music and who encouraged me to take a fresh listen. This album is a mature Paramore and delivers wonderful pop rock songs. And even if this isn’t your style, you can’t deny Haley Williams can SAAANG.

Favorite Song: Hate to See Your Heart Break |SpotifyiTunes|

Katy Perry | Prism
I just love Katy. Prism is reminiscent of the less moody/grunge 1990s music and I mean that as a compliment! S Club 7, anyone? When I was little, I let myself fully embrace the pop ballads and sang my little heart out while roller blading down my street wearing overalls 🙂 There are also great messages mixed in through out this album. In “It Takes Two”which is essentially a song about breaking up, instead of blaming the other she speaks about how we must be the first to say “I’m sorry.”

Favorite Song: International Smile |SpotifyiTunes|

Phoenix | Bankrupt!
Back in the early years of dating (2005), Jordan came to me with the discovery of a new band, Phoenix.  Well, new to us at least 🙂 I loved them instantly and Thomas Mars (lead singer) is instantly cooler because he’s married to Sofia Coppola (one of my favorite, young film directors). Jordan and I saw them play a sold out show at the Aragon Ballroom this September and it was one of the best nights of this year. Bankrupt! is full of intimate lyrics paired with anthemic melodies and slightly aloof-synth-dance style rock & roll.

Favorite Song: S.O.S. in Bel Air |SpotifyiTunes|

Justin Timberlake | The 20/20 Experience
I grew up in that prime time to fully embrace the boy band, but I never did. My access to music mainly came from my older brothers (Blink 182 to the Cranberries), but I always knew Justin had something special. Jordan and I have really enjoyed his appearances on SNL and would wonder if a return to music would happen! This album sounds deliberate, a clear stepping stone to set him apart from basically everyone he was associated with early on in his music career (watching the members of ‘N sync perform next to him during this year’s VMA’s was just sad). This album is a little less pop and a little more soul.

Favorite Song: Strawberry Bubblegum |SpotifyiTunes|

Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampires of the City
I will always associate Vampire Weekend with my naive newly-wed days (as their first album released the same year as our wedding), and just like I continue to mature so does Vampire Weekend. They came on the scene with the vibe of preppy east-coast rockers mixed with some Paul Simon Graceland musical vibes. This third release has pushed aside collegiate songs for lyrics that evoke thoughts that arise as we/they reach their 30s. “Wisdom’s a gift/But you’d trade it for youth.”

Their dance like quality hasn’t completely vanished though, Jordan and I may sometimes put on this album and dance around our apartment listening to “Diane Young”.

Favorite Song: Unbelievers |Spotify| iTunes|

Kanye West | Yeezus
Despite myself, I absolutely bought into this album. It’s at times crass, abrasive, genius, or any other polarizing adjective you want to throw into the mix, but it also didn’t sound like anything else I listened to this year. It’s masterful in the way that it pushes boundaries and sets itself in a class all its own. I don’t know if I can say it better than the New York Times:

“An aggressive demand for attention…Yeezus arrives with all eyes and ears on Mr. West…Mr. West’s response to all that scrutiny is an album that stays as combative as its opening zap …the album is one long, efficient, inventive kick in the head.”

Favorite Song: New Slaves |SpotifyiTunes|

What were some of your favorite albums this year?

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Music Monday: Christmas Edition

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The time has come to begin baking Christmas cookies, decorate your tree, and of course listen to lots and lots of Christmas music! I was tempted to start listening before Thanksgiving, but I held off until last week. As someone who spent much of my youth in either a band (I played clarinet) or choir, I am well versed in traditional and nontraditional holiday music; the good, the bad, and the ugly songs (I’m sorry, but “I saw mommy kissing santa claus”, is just weird however you look at it).

Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby were on regular rotation in my house growing up, but more recently, I like my Christmas music on the melancholy dreamy side. I discovered that I liked my Christmas music this way basically because of Sufjan Stevens‘ Songs for Christmas. It’s a little bit weird, but equally beautiful; new songs mixed with traditional hymns and instrumental versions. Jordan and I used his arrangement of “Holy, Holy, Holy” at our wedding.

These box sets started as personal gifts Sufjan gave to friends and family each year, eventually he bound the EP’s together; stickers and posters are included 🙂 Songs for Christmas came out in 2006 and Silver & Gold was released last year. If you are looking for a few songs to begin with here are a few of my favorites: “Silent Night”, “Sister Winter”, “Only at Christmas Time”,” Star of Wonder”, “The Midnight Clear”, and “The Friendly Beasts.”

Sufjan Stevens Silver and Gold

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