Weekend Links / / Lemonade and Girl Bosses

California Palm Tree

Jordan and I have entered the last leg of our California road trip. These past few weeks have been beautiful, relaxing, and tiring all neatly bundled together. Every night we crawl into bed, happily exhausted, and transfer photo after photo onto Jordan’s computer, but without the time to really dive in and review everything we’ve captured. That’ll have to wait until we get home. I’m very excited to relive this trip over and over again!

I haven’t had a lot of time to read blogs, but thanks to Bloglovin’ I have a nice collection saved for when we get home. I have managed to stay current with the most important news of the week…Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Are you loving it?

Continue reading “Weekend Links / / Lemonade and Girl Bosses”

Work Time Jams

Work Time Jams

When you really need to dig your heels in and accomplish a lot of work, setting the right mood is key. Watching a HGTV show such as Fixer Upper is possible while scheduling social media posts or editing photos, but for me it is far too distracting when writing content. Jordan feels the same way and over the years we have discovered several go-to albums (with minimal lyric distraction) and artists to turn on for work motivation.

I included a mixture of electronic, classical, and acoustic jams. A little something for everyone! I hope you find a new artist or two to add to your music listening rotation.

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Damage of Love

Father Hands EP Damage of Love

Let me gush a bit about my husband, Jordan, today! One of the qualities I admire the most about him is his desire to create and not limit himself to one arena. He inspires me to leave my doubts behind and do things even when they might be scary or seem like too much work.

Jordan and his brother, Josh, have been working on a new musical endeavor and their EP released earlier this week!

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2015

*All photos taken with our iPhones. Only press are allowed to bring cameras with detachable lenses into the park.

Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago

Jordan and I love seeing our favorite bands play live but we had never attended a music festival together. This was not because we lacked the desire. I think because we lived so close to Chicago (the location of so many awesome festivals), we took “going next year” for grated… that is, until we moved!

Jordan received a press pass for Pitchfork Music Festival last summer. He was only able to go one day. The plan fell together semi last-minute, so I wasn’t able to get off work, which was a huge bummer because Jordan saw St. Vincent play (ahh!). Chicago in the summertime is a special place, so after deciding to purchase three-day Pitchfork passes for this year, we created a full trip out of it! I’ll be sharing more about the rest of our trip later.

I’d love to talk about our experience at the festival and some of the bands we saw. Cool? Let’s do it!

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Favorites of 2014: Music

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There was a brief moment in time this year when I worried I wouldn’t have enough albums to constitute a “Best of” list. Boy, was I wrong! This was a great year in music, albeit quite different from years past.

One thought I had while narrowing down the choices was, do I compare one album against an artist’s entire catalogue or just among what was released that year? Lana Del Ray for instance, I really enjoyed her first album but her latest did nothing for me (it did show up on a few different lists, so I could be wrong). Would I have liked it on its own, without any expectations? I’m not sure.

As with last year’s selection, these albums are listed alphabetically not by preference. My favorite new discovery this year was the band, Alvvays. You can listen to all of my favorite songs (except those from T-Swizzle) on my handy Spotify playlist.

Alvvays | Alvvays
Jordan stumbled upon this album while casually searching the New Release section of Spotify. The album art stood out and he clicked for a listen. He liked what he heard and had to share with me. I have a thing for lovelorn/angsty/90s throwback music, ala The Cranberries. Alvvays hits the spot. I love the little production details on this record: like where Molly Rankin’s voice literally feels a little distant, muffled as though it’s being heard from an old record.

Favorite Song: “Archie, Marry Me” | iTunes

Amy Stroup | Tunnel
You might not know Amy Stroup by name, but you most certainly have heard her songs on CW television shows, national jewelry commercials or as Sugar in Sugar & The Hi-Lows. Amy quietly released Tunnel earlier this year and it’s the perfect blend of singer/songwriter honesty and dream pop stylings. “Sugar Amy” kills it.

Favorite Song: “Backburner” | iTunes

Ariana Grande | My Everything
Ariana Grande may be compared to Mariah Carey on a daily basis, but the girl has chops of her own. My Everything gifts us soulful pop songs that showcase Ariana’s powerful voice. It’s impossible not to sing along! Guilty pleasure? No, a straight-up pleasure.

Favorite Song: “Love Me Harder” | iTunes

Coldplay | Ghost Stories
From the first listen of Ghost Stories, filled with brooding songs of sadness and hope, I was mesmerized. Coldplay’s records have carried me through teenage angst all the way through present day. Can we just ignore the recent news that Coldplay is retiring after their next album. I am just glad that I’ve seen them live twice.

Favorite Song: “Midnight” | iTunes

Colony House | When I Was Younger
Some music I listen to strictly for the beat, sort of pushing the lyrics aside. Colony House is not one of those bands. Their music and lyrics are beautiful. For a debut rock album, I am continually drawn into the stories weaved throughout the album.

“Nothing is perfect, for that there’s no cure. So don’t you start to bury the good with the bad, and the ugly.” – “Silhouettes”

Favorite Song: “Caught Me By Surprise” | iTunes

Future Islands | Singles
Jordan and I went to see Future Islands right before we moved to Nashville. They put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite a while. Frontman Samual T. Herring’s persona has a level of energy that is beautiful and powerful all at once. The emotion behind the lyrics comes through the performance

Jeremy Larson from Pitchfork explains it this way, “His [Samual T. Herring] words are the sort of thing that would tumble out of your mouth if you were told to write a love poem right now in eight seconds. “She looks like the moon/ So close and yet so far” or “My sun every morning/ My star of the evening” are just two couplets that look slightly sappy on the page but sound so impulsively romantic when he sings them.”

Favorite Song: “Sun in the Morning” | iTunes

Jenny Lewis | The Voyager
Back before Spotify and legal digital downloads, I used to put CDs on my birthday wish list. I specifically remember the year I received More Adventurous. Jenny Lewis was the epitome of an effortless, chic California girl. It’s been six years since Jenny last put out a solo album. The Voyager is an album full of nostalgia, adventure and self-discovery.

“I never thought I would ever be here/ Looking out on my life as if there was no there there.” – “Head Underwater”

Favorite Song: “She’s Not Me” | iTunes

St. Vincent | St. Vincent
St. Vincent (aka. Annie Clark) has a very controlled, precise stage presence. At first this might be a bit off-putting, but the more I listen to her music the more she is a storyteller. This self-titled album is actually her fourth solo venture (previously she toured with Sufjan Stevens and as a member of The Polyphonic Spree) and is an exercise in pure Avant Garde rock. At first listen it might be difficult to embrace the controlled sound, but her lyrics tell a story worth hearing.

“Morning pry the windows open, Let in what’s so terrifying. Summer is as faded as a lone cicada call. Memories so bright I gotta squint just to recall. Regret the words I’ve bitten more than the ones I ever said.” – “Regret”

Favorite Song: “Regret” | iTunes

Sylvan Esso | Sylvan Esso
The man/woman duo to the 2000s+ has been what the 1990s was to boy band/girl band; a rat race, each trying to capitalize on their predecessor. Sylvan Esso (Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn) managed to create their own mix of electric/pop/folk that sounds fresh, amongst crowded airwaves. This album just gets better and better with each listen.

“…and when it comes time to throw on something at a summer gathering that’ll make people feel slightly hipper than they were when they arrived, Sylvan Esso will be a go-to.” Ian Cohen at Pitchfork.

Favorite Song: “Coffee” | iTunes

Taylor Swift | 1989
I have a confession to make. (Sigh) here it goes: In the recent past, I wasn’t the biggest Taylor Swift fan. I respected her artistry and career arc, but country music just isn’t my thing (minus my junior high obsession with Shania Twain). 1989 is my kind of Taylor: personal lyrics + pop tunes. Also, any girl who figures out a way to work with Imogene Heap is a winner in my eyes (she produced the song, “Clean”). Ms. Swift has finally won me over and I thank her for her persistence.

Favorite Song: “Blank Space” | iTunes

The War on Drugs | Lost in The Dream
The first few times Jordan put this record on, I found myself trying to figure out what it was exactly. At first listen, Lost in The Dream, sounds like a soundtrack to a road-trip movie. Once Adam Granduciel’s voice kicks in, I realize of course it isn’t a soundtrack. This album is not what you listen to while on a run, but it is exactly the type of record to listen to while pondering the meaning of life.

Favorite Song: “Red Eyes” | iTunes

TV On The Radio | Seeds
TV On The Radio reminds me of being young and in love (okay, I’m not exactly old yet!). Dear Science was released six months after we got married and was on constant rotation in our apartment. Anytime I hear a TOTR song, I am immediately transported to those car rides and apartment dance parties. 🙂 Seeds is TOTR’s fifth studio film and their modern rock n’ roll sound is still fresh and new.

Favorite Song: “Winter” | iTunes

Did any of your favorite albums of the year make my list?

/ / Here’s my playlist of favorite songs!

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How We Came To Be / / On Friendship and Music

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I like to say that Jordan and I fell in love while slow dancing to John Mayer. While we did experience the flicker of young love at his concert, there wasn’t exactly “slow dancing in a burning room.”

Let me back up a bit… My friend Bridget and I went to a lot of concerts in high school and college. She had the car and we both had the desire; we were the perfect match. It usually went something like this,

“Hey Catherine, so-and-so are playing next Friday. You free that night?”

“YES!”

There was the one time we saw Bright Eyes and Bridget became ill and I had to drive her car home. Mind you, I was 17 and had never driven in Chicago before. Or the time a group of us went to see Dashboard Confessional and wound up on MTV’s “Jammed” television special. From Modest Mouse and Imogen Heap to Fall Out Boy, we had too many great nights to count.

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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?

Heroine Queen

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Last fall, my husband’s band, Hallows, released their first single, Tiny Heart. I am very excited to share with you all their second single, Heroine Queen, which was released earlier this week. Not only do I just enjoy seeing my husband behind a drum kit, it’s been really interesting learning the ins and outs of creating a song: the writing, recording, producing, and mastering. It is a lot of work and I have the upmost respect for people who make music their sole career!

As always, if you enjoy the song please share! We appreciate your support.

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/ / Band photo by Joseph Fryer and Cindy He.

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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