Tag Archives: album review

LHG’s Top 14 Albums of 2014!

Okay, so I’m a week late, but hey, better late than never, right? It was once my all-time dream to write for SPIN Magazine and be the female Chuck Klosterman (okay, it still is my dream) but sometimes I realize that when I write about music, I am anything but objective. I’m usually emotional and my own feelings stem into the songs I love the most, so I guess what I’m really getting at is that if you’re looking for an unbiased report of the “best albums in 2014” you might want to click away. Below is the list of tracks that I loved, unashamedly, and probably obsessively talked my friends’ ears off about while they politely nodded.

Anyway, let’s get to the good stuff! Because I was raised in the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation, I have to start by saying that there were a few albums that just missed my countdown, and are as such, “honorable mentions” of my year. In no particular order, they are:

All were excellent, and yes, all are linked to Spotify for your listening pleasure- but remember, vinyl is best!

What really went into permanent rotation and obsession in 2014? To the countdown!

14. Lake Street Dive, Bad Self Portraits

These are the kids who were actually successful music majors and had fun while they were at it. Play this album at a dinner party, play this album in the car, but mostly play this album when you’re alone, because your attempts to singalong to Rachel Price and try to master her smooth, incredible voice might be in vain, but it’s still an amazing mix of songs to make you feel like you’re living in your own personal modern jazz club. (But seriously, when do I get to sound like her?)

Key Tracks: You Go Down Smooth, Seventeen, Bad Self Portraits, Rabid Animal

13. Bleachers, Strange Desire

Take the best things about the 80s- power rock, singalongs, John Hughes-esque scores, Yoko Ono, and whoa-whoa’s- and put them with the sharpest indie songwriter producer on the block currently and you’ll get Jack Antonoff’s baby: this album. Just reread that sentence, say yes, and play it.

Key Tracks: Wild Heart, Rollercoaster, I Wanna Get Better, You’re Still A Mystery

12. Miranda Lambert, Platinum 

There’s a reason this girl can do whatever she wants and is at the top of her game, and that’s song selection and vocal range. Miranda can do twang mixed with powerhouse guitars mixed with major harmonies and it all comes out perfect. Her clever songwriting has only gotten better, too, and I’m forever a fan.

Key Tracks: Platinum, Priscilla, Bathroom Sink, Old Sh!t, All That’s Left, Hard Staying Sober

11. Shakey Graves, And The War Came

A little local Austin love that’s going to be big this year. I can’t wait to see how 2015 treats him. You know that artist that weird indie kids who go to art school and your Dad’s best classic-rock-inclined friends both love? Oh, you don’t? Put on this album and find out.

Key Tracks: Only Son, Dearly Departed, The Perfect Parts, Hard Wired

10. Lee Ann Womack, The Way I’m Livin’

Hello country music and a woman- two things I have desperately missed out on seeing together in the same sentence. Lately the genre hasn’t put many women at the forefront, but Lee Ann Womack is leading the charge without even campaigning- just on the laurels of this album alone. If nothing else, I am convinced that she has the hands-down best voice in country music and that she is also a vocal angel sent here to save us all. Moreso, this album lets her take us to church (more on that metaphor later, though) with bluegrass-y goodness and sassy lyrics. What a lady.

Key Tracks: Chances Are, The Way I’m Livin’, Tomorrow Night in Baltimore

9. Noah Gundersen, Ledges

Warning: you might cry. This may not be the soundtrack to any sunny days, but when it rains it pours, and Ledges is a good flood to be caught in. Noah Gundersen writes honest songs that cut deep, but isn’t that why we love music? To help us express things, or at the very least, give us the means to say, “me too” to any revealing lyric? I hope so. Crack open a bottle of whiskey before you start this one, but don’t make any immediate plans, because you’ll need to digest feelings of love lost, worn childhood, addiction and bleak hope. Also, maybe turn your phone off to avoid that temptation to text your ex.

Key Tracks: Ledges, First Defeat, Liberator, Cigarettes

8. Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else

It’s so hard for me to find women songwriters that I love, but when I do, I love them with the ferocity of a mother lion protecting her cubs, since I feel like the music industry doesn’t do a good job keeping them around. Fiercely so, Lydia Loveless earns her place in my heart and in this list as an all around badass. She and I are the same age, and for better or worse, her lyrics feel like I could have come out of my own journal, so for that fact I love her like she’s my own personal, darker and more relevant Taylor Swift (although, I have to admit that even though I’ve never been a T.S. kind gal, I actually liked 1989.) Regardless, hooray girl power! She’s the type of girl who’ll shoot a gun (and some whiskey) with you. She’s the type of girl with a killer record collection. She’s the type of girl who can make a song about drunkenly calling your ex sound almost romantic, and for that, I applaud her (and also realize drunk texts/calls are becoming a theme in this list? Oops.)

Key Tracks: Really Wanna See You, Wine Lips, To Love Somebody, Head, Somewhere Else

7. Eric Church, The Outsiders

If you didn’t know better, someone might try to tell you that Eric Church was a major country star. While that’s partially true, he’s also apparently a fan of every other genre, as he mixes them in this gem of an album. There’s nods of Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC and yes, even some Hank Williams Jr in these tracks, but mostly, there’s a man who just loves music and songwriting and can’t stay in one place, and trust me when I say that I’m so thankful he doesn’t.

Key Tracks: Cold One, Talladega, Broke Record, That’s Damn Rock & Roll, Give Me Back My Hometown

6. St Paul & The Broken Bones, Half The City

Get ready for your ears to be rocked and taken back to a time when vocals and horns married together for a big-band-whoa-is-this-real-music-or-what moment that lasted. I dare you to not be blown away by the raw vocal talent of Paul Janeway (like how he completely nailed this Otis Redding cover!) Oh, and when his band joins in? Mm. HMM. You just go ahead and try not feel something. You feel it, don’t you? Feel it in your soul? That’s what this album does. Every song is a ride of funk mixed with fun that hits you in the insides. SPATBB mix lighthearted flirting in Call Me with pure, tear-me-in-half heartache on Broken Bones and Pocket Change, and  you’ll thank them for both. You’ll love this album, your Mom and Dad will love this album, and anyone nearby while you play it might just start dancing, so be warned. Oh, and seeing them live? You’re not even prepared.

Key Tracks: Like A Mighty River, Call Me, Broken Bones & Pocket Change, I’m Torn Up

5. Shovels & Rope, Swimmin’ Time

If you don’t know, you might think this married couple has an entire backing band, but it’s just the two of them, consistently making music that’ll knock your socks off. This album is an instant classic (along with their 2012 release O’ Be Joyful) mostly because they mix the love of Johnny and June with the unhinged nature of Sid and Nancy, and the result is music that makes me so happy we don’t have to pick one genre. Go ahead and have em all: swamp, americana, rock, country, singer-songwriter, comical, sincere, and just simply, Shovels and Rope, preferable banging on drums and guitars all day long.

Key Tracks: The Devil Is All Around, Evil, After The Storm, Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan, Coping Mechanism

4. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

If you know me at all, it’s that I’m tired of apologizing for my love of country music, and I’ll be damned if this album didn’t help me overcome that. This album (literally) sounds like Waylon is living inside of every song, so of course I love it,  but it’s the way that Sturgill just did the whole thing- big labels be damned and released it independently. It sounds like old mixed with new, from lyrics about drug trips to  You don’t have to work on a farm to be authentic to the style, but the truth’s in the delivery and the sentiment, and Sturgill’s songwriting and musicianship proudly seal him with the title of “country” – a word that’s been tarnished and stepped on and redefined all the time. This new title is one that he won’t apologize for and I think it fits pretty damn well (not to mention the fact that it’s also a kickass album musically and his voice is a near-perfect gravel to tell you about the hard life he’s lived.)

Key Tracks: Turtles All The Way Down, Life of Sin, Living The Dream, Long White Line, The Promise

3. Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams

If you’ve loved Ryan Adams even a little, then this album is for you (and since I love him like a lot, I’m still preaching on its perfection). He’s struck several chords between rock and roll to Americana to sad-drunk-guy-serenading you and this album has all of them mixed together. I finally got the chance to see him live this year, too, so hearing these on stage mixed with “My Winding Wheel” and “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and “Magnolia Mountain” along with his sincerity and excitement to be playing in Austin also makes this album a sentimental pick. But more than that, it’s always amazing to see someone who’s been around so long still make consistently great music, and this collection of tracks makes me just as excited for whatever he puts out next. Plus, ask any fan of Tom Petty and/or sound-engineer friend you have and they’ll rave about this one for a while. (Oh, you didn’t know all sound engineers loved Tom Petty or you don’t have sound engineer friends who talk about gear all day? Lucky you.)

Key Tracks: Kim, Shadows, My Wrecking Ball, Feels Like Fire

2. Damien Rice, My Favorite Faded Fantasy

Ahh yes. For 8 years, 8 LONG YEARS, I have waited for this day. I have blogged multiple times (embarrassingly) about how much I wanted a new Damien Rice album to happen. I have set @damienrice’s tweets to be delivered to my phone in case he announced anything new, partly in fact that I am overcoming a 9th grade fangirl love of him, and partly because his old albums meant so much to me that I could hardly imagine a new one, and this one….well, sigh. It wasn’t the same—but that’s what made it even more perfect! It was Damien 8 years later, broken up with his longtime collaborator Lisa Hannigan, and I was me 8 years later, also having broken up with a few people and habits since he last gave me an album to love in 2006. This album was new for both of us, short but sweet, packing honest-to-a-fault lyrics with sweeping instrumentals and gorgeous vocals and sentiments that put him on the map in the first place. You feel like you could crush the sincerity of this album with its delicate moments, but at the same time, it’s so comfortable to fall back into his emotionally-charged world that you might not leave. Maybe someday I’ll stop loving sad music, but probably not.

Key Tracks: ALL OF IT! But, if you make me choose: The Greatest Bastard, I Don’t Want To Change You, Colour Me In, It Takes A Lot To Know A Man

1. Hozier, Hozier

It takes a lot of soul and goosebumps-inducing sounds to steal the top spot as a new artist from all my other favorites, but this album did it in a huge way. Besides my obvious crush on Hozier, his voice and his man bun, these tracks all hit me right in my heart and ears and didn’t leave. Before the world caught on to Take Me To Church (and yes, I admitedly sound totally hipster with that sentence) I was living in Nashville and uncomfortable with my life, relationships and job, and I remember the local radio station started playing this amazing song that bowled me over the first time I heard it, driving down 8th avenue to work at 4 AM. It swelled and it felt emotional and it felt like something brand new,  and has stuck with me since. There’s a joy in getting wrapped up in an album and this one did it for me from start to finish, and well into all the live performance videos I researched on Youtube, too. Hozier’s the real deal, putting everything into live performances while also making artful albums with both rock and soul, and I have a feeling 2015 is going to be good to him and to my new obsession with him.  Speaking of, if any of you know of any cute single guys with man buns and guitars, well…

Key Tracks: NO, SERIOUSLY, ALL OF IT. but if you make me pick: Jackie and Wilson, Someone New, Work Song, To Be Alone

Whew! Since you made it this far- 2 things:

1. Here’s a playlist of my key tracks as a reward:

2. I want to hear from you! Surely I can’t be alone in my music snobbery! What were your favorite albums of 2014?

On Rumours (I Want To Be Stevie Nicks When I Grow Up)

In case you’ve been living under a very conveniently shaped rock, you may have heard of a small band named Fleetwood Mac. And unless there’s a lot of room under that rock, you may know they released one of the greatest albums of all time – Rumours – in 1977. And under a very small pebble beneath that enormous rock, you may find the knowledge that the very same fantastic album was rereleased in an expanded edition this year with never-before-heard exclusive tracks and live demos.

But hey, a little less living under rocks and a little more, Rock on, Gold Dust Woman.

Rumours means a lot to me, and probably too much.

rumours2

(so close)

I owe this love to four great women – the first two, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, aka, the women behind the Mac. I’ve idolized their sound, their style, their melodies, their deep-understanding-of-relationship-emotions, and their lyrics and you don’t know how many times I wish I could go back in time and shake a tambourine alongside the both of them. The second two are my mom and my roommate Kathrine, both of whom understand my love for the album, and have played it for me multiple times.

If you’ve ever had any emotional reaction to a breakup or a rocky relationship, Rumours is for you. So basically, if you are a human being with a pulse, I am convinced that there is a song on Rumours that you need to hear, and will love. I don’t need to wax poetic about the fact that the album was recorded while the entire band was pretty much divorcing each other and caught up in relationship messes. After all, there are whole documentaries related to this fact, and they play on repeat at our house, but that’s neither here nor there. Who hasn’t taken the Stevie’s advice in Dreams? (I mean, players do only love you when they’re playing.) Who hasn’t wanted to yell out to a former flame to Go Their Own Way or that seriously, after this, they’re Never Going Back Again? If the bass line (that bass line!) and harmonies in The Chain don’t hit you hard, are you even breathing? Haven’t you wanted to tell someone, both simply and overwhelmingly powerfully, that “You Make Loving Fun? And, even if you’ve heard it in a million political campaigns, ‘Don’t Stop thinking about tomorrow’ is still true and powerful. And, mind you, this is all without even touching on the tears and the sweetness that Songbird is sure to bring.

But no, it’s not like I’m obsessed with this album or anything.

IMG_3697

I’ll sum it up easily. About a month or so ago, Kathrine and I went to go see The Long Players play Rumours in full. The Long Players are a Nashville local band full of expert musicans known for playing classic albums all the way through, with which me and Kathrine’s 40-year-old-white-man-taste in music, is extremely wonderful and helpful, considering most of our musical heroes are dead, no longer touring, or no longer together. Having never seen Fleetwood Mac live (yet), this performance had a lot riding on it, and it did not disappoint, to the point of even having old guitar players from Fleetwood Mac onstage (!!!). Even though it wasn’t 1977 and it wasn’t the real band, Kathrine and I sang every song with the fervor of superfans, surrounded by our favorite melodies. However, the best part came from when we looked around and noticed that the venue was PACKED, even so far as to find out it sold out that night, which, in Nashville, is unheard of. And in that packed crowd, we realized we weren’t alone in our love for this collection of songs and what they’d gotten us through, because everyone else there had the same feelings, even if they’d been listening to the vinyl since before we both were born.

There was a large group of women in the front row with us, and they kept turning to me and Kathrine and smiling, because I think they knew. I mean, they had to know, just like my Mom knew from a young age, that her singing “Landslide” in our home, along with my penchant for wearing ponchos, big blonde waves, and 70s fabric would make me love Stevie Nicks a great deal. But I am convinced that these women in the front row had to have known that Kathrine and I both strongly want to be Stevie Nicks when we grow up (or really, now) because they had wanted to be her as well. They had all wanted to drape scarves over a mic stand and wear flowy outfits and twirl around the stage and tell off past loves through the best lyrics, and they had lived that dream, growing up alongside her. Fastforward to now, and even though we were all a few years behind, together, ages 22-70, we were all Gold Dust Women, rocking on and swaying along with a tambourine to Mick Fleetwood’s solos and fills and sharing the harmonies (and emotional baggage) with Lindsey Buckingham.

And in that moment, more than anything, I remembered that good music makes you feel something, no matter how many times you’ve heard it. Good music makes you happy and sad and angry and honest, but it doesn’t try and tell you what to do. It simply sympathizes and fills you with the sense that you’re not alone.

Even though I’m not Stevie Nicks (yet), I still have Rumours to love.

And so Rumours continues to exist and evoke feeling, whether the full band tours again or makes new music. Rumours captures one small moment in time, 11 songs, and just over 39 minutes total of musical satisfaction – for me, at least. Rumours  is cheaper and more efficient than any therapist, worn-in and well-traveled and loved like a good pair of leather (and lace) boots that fit perfectly each time you put them on, and, in constant rotation on 3 separate vinyl copies in my house.

And even though I could spend a million more words on just talking about why “Silver Springs” is one of the best songs ever written should have been a part of the original album release (seriously), I’ll end this emotional album overflow with a quote that Kathrine has said time and again-

“Maybe one day I’ll love a man as much as I love Rumours…but probably not.”

You Should Buy This Album: Julia Nunes

I steal things. I regret to tell you this, internet, because I love to be wrapped up in nothing but original creativity, but some of my little great ideas are recycled.

Some of my perceived coolness (if not most) comes from me loving and capitalizing on the greatness of Julia Nunes- Youtube-sensation, ukulele lady and wonderful-sounding musician.

Who is Julia Nunes? Only my musical soul-sister! Observe:

She’s one of the very big reasons that the ukulele became to so appealing to me. Well, that, and long-story-short, I had gotten myself into a little period of intense loneliness living alone my freshman year and buying the most adorable instrument saved me from going crazy in my room and allowed me to start writing my own songs, which in turn saved me thousands of dollars in therapy. Not kidding.

But, back to Julia. Her videos are popular, if you’re a youtube music junkie (which I admittedly am) and if you look hard enough, you might just find other videos on the internet of a certain lion-haired girl harmonizing over herself and recording in the same possible way. Coincidence? Hardly.

Julia Nunes writes honestly. Her lyrics are altogether fun and at the same time sincerely heartfelt, and never over-thought. They’re so relate-able that I swear the universe gave me her songs to help me not feel so alone, like, for example, these two:

Right? And those are originals. Don’t even get me started on her cover songs. Amazing.

I found her new album, Settle Down, at Waterloo in Austin a few months ago, screamed like I had won the lottery, purchased it earnestly, and it has scarce left my car since. I listen to it on repeat in my room and just want to nod along to every line. Seriously, it’s sometimes like I’m one of those crazy fangirls who hears her lyrics and agrees aloud in a New Jersey accent, like, “Oh, Julia, darrling I know. I totally understand. He was just not good for us, right? Sing it, sister.”

Her voice is a lower alto (just like mine!) so I don’t feel so alone singing in the lower part of songs. Also, she somehow manages to overcome the stereotype of cutesy-girl-ukulele music. If the solo-girl-with-one-instrument sound isn’t your thing, not to worry! Her arrangements have a full band on this album and it really shines. Her delivery has always been honest and I so look forward to seeing what she does in the future. I mean, she did break records when funding this album on Kickstarter.com, asking for $15,000 and ending up raising an incredible $77,888, and that dedication of her fans and supporters alone is super-impressive. Plus, she’s made her fame on the internet, and if you know me at all, you know that in some weird twisted way, I love the internet. I think the internet can be a wonderful place to be creative and encouraged and find a little community, whether through music, videos, blogging, social media, or even Lord Of The Rings messageboards. Not that I would know about that last one, though. (I actually would know.)

Could I obsess any more? It’s possible, but I’ll save that for some other time. Heck, one of my dearest friendships started because he and I shared a crazy love for Julia and her music! And music bringing people together is what the whole crazy thing is about anyway, right?

In all honesty, go buy Settle Down here or here or listen to it for free. Also, look for it and request it at your local music shop (Do people besides me do that? We should all start doing that!).  Or just start watching any of her great videos on Youtube and fall in love.

*And to any college freshman girls out there, if you are lonely and confused and emotional because college is just one big time for all those feelings, please forgo eating out for a week or consolidate your laundry money and buy a ukulele instead. My first and still-favorite uke was $50 with a coupon, you can get it here, and it’ll be so much better in the long run. I’ll even teach you if you want! When you learn two little chords in five minutes, because, yes, it is that easy, allow yourself to feel like a rockstar, and then keep on learning from there.

Play as often as you can, but know that once you start becoming known as “that girl with the ukulele”, you’ll probably be compared to Julia Nunes pretty frequently. Don’t worry, though, because in actuality, being compared to her puts you in great company, and it is a super-huge-wonderful compliment anyway.

Photo Credit: here

Sooner or later, I have to talk about Arcade Fire (Part 1)

Okay, I’ve put it off long enough– let’s do this.

 I feel entitled to Arcade Fire.

I know what you’re thinking- yeah, you and every other hipster on the planet!

However, in some small way, I do. Their albums are like little snapshots of my growing up, and if that’s too much for you, you might want to stop reading because I’m about to get even more ridiculous. I don’t take music lightly, I can’t ignore it, can’t get enough of it, spend too much money on it and can talk about it for hours on end. Add that fact with my favorite-live-act-with-all-members-still-alive-and-still-touring and you get marathon-long paragraphs and comparisons. So buckle in, internet, because Arcade Fire and I have some talking to do.

My entitlement stems from the fact that each album this band has made ends up being one I can’t shake away. Instead, I want to hear it again, know all the words, learn the instrument parts, discuss it with people, play it for my friends and soak up ambitiously. So, I’ll do my best to tell you why.

Funeral, their first album, screams of growing up when you don’t want to, of seeing the hurt in the world and letting it creep in, but standing at the end with one fist in the air saying, “NOT YET! You can’t take us yet!” It’s a face-to-face conversation about death, about what to do when nothing lines up like you’d heard it would and about finding something great amidst so much loss. To me, Funeral declares that we may be young, but we’ll yell until we’re hoarse to prove that you can’t take away the beauty of the world yet no matter how much death may affect it. It’s the perplexity — growing up should be better because we learn more, experience more and share more, but it also means we deal with more hurt, more loss and more pain. “Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.” But it’s not all bad- there’s love to be found amidst the cold world, and if the snow buries my neighborhood, then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours. I have a feeling this album taught me how to be a secret romantic. Funeral spun on repeat in high school for me and stuck in my brain like advice- telling me that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure how to handle the world as I got older, but that it wasn’t hopeless. It’s never hopeless, and if it ever feels that way, just sing along as loud as you can.

Neon Bible, to say the least, takes the little speck of beauty found in the world and turns it upside down. Neon Bible, at least for me, is about taking that headstrong grown-up kid into America today and basically saying, well, this is it. Neon Bible is about not being satisfied, about wanting more and about setting up camp in this world and insisting HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT.  Sure, there’s beauty, but it’s been cut down and taken away and Neon Bible urges it to be brought back.  Neon Bible longs for more and while Funeral let you rest in its depth and harmonies, this album urges you to move, to not stand still but to be diligent in finding out how things really are.  Needless to say, this permeated my ears toward the end of high school and college. My biggest change-moving from the safety of home to being on my own, made a little more sense when this album played. The transition in my life and the fast pace it adopted all matched the rhythm of LET’S GO! The lyrics and drumbeats kept me moving, but still left me wanting more.

Combine both albums and all of these melodies were ones I wrapped up in and used as my own little defense to the world while growing up in The Suburbs.

Yes, I went there.

Perhaps Arcade Fire’s newest album, The Suburbs, is the one I stake the most claim on. We can say it’s because the lead singer Win Butler and his brother Will grew up in the Woodlands, a suburb of Houston, Texas that is less than an hour away from my precious suburban hometown, but that’s too easy. We grew up near each other- no big deal, really. (Okay, it’s a little bit exciting for a music nerd like me. Sue me.) However, Suburbs strikes something with me because it’s beautiful, and I suppose I love to hear beautiful things, but it is also so ridiculously expressive and celebratory that I can’t turn it off. This frustration that continues about not being ready to transition into the real world is at its highest in these sixteen tracks, and it’s thick with nostalgia. And you know what, internet? I suppose to be honest with you, it would be so easy to tell you that high school wasn’t Disneyland and I’m overjoyed to be moved out of the seemingly-sheltered place I once lived, but sometimes I get crippled by my childhood, wishing that I could go back. I’m not saying college is a battlefield, but take it from Peter Pan or everyone on this earth that I’ve met- growing up is hard. And so to return to the place where it seemed easier, to the place where so many things, for better or for worse, shaped me into the person I am today- well, it gets me every time. “The kids wanna be so hard- but in my dreams we’re still screaming and running through the yard.” Sometimes I want to saunter on back to my old doorstep and remember when riding my bike through our neighborhood was my biggest concern. Call it emotional, but I can’t distance myself from this album and I’m so grateful Arcade Fire wrote it to share some of their own same feelings.

……..Or, you know, maybe they just wrote it to win the Grammy and are musicians with no soul. I doubt it, but in the end, it doesn’t matter to me. I like the art more than the artist, anyway.

Simply put, the fact that I have found just a small collection of songs that I can relate to in a real sense is enough of a celebration to carry me for a long time. When artists seem to take the words from my mouth and write about exactly what I feel, I get obsessed and excited. However, what’s even more exciting is when I see a stage with this displayed-

Seeing some of my favorite songs performed by some of my favorite musicians less than 5 feet in front of my face at a loud volume!!? Well, that’s a subject I can really get wordy about.

I saw Arcade Fire two nights in a row, front row, and I can honestly say those two nights were two of the best in my short twenty years to date.

….But, that’s another post altogether.

(Part 2 on its way!)

Happy Adele Tuesday, Yall!

Things you should do today:

  1. Buy Adele‘s album, 21, on cd

  2. Buy Adele‘s album, 21, on iTunes

  3. Buy Adele‘s album, 21, on vinyl

  4. Tell a friend how fantastic Adele is

  5. Repeat steps 1-4!!!

I’m subtle, I know. Adele is not a phase or a trend or a singer that has a one-hit wonder. I know I can talk for hours about whatever is entertaining me at the moment, but this British sensation is here to stay, at least if I have any say in the matter. Adele is a woman whose voice is like a security blanket to me but at the same time, scares me so often with her intensity that I can’t help but write about her and encourage the world to hop on board her soul-lovin’ singalong philosophy.

Although it is officially released today, I’ve been anticipating since December and streaming her new album nearly every single day and finding myself growing attached to it like one does a therapist. Most often I want to talk back to each track and say, “Me too! I’ve been there!” or give my girl A a high five or a hug for belting out hard truths time after time. She sings the most honest lyrics, but unlike most female artists, her words don’t tell weak stories of a long-lost damsel in distress, upset simply after one boy didn’t look their way; Adele’s loved dangerously, given every ounce of her love the best she could and had it taken away so heartlessly. She isn’t just “the girl on the bleachers” (sorry, Taylor!). She’s strong but broken, and all at the same time held-together in her pain and struggles, slightly better by the fact that she will hit a high note or two that will make you shudder.

Best part? Homegirl is only 22 years old! She wrote the album when she was 21, hence the name. She’s scarcely 2 years older than this little lion! She’s barely been around the block, but she sings with pain that’s experienced and a wisdom beyond her years and I can’t, nor do I want to, get enough. The songs on 21 are diverse, written in anger, bitterness, sadness, memories, and laced with goodbyes, but at the same time the tiniest bit of maybe-I’m-not-over-you-after-all. Most of all, they all center around love, for better or worse.

I’ll be straight with you, internet. Without naming names, I have to interject that this album specifically affects me so deeply because at times it’s like someone reached into my little heart and brain pulled out the perfect rhymes and melodies to express exactly how I’ve felt and continue to feel. If I didn’t already tear up at how beautifully-sounding and written the entire album is, I’d be tearing up with how much I can relate. She says everything I wish I could say out loud and she says it with all the sass, hurt, pain and happiness that I could ever feel.

Holden Caulfield (of one of my absolute favorite books, The Catcher In The Rye), whether you adore him or hate him, has his quotable moments, and this one always gets me:

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

I’ve written on this quote before and worn it out, but I always come back to it because it happens so often to me. I wish I could call up Adele Adkins and tell her over a cup of coffee about my past few years. I wish we were terrific friends, because I have so many questions to ask her and compliments to give. That, and if she ever needed a backup singer, once I got past the sheer emotional rush that hit me every time she opened her mouth and let out a song, I’d be down. I’d be so down.

UPDATE: Z and I may have just bought out Target (their deluxe edition comes with 4 more tracks!) and Sundance Records. The Adele Tuesday Celebration continues, get excited!!

(Album Cover Photo Credit: here!)

Slow Dancing In A Blogging Room

For all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t be a John Mayer fan.

He’s not trendy enough. He’s too well known to blog about. He’s overexposed or sold out. He’s a white guy with soul. He’s easy to hate on because he’s sensitive and can say stupid things and got a sleeve tattoo and yadda yadda and he’s not edgy enough but not simple enough at the same time. HOWEVER, the moment you play me a song, it all fades away. Specifically, six words: Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.

Maybe you’ve already heard this before, internet, but I suggest you turn your speakers up, especially if you want to feel something. (Plus, it’s the live version!)

Listening? Okay, good. Now…do you feel that? He crams so much emotion into the first two notes of the song that it’s utterly breakable and that’s long before we even get to any heartwrenching lyrics! Something about the total package comes together in these six minutes for me. It doesn’t matter if he spouts off anything else ridiculous in tabloids or offstage, these few minutes are sacredly emotionally musically beautiful. Sure, you can call it just another breakup song, but it’s deeper than that. It’s anger, sadness, a little hope and wallowing all mixed together and spelled out in one phrase at a time. It’s three-dimensional feelings and he moves back and forth between them like a man scorned but still hooked.

He’s on a mission to pull emotion out of you whether it’s even there or not.

He’ll make you hurt and hold onto feelings you didn’t even think of until you heard that instrumental wail.

He’s a creature of pain for these few minutes, but it’s a good pain.

He sings like it troubles him and he plays the neck of his guitar like he’s letting go of his demons or embracing his angels, or maybe both at the same time.

He wants to tell this story so tenderly that you are wrapped up in it, wrapped up in his pleas to get rid of a doomed relationship, but faced with the ever-present feeling that he wants to continue this dance, even if it’s killing him and his six-string at the same time.

Consider me wrapped.

Sure, it’s relatable, but I think I could even be having a wonderful day and still feel a tinge of sadness when I hear him sing with eyes closed that, “baby, you’re the only light I ever saw.” GAH.

I mean, try as I may to avoid the John-Mayer-trance, he gets me every time. Now, after the six minutes are over, I can go back to not being a John Mayer fan just like that, but there’s always the catch: I’m scared to hear this song in public. Because I can act tough most days, but the notes this song starts with to the last brutal question of “don’t you think we ought to know by now?” will cripple me and knock me over with the sap and the riffs and the spilling-of-guts- emotions.

To whomever broke John Mayer’s heart, thank you a million times over, because heartbreak sounds so deliciously good on your former flame.