Tag Archives: music

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?

Hannah Hunt

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a “Best Albums and Songs of 2014” list as a blog post, which I will invariably have to make because it would be a tragedy to you as the internet to not hear what a 24-year-old music snob considers the best few minutes of instruments and voices to be released this year, and also because this was actually a year in which two of my favorite musicians of all time put out highly-anticipated new albums that both gave me a lump in my throat upon listening. However, before talking about the good, I guess you have to talk about the other stuff, right?

I didn’t make a “Best Albums of 2013” blog post last year, but if I did, I’m sure Modern Vampires Of the City would be on it. MVOTC is an album that came out last year by a band called Vampire Weekend that has probably been the butt off too many “so-called” hipster jokes (but also one I personally never wrote about, so I guess not every hipster joke, right?). It was well-received in the indie music circles that obsess over 4-piece scruffy white dude bands and way-too-highly paid music critics who work for Rolling Stone and SPIN alike. It was a slightly different sound for Vampire Weekend and I know that there’s some technical term that escapes me for the way the audio engineer mixed the tracks, but suffice it to say that it sounded more “recorded” and “new age”. It still had bouncy melodies and tribal drums and nonsense lyrics that were fun to guess like Vampire Weekend’s older 2 albums and it ended up as a huge spring-to-summer playlist pick of 2013.

I guess it was a small bit personal, too.

I remember that you bought the album before I did, since you were always reliable at doing so. My memories are a little shaky, but I would almost go so far as to say that I think you preordered it on vinyl, as that was a habit that only solidified our chemistry, because we both valued tangible old-school technology and actually paying for music we loved. Living in Nashville at the time gave us this automatic veil of respect for the art of an album that we carried like a banner everywhere we went, and liner notes were our bibles. “Music City” is a nickname we hate but love in its simple perfection, because it fit our favorite thing to talk about. This unbridled passion for talented artists and very lifeblood of discussing new songs we heard on the local radio station that were about to blow up or how every band was trying to be the Lumineers in 2013 (which sucked) or how the Grammys were a joke yet somewhat important fueled our conversations at Tennessee coffeehouses and off-the-highway dive bars, which were, coincidentally, also full of other critics and songwriters drinking and discussing and karaoke-ing, too.

But, I digress.

Before I purchased Modern Vampires Of The City, a good friend of ours had told me that she’d nearly been moved to tears upon the first listen, which wasn’t an uncommon compliment in our musically-saavy community, but still stuck out in my mind. A few days later, you had listened to the whole album one night (with a glass of whiskey nearby and the candle I convinced you to buy at Target burning) and told me all about it over the phone in a tone of almost-reverence. It may not have been the most important album your well-tuned ears had heard, but you convinced me that I needed to listen to it because it was really something. 

And so, I did listen to it in your car the next day. We were driving around Interstate 440 with multiple people in the backseat- naturally, I was riding shotgun, as my neediness was in full swing- and Modern Vampires Of The City was playing as our background music, which isn’t terrible, but, as we both agreed, isn’t ideal for the first listen of an album when you’re trying to analyze it and see if it stands out. Oddly enough, you kept skipping Track 6 with little explanation, just mentioning that neither you nor I was  “ready” for it. About an hour or so later, we’d dropped off our caravan of riders and were alone the car. You looked at me with a seriousness that felt odd for a midday drive, and then you skipped to Track 6 with the dashboard controls.

“It’s time. You ready?”

(Sidenote: This was always something I admired about you: how you let things speak for themselves. I always feel the need to upsell my favorite things to people before letting them dive in, as if they require rationalization, but you were convinced great things held their own weight. I would have given a speech on why Track 6 would change your life, but you just pressed play with a confidence and the tiniest hint of a “you’ll-thank-me” smirk.)

It began. We listened to 3 minutes and 58 seconds of indie-music-somewhat-love-song bliss in full with the sun shining through the car windows, like we were scoring the soundtrack our own poorly-directed episode of Girls or a dollar-store imitation of Garden State. It was my first listen to this particular track but it sure-as-hell hit me. This was so different for this band we’d both loved- it sounded so personal. With the speakers up high and Ezra Koenig’s voice pleading with me about being afraid of growing older and trust and time and money, I felt very 23 and just a little emotional. Suddenly, at the 2:39 mark, the song just changed oh-so-slightly and that was it- I was hooked. I wanted this song in my back pocket at all times and I wanted to hear it again and I wanted to talk about it, but also not talk about it right away as to not ruin the magic or the moment.

You sighed pretty heavily as it faded out and simply said, “…and that’s Hannah Hurt” after the song finished playing, and we drove around some more without speaking for a few minutes, as if it was still all sinking in. I’m sure eventually we changed the conversation to Instagram or other records out that week or where we wanted to eat that night, but I remember that 3 minute and 58 second nothing-but-music moment as clear as day. Oddly enough, your original song title was actually incorrect. The song’s name is actually “Hannah Hunt” but your substitution of “Hurt” was an interesting quirk and a point that I’d try to write into every later story of us I told, but could never do successfully, as if it was supposed to be foreshadowing or mean something deeper.

It didn’t.

Regardless, “Hannah Hunt” (/Hurt) would stay with me heavily for several months, whether I wanted it to or not. It would be a song that I would turn to if I wanted to think about you when you were gone, a song that I’d play if I wanted to cheaply exploit my own emotions, and a song that I’d listen to on repeat on both good and bad days. Every time I heard it I went bittersweetly back to your car and that lazy afternoon and listening to something beautiful and sad that I loved all at the same time, with someone I loved at the same time who was a little sad and beautiful, too.

I heard it again last week and it wasn’t the same. I was driving home from work on a particularly windy Austin road and my shuffle-mode iPod decided to grace me with the same quiet beginning and light driving piano I know oh-so-well. I instantly remembered that day over a year ago in a different state and I remembered sitting shotgun in your car and I remembered seeing your face and your haircut I loved that you got after we’d met, but it wasn’t overpowering. It was simply a song that brought something back and though my heart still swelled in my chest at the 2:39 mark, I was okay after it ended. All the hard stuff about reliving the past and relationships ending and moving on and moving away wasn’t attached to it anymore. It was just track 6 on Modern Vampires Of The City, a track I liked, a track I could singalong to and talk about, and most of all, a track that told a story and let a memory exist again for 3 minutes and 58 seconds peacefully. You know, without hurting.

My eventual “Best Songs of 2014” List is full of singer-songwriters and high-rated indie releases that I’ll claim took the most out of me these 12 months and captured my attention and ears and heart, but I’m sure that tucked into the mixtape of songs that really stuck with me this year, “Hannah Hunt” will exist, as it has for over a year now.

And, maybe just as a personal gesture, I’ll go for a drive with it playing and think about sunshine on dashboards and breathe in every note, because I can, and because things are okay. Time changes your favorite things but also heals them.

Plus, when you really think about it, my car speakers are just as loud, there’s a lot of road ahead, and the album doesn’t stop after Track 6.

Signs That You May Have Been in Show Choir At Some Point

You still get the strange urge to use jazz hands when making a point, or you just turn these jazz hands into a large gesture that in no way looks natural, but you try and play it off as such

You are critical of any work that claims to be musical and give your own running commentary of American Idol and The Voice auditions (bonus points if you have auditioned for any of those shows and still share your own ‘professional’ opinion on the experience)

You are aware that you are being a little too judgmental at the Karaoke Bar, but why would someone try to follow your Martina McBride, Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin, or Celine Dion with a weak Red Hot Chili Peppers performance? I mean, come ON.

You either-

  1. Want to strangle anyone who brings up Glee because it’s not realistic and also your choir department was way more talented and also WHY ALL THE ACAPELLA and no one looks that old in high school and no, Lea Michele, just stop with those expressions please.
  2. Want to hug anyone who brings up Glee because you have all the soundtracks and just know that life could be a musical, like, if we all just tried harder!!!!
  3. Say that Glee is lame or you have no opinion on it but secretly despise everyone on that show for getting more famous than you, because, did ANYONE in that tv show pull off 4 years of intense diaphragm exercises and singer’s posture and writing I.P.A. and memorizing minor scales? Didn’t think so.

You harmonize…with everything from commercial theme songs to the worst Miley Cyrus remix on the radio, without realizing it and to the chagrin of people who are also trying to sing along, making you look like a know-it-all or show-off

Your ear has been exposed to so many different kinds of music or languages and styles to sing in, that you find it hard to pin down just exactly what genres you like

There are far too many embarrassing photos and videos of you singing that exist, but you also know that it’s a rite of passage to wear a stupid bow tie or itchy unflattering dress in order to rise to the top of the vocal elite

You remember lyrics but forget what song they go to, or you spend an afternoon singing a melody into the Shazam app on your phone because you remember it, but not the words

You’ve ever considered/thought/muttered/bragged about the fact that you or someone you know might have ‘perfect pitch’

You primarily still count to 8

You have 5+ different remedies for sore throats or losing your voice, and they may involve everything from lemon juice to honey to whiskey to echinacea- bonus points for a hot toddy with all of them- to taking a ‘vocal rest’ or gargling with homemade salt water

You get annoyed when a crowd of people can’t clap correctly and on the beat. Who are these amateurs?

You have an uncommon knack for getting into tights, lipstick and false eyelashes in 3 minutes flat- and it’s a skill that you’ll keep with you and will come in handy more often than you think

No matter your gender, there’s probably still glitter on your body from some show outfit that you can’t get off

There is a chance that you may still describe things as needing to be “more legato” or “syncopated” or “dissonant” and that’s not strange at all

You get choked up during that song – you know the song- when you go see a musical, and there’s nothing you can do about it

You probably weren’t the most popular in high school, but that means you have time to grow into your quirks now and appreciate the way singing shaped you into the perfect weirdo you always needed to be

You still can’t pass a stage or see someone else in the spotlight without thinking, even if in the tiniest part of your soul, “What if that was me up there instead?”

Even if you can’t pinpoint why, you’ll always be sentimental for music and the community that it brings, and even if you never sing in any sort of choir setting again, hey, at least you’ll always make great playlists

Frank Sinatra Is Dangerous

I remember thumbing through old soul and crooner records in college while talking to one of my best friends about each new one we found and how nobody seemed to appreciate sentimental music anymore. We found Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald, and our favorite, Nat King Cole, and brought them home. A few hours and thousand discussions later, I wanted to flip the records and hear them again, but he said, simply, “I can’t listen to this kind of music that long or I start believing in it.”

Is it dangerous to believe?

The music they are playing in this coffee shop right now is dangerous. You know what I mean when I say dangerous, right? I mean the kind that makes you start to fall for it, the kind that makes you nostalgic for an era that you never even lived in, the kind that makes you close your eyes to soak it up, and the kind takes a string section and pins them right in your chest, until you’re a mess of harmonies and emotions and you think you might possibly be close to love, even if it’s with the person next to you on the bus or the drink in your hand.

I think as modern music fans, we’re all familiar with good metaphor now. Our popular music is so played out and sexualized that hardly a lyric hits home anymore or seems to shock. Very little is genuine or just openly sappy. It’s simply no longer cool to be in love. There’s still love songs being written, but they’re hardly as on-the-nose and swoon-worthy as Frank Sinatra was. There’s women coo-ing to men, but very few have the raw emotion of Etta James. You can hear feats of affection, but who has come close to “like a song of love that clings to me, how the thought of you does things to me, never before has someone been more unforgettable” in so long?

And so I turn to old music. I turn to music that sounds best in smoky jazz clubs or on a dark New York street, as words whispered between a couple walking under a streetlamp, and I start to let the lyrics ring true. This dangerous belief that love can knock me off my feet runs true in my veins. The notion that I could be so wrapped up that I end up singin’ in the rain or dancing all night without a care is true, and it’s dangerous.

But I keep believing, dangerous or not. Better or worse, I’m old-fashioned. I’m a romantic. I’m hopeful and I’m confident that there’s such a thing as an attraction that gives you fever, misty goodbyes and that just maybe, you’re nobody til somebody loves you. I’m to the point of dramatic that maybe there’s stormy weather when my man and I ain’t together, and the very thought of you makes me forget to do those little ordinary things that everyone ought to do. I’m hook, line, and sinker for this music, but I hardly seem to be rushing toward a cure.

And so what more could I leave you with than potentially the most potent one of all? “La Vie En Rose” literally translates into “life in pink” or the idea of living life wearing rose-colored glasses and only seeing the beautiful warm things of this world, and it sinks in. My best friend Carolyn gave me this song on a mix CD in middle school and it changed my life. I warn you to NOT listen to this if you’re not looking to be sentimental or not wanting to get that butterfly feeling in your stomach that makes you happy to be alive and capable of love, whether you’re in a relationship or not, because once you’re open to it, once you’re seeing the bright and sweet parts of your life and believe you can share them, well, you’ll never go back. You’ll approach situations with passion and fervor and feelings and most of all, be open to love and believe that yes, it does exist.

And that just may be the most powerfully dangerous lovely thing of all.

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

Here’s To The Fangirls (And Fanboys)

Here’s to the fangirls (and fanboys); I will never be cooler than you, because, well…I am you.

Here’s to the ones who have found that some form of art changed their life. It was a good book, a thrilling movie, a dynamic tv show or, my heart, a rock and roll album.

Here’s to the literature nerds who read something and felt the words jump off the very page and surround them and kept them wrapped up in chapters, unable to leave the story behind, and often, unable to tell where said story and reality differed. Here’s to the television enthusiasts who never miss a week of excellent screenwriting and storytelling and for years, follow the same characters and grow up with them. Here’s to movie-quoters and cinemaphiles who go to midnight premieres and dress up as cast members, who talk about directors like they are old friends and mentors, who get goosebumps upon seeing trailers for the first time and who have seen the originals of today’s remakes and foreign versions of classics. Here’s to yall! You love the characters, you love the screenplays, you love the dialogue, you love the authors, you love the cinematography, you love the memories you have associated with your movie or book or show and you love those that love all of it too.

Here’s to all of you– you make me feel so much less alone. You make me laugh sometimes with your dedication, but in the end, your passion is so amazing to me. In a generation of apathy and cynicism, you’ve found something you love and you’re not afraid of loving it so deeply and so brashly at times that you can’t help but be a little obnoxious. You found something else besides yourself, some little piece of art and you ran with it. You filled your days with it, planned your schedule around it, saw the beauty in it and it changed your life. You talk about it like it’s living and breathing and you love it. You LOVE it with every fiber of that beating heart in your chest, and I’m begging you, please don’t ever stop. Loving things should be much cooler than it is. It’s so cool these days to put down and criticize every single thing and your artform-loving heart gets crushed. Please don’t turn into that critic who may have made you reconsider loving what you love. We need more love in this pessimistic society.

And now, for the ones who I am associated the most with– here’s to the band fangirls and musically-obsessed boys; you crazy ones.

Here’s to the ones who talk about concerts like they are religious experiences (and find that they often actually are). Here’s to the ones who know the names of the four bass players the band has gone through since they started, the birthdays of their favorite lead singers, and have all the old eps and remixes memorized. The ones who buy the cd the day it comes out and listen to it for weeks straight. Here’s to the fans who frame ticket stubs and beg the security guard for the setlist taped onstage and ask for guitar picks and keep them in a scrapbook, no matter how nerdy.

Here’s to the music nuts. I am so grateful on my behalf and yours that some band or singer decided to put pen to paper and voice to microphone and instrument to pedalboard and then to an amp, as a result, made something that resonated with you. And it didn’t matter if they were the best-reviewed band on Pitchfork or Rolling Stone because they were yours and your ownership was important. Because you see, it wasn’t just another song; it was your song, your album, your lyric and your life in a melody. It made you feel young and old at the same time, alive and joyful and sad and scared and hopeful and connected. You played it on important days, you played it on random Tuesdays, you wrote the lyrics in pen on your hand in middle school or in puff paint on a homemade tshirt or in permanent ink in a tattoo. You used it to explain yourself and to express your feelings all at once.

Here’s to all of you, because you are my kind of people. I hope that one day we can all meet up and wear the ill-fitting band shirts we haven’t thrown away and tell all our concert stories. We can talk about that moment that the singer locked eyes with you or that time we heard a great song and it stopped us in our tracks or how we thought the last album was maybe too experimental but we still bought it or how we should have been alive or at least old enough to attend that one band’s shows during their good years or best era of music.

Here’s to all of you crazies, and may you never stop listening, never stop reading, never stop watching, never stop singing along, never stop believing in silly things like tv and books and movies and rock and roll and soul and pop and country and acoustic and bluegrass and metal and even dubstep and screamo and new-age synth.

However idealistic it may be, don’t grow up and forget what being a fan feels like. Don’t let people tell you you’re too old to truly love things with your whole heart, because I sure do think the world could use a whole lot more of you.*

(*As well as venues that accommodate for a whole lot more front row seats, so that we can all sit together.)