Favorite Albums and Songs of 2015–so far

As predicted–after a weak 2014–2015, it has been a great year for music! There are so many fantastic releases that I haven’t even made my way through–and exciting releases dropping every week. My only complaint about the year has been the sheer volume of music coming out. I find it hard to keep up and I often feel I’m not giving all albums and tracks a fair shake. But that said–I have worked through lots and lots of music–and these are the albums and songs that keep calling me back. Maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s because they are legit fab–you’ll just have to check them out for yourself.

Favorite Albums of 2015 (November 1, 2014-June 15, 2015)

1. Black Messiah, D’Angelo and the Vanguard

2. I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty

3. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + the Machine

Continue reading

Favorite Songs of 2014: Tied Up, Tied Down, Teen and Cut Your Teeth, Kyla La Grange

I love it when friends recommend tracks–and both of these numbers were brought to me by trusted music sources–my friend, Troy and my sister, Holly.

The first song was a gift from Holly, although she has no recollection of sharing it. *sigh*

I knew nothing about Teen when I first heard this song. Searching for information on them (and the song) proved to be a NSFW experience. But I have since learned that this all-girl band is made up of sisters, Teeny, Katherine and Lizzie Lieberson and Boshra AlSaadi. I’m crazy for sister bands! I was surprised to learn they are signed on Carpark Records–along with my favorites, Beach House and this year’s list maker, Cloud Nothings–because I still haven’t heard much about them and they are so great! Here’s to a big 2015 for Teen!

The next song was sent to me from my friend, Troy. Troy convinced me to switch to the Rdio streaming service because it was a better interface and easier to share music with friends than Spotify or other services. (I need to do a post about the streaming services someday–but spoiler alert–Rdio is fantastic!) Troy has been my go-to for Euro-pop for years and he uncovers lots of cool tracks I would’ve otherwise missed. Including this one. I feel like, of the songs on my 2014 list, this one has the most potential of hitting it big in 2015. So enjoy it now while it’s yours.

 

Favorite Songs of 2014: BBC Radio One Chart Show Edition

When we got our first computer as a kid, I used it to keep a running list of all the top songs on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. (#nerdalert) Some things haven’t changed. Each week, I update a playlist on my Rdio account to keep track of all the songs that make it on BBC Radio One’s Chart Show. The Chart Show is basically the UK version of AT40. Some of the tracks end up on the American charts, but many do not.

Here are a bunch of my favorite songs of the year that I learned about through The Chart Show. Some became US hits, some didn’t, but all are awesome: Continue reading

Favorite Songs of 2014: Studio, Schoolboy Q featuring BJ the Chicago Kid and 2 On, Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q (NSFW)

Welcome to the Schoolboy Q edition of my favorite songs of the year! I fell for Q when I caught his set at Pitchfork Fest in 2012. Admittedly, I knew nothing about him. I hadn’t even heard Hands On the Wheel. But that’s why I love festivals–you catch artists you might’ve otherwise missed. Q was at Pitchfork again this year–although on a bigger stage much later in the day Continue reading

Godzilla!! As Told By Monsters

(Spoilers ahead! Spoilers also if you live on planet Earth and have ever seen a Godzilla movie/army movie/summer blockbuster basically)

15 YEARS AGO

MUTO: What the…?! A whole bunch of miners just fell into my relatively shallow subterranean chamber of dormancy! Lady!! LADY!!! LAAAADDDYYYYYY WAKE UP!! Do you wanna kick it with me to Tokyo?

LADY MUTO: Uuuuuuuugh……….. I’m…. uummm… I need to wash my hair. I’ll meet you when we’re less, you know, pupal?

MUTO: Wurd. Imma go eat some radiation- laters!! *pchew!*

GODZILLA: (awakened, grumpy) YOU GUYS!! SHUT UP!!! SLEEPING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN HERE!! (muttering to self) I’m not really clear on why I hate those guys so much but I really hate those guys!!!

PRESENT DAY

MUTO: *yaaawwwwwwn* OMG I can’t believe I slept for 15 years and meanwhile ate this whole nuclear power plant!! I better motor to find my lady.

Tries to leave, is trapped by steel cables

MUTO: What in the what is… aaahh!! Rude!!

Emits EMP blast, rendering humans useless

MUTO: LOL! Flies away

HUMANS: WTF WINGS?!!?!

HAWAII

MUTO: LADY!!! Laaaaaadddddyyyyyyy!!! Where you at? I totes stole a nuclear submarine!! Want half?

LADY MUTO: I’m in Nevada! OMG I ate a whole mountain of nuclear waste!!! Like literally. A MOUNTAIN.

MUTO: Well I was going to fly over to you but clearly you need to walk that shit off. Meet up in San Fran?

LADY MUTO: Sounds good!! I just have a few Cirque du Soleil shows to step on on my way!

GODZILLA: Shut up. Shut up shut up shut up!!! SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS. ARE. SO. ANNOYING!!! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE OR I WILL TOTALLY ATOMIC BREATHE ON YOU BECAUSE I HATE YOU FOR…. REASONS!!

Starts swimming to Hawaii…. derp derp derp….

MUTO: Loo loo loo I’ll just put my submarine down in this jungle… hey! Jerk!! Stop shooting at me! That stings!

Emits EMP blast, planes fall from sky

MUTO: Can I even eat a plane? I don’t know how I’d digest it since I only eat radiation but ok *chomp chomp* LOL.

GODZILLA: *swims*

MUTO: Hey what’s going on at this luao? Can I hula with you?? Are you all having a nice vacation??

GODZILLA: *emerges from ocean* What did I say? WHAT. DID. I. SAY??

MUTO: Whatever atom-breath!! More like OUT OF BREATH, amirite?? Let’s brawl!!

GODZILLA: What?? No!! I just swam halfway across the damn Pacific ocean!! *PUNCH!*

MUTO: Ahhh! *WHACK!*

Fight ensues, humans are not pleased

MUTO: Hahahahaha you are too old and fat and I have wings. Laters!! *zing!*

GODZILLA: Balls!

Begrudgingly gets back in ocean
SAN FRANCISCO
HUMANS: Ok so all of these beasties eat radiation, right? So let’s lure them out into the ocean with this tasty super missile and then totally blow them up! Since they keep knocking out our power let’s just put this missile that will lure them once it’s in the ocean and obviously not before it gets to the ocean on this old timey steam train and wait patiently for it to arrive at the ocean.
LADY MUTO: Hey a delicious missile! *yoink!*
HUMANS: …….oh.
LADY MUTO: Oh snap! My belly is aglow with adorable tiny MUTO eggs! Do you want this missile, babies?? This yummy yummy missile?? Let’s build a nest in Chinatown and then I will buy you a mogwai.
MUTO: Lady!!! I am here in San Fransisco!
GODZILLA: Holy hell, that was a long swim. Lemme just grab on to this nice red bridge to help me get out of the water…
MUTO: Hey Oldzilla!! Need to take a nap?
GODZILLA: You are such a dick!
brawl ensues
LADY MUTO: Hey MUTO! I built a nest and need you to… OH HELL NO THIS GUY?!?
punch! smash! throw! punch!
LADY MUTO: (noticing tiny humans have blown up her nest) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
GODZILLA: Hey MUTO! *tail-slams MUTO dead into a skyscraper*
GODZILLA: That’s RIGHT. *chest thrust*
LADY MUTO: *blink blink!*
GODZILLA: I’m still unclear on my hate reasons so ATOMIC BREATH MURDER AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
LADY MUTO turns to stone and dies
GODZILLA: I need a nap now LIKE WHOA. *collapses in the middle of the city*
THE NEXT DAY
HUMANS: So…. is he a good monster…….? Also is he dead? How… do…. we… uuummm… that’s a big corpse….
GODZILLA: (wakes up, flips off humans) WHO’S FAT NOW, BITCHES!! *moonwalks into ocean, does dougie, swims away*

My Top 2 Favorite Songs of the Year–and the rest I haven’t posted…

As the year comes to a close, so does my list of favorite songs of the year.

Thanks for reading the posts and checking out the tracks! I love the feedback you give me–and yes–as requested I promise to post music more often in 2014!!

Here are my top two favorite songs of the year along with the songs I didn’t get a chance to post earlier.

1. Open, Rhye

This song was going to be my favorite song of the year the first time I heard it.

There are two videos for this song, the one below and the one that requires you to log into YouTube to verify your age. I recommend you check out both.

Money Line: I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs
I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs
I’m a fool for your barely
I’m a fool for your love

Live?: Yes–and I met Michael Milosh and his wife/muse. Pretty amazing.

2. Retrograde, James Blake

*swoon*

Money Line: I’ll wait, so show me why you’re strong
Ignore everybody else
We’re alone now

3. I Love You, Woodkid

So cinematic and extremely special.

Money Line: In the waves I’ve lost every trace of you.
Where are you?

Live?: No–here’s hoping he tours in 2014.

4. Silent Treatment, The Joy Formidable

Simple and sad. Raw and honest. I’d be really surprised if there was a third Joy Formidable album.

Money Line: You tumble home
Safe inside
Twisted now, but at the time
No fears, a treasured prize

Live?: I’ve seen them twice. Once in support of their first album and then this year for the new one. What  a difference. One of the most awkward and sad experiences I’ve ever had at a concert–watching a relationship that has broken down live out on stage.

5. Dust to Dust, The Civil Wars

Another heartbreaking break-up song. But I find a lot of comfort at the end of this one. While we don’t know what really happened between them–it’s fairly obvious there is ZERO chance we’ll get a third album from The Civil Wars.

Money Line: We’ve been lonely, too long

Live?: No–and sadly–it appears I’ve missed my chance.

6. Clarity, Zedd

I am such a sucker for this song. Oh my goodness.

Money Line?: If you pull, then I’ll push too deep
And I’ll fall right back to you

Live?: Nope.

7. I Won’t Be Long, Beck

Welcome back, Beck!

Money Line: We’re counting down the minutes
From an hourglass full of ice

Live?: Never! I know!

Favorite Songs of 2013: Ladies Getting It Done

Female fronted bands, djs and solo artists killed it in 2013. Here are some of my favorites of the year–in no particular order…

1) Tomorrow, Daughter

This album is a tough listen–but worth it. This song is the truth.

Money Line: So don’t bring tomorrow

‘Cause I already know

I’ll lose you

Live?: Yes. Very special.

2) Water Me, FKA Twigs

This song breaks my heart. Every. Time.

Money Line: I guess I’m stuck with me

Live?: No–I’m hoping she tours in 2014.

3) Young and Beautiful, Lana Del Ray

And I loved the movie.

Money Line: Will you still love me

When I got nothing but my aching soul?

Live?: Yeah…

4) Pretty Boy, Young Galaxy

One of my favorite finds of the year. Her voice kills me.

Money Line: And I know you feel isolated
And I feel what you won’t say

Live?: No–but they are definitely on my radar now.

5) Everything, Maya Jane Coles featuring Karin Park

Crazy, sexy and straight up cool.

Money Line: we are not the winners or the losers
oh baby we are the fight

Live?: No–but I fear it would be too much awesomeness for me to handle.

6) Frequency, Dawn Richard

I fell in love with her voice on the totally underrated Diddy Dirty Money album.  This is her first solo release. I hope people catch up with her cuz she’s hella good.

Money Line: I want you to hear
The way you make me feel
When you turn me on

Live?: Just on YouTube.

7) Hey Love, Quadron

CoCo O is a star. Period.

Money Line: Hey love, what’s going on in here?
You brutalize my soul

Live?: Yes–and CoCo O is a STAR!!

8) Stay, Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko

Because these are my favorite songs, some of them make the list for personal reasons. This song deserves to be on the list for merit, but what it means to me makes it even more special. And check out Mikky Ekko’s EP–it’s great.

Money Line:  the reason I hold on
’cause I need this hole gone

Live?: I saw Rihanna open for Kanye West a while ago and she was really good, but I haven’t seen her headline. Maybe someday.

Let’s Get Ready to RUMble!!!

kraken vs captainSource: jess

Some things are hard for me to resist: namely, B-movies about sea monsters, and theme parties to celebrate B-movies about sea monsters. A few years back, riding on the success of Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, the SyFy channel and the Asylum put out what they hoped to be the next big B-blockbuster: Sharktopus. Obviously, I was giddy with delight, and promptly planned a viewing party. I mean, this movie had an amazing theme song, so clearly it was going to be epic, right? It was actually so bad that I fell asleep, BUT! That didn’t stop us from throwing a mean party, complete with sharkomelon:

62361_476930516349_4411032_n

What kind of cocktail goes with sharktopuseseses? Rum cocktails, of course! The first choice in beverage for the finest of pirates and swashbucklers, but not just any rum would do. I picked one out based purely on it’s label, just like I pick out my wine. Enchanting us even further with it’s quirky marketing, the Kraken found it’s way into our home, and soon, into our livers hearts.

Years later, we still keep Kraken on hand, but wait! Seems there is a competitor afoot:

2012-12-07 18.53.52Source: jess
I see you, sneaky captain, with your similar lithograph label. The Captain has challenged us to a duel, and we couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we invited the sea creeper into our home for a comparison.

How Do They Compare?

Obviously, both are black spiced rum. The Captain claims to be “double charred”, which came through as a “tastes like burning decorative wood chips” flavor. Both are in the same price point- often only within about 50 cents of each other (750ml for both is usually around $20). The Captain edges out the Kraken in alcohol content at 47.3%. The Kraken is 47%, so this just makes us feel like the Captain is one-upping. So really, the choice comes down to taste. Here is what we thought:

So there you have it- the winner, hands down, is the Kraken. If you find yourself with a bottle of the Captain instead, don’t feel bad- it’s perfectly serviceable in a rum and coke. For a great Kraken cocktail, I recommend a classic “dark and stormy” application, mixed with a really spicy ginger beer, fresh lime, and if you’re really feeling fancy, a dash of bitters. Cheers!

ps- the Captain also has a secret:

IMG_3632Source: jess

What are you drinking? Did you love Sharknado? Tell us in the comments below!

Finally!! I Tried SUP Yoga.

image

so pretty, you would never guess my internal voice was yelling every profanity imaginable

Growing up in the Midwest, I can’t explain why I’ve always been fascinated with surfing. I’ve never been good at skateboarding, I’m too afraid of smashing my body apart snowboarding, and usually when I’m near an ocean, it’s on the sandy, rum-soaked shores of the calm blue Caribbean Sea. But something about slicing through salty sea spray, gliding across a glassy wave, paddling out into the surf, being allowed required to wear Vans every day… seems like a pretty great time to me. I’ve only been able to actually try it once, and it was INCREDIBLE!! But I was out of shape, had a broken foot, and holy crap, the ocean totally kicked. my. ass.

Closer to home, we have a reasonable surf-alternative in stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Why do we need to stand on water? I don’t know, but it’s awesome. A few years ago, a local yoga instructor decided the ground was just too, I don’t know, GROUNDED, so she took her yoga practice to the water, and SUP yoga was born!

I fall over regularly in normal yoga, but I just couldn’t shake the need to try this- it was just crazy enough to work.

SUP isn’t terribly difficult on it’s own- the boards are long and fairly wide, so they’re pretty stable when you’re kneeling, standing, and basically tooling around. But yoga, you know, is all up and down and twisty and balance-y. So doing it on a floating wobble-board makes total sense. ??? When a friend I hadn’t seen in a while emailed me, asking if I’d be interested in checking it out, I immediately signed up.

I fully expected to be the spaz of the group. I was really worried I would either a) drift away from the group, b) fall into the lake, or c) drift into someone else causing them to fall into the lake. Thankfully, we had anchors (ok, it was a hand weight on a string) clipped on to the backs of our boards, so my drifting fears were calmed. But! While we were gathering into our class-pod, I was the victim of a float-by-crashing! Neither of us fell in, but my anchor did, so I kind of just stayed there.

We started off with some basic seated stretching- totally doable. Then we started going through a flow. This is where I was hella thankful that I’ve been working on strength all summer. Every single muscle was engaged, pushing into the board, hanging on for dear life as I moved from standing to plank (eep!), through chaturanga and up-dog, finally into the worst version of downward dog I have ever done. The instructor suggested moving into 3-legged dog, then letting our hip open. HA! Funny one- I will stay here reluctantly raising one leg off the board, thank you. We went through a few more terrifying flows, then stood to practice tree.

Now, I’m totally a rock star at tree. I can tree all day. Once during tree, there was a squirrel in a tree outside staring right at me, and I out-stared that squirrel in tree. On a board, it’s a different story. Maybe if I went more often, I would feel more brave, but having only one leg on the ground was totally not happening. I know the intention of tree, though, so I wriggled my foot into a kickstand, drew my knee back, and rocked that tree. It was amazing. I owned this moment.

UNTIL A GIANT FISH JUMPED RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY BOARD.

I was in no way prepared for this!! My tree fell, I almost fell, and I was so startled I could only giggle and crouch down on my board, trying to recover. Jerk move, fish.

Something I haven’t mentioned yet is, this whole time, I was completely distracted with keeping my paddle on the board. Somehow, everyone else had no problems, but mine kept sliding around. An SUP paddle clip needs to be invented if this yoga on the water is going to become a thing. Go invent it and make millions. You’re welcome.

image We moved into a prone back-bending series. This was lovely- close to the ground, full contact with the board, and my face fit perfectly in the spoon of my paddle. During the second phase, my paddle shifted up away from my face, but it was ok- being eye level with the water was incredible. At this point, all the internal swearing stopped, and I was totally in the moment. The water gently flowing past my face, the sounds of the evening creeping in, the moon rising… absolutely breathtaking.

And that’s when I realized my paddle had floated away.

As we worked through a warrior series, a precarious triangle series, and some bridges, I watched my paddle drifting slowly further away from the group. A canoe went by my paddle. I sent them a psychic message: grab it!! Bring it to me! You’re hair looks really pretty today! But to no avail. A father and daughter paddled by in a giant swan, also oblivious to my paddle abandonment. As we relaxed into Savasana, I resigned myself to a life on the lake, living on this board, becoming reluctant neighbor-friends with that jerk fish….

Obviously, my friend totally saved me after we were done with class- she was happy to actually paddle on the board, and retrieved it like some kind of magical surfing rocket. After an hour of mental-swearing my way through an otherwise standard set of poses, paddling back into shore was a piece of cake. Or apple cobbler. Which is totally what I ate when we got back to shore.

Oh! One girl did fall in, but she got back up, and rocked that shit.

image

Totally nailed this water-warrior. Ok, 2 seconds later I almost bit it.

Would I do it again? Maybe. At $25, it was a little steep for a regular workout, but it did really make me remember all the little tweaks that we learn on the ground to make your poses more stable. I think I’m more likely to just go regular SUP-ing (?), and maybe it’s time I finally head to the Malibu of the Midwest to ride some actual waves, Blue Crush-style.

What’s the craziest workout you’ve tried lately? What should I try next? Let me know in the comments!

photos by Maureen Hebl, SUP yoga instructor, who is part water spider maybe? She was yoga-ing on her board like nbd. AMAZING.