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Parov Stelar

Hearing this song was a game changer for me, folks. I can’t figure out what I love more; the old fashioned sounding vocals, the blasting of horns, syncopated percussion, modern and old swing fusion, or ALL OF IT TOGETHER?? I’m obsessed. I also love that this youtuber put this song to Fred and Ginger. It’s all the awesome in the world. Except it gets better.

This song comes from Parov Stelar, who had never crossed my radar until this song came up on a playlist, so I did a little googling to find out more. Not all of his works have this swing quality. He reminds me of what Avicii is up to these days with his blend of electronic and other genres. Some are much more electronic than others, but I totally dig it, especially the jazzy ones.


Vance Joy Isn’t Just For Hipsters Anymore

I mean, not to hipster brag or anything, but I have totes been strumming Vance Joy’s “Riptide” on my guitar since last November. I’d like to continue with the hipster brag and say it’s because I’m just that cool and up on who is the new and about to invade all your earbuds. Except it was my way cooler friend who had learned this song and because it was catchy as all get out, I learned it too. And I never even bothered to look up this Vance Joy character because I was content to endlessly strum this song and sang out the lyrics to my dog. Until one day, I heard him on the radio and thought, wait, I should actually look into this fella. 

He’s a total weirdo (see video below), but I totally love more than just this catchy as all get out song. His album dropped yesterday and is full of great tunes. I expect exciting things for him. You should listen to it and love it and learn Riptide on the guitar and then we can harmonize together because my dog is totally getting sick of listening to just me.


East of Eden

I’m a little bit obsessed with Zella Day. As soon as her songs come up on my playlists, I immediately reach for the volume because I want her sound to take over all the other sounds. She looks like she emerged from the pages of an Urban Outfitters catalogue in all the right ways (there are definitely wrong ways to emerge from a UO catalogue). Also, way to reference one of my favorite books, lady. Nice play!

Hearts Content

Bucket List: Slumber party with Brandi Carlile, Zooey Deschanel, Ingrid Michaelson, and Sara Bareilles. We would sit around with guitars and ukuleles and sing with crooning voices (in this bucket list fantasy I also I have a crooning voice) about love and boys and unicorns and would epitomize everything about sugar and spice and everything nice. 🙂

Silver Lining

I spend a lot of my day looking for the silver lining (because stress!) and Rilo Kiley’s song, Silver Lining has such an awesome chorus and build and I sing it over and over in my head and I feel better and happy. Of course, looking at ALL the lyrics I think it’s possibly a super depressing song? At least for the guy? I don’t know. The truth is, this song is entirely about the melody for me and I don’t need the lyrics. Some songs are just like that.

Happy Little Pill

I took some happy little pills a few weeks ago when my appendix decided it no longer wanted in on our relationship and it was surgically removed from my life forever. All break ups should involve happy little pills. Strike that. That seems like it would involve way too much drug abuse.

Anyway, I have been going through a pretty intense playlist binge lately. It is thanks in part to Spotify’s “browse” feature, which has probably been around longer than I’ve bothered to pay attention. It is pretty spectacular because there are a lot of people out there who are astoundingly better at creating playlists than I am. Seriously, it’s an art form that I hope to one day aspire to. Until then, I’m addicted to the works of others.

Troye Sivan’s song, Happy Little Pill, has been stuck in my head lately. I’m a little concerned with how outrageously young he looks, but I also think I’m just finally at the age when everyone seems grossly young. Still, the kid writes a catchy, slightly eerie, tune. I’ll take it.

Evolution of My Live Music Love Affair

This fall I will be turning 32, a number that means I am really and truly “in my thirties.” While I still get carded at most bars and am recently sporting hot pink hair (because why the hell not), there is no mistaking that I am in my thirties. For starters, I have turned into the Tin Man (cue appropriate Avett Brothers song). My body is aching and creaking in ways it never did before. Standing up from sitting on the floor for even the shortest amount of time is a slow and often painful process. AND I AM TIRED ALL THE TIME! The days of after parties and closing down bars seems insane to me. I am exhausted by 10pm every night and need significant amounts of adrenaline and caffeine to push it later than that. And the thing is, I don’t even feel bad about it. I LOVE going to bed. I have also been ushered into the age of the crippling hangover. I am baffled by how the slightest bit of alcohol will set an entire construction crew to work on my brain the next day.

So I thought that it was perhaps all of these reasons why I was going to fewer concerts. They’re late and my back hurts after standing for more than 20 minutes (5. It’s really 5) and I’m just not into raging as hard as I used to.  And I thought, have I become one of those super lame grown-ups? Is concert going really a young woman’s game and I have outgrown it? IS THIS MY FUTURE?!?! Except I’m not sure it is (at least entirely). I still love live music. Live music feeds my soul. A few months back I saw Andrew Bird at The Paramount and his music was so overwhelming and beautiful that I found I got a bit verklempt. Part of it was his music, but it was also sitting in a dark, quiet theater and allowing his sound to envelop me. It did.

I’m not the only one evolving. Talking through an entire concert has become some weird sort of norm, even up front nearest the stage. Elbowing is much more prominent, as are the dirty looks. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but we are no longer seem to be all forming these brief, loving communities that have come together for a few short hours to share in our love of a few pieces of music.

I didn’t get a ticket to ACL Fest this year. It’s too big and getting close enough just to hear a band means a battle. I like my live music sans claustrophobia and rib bruising, thanks. Two years ago my brother and I tried to hear The Lumineers, but were so far back we could only barely make out what song was being played and there was absolutely no hope of dancing as we each had a dozen other bodies mashed up against our own.

And while I mourn that my days of big festivals and even big concerts are changing and not as desirable, I remember that there is still so much live music that does fit my creaking body and still feeds my soul. Small venues all over town still offer top notch music (and almost always at a fraction of the price) and I can dance and fall in love with life all over again with every song. Festivals like Utopia Fest are still working to create communities of people who are joining together to dance under a full moon and share in our love of being filled with great music. And there’s no elbowing. And there’s ample room for dancing! And when I am exhausted, I can slip back to my tent and curl up and rest my aching back and fall asleep to the rhythms and harmonies flowing over the rolling hills of Utopia, TX.

I worried for a while that this being a responsible, job-holding, thirtysomething was going mean the end of my live music love affair, but it has merely evolved. I may be listening to the bass beats of ACL while I sip tea in my apartment and grade papers, but I sure as heck already have my substitute lined up for Utopia Fest! See you there. I can promise places to sit, ample space for dancing, and people who will welcome you in because we are all so damn excited to be there listening to great music!



Begin Again

I had an aching desire to be anywhere but at my apartment today, so I bought myself a ticket to see Begin Again, starring Mark Ruffalo, Kiera Knightly and Adam Levine. Because I love music (and Adam Levine).

For starters, I should admit that I am writing this review while going through the kind of emotional state that, well, that songs are written about.  So maybe this is exactly the state I should be in to review this movie, which pulled me out of my tears and had me laughing, smiling, rooting for endearing characters and escaping in music for 104 minutes.

Begin Again is a delightful film in its entirety. Keira Knightly is a scorned lover and Mark Ruffalo is drunk (also a music producer) and they decide that making an album of her folksy, indie, singer-songwriter, sometimes love scorned music all over the city (in leu of a studio), complete with the city as its background noise is the best idea that can be had. It is.

There’s not a whole lot to this film. It’s predictable and simple but it’s those characteristics along with the accompaniment of its soundtrack, great acting and its catering to music fans of the digital, freeloading age (which I am) that make it wonderful. Because really, it’s wonderful.

Adam Levine totally pulls off acting and I don’t even care if it’s because he is only playing a slightly less (and only slightly less) slutty version of his real-life self. He pulls it off, dirty hipster beard and all. All singers-turn-actors should start by playing what they know and then doing half of the soundtrack. Because god damn can Adam Levine sing a catchy tune.

I spent the entire movie smiling giddily in my darkened seat and then worried that I would get home and listen to the soundtrack and discover that it is actually mediocre at best. It’s not. Adam Levin’s voice is catchy and crooning and I love his songs like I love to move like Jagger, only I feel a little less guilty about loving these ones. They remind me of his amazing first Maroon 5 album before he discovered that he could so easily write every shallow radio dance hit ever and then did. I don’t blame him, but these songs are what I missed and I can’t stop listening to them on repeat.

Go see this movie. Love it and listen to the soundtrack and let its songs pull you out of whatever state you are in, because they will, especially Kiera Knightly’s songs. All of it is wonderful. It even pulled me out of my several month music blogging hiatus and there’s definitely something to be said for that . 🙂


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

San Francisco

The first time I heard of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival was the Tuesday before it began, about the same time I was getting jealous of my friends still in Texas who were getting ready for the first weekend of ACL. My roommate explained to me that some wealthy guy had left enough money to run this music festival in Golden Gate Park for years without selling a single ticket—the entire thing was free. I checked the lineup; while there were a few familiar names, most of the bands I had never heard of (M.C. Hammer was a notable exception—Hardly is how Strictly they stick to the Bluegrass theme). Because it is in the same exact physical location as the much-better-known Outside Lands Music Festival, at times HSB felt like a social experiment on the effect of ticket price—or lack thereof—on audience behavior. The two festivals couldn’t have felt more different. When I was at Outside Lands (technically, when I was outside Outside Lands), it was 50 degrees, foggy, and I witnessed an alcohol-fueled uprising as ticket-less San Franciscans knocked down one of the fences, pouring into the festival until police halted the barrage. When I was at HSB, it was in the high 70s, sunny, and any potential  rioters were allowed right in. Like me, much of the crowd didn’t seem to really care who was playing, or even if they were any good: in the park with friends, enjoying the beautiful day, everyone had already gotten their money’s worth, and everyone was in good spirits (the BYOB policy helped, too). As it is so easy to stress about where to stand in the crowd, when to leave one stage for another, which weekend to go, and a thousand other little things (#musicfestivalproblems?), it was good to be reminded what these events should really be about.