Favorite Liar – The Wrecks

Do you ever feel so uninspired that everything that normally motivates and excites you seems…dull?

That’s why I’ve been gone. I was stressed. And somewhat downtrodden. I really stopped putting myself even as the top 10 in my priorities. Welp, I’m over that, and I’m back.

Spotify, as always, guided me to my salvation.

When I first heard this, it gleefully reminded me of some of the pop-punk I used to revel in during middle and high school.

How can you not enjoy it with the poppy beat and insulting lyrics?!

The Wrecks released their EP in April, and consider themselves indie, but I have news for them – they’re too slick for that.

Nick Schmidt looks like he could front a coffeehouse band, but his edge and charm really bring this song to its full potential.

So I suppose that the lesson in all of this is that the next time you feel sad or uninspired, do what common sense would tell you and (either seek therapy or) turn to music. I’ll stick with the latter for now. It’s clearly served me well.

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Wigwam Buddies

Do you ever have a month or week where not only your life is stressful and generally awful, but so are your friends lives?

Well, that’s been me and my friends and loved ones for the past month. Yay.

On top of all of that, three of us had summer birthdays and no money to celebrate. So we pooled our ideas (and scarce money) and decided to hit up Mammoth Caves next weekend.

Not only that, but we’re staying at a kitschy Route 66-esque hotel: Wigwam Village #2.

Back in the 1930s, Frank Redford created the Wigwam Inns, and originally, there were seven scattered across the US. Now there’s three left.

Thus, the Wigwam Buddies playlist was born.

Drawing inspiration from folksy and upbeat songs, the playlist is a mix of girl power and current alt rock. AKA: It’s perfect for a drive through Kentucky during September.

All of this also springs from my eternal obsession with fall, and the fact that I got a whiff of that autumn air recently.

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Look out world, we’re coming for the wigwam and the caves, and we’re not taking any prisoners.

Violent Shiver – Benjamin Booker

Let’s open with a fun story about me, shall we? (If you don’t want to, too bad – it’s my blog *evil laugh*)

When I was 16, I was caught in a rainstorm. Some jerk was tailing me pretty close and making me nervous. So I sped up to get away from him and ended up sliding off of the road, and into a ditch. My car rolled – it went up onto the drivers side.

And in that moment, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” was cranked up on my radio.

Between that experience and my love of Back to the Future, Chuck Berry’s twangy guitar and duck walk hold a special place in my heart.

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So when my friend queued up Benjamin Booker, his raspy vocals and the familiar guitar licks made me perk up.

Her other music selections had me going, “That’s nice,” “That’s okay,” “That’ll do.” But when Benjamin Booker popped up, I couldn’t help but burst out, “I LIKE THIS ONE!”

She knowingly nodded and told me that I needed to buy the album. No shit!

“Violent Shiver” is the first song off of Booker’s 2014 self-titled debut album.

And what a kick-off it is! With Booker belting out lyrics while slapping his guitar, he’s the embodiment of the throwback sound that’s happening right now. But he does it right.

Unlike Leon Bridges, Booker would have still floated onto my radar if we lived in the era that his sound originated. The nice thing about Booker is that while his sound is rooted in the past, his vocals and approach are full-steam ahead and steering into 2016 and beyond. He’s not merely a throwback artist.

With a strong debut under his belt, there’s no doubt that Booker’s influence will spread from underground videogame soundtracks to being a mainstay on radio stations. Let’s hope they do him right.

2am – Bear Hands

Connecticut-based hipster rock usually isn’t something I go out of my way to hear.

But when “2am” crossed my headphones, I just kept hitting the “repeat” button.

Bear Hands originated in New York, despite their CT roots, and quickly became a buzz band in the NY music scene.

Listening to them reminds me of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, music lovers traipsing across the city to find an elusive and important band. I feel like people would do that to listen to Bear Hands.

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The reason “2am” piqued my interest was the catchiest hook I’ve heard in awhile, “Nothing good happens past 2am.”

As a music fan, and a 20-something, I can relate from personal experience. Their sentiment is spot-on. Every time I’ve drank too much, fought with friends, or made a general ass of myself, it was in the witchy hours past 1 or 2am. Lucky me. And I’m sure I’m not unique in that.

I think part of the familiarity and comfort I feel with Bear Hands music comes from lead vocalist Dylan Rau, who in my ears, sounds like Ben Davis of Cincinnati duo Bad Veins.

And with less than 600,000 YouTube views on their “2am” video, if you’re all about being on the up-and-up, it looks like you’ll still be finding this band before they’re at the zenith of their fame. Good on you.

 

 

Old 45’s – Chromeo

I found myself in a rotten mood this week. I’ve felt really overwhelmed by multiple obligations and even things that I enjoy have been a source of stress.

I’m basically Gus-Gus here.

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So I plugged in my headphones simply to cover up my attitude, and I found that Chromeo’s song just kept returning to the mix.

For some reason, “Old 45’s” is the perfect mix of uptempo, but not-too-obnoxious for my mood. It actually made me (dare I say) cheer up a bit.

While Chromeo is compared to Daft Punk, according to an article published on Consequence of Sound, they want their most recent release, White Women, to embody the same defining traits as Red Hot Chili Peppers iconic 1991 release, Blood Sugar Sex Magic.

“All the elements—they just had an extra sheen, to where you could start listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Blood Sugar, and you had everything in there already,” he says. “I wanted White Women to be that for us, in that it’s like the sum of everything we’ve done. It’s our most accomplished work, but from there, you just get a new shot at another 10 years.”

While I’m not normally a fan of electronic/dance pop music, Chromeo is able to add that element of funk that makes their music more palatable for me. They include artists like Solange and Ezra Koenig (of Vampire Weekend) and strive to make their music “fun.”

Usually I hate the word “fun.” “I’m a fun girl.” “I’m just looking to have fun.” It trivializes the word and I tend to associate it with shallow people and lifestyles. But truly, Chromeo is just that: fun.

Their music is approachable, listenable, and goes down smoothly, like a deliciously well-mixed drink. They cite not only the Chili Peppers, but Hall & Oates, and The White Stripes as influences.

Chromeo retro soul with funk and modern dance and it just seems to make sense. They’re also unapologetic and very purposeful with their image. Read the following excerpt from the Electronic Beats interview with them, and you’ll see what I mean.

The album has a few nods to lofty ideas as well. The title, White Women, is a reference to Helmutt Newton’s seminal 1976 photobook. Why?

DM: Newton’s photos have always been an important visual influence because he’s another artist, like us, who mixes highbrow and lowbrow. The image of a woman’s legs we use is actually a tribute to him. We also related to the fact that a lot of what he did wasn’t considered art until after he died. And we loved the idea of using that title because it’s so bold, it could have even been the name of a Van Halen record. On a symbolic level it provides a ‘metatext’ for the record too; on the cover we’re having a three-way wedding…

PG: Yeah, it’s like we’re an Arab-Jewish duo making black music on a record called White Women, and it kind symbolizes the fact we’ve been in the band for such a long time too; it mixes things up.

Overall, I can see Chromeo being the kind of band that I listen to on a summer roadtrip, or while on vacation, relaxing and forgetting my worries. After all, their music helped me escape my “system overload” during this hectic week.

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Love Me – The 1975

Would you like the recipe for this delectable song by The 1975?

Here goes:

Take an immersion blender and a metal bowl. Toss in a bit of “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, a shake of “Fame” by David Bowie, and just a pinch of “It’s Your Thing,” by The Isley Brothers.

Bake it on the current Billboard Hot 100 Charts for a few weeks, and you’ll have “Love Me.”

When I heard this track on the radio, I seriously placed it in the 80s. I swore I was listening to an original MTV rotation copycat. And maybe I was. But I’m okay with that.

It helps that the “Love Me,” video is frolicking throwback with Matt Healy dancing shirtless in mirth around cardboard cutouts.

The bands pastel-colored play-fest mixed perfectly with the bouncy nature of the song. It was fun, light, and uber-catchy.

My husband is highly-cynical of modern music and usually uses my playlists as an opportunity to make fun of the current “One Hit Wonders.” He loves to remind me that these artists won’t matter next week.

That’s perfectly fine, though. Because I plan on tricking him with this one. I can see him being shocked when I proudly announce that The 1975 is currently receiving air time. He’ll be embarrassed that he likes it. After all, I was.

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B.O.B. – OutKast

There are few things more dreaded by any rollergirl than hearing, “We’re testing for our 27 in 5 today.”

27 in 5 is the term for the portion of our skills test that deals with endurance. It translates to 27 laps in 5 minutes, or 5.4 laps per minute. That’s roughly 11 seconds per lap.

For skaters like myself that specialize in being difficult to move, and rely on our weight, those laps are a feat. Even athletes that have skated for years don’t enjoy the test.

The laps are honestly about 99 percent mental, and 1 percent physical. The mental takes over and before you know it, you’ve defeated yourself.

Leading up to the annual testing, I was a wreck. I couldn’t sleep. I paced my apartment. I cried at the drop of a hat. I couldn’t eat. I researched how to skate the track most effectively. I listened to every perspective, from every veteran skater. I cross trained 4-5 times a week, as well as skating 3x a week in practice.

I exhausted myself.

The first time I tested, I hit 5:21. The second time, 5:13.

I paced the apartment some more. Cried some more. Trained some more. Ate less.

By the third time I was to take the test, it was March. The home season was starting in less than 2 weeks. I was certain I wouldn’t pass it.

I went into the rink prepared for the worst. By the end of the 5 minutes, I’d completed my 27 laps. (That’s my fist raised in glory in the photo below. My teammates swarmed me in a big hug.)

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Why does all of this matter to you, though, fair reader?

Because B.O.B. was playing the entire time I trained.

A fellow skater and friend had said she was going to listen to it while she completed her laps. On her first try, she made the cut.

After that, the song was on rotation in my headphones. Pushing me when I was at work – and when I was on the elliptical.

It wasn’t until later that I looked more into the origin of the song, or watched the video.

It proved yet again, what I already knew: OutKast is genius.

Pitchfork rated it the #1 song of the 2000s, and many have said that OutKast predicted the actions of the Bush presidency.

But, really, the cry of the song isn’t politically-charged in the traditional sense. It recalls imagery of living in the “ghetto.” But as Shmoop.com summed up,

“This OutKast track is really about describing the American ghetto and all its hardships and complexities. The closing chorus of “power music electric revival” almost sounds like a plea for urban revival, because as they explain on the track “Gasoline Dreams,” “youth full of fire ain’t got nowhere to go.” Or it can also be seen as a call for an “electric revival” in hip-hop, because as André explained to the Guardian, “hip-hop don’t have no fresh energy. It’s money driven, everybody trying to make that check, nobody putting art in their albums any more.”