Me and Your Mama – Childish Gambino

On a rainy day, I decided to stop by a friend’s apartment and relax for awhile.

When I walked in, she had Childish Gambino’s newest album streaming through her television.

At first, I didn’t realize who it was. All I’d known him for was rap, and quite honestly, I’ve never been hip to the rap scene.

But when the bass dropped in this song, I immediately yelled out, “WHO IS THIS?!” like someone with Tourette’s. The evil laugh that sounds like a mix of Bowser from Mario and a horror movie, had me hooked.

Following this revelation, I went home and listened to the whole album on Spotify. It’s such a gem.

And it’s no secret to the world, unfortunately. I was a latecomer this time.

The psychedelic roadtrip Gambino takes the listener on is pure joy. It’s laden with rich, sexy, soulful 70s funk. His performance on The Tonight Show of “Redbone,” only further cemented the raw talent and energy he has. Clad in metallic leather pants, no shirt, and a ‘stache for the gods, he belts out “Redbone” in a stunning falsetto.

There’s no denying the sex appeal of Awaken, My Love, but if you need a smooth, soulful album for a rainy day, there’s nothing better.

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Pretty Pimpin’ – Kurt Vile

Some songs sound like what a daze feels like. They lull you into a quiet complacency that feels safe, sad, and inspiring.

That’s what “Pretty Pimpin'” by Kurt Vile gives me. It allows me to mellow out and feel at peace – which is a rare and exciting state.

This song urges me to go to the closest park and walk alone on a trail. To lay in bed and listen to it on loop on a rainy day. To sing to it in the car. It’s equal parts relatable and melancholy.

It’s a special gift that Kurt Vile has to make a song that is both an ear worm and to offer a message.

I’ve found myself so busy lately that I have forgotten entire days and what I did. I have to write down my daily schedule just so I remember where – and who – I’m supposed to see. Sometimes, all I have is the physical breathing part of myself left to offer.

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I know that I often create my own busy schedule, but there’s some sort of masochistic reason I do it. I give parts of myself away to others – here’s my heart – my love – my hate – you can have anything you need, and sometimes that doesn’t leave much left for me.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and feel like Kurt Vile – “Then I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth, but they were my teeth and I was weightless…”

The beautiful thing is that for all of the sadness this song evokes, it – for some reason – also inspires hope. That I won’t always be tired or want to be alone. We all need to define our own space sometimes – whether others get it or not.

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Edge of Town – Middle Kids

Hailing from Sydney Australia, Middle Kids hit my headphones at the recommendation of my brother, Jarrett.

Generally our music tastes overlap, but often we find excitement in very different audio experiences.

Middle Kids is one of those bands that happily brings us together.

Lead singer Hannah Joy’s vocals ground the song’s emotional lyrics and are paired beautifully with the instrumental work of guitarist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day.

Joy’s vocals and the hook-laden chorus make this a song that could easily be sung in stadiums or small bar venues. The beauty is in the depth of the message and the simultaneous fun listen.

“I got all muddled up and journeyed to the edge of town

And then the road cracked open, sucked me in and I went down

We’re standing face to face with the king of the underground

Some things just don’t add up, I’m upside down I’m inside out.”

Gaining traction on NPR and Rolling Stone and currently on-tour with Cold War Kids, I don’t see this band staying under-the-radar for long.

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Singled Out – New Found Glory

I’m gonna share a little story with you. Surprising, right? *eyeroll*

When I was in middle school, I LIVED for my Walkman cd player. I took it everywhere with me – especially on car rides with my mom, who was a fervent country music fan.

I was being bullied in shop class by the biggest jock in the school (middle school jock – what a title, right?!). He harassed me daily, in front of the whole class.

I had boundless anger for it. I shook, and held back fear that I’d end up breaking his face in front of a room of my peers.

My mom saw my struggle (One of the many reasons this woman is amazing). She bought me Sticks and Stones by New Found Glory, and honestly, it changed my life.

The pop punk era of the early 2000’s produced a lot of shit. Truly. Honestly.

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ANYWAY, Sticks and Stones got me through the fuckery and utter humiliation I was experiencing.

Since then, a few of the songs have lingered on for me, “Singled Out,” being the biggest one. I actually featured it on my “Whiney-Time Sounds,” post back in 2015.

Regardless of the fact that a lot of the songs border on emo, and Jordan Pundik’s nasally vocals make them seem whiney, this album has huge significance for me. It is an album that helped me feel empowered and not so alone.

Now, as a grown-ass adult, few things hurt worse than a breakup. And the biggest secret of all? Friend breakups hurt the worst. Sticks and Stones is back in heavy rotation lately due to a shit-ton of stressors in my life, and I’m honestly happy about it.

“Singled Out,” for all its simplicity, speaks the exact words I’ve felt over and over, without marring them with adult complexity:

“What will you do when there’s no one to fall back on? I won’t be there – I’ve learned my lesson. What will you do when there’s no friends to fall back on? Because they’ve all been stepped on.

Why’d you have to go and make me say these things about you? Why’d you have to turn around – after all that we’ve been through?”

When life decides to flip you the bird, there’s no shame in picking up an album that makes you feel more empowered, and less hope/helpless. Coping’s great, isn’t it?

Audiotree Session – Charly Bliss

The cold has officially gripped Cincinnati, and man, it’s rough. My car doesn’t want to start, my body doesn’t want to function, and everything is Frozen frozen.  (No but really, I hate that movie.)

I was fighting to find motivation at the gym one night, and I told myself, “If I can make it through this circuit workout, I’ll watch/listen to Charly Bliss’ Audiotree session.

Typically, I’m not a fan of “live” anything aside from being in-person at a concert. I hate live albums and I find it painful listening to the recorded stage banter.

But this Audiotree session is different. For one, the sound quality is pretty impeccable. It’s easy to forget at certain points that it’s being live-recorded, which I think speaks to both their engineers, and the band.

This video/recording is also so damned charming. Charly Bliss doesn’t seem to have an ego, and they’ll answer any question without pause. The interviewer is also delightfully awkward at points. He does a great job at seeming both excited to talk to them, and also willing to ask a good mix of goofy and insightful questions.

Charly Bliss is often described as a “bubblegum grunge” band, and they largely remind me of the bands that took the forefront in “10 Things I Hate About You.” I feel like I’m getting another taste of one of my favorite movies.

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The band was formed in 2014, and many of its members have true musical experience and stage knowledge, Eva has a BFA in Recorded Music, and others have Musical Performance, Creative Writing, and Theatre degrees. There’s definitely something behind their catchy choruses and hooks.

So far the band has unfortunately only released EP’s (and a comic book series?!), but they’ve shown a strong effort, and those songs alone are capable of making me hang on for dear life waiting for their full release.

I’d suggest giving Charly Bliss a spin if you need motivation or just to rock out against the depressing winter backdrop.

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.