Love – Lana Del Rey

My obsession with Lana Del Rey is absolutely nothing new. I heard, “Born to Die,” right after it was released in 2011. I immediately bought her album and never looked back.

The sultry siren picked up a lot of soundtrack gigs shortly after, being featured on Maleficent, The Great Gatsby, and more.

I fell off the Lana bandwagon sometime in 2013. I thought I’d heard all I could from her, and her voice just wasn’t inspiring me like it used to. (Definitely a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation).

Fast-forward to 2017. I decided to give Ultraviolence and Honeymoon a shot, and it was the best decision I’ve made this year.

Shortly after reabsorbing her into my playlists, “Love” showed up.

At first I wasn’t really sure what to do with this song. It seemed a little too sweet on the surface to me. But, as is with any Lana song, it has an underlying melancholy, foolishness, and hope.

With a slow-chugging base chord, and gun-effect, it harkens back to the 60s with images of Lana with flowers in her hair.

Pickup trucks and young hipsters floating through space fill the screen at the halfway point, and suddenly Lana is performing on the moon.

Perhaps the best part, though, is echoey bridge of, “Don’t worry, baby.”

Ultimately, the video and song have an air of naivety, and while you get the distinct feeling that this happiness will be quashed, it’s still a beautiful and dreamy listen.

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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 fot 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?

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.

The Ryman Auditorium

If you love music as much as I do (and chances are, you do) there are times where you get all emotional and feel really stupid and cheesy about it. (Which I’ve done multiple times.)

One of the places that impacted the very framework of my soul was The Ryman Auditorium.

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit this place twice, but still haven’t seen a show there…yet.

I’ve never been a big country fan. And by country, I mean the current stuff. Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan make me gag a little.

But one thing I’ll always respect is roots. Whether it’s blues or old country/bluegrass, I eat that shit up. I love seeing the progression of a genre and how influences trickle down.

So let me set the stage for you:

When you enter the Mother Church of Country Music from 4th Avenue, you’ll wonder why in the hell they gave her a facelift. It’s really just so they could fit in a gift shop, newer offices and ticketing. So ignore it. Her facade is still there.

When you walk into the auditorium, something changes immediately. The modern and hideous architecture fades away, and she gives you a giant hug full of warmth and history.

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You’ll enter on the lower level, which to me, almost reminds me of vintage amusement park rides. It has the whitewashed wooden planks and small support beams sprinkled throughout. The top deck overhangs pretty low. Almost too low to be convenient or feel safe, but low enough to also be PERFECT. Even though she was a church first, my heart goes to amusement park. Feel free to judge me.

She seriously has this inconvenience to her that says, “Try to change me. I dare you.”

But wait until you hear the acoustics. You’ll understand her ego. The acoustics have never seemed so perfect in my entire life. It immediately let me know that every sound I’ve ever heard was impure and unworthy. I will forever judge venues by The Ryman, and that just isn’t fair.

Her acoustics make you feel like there is some presence in there. Like at any second, Patsy Cline is going to walk by, or you’ll hear the echo of Johnny Cash’s bass-baritone.

No joke. The lingering air isn’t creepy. It makes you feel like this place is sacred. Try to imagine somewhere with that much history. With roots that go deeper than The Ryman’s. The idea of going to some large stadium and seeing a show makes me shudder after being in this place.

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The Opry may have retired her and moved to higher water, but even they return once a year to pay their respects. And she still acts as a stage for countless modern acts. Her wall covered in concert posters looks like a dream playlist or hall of fame.

The first time I visited, a band was playing that night. The sound booth is directly in the center of the upper-level, and needs to be walked through to get to the other side. I took pause, thinking I’d need to find a new route. One of the engineers stopped and said, “Go on. It’s your home too.” And damn, I wish I could make The Ryman my true home.

Needless to say, this post doesn’t do her justice. So I’d suggest taking a trip to The Ryman. She’ll be waiting with open arms.