Running: An Exploration of Ego and Musical Landscapes

I’ve always enjoyed running.  I can’t really go so far as to say I love it.  It’s more realistic to call it a love/hate relationship.  Some of the reasons it’s pleasurable are also the reasons it can be miserable.  You never win at it really.  You can always go farther.  Or faster.  But it’s reliable.  It’s that friend who meets you every morning with an encouraging gesture and a boost to your ego only to kick you to the curb in 45 minutes when she’s had her fill of your company.  It’s hard more times than it’s easy, but yet I keep coming back.  Because every once in a while you have a day where you do win.  You set a challenge for yourself and then kill it.  And it’s enjoyable and almost, dare I say it, fun.  Today was one of those days.  Maybe it was a good night of sleep or maybe it was the fact that my playlist just kicked ass, but I had a great run.  I launched head on into my day ready to conquer the entire world.

So I thought I’d share my playlist for today.  Because running aside and second only to my husband and dog,  is my love for music (if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog).  Anything good is made great with a soundtrack.  Life needs it and running, at least for me anyway, damn near requires it.    Maybe you can tie up your sneaks and take it for a test drive; universe willing, you too will have an awesome run.

*Small disclaimer, some days I run to a created playlist I’ve painstakingly curated, but mostly I hit shuffle and go where the musical road may lead.  Today was a shuffle kinda day and as you’ll soon see (again, if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog), my musical tastes are all over the highway.

The Cult- Coming Down (1994)

Origene- Sanctuary (2003)

Metallica-  For Whom the Bell Tolls  (1984)

The Limousines- Undercover  (2013)

Ted Nugent-  Motor City Madhouse (1975)

Foo Fighters-  Dear Lover (1997)

Nirvana- Downer (1989)

Full Service- Greetings (2013)

Band of Skulls-  Wanderluster (2012)

Joe Jackson-  Breaking Us in Two (1982)

Dropkick Murphys-  I’m Shipping Up to Boston (2005)

Perry Farrell-  100 Ways (1996)

Goldfinger-  My Girlfriend’s Shower (1996)

Dirty Projectors-  Two Doves (2009)

The Inmates-  Dirty Water (1979)

Cypress Hill-  How I Could Just Kill a Man (1991)

Leftfield-  A Final Hit (2005)

The Four Tops-  I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) (1965)

Douglas Armour-  The Whole World (2008)

The White Stripes-  Hotel Yorba (2001)

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Happy trails and tunes!  Let me know how your run went.

Stay positive and love your life.

-Melissa

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Five for Friday: My 5 Favorite Albums of 2013

While I have an affinity for old music (most particularly the 80s and 90s), I must admit that there is still a ton of solid music coming out everyday!  Now, you’re not going to find this on your radio dial for the most part and don’t even try to look to MTV (do they even play videos at all now?).  Most of the stellar new artists and sounds are being birthed right here on the internet.  With the growing popularity of streaming services, the harnessing of social media’s power, and enough music related blogs to overwhelm even the biggest music fan, we have a virtually endless supply of new jams and talent at our fingertips 24 hours a day.  Yes, I do suffer to escape from the grip of nostalgia from time to time and I miss MTV for sure (sorry Youtube, you just don’t offer the same feel), but I must admit that the internet has done simply amazing things for music.  I love that I’m here at the end of 2013 giving you my favorites of the year via the interwebs and this blog!  Drop me a line and let me know what album rocked your world this year!

This year’s favorite list is a fairly solid representation of my musical listening habits.  On the top 5 we find:  2 bands that have been kicking ass since the 90s and would be classified as true alternative rock, 1 band that defies all attempts to be thrown into a category (and who I discovered through the handy, dandy internet), 1 poppy girl group with a indie edge, and 1 hipster necessity.  Let’s dive in shall we?

Number 5:  Local Natives- Hummingbird

Though not as magical as their debut album Gorilla Manor (2010), this sophomore effort lives up to my expectations.  I’m a sucker for vocal harmonies and bizarre instrumental sound.

Number 4:  Haim- Days are Gone

I’m not such a music snob that I can’t appreciate a good dose of candy coated pop every now and then.  But usually it all gets a bit too sickeningly sweet and ridiculous for me after a few minutes.  Enter Haim.  This sister act gives me the poppy lightness I sometimes craze without the cavities.  They were brought up listening to everything from Joni to Motown, and you can hear the diverse influences bleed through on each track.  One minute you hear something that could be at home in the Big 80s (full of synth awesomeness) and the next you’re jamming to something that could loosely be classified as rock.

Number 3:  Full Service- Carousel

I’ve written about these guys several times now, and I’m confident this won’t be the last. There is no other group touring today that sounds like them.  Not one.  They kill on vocal harmonies,  their guitar riffs shred, and their songs have the uncanny ability to get stuck in your head for months at a time.  Since I already was a big fan, I knew I would fall in love with their new album.  Well, even I was shocked and amazed at just how good Carousel is.  Every note on every song is a winner.  There are no throw away tracks here.

I have a challenge for you:  go to Spotify and listen to a few tracks off of each of their albums and then report back to me.  You won’t be sorry.

Number 2:  Pearl Jam- Lightning Bolt

This is quickly becoming a contender for favorite PJ album (I bounce between Ten and Vs. with Vs. usually winning).  So effing good.  It gives me all the best of the band that I’ve loved for so many years:  well-written songs, tight vocals, and killer guitar.  It reeks of the 90s and in a very good, very grungy sort of way.

Number 1:  Queens of the Stone Age- …Like Clockwork

I have listened to this album no less than 50 times since it’s release.  It gets better with every listen.  QOTSA are easily in my top 10 favorite bands of all time and so my opinion suffers from the standard fan bias, but I’m confident in saying that this is their best album yet.  It’s everything I love about rock and roll bundled into 47 minutes of perfection.  Listen and repeat ad infinitum.


 

Honorable Mentions:

Artic Monkeys- AM

Nine Inch Nails- Hesitation Marks

 

What were your favorites of 2013?

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Music of the ’00s Part 2

We’re wrapping up the final week of decades posts over at Jen’s Blog Hop and boy do I have a whammy of a mix this week! The only criteria we were given this week was that the songs should come from the 2000s (including the last three years) or before.  Yikes…..that gives me way too much music from which to choose!  So the first limitation I’m going to impose upon myself is that my selections will be from 2010 forward.  Some truly amazing albums have come out in the 2000s (see the ones I included in Part 1 Here), so many that I feel the need to box in my choices a bit to keep from going completely crazy.  Next I’m going to throw a theme on top (shocker, I know):

What’s Old is New

The selections this week harken back to a different time in music (late 60s and 70s) while bringing something new to the table.  Some are psych-rock.  Some are insanely melodious.  Some have that great guitar sound that southern rock introduced years ago.  Some are just so dreamy that I can imagine hippies dancing in circles as they play.  But each brings a new spin to the great classic sounds.

I Don’t Know- The Sheepdogs (2011)

Great classic sounding southern rock coming out of……Canada!

The Hours-Beach House (2012)

Dancing hippies.  Just try to be in a bad mood listening to this.  Impossible.

It’s Working- MGMT (2010)

Anyone who was a fan of their very popular first album, Oracular Spectacular, was a bit shocked when this was released.  It’s a lot more psych-rock than synth-rock-pop.  I happen to be a fan of both and am curious to see what their upcoming new release in September will bring.   And I totally dig this video.

Elephant- Tame Impala (2021)

Anyone else hear John Lennon?  This album is so damn good.  I listened to this song on repeat on several road trips.  Love the line:  “He pulled the windows off his Cadillac. Cause he didn’t want it looking like he looks back.”  Even the video feels very old school.

I Wanna Go Home-Full Service (2012)

You can thank me for introducing you to these guys later.  You’re welcome.

Bonus:  Strings- Full Service (2010)

This was the song that started the obsession.  It kept popping up on my Pandora and each time, I’d stop whatever I was doing and listen.  You just don’t hear harmonies like this anymore.  Fast forward a few years and I’ve seen them on a 311 Cruise, flown to Austin, TX for their Full Service Circus Festival, and even hosted them in my own living room.

I couldn’t find a Youtube video for this one; so here’s the Spotify link:  Full Service – Strings

And for those of you who love the heavier stuff, check out the rest of their catalog.  They’ve got some guitar trashing, plugged in, all out rock tunes as well.  I adore both sides of the band.

FS

Full Service rocking out a living room set for us last year.

And One More Bonus:  Hold On- Alabama Shakes  (2012)

I hear some Creedence inspiration and a whole lot of soul.  I didn’t even know this lead singer was female when I first heard these guys.  Her voice is so raw and powerful.

What bands remind you of yesteryear?

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Full Service – Greetings from Beyond

Eating:  Spinach ravioli and brussel sprouts.

Drinking;  H2O

Random fact:  As I’ve mentioned before, I love making my father playlists.  The best part is when I talk to him after and he says, “I like that song that goes…” and he sings the lyrics.  This is one of the last ones he really dug.

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Fandom

Today I just wanted to share something I was thinking about yesterday:  fandom.

From Wikipedia-

Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

A fandom can grow up centered around any area of human interest or activity. The subject of fan interest can be narrowly defined, focused on something like an individual celebrity, or more widely defined, encompassing entire hobbies, genres or fashions. While it is now used to apply to groups of people fascinated with any subject, the term has its roots in those with an enthusiastic appreciation for sports. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary traces the usage of the term back as far as 1903.[1]

Fandom as a term can also be used in a broad sense to refer to the interconnected social networks of individual fandoms, many of which overlap.

The entire thought stream started with this Facebook post:

fandom

Aside from this being a hilarious bit of dialogue, it really got me thinking, are all fans prone to such obnoxious behavior?  My comment was, yes.  But I’m not sure that is the case.

Fans of anything are just an odd group.  I know, I’m a fan of a few things and I find myself being a bit obsessive and pretty obnoxious at times.  We focus on the smallest detail, get wrapped up in releases or events or merch, and we seem to let our “interest” permeate other aspects of our lives. We all like to think we were the very first living soul to discover a band, author, place, etc.   But sometimes this fandom shapes our lives in ways that are so positive that any negativity is obliterated.

A good example for me is 311.  This is by far my favorite band.  And I’m not alone.  Last year while gearing up the for the 311 Cruise I took this March with my BFF Kasi, I found a few 311 fan pages:  The 311 Familia & The Excitable Ones (plus several other smaller spin off groups).  It was such an overwhelming find.  1.  I had no idea there were others out there who were as into the band I am (silly, I know).  2.  So many of these people are WAY more knowledgeable about everything 311 than I am. 3.  It is a place where your obsession feels completely normal.  In fact, there are many who are way more obsessive, so relax dude. PLUR.

This was my first brush with being involved with a true fandom online. It was wonderful.  So many cool stories and interesting posts.  So much random 311 knowledge.  So may pictures of 311 occurrences in daily life (finding the numbers 311 in random spots:  writing, cars, sidewalks, etc.).  It was also a bit intimidating.  Every once in a while there would be a post that would just crush my little fan spirit.  I haven’t been to NEARLY as many shows as a lot of these guys.  I don’t know every lyrics to every single song.  Nope, I don’t remember the set list to that show they played back in ’95.

Luckily, my participation in the groups leveled out a bit when the newness wore off.  And I realized that this is a wonderful addition to the piece of my life puzzle that  is music.  We’re  a positive group.  We’re more than fans.  We support each other.  We gather in real life.  I’ve met some really rad folks through these groups.  And I get why we all feel the need to gather into these fan groups.  It’s all about belonging.  And it’s about finding others to share that excitement with that “get it”.  It’s about UNITY.  I suppose I’m just lucky that my fandom rarely is about the things that Aaron mentioned in his post yesterday.

So thanks Familia!  We are truly the Excitable Ones!

In the words of 311:

“I’ve got a clique, but it’s more like a family.”

311

Meeting 311 for the 1st time in 2012 (with Kasi).

3112

With Kasi on the 311 Cruise this year.

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to: 311 – Jackolantern’s Weather

Eating:  Left over ravioli again.

Drinking:  H20

Random fact:  I found one of my other favorite bands, Full Service, through 311!  Here they are at a show they played at MY HOUSE!  So rad….

FS

bs

Me & Bonesaw

It’s the Weekend Baby and Here’s Your Playlist

I am finally starting to feel like myself again.  It is a good thing that I don’t get sick very often, because I certainly suck at it.  To recap, here is  the breakdown of my last 48 hours (aka the worst of this week-long bug):
Cough and blow my nose. Repeat, ad infinitum.
Get up on Wednesday in full zombie mode and somehow make it to work (despite Matt telling me 400x that I am sick and need to stay home).  Get to work, realize Matt is correct, call and have him drive into the city to pick me up.
Lie around the house looking like ass and eating stuff that is so not good for me under the guise of “but I’m sick”. 
Sleep for two hours.  Wake up and attempt to answer work emails.  Continue this throughout the day.
Stay home from work yesterday…still sick, with the addition of cabin fever and sheer boredom. 
Set the alarm for a 5:15 for a run because I’ve convinced myself I will be 100% cured by morning.

Wake up at 5:15 having some sort of deranged nightmare about a Texas Chainsaw Massacre house where the killer is Dwight from the Office.
Admit to myself that I’m still fairly sick and should get another hour or so of sleep.

Back at work.  Getting stuff done.  Feeling a wonderful sense of normalcy.  Eating a salad for lunch to atone for some of my food sins (and missing the gym all week). So aside from the fact that I have people coming over for a cookout tomorrow and that means I’m already stressing over the house, the yard and the menu etc. etc. all is well.

Now that I’ve sufficiently closed out my saga of sickness, I’d like to introduce the subject of today’s post, bands I just can’t get enough of.  I really wish I could come up with some sort of clever title that incorporates Friday, because I’d really like to make this a recurring post.  But Friday just doesn’t lend itself nicely to anything off the top of my head.  Music Mondays….see how easy that is?  Friday…?? Nope, nada.

I’m going with this for now:  It’s the Weekend Baby and Here’s Your Playlist.  Yeah, it sucks.  Maybe by the next post I will have a better name.

For the first week, I just want to introduce a few bands that have moved in and out of heavy rotation multiple times throughout the last year or so.  I’m constantly finding great new bands and tunes; so for something to keep coming back and seeing heavy play means it’s a band I think is pretty much the cat’s pajamas.

Silversun Pickups

This band has the odd ability to create songs that I just never get tired of hearing.  And I’ve played all of their albums over and over and over again.  They never get skipped on my iPod.  Ever.  I can’t even say that about my favorite band.

Brian Aubert’s voice is just so odd and unconventionally wonderful.

Local Natives

This outfit from California has easily worked its way into my top ten new favorites “I must see live”.  They are the perfect example of the brand of indie rock I tend to listen to these days. Their new album, Hummingbird, is wonderful.  But it was their debut album,  Gorilla Manor, that won me over.  It was added to my iPod one song at a time.  And the next thing I knew, I had bought the entire album.  Every song is a keeper.

And last but certainly not least this week is one of my very favorite bands:

Full Service

Found these guys through my love affair with 311.  They are an unsigned band out of Austin, TX that plays a genre of music that is totally their own.  I struggle to describe them.  And honestly, I think that’s how they like it.  They aren’t eager to fit into the industry mold of a reggae band or an alt rock band or a folk band; though at times they have all of these sounds.  Their stuff ranges from acoustic/chill to straight up guitar shredding.  The best way I’ve found to get their sound across is “they are heavily influenced by The Beach Boys and Mastodon”.  Oh, and that they rock!

Those that know me well have likely had me try to get you to listen to them 100x by now.  And if you haven’t been smart enough to listen to me prior to now, get to it.  Here’s a nice little compilation video.  They have a ton of stuff posted on You Tube and Spotify.

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Here they are playing in my living room.  No words to describe how rad this was!

Happy listening guys!  Who are your favorite bands in current heavy rotation?  Let me know so I can share in the musical love.

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Daft Punk – Give Life Back to Music

Eating:  A Salad

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  My Mom & Dad met in Pensacola (while in the Navy) and I met Matt in Pensacola (while in college).