A Love Affair with Finding New Music

My favorite thing about music is the experience of sharing it. Whether it be posting on social media about my new favorite band, listening to a new song with a friend,  or going to a concert, the occurrence of it is pure and communal. When I was in high school, I was was the person going to local shows every weekend and finding bands that I loved in my little suburb in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’d come back to school on Monday mornings excited* to share my new found love with my friends. So much so that I think they got a little tired of it sometimes.

One of the most memorable moments I had like this was the first time I saw Twenty One Pilots at a venue called The Attic in Dayton, Ohio. Myself and a group of friends had gone to see a couple of other bands we’d seen before but little did we know we were in the beginning stages of what would soon become one of the next great artists of this era. Even back when the band was a three-piece, before Josh joined the band, there was something special about them. I don’t think I ever had jumped and danced so hard a a local show. They had a special presence that couldn’t be ignored. I remember leaving that night to go home and thinking that they were going to take over the world someday. Here we are, six years later and the duo we all know and love have won a Grammy for “Best Pop Duo”. I bring this up, not to be one of those people who were “I knew them before they were famous” but because this was one of the first instances where I just had to get the word out about this band. I wanted as many people as possible to fall in love with them the same way that I did.

As an adult with responsibilities and obligations (yuck!), I find it harder to get out to local shows and have this sort of connection again. I rely on a lot of music recommendations from friends and I’m  on the other end of things. I feel like looking for music on my own accord can sometimes be overwhelming. There’s so much music out and so much of it is good too. Platforms like Spotify do a really great job with helping you weed through the clutter. Every week I’m always really excited to see what’s on my “Weekly Discover” playlist. I’ve found a handful of songs that I really connect with and have saved to my own playlists. However, I still think the best way to find new music is through your friends. Every few months or so I post to Facebook and Twitter to have people send me who they’re listening to right now. I find that eight or nine out of ten times the recommendations are really great and diverse. It allows me to expand my interests and diversify my music palette.

In attempt to share more recommendations with more people, here is a playlist of what my friends are listening to currently:

 

 

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REVIEW: The City and Horses fourth album: “Ruins”

Here in Chicago, we’re still in the last days of winter. I’ve decided to try to bring myself out of the cold weather mindset with some jams of the indie pop rock persuasion that makes me want to dance. For me, this has always been a way to cheer me up from the dreary cloudy days that Chicago seems to have so often in the late winter months. From The Maine’s release of “Black Butterflies and De Ja Vu” to the more mainstream “÷” by Ed Sheeran, I’m letting the sweet sounds of electric guitars and Irish Fiddles melt the snow in my mind. Recently, I’ve been able to add The City and Horses new record “Ruins”, to that list which drops on April 21. The six-piece band that’s based out of both New York City and Philadelphia have been playing funky indie pop since 2007.  They find influence in the form of artists like The Smiths and John Lennon, just to name a few.

“Ruins” is filled with instrumentals that for me couldn’t be described as anything less than “light and airy.” I’m not entirely sure that you could classify music with those adjectives but I will say it’s the kind of music that makes you sway when you dance. While the instruments sound easy-going and carefree, the lyrical content that shows a darker side. The album is described as “a love triangle between frontman Marc Cantone, an ex-girlfriend and his OCD.” The singer has dealt with OCD for his entire adult life and has dedicated himself as a vocal supporter of mental health issues.

I must state that I don’t have a medical degree, but from beginning to end, the album feels as if it a true tribute to a battle with mental illness and the people that it affects. As someone who battles with anxiety and depression, lines like “I want to go home, but I’m already there” and “If you want to be happy don’t love me” strike a chord all the way down to my bones. While it may not applicable to my situation directly, this record is universal to people who struggle.

While I’ve just came across this band, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them and this record. It’s incredibly import to continue bringing talk about mental illness to the front line of conversation. Whether it be through music, social media, or everyday conversation, I’m here for it.

“Ruins” is being released on Paper Garden Records on April 21 and can be pre-odered on their bandcamp. Feel free to catch up with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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Swim for the Music that Saves You

So here we have yet another, “long time no post”, post. I want to say that I have a valid excuse for not posting as much as I had planned other than “I wasn’t in the mood” but that’s truly all it’s been. The last few months have been some of the most mentally challenging I’ve faced in a long time, if not ever. I wanted to take a moment to write down my thoughts and feelings about everything that’s been swirling around in my head. It’s a bit scary to be opening myself up like this on the internet, but I think it’s important for me to be honest with myself and where I am emotionally.

As you know, I graduated from college last May. This should have been an incredibly exciting time in my life. No more exams! No late night cramming sessions! No more awkward forced group projects! While all of this is true and a great part of being a graduate – nobody tells you that sometimes your life can come to a quick halt. I didn’t have a paid, full-time gig lined up after I graduated. I continued working in retail and interning to learn as much as I could. This was fine for me for awhile, but then I noticed that I felt stagnant and my career wasn’t moving forward like I’d always planned. Before I knew it, December rolled around and I felt more lost than I’d ever had in my entire life. There was nothing “wrong” with me from the outside. I was still going to my retail job and still working the internship and everything seemed fine. On the flip side, I was disconnecting myself from my friends because how I was feeling on the inside was a completely different story.

Everyone tells you that post-grad life is hard, but I never expected it to be this hard. Getting rejection email, after rejection email for job opportunities truly began to wear me down. I began isolating myself from my loved ones because I was tired of telling them about the failures that I was experiencing. I had never been the failure. In high school I was in AP classes and involved in student senate. Even more recently my last semester of school I made straight A’s, worked 2 jobs, had an internship, and ended my college career with a 3.6 GPA. You can imagine what it felt like to have the sudden 180 degree turn in my life. Coupled with the never-ending “how’s the job search going?” questions, I felt like it was never going to end. Up until about three weeks ago I was barely keeping my head above water when I hit rock bottom. I experienced the worst panic attack of my life. I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring from my eyes, hands from shaking, or the feeling like I could throw up at any moment. When I looked around I felt as if I had nobody I could talk to because I’d pushed them all away. That’s when I knew I needed to make more of an effort to change.

I went to therapy for the first time last week. It was completely nerve-wracking not knowing what I was about to walk into. It felt good talking to someone who was an objective third party. They told me that it was okay that I didn’t have everything figured out at 23 and it was okay to not have a plan. While outside forces are keeping me from returning to this therapist, their words truly reminded me that I’m going to be okay, and that I need to take a step back to love and care for myself. I began to outwardly seek ways that would feel better about myself daily. Whether it be sticking to my daily beauty routine or finding that perfect song or playlist that gets me motivated I know that I’m trying to give 110% no matter what. While I definitely wasn’t healed overnight, I’m working on being okay with where I am right now. Some days are better than others, but I’m getting there.

Below is a playlist by Hannah Hines that’s been one of my favorites for the last week. I hope that someone else can enjoy and use it as much as I have.

 

Music Will Still Be Constant

Today Donald Trump was sworn in as the forty-fifth president of The United States. My social media was filled with messages of uncertainty and worry. On the other side I also saw kindness, love, and an unwillingness to give up. If I’m being honest I was feeling more on the uncertain side of the coin. Feeling like I was in a complete funk for the majority of the day,  I spent a good portion of it curled up on my couch with comfort food and several episodes of How I Met Your Mother. As the day wore on, I switched from Netflix to music that I knew that I could find comfort in. I started thinking about the next four years and how even though it’s going to be challenging with many mountains to climb, there will still be music.

I’ll still be able to turn on my favorite song and forget for three and a half minutes. I will still be able to go to a show and forget for an entire night if I want. It’s something that will never change and for that I’m thankful.

Music has held a special place in my heart for the last ten years. I’ve met some of my best friends going to shows and through online messaging boards.* The girls that I met in my formative years are still some of my closest friends. Even though none of us live in the same city anymore, I still lean on them for support. Whether it be a tough week at work or dealing with the aftermath of the election, we’re there for each other because music brought us together. We knew each other through all the bad fashion choices, haircuts, and heartbreaks. As an adult we’ve seen the best and worst of each other. That’s a bond that I cherish every day.

I’m going to continue to use music as my rock and support over these next four years and beyond. Sometimes you just need to forget what’s going on for that three and a half minute pop song. Other times it takes an entire night going to a show, dancing with your friends, and shouting lyrics to songs that mean something bigger. I’m going to keep leaning on my friends from the scene when I need support. I keep thinking about all the incredible music that hasn’t been made yet and the bands that haven’t been formed. I feel hope and I want to keep feeling this way.

 

*Shout out to The Hustler Club. I can’t believe my parents let fourteen year old Erin join a fan club with that name. Thanks All Time Low.

What it Feels Like to be in a Musical Rut

For the longest time, I was known among friends and peers as the girl who was always jamming a local band that nobody had heard of. I took pride in sharing my favorite songs and getting other people to take a listen to such talented musicians that just hadn’t been heard yet. Music was the one thing that kept me going on both good and bad days. Then I hit a road block.

The past few months I’ve been really struggling to find that passion that came along with listening to new music. Sure I’ve heard good records, met exceedingly talented musicians, and sang songs at the top of my lungs, but I hadn’t been able to find that one song that really makes you feel something. The one that shakes you to your core. It helps you reconcile with whatever hardships that you may going through and gives you goosebumps. Lately, it’s really been taking a toll on me emotionally. As someone who’s turned to music for comfort, not being able to feel that connection has been incredibly draining.

I guess it could be blamed on the changing weather. Chicago isn’t known for its sunny or warm winters. It’s dark by 4:30 PM and highs are usually below freezing. Getting out of bed to go to work is often hard enough without the pressure of feeling like there’s an important part of you missing.

Maybe I just haven’t been digging hard enough. There’s so much new music constantly being put on the market, so why am I not connecting with any of it? To put it one way – it often feels like my brain is a constantly changing radio station. There’s fantastic music playing on one station, but I end up switching to another before I’m able to hear it.

Whatever the reason may be for this funk, I know that I can’t let it keep me down. Part of me just wants the universe to send me a handpicked song just for my ears only that I know I’ll connect with. I know that it doesn’t work that way unfortunately. People always find it therapeutic to clean out your closet and toss everything that you don’t use anymore. I think it may be worth trying with my music library. Clear out the old to make room for the new. I’m not saying that the old is bad, but maybe it’ll open up my mind to a world full of music that I haven’t even thought about listening to before.

Here’s to the new year, trying new things, and feeling like your life is getting back on track.

 

The First of Many…

This is where it begins. After several years and too many failed attempts, I finally feel like I have my life together and can start a blog…..

HA, who am I kidding. I don’t think I’ll ever have my life quite that together, but what fun would that be? Answer: it wouldn’t be. However, I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to have your life together to start a blog and that’s the beauty of it. I’ve been a college graduate for 3 and a half months and I don’t have a full-time job. I work part-time in retail to pay my bills and I have a part time internship doing public relations with a music marketing firm. Sometimes it feels like I’m never going to “make it” in the industry. Every job posting I come across feels like an unpaid internship willing to “pay” you in experience or college credit. Even better is when the others are for an executive position that requires 30 years on the job experience and an impressive resume to back it.  It’s been time for me to take matters into my own hands. Hence the blog.

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I guess the driving force behind this was that I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut without having some sort of attachment to music. I didn’t want to lose sight of the passion that’s kept me going for longer than I can remember. The first show I went to was the Believers Never Die tour in 2009 with Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and Cobra Starship. I was a freshman in high school riding in the back of my friends mom’s minivan on a Friday after school to Columbus, Ohio from Cincinnati. It was a 2 hour-long drive and there was nothing but rain forecasted for the night but I couldn’t have been happier. I was seeing my favorite bands for the first time with really good friends and nothing else mattered. That night I jumped and danced harder than I ever had before and I couldn’t have felt more at home than I did in that moment. Thus, the obsession with live shows and finding new music spiraled out of control in the best way.

(Actual photos of 15-year-old me and my friends at BND ’09. Check the JAGK hoodie and heavy eyeliner streaming down my face from the rain.)

I hope that this blog can be a vehicle for me to talk about the artists I love, shows I’ve been to, and generally a way for me to talk about music. Here’s to many many more of these and all the new music that I haven’t heard yet.

 

Now Listening: Blush – Moose Blood
Photo Credit: Boys Like Girls 10 Year Anniversary Tour @ The Vic (Chicago, IL)