Posted in Music

Everything Was Beautiful – Spiritualized album review

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and happy world book day as well!! You’d think I’d have a book-related post today, but…nope. No thoughts, only Spiritualized for the next 3-5 business weeks.

Normally, I wait for a few days to a week after an album’s release to review it, but…well, between my listening to it yesterday and my dad playing it the whole way through in the car yesterday evening, I’ve probably listened to it three or four times in its entirety already, so…

Spiritualized has been one of my favorite bands for around two years—even longer, if you count when I first heard “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” for the first time and listened to it on repeat to fall asleep on vacation. Their music, if I had to describe it in one word, is all-consuming; J Spaceman has built a stunning career out of making a song into a vast cosmos of sound, making themes of heartbreak, addiction, and new love into the dictionary definition of larger-than-life. That’s what I’ve always loved about his music—his songs never feel like just songs, but experiences.

By the time I’d really gotten into Spiritualized, I’d accepted that I wouldn’t be able to see him live or experience a new album of his; he’d said in several interviews that And Nothing Hurt would likely be his last album. But in late 2021, we were gifted with the best kind of surprise: we would be getting more Spiritualized after all!! Now that it’s here, I can say with certainty that there isn’t a single bad song on this album. It’s probably impossible to re-achieve the genius of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space or Sweet Heart Sweet Light, but Everything Was Beautiful comes very close, even at just seven songs.

Enjoy this album review!

EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL – SPIRITUALIZED ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Always Together With You” – 10/10

This was the first single to come out of this album, and it singlehandedly provided all of the serotonin that I needed to get through the rest of 2021, so there’s that.

It’s not hard for me to say that this is easily one of Spiritualized’s best songs. Expansive and cosmic, I feel as though I’ve been lifted into the air and through the clouds every time I listen to it. I was texting my family about it when it first came out, and I jokingly called it “‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ but happy,” and as much of a joke it was, it feels true; “Always Together With You” feels like a more matured, more hopeful version of its predecessor, down to the morse code sounds and J Spaceman’s daughter (😭) saying the album’s title at the very beginning. Absolute masterpiece.

TRACK 2: “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)” – 8.5/10

Smoothly transitioning from “Always Together With You,” “Best Thing You Never Had” keeps up the momentum set up by the first track with classic Spiritualized elements—catchy guitars, a backing choir, and what sounds like a good-sized brass section. Just as spacey as ever, it’s the perfect song for rolling the windows down in your car, and it’s sure to cement this album as one of Spiritualized’s best.

TRACK 3: “Let It Bleed (For Iggy)” – 9.5/10

When I saw Spiritualized back at the beginning of the month, this was one of my favorites of the new songs they played. Now that I’m hearing it through my headphones, it’s one of my favorites off the album! Here’s where the momentum sustained by “Best Thing You Never Had” picks up once more, with another sweeping, all-consuming thing of pure beauty.

TRACK 4: “Crazy” (cover of Nikki Lane’s “Out of My Mind”) – 8.5/10

(so apparently this is a cover?? took me a while to find out…I guess because the original has a different title)

“Crazy” is one of my least favorites on the album, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Even as a cover (I’ve only listened to the original once, so…), it’s indicative of the quiet, genuine tenderness that J Spaceman is capable of amidst all of the heartbreak and darkness that’s prevalent in so many of his other songs. Lovely.

TRACK 5: “The Mainline Song” – 9.5/10

This is another Spiritualized piece that seems more like a journey than a song—all of the train sounds layered in only adds to that effect. With J Spaceman’s airy vocals and rushing instrumentals, it’s another song that seems to physically carry you somewhere else, watching the clouds rushing by. It doesn’t even matter that it’s chiefly instrumental—it’s an unmistakable highlight of the album.

TRACK 6: “The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)” – 9.5/10

Like “Best Thing You Never Had,” “The A Song” is a persistent, powerful march reminiscent of Spiritualized’s harder side. For Spiritualized, longer songs are a common sight, but at over seven minutes long, this song never loses its impact or momentum, delivering guitars and brass that crash against you like waves on the shore. Nothing short of a masterpiece—and another song that was phenomenal live!

TRACK 7: “I’m Coming Home Again” – 10/10

For a lot of Spiritualized albums, the final song is either a sweeping ballad or a mournful, soft ending. “I’m Coming Home Again” is neither of those—and it’s almost more powerful than some examples of both. It’s the longest song on the album at almost 10 minutes long, and like “The A Song,” never loses its momentum all that time. But unlike the former, it achieves its affect more in its consistent feeling of foreboding. It’s a haunting song—I have an oddly specific feeling that it would mesh perfectly in the second-to-last episode of a TV show, in a scene where the main character gets their revenge, walking away from lighting something on fire. From the first notes to the final strains of the choir, “I’m Coming Home Again” is a looming masterpiece, and an unexpected but perfect ending to a near-flawless album.

I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came to about a 9.4! Absolutely accurate to how I feel about Everything Was Beautiful—it’s hard to touch some of Spiritualized’s other albums, but this album establishes itself as one of J Spaceman’s masterpieces. It’s the perfect melding of the sound of 90’s Spiritualized with the hope of 10’s Spiritualized, and it makes for an album with a lasting, haunting, and eternally memorable effect. Thank you, J Spaceman, for another religious experience. 💗

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Since this is an album review, consider the entire album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2021 Wrap-Up 🥧

Hey again, bibliophiles!

Jeez, it’s still so hard to believe that 2021 is almost over. It doesn’t feel like it should be over, but really…good riddance. As of now, there were good parts, but the burnout from online school, precalc, taking the SAT, and everything else in this mess deserves to go in the trash with 2020.

Okay, maybe I went too negative there. But this year did sort of suck. The first half, at least.

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Lenny Busker from Legion | Aubrey plaza, Aubrey plaza legion, Legion

As a whole, I’d say November’s been alright. The pinkish-purple part of my hair has faded to this cool silvery color, and I’m liking it a lot.

NaNoWriMo has been a major part of this month, and it was a wild ride! There were times that I felt, in the words of Colin Robinson, “like I [had] the power of a thousand cowboys running through my veins,” but there were major slogs as well. But through it all, I managed to reach my word count and finish up the draft of that particular WIP! Looking at it now, it’s fairly short (only around 150 pages), but I’m more comfortable with it at a novella length like that. I feel like anything else that I could put in there would be filler.

And this is the last year of NaNoWriMo that I’ll be doing in the Young Writer’s Program…by the time next year comes around, I’ll be doing the full 50,000…

Other than NaNo, November has felt…strangely slow. I guess it’s the calm before the storm, since I have a big project coming up for my AP Gov class very soon [screams into the void], but it’s been an alright month; I finished up season 3 of What We Do in the Shadows (I’m sorry WHAT WERE THOSE LAST TWO EPISODES), saw Soccer Mommy live, drew more frequently, and listened to the abundance of new music that came out! Snail Mail, Spiritualized, Radiohead…life is good, folks. Life is good. Plus, Aurora’s End finally arriving brought so much joy into my life, and I’ve been gushing about it ever since.

this gifset doesn't do that scene justice | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs  | Tumgir

It’s been strange, though…we’ve had almost no snow this fall here in Colorado; by now, we’re usually having a little bit of snow almost every week, but since October, we’ve seen…maybe only three or four snows? And out of all of them, only one of them accumulated, and even then, it melted the next day, and it was barely an inch. It better snow come Christmastime. It better. I’m not much of a cold weather person, but you just can’t have Christmas without snow.

READING AND BLOGGING:

Counting my re-read of Aurora’s End, I read 21 books this month! Pretty good, all things considering. Also, I’m counting the fact that I’ve only re-read Aurora’s End once as a step in the right direction.

2 – 2.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove, 3): 9780063038936: Mahurin,  Shelby: Books
Gods & Monsters

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: The Soul Keepers (The Soul Keepers, 1): 9781250309136: Taylor,  Devon: Books
The Soul Keepers

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: 0760789273384: Turton,  Stuart: Books
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

5 stars:

Aurora's End eBook by Amie Kaufman - 9781524720902 | Rakuten Kobo Canada
Aurora’s End

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Aurora’s End5 stars

Aurora's End eBook by Amie Kaufman - 9781524720902 | Rakuten Kobo Canada
Aurora’s End

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I’VE ENJOYED:

great album! this is one of my favorite songs from it, but also a song that I can’t listen to frequently…tugs at the heartstrings
NEW SPIRITUALIZED NEXT FEBRUARY THIS IS NOT A DRILL
we are blessed by a truly FANTASTIC Snail Mail album!!
KID A MNESIA gave me an excuse to finally listen to Amnesiac…great stuff!
I’ve listened to this an alarming number of times since August but I haven’t fit it into any of my wrap-ups, so
historian was a pretty fantastic album!
this came on my shuffle the other day and I forgot how AMAZING it was

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY NOVEMBER GOALS?

Snail Mail - Thinning [4K 60FPS] (live @ Brooklyn Bazaar 1/26/18) GIF |  Gfycat
  • Read at least 20 books: 21, counting the Aurora’s End re-read!
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving Break: good, AP Gov homework notwithstanding.
  • Keep the progress on my current WIP: the draft is finished!!

DECEMBER GOALS:

Funny Gifs : rudolph the red nosed reindeer GIF - VSGIF.com
  • Read 20 books
  • Survive that AP Gov project [heavy breathing]
  • End 2021 on a good note!

Today’s song:

I know I’ve already posted once today and put in a different song, but since I didn’t have time to post yesterday, I figured I’d put in an extra song. love this one

That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/2/21) – A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After finishing A Gathering of Shadows, I was scared that the final Shades of Magic book would be similarly disappointing. Luckily, A Conjuring Light packed the punch that the series needed, coming through to be my favorite book in the trilogy.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, A Darker Shade of Magic, and book 2, A Gathering of Shadows. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series and intend on doing so, be careful!

Here are my reviews for the first two Shades of Magic books:

Enjoy this week’s review!

Buy A Conjuring of Light: A Novel: 3 (Shades of Magic, 3) Book Online at  Low Prices in India | A Conjuring of Light: A Novel: 3 (Shades of Magic, 3)  Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3) – V.E. Schwab

Red London is falling. Sentient black magic, escaped from Black London, is loose, and it hungers for vessels. It leaves complete and utter destruction in its wake, and no one is safe.

Rhy, the newly crowned King of Red London, and Kell, are sequested in the palace, attempting to discern the origins of the magical plague. Meanwhile, Lila and Alucard are stranded on the high seas. Their only hope is to join forces to save Red London, but will their combined powers be enough to defeat magic itself?

𝐆𝐎𝐃𝐃𝐄𝐒𝐒 || 𝐆𝐢𝐟 𝐇𝐮𝐧𝐭 - 𝐌𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜! - Wattpad

TW/CW: stabbing, graphic violence, death, loss of loved ones, near-death experiences, fantasy violence

After the disappointment that was A Gathering of Shadows, I didn’t expect to enjoy book 3 as much as I did. But, lo and behold, I ended up finishing this one late at night. I curled up like a sad, emotional little worm in my bed and stared at the ceiling after I finished. I still don’t know what to do with myself now that I’ve finished the whole trilogy.

V.E. Schwab succeeded in bringing in everything that was missing from A Gathering of Shadows back and better than ever in A Conjuring of Light, and then cranked it all up to 100. The writing was sharper than ever, the worldbuilding was just as immersive, and the raw emotion and suspense was present in no small amount. As lengthy of a book this is (about 624 pages in the edition that I read), I couldn’t stop reading, feeling a constant urge to turn the page and find out what happened next. All of it made for a finale that truly packed a punch.

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but the characters are what truly make the Shades of Magic series what it is, and A Conjuring of Light is a shining testament to the fact. More than ever, I was truly rooting for Kell, Alucard, and the rest of the characters, feeling everything that they felt more deeply than ever. And can we talk about the development that Rhy had? DANG. It’s rare for the last book in a trilogy to devote that much time to a main character’s growth, but A Conjuring of Light did just that for Rhy! I liked him for the first two books, but the emotional growth he had in this book made me love him so much. It was great to see his development now that he holds a position of true power; the realization that he has an entire empire to save sharpened him into the ruler that he needed to be. It was simultaneously a sea change and a display of growth that still stayed true to who he was at heart.

I suppose I’ve come around a little bit to Lila. I’m still not the biggest fan of her, but she was at least tolerable in this book.

A Conjuring of Light also had the strongest plot out of the three—what’s more suspenseful than a devouring, magical plague with a god complex? It presented a very real threat for the characters, and it was just the kind of movement that the series needed. Add in political intrigue, romance, and nonstop action, and you’ve got a book that doesn’t just successfully keep itself afloat, but hooks you for every page. I went through the emotional gamut reading this one—heart-thumping suspense, giddy happiness, and some tears of shock. No spoilers for what caused the latter, but at least it was a false alarm.

And now, I’ve inevitably arrived at the bittersweet stage where I’ve finished the whole trilogy. Though book 2 was a letdown, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Conjuring of Light brought me no shortage of joy. I had so much fun traveling through the Londons and watching magical battles play out. I forget who put it on the list for my high school book club, but whoever you are, THANK YOU. You have improved my life so much by introducing me to these fine books. And thank you, V.E. Schwab, for creating such gems. What a trilogy.

Now, I still really don’t know what to do with myself. But hey, I’ve heard there are some prequel comics…😳😳😳

4.5 stars!

baroque fool: WitchCraft nails: Dark magic

A Conjuring of Light is the final book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, preceded by A Darker Shade of Magic (book 1) and A Gathering of Shadows (book 2). V.E. Schwab is also the author of the Villains series (Vicious and Vengeful) and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

Today’s song:

BABE WAKE UP NEW SPIRITUALIZED JUST DROPPED AFTER J. SPACEMAN SAID THAT HE PROBABLY WOULDN’T RELEASE ANY MORE MUSIC

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!