Posted in Music

A (Possibly Mutable) List of my Top 10 Favorite Albums

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been meaning to semi-solidify this list (for now) for quite a while, but I think it was looking back through Hundreds & Thousands of Books’ post about her top 10 albums that sparked the idea in me to make a post about it, so thank you!

Even though this blog is primarily about books, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that music has had an equally profound effect on my life. Raised by two music nerds, I grew up listening to tons of Beatles and Bowie, and as I grew older, I began to mark periods of my life by the music I listened to. But there are always certain albums that leave an unmistakable mark on our lives. Some of mine have been steadfast favorites, and others I’ve only discovered in the past few months. All of them, however, have had a profound effect on me, whether it’s just been the experiencing something that’s just so, so good or marking a specific period in my life. So here are, right now, my 10 favorite albums.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🎵THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S TOP 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS🎵

10. Snail Mail – Lush (2018)

The summer of 2018 was a strange one for me—the summer before high school, and the summer I started seriously questioning my sexuality. I have Lush to thank for getting me through a lot of it, with Lindsey Jordan’s soaring guitar riffs and searingly vulnerable lyrics shining through in a debut like no other. Snail Mail is partially what inspired me to pick up the guitar—and I definitely think meeting her at a show that summer when I was a wee bisexual did something to my pubescent brain that I wouldn’t recover from…💀

Favorite Track: “Heat Wave”

9. Super Furry Animals – Rings Around the World (2001)

I remember hearing tracks like “Sidewalk Serfer Girl” and “(Drawing) Rings Around the World” from when I was about 5, but it wasn’t until this March that I appreciated this masterpiece of an album in its entirety. Something that makes me love a piece of media—be it a book, a movie, an album, or anything else—that much more is that if there’s clear evidence of how much love and care was put into it. And it’s blatantly evident here—Rings Around the World is brimming with creativity, and through all of the genres of music they explore, there isn’t a single miss. There’s something so fully-formed about it, like it just came into the world like Athena bursting forth from the skull of Zeus.

Favorite track: “No Sympathy”

8. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

This album’s one that’s been a constant in my life; Wilco is one of my dad’s favorite bands, and I’ve been hearing them for so long that they’ve become inextricably linked to my personal history. (Wilco was my first concert, at the age of 8!) But this album in particular is the most special of theirs to me; like Rings Around the World, I’ve been listening to isolated songs from it for years, but the whole album is a true work of art, sonically and lyrically immersive and always emotionally moving and potent.

Favorite track(s): oh, man, this is hard…

I’ve settled on a three-way tie between “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Ashes of American Flags,” and “Reservations.”

7. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (2016)

Another gem from the summer of 2018, this one always brings to mind dozens of fond memories—seeing Car Seat Headrest live (and subsequently tainting all of my concert videos from my off-key scream-singing), repainting my room, going on vacation in Chicago. Car Seat Headrest have been a favorite of mine since around 8th grade, but the more I think about it, the more Teens of Denial in particular stands out as my favorite album—clever, vulnerable, raw, and perfect for 14-year-old me to scream along to.

Favorite track: “Cosmic Hero”

6. The Beatles – The White Album (1968)

I guess I’ve got a theme going with the red and white album covers? I don’t think it holds up later in the list…

As I said earlier, I was undoubtably raised on the Beatles; some of my earliest memories are of hearing songs like “Good Day Sunshine” and “Yellow Submarine” in the car, and I’ve adored them ever since. I’ve flip-flopped between albums for a favorite Beatles album for years, and it feels like it changes with my mood; some days, it was Revolver, other times it was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But between having some of my favorite Beatles songs of all time and the solace it gave me in the early days of quarantine, The White Album takes the top spot for me—I think “I’m So Tired” is my most played song on my whole iTunes library. (somehow I’ve played it over 2,500 times?? didn’t even know I was capable of such a thing 💀)

Favorite track(s): tie between “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “I’m So Tired”

5. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)

I fell in love with Spiritualized, as a lot of people seemed to do, after hearing the title track, “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.” Ever since then, they’ve held a truly special place in my heart; I rediscovered them in quarantine, and this album in particular has held a top spot for me ever since. Despite all the abject heartbreak, addiction, and general melancholy present through this album (and all of J. Spaceman’s music), there’s a cosmic, immersive quality to his music that swallows me like a wave with every song. Listening to Spiritualized is more than just music—it’s an experience in and of itself.

Favorite track: “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”

4. Blur – 13 (1999)

another heartbreak album comin’ atcha…

Like Super Furry Animals, I’ve been hearing scattered Blur songs throughout my childhood, “Song 2,” “Coffee & TV,” and “Charmless Man” being standouts. But it wasn’t until last summer that I got back into Blur—really into Blur. (You all witnessed the Blurification of this blog last year…) There’s something instantly hooking about their songs—the clever lyrics, the punchy guitars that seem to burst out of your headphones. But 13 is uniquely special to me; it was my musical companion in a strange, transitionary period of my life (the beginning of senior year and being a legal adult…somehow?). Beyond that, it’s so clear that so much time and love went into this record—through every high and low, there’s a consistent resonance that you can feel in your chest. It’s a masterpiece. It’s an album that I’ve come back to ever since when I’ve felt low—there’s a healing quality to it.

Favorite track: “Tender”—also my favorite song of all time, at the moment

3. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

adding another white album cover to the mix, I guess?

St. Vincent, without a doubt, is responsible for shaping some of my most formative years. Middle school was a weird time for me—I was struggling with friendships, forming my identity, and getting teased for the things I loved so passionately. And here was St. Vincent, this confident, ridiculously talented musician who wielded her guitar like a sword into battle. So you can imagine how I got attached to her. Even if MASSEDUCTION made me lose a little faith in her for a few years, she’ll always remain as a hero of mine, and St. Vincent in particular will always be a daring, fierce masterpiece that sweeps me off my feet every time—and the album that got me through 6th grade.

Favorite track: “Bad Believer” (on the deluxe edition), “Severed Crossed Fingers” (on the original edition)

2. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

and another white album cover? sort of?

Yeah, okay. I fully admit that my toxic trait is genuinely enjoying certain kinds of male manipulator music. But Radiohead will always be an immensely special band to me. “The Daily Mail” was my first exposure to them (thanks, Legion!), but OK Computer opened my eyes to something I’d never experienced before—or, something that I’d overlooked before, but now fully appreciate. Like Spiritualized, every Radiohead song is a fleshed-out landscape, an experience that lifts you off your feet, even when the lyrics are unbearably heartbreaking. OK Computer is an album that I wish I could listen to for the first time again—it’s an unforgettable, dystopian masterpiece, and it’s proved itself to stand the test of time.

Favorite track: “Paranoid Android”

  1. David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)
I guess there’s a slight pattern on here with tan album covers too?

And here it is: my favorite album of all time.

David Bowie has been a constant companion in my life; one of my earliest memories that I can think of is hearing “Kooks” in the car. He’s been another hero of mine for years—again, he came to me in middle school, at a time when I was an outsider and unsure of myself, and stood as a glaring reminder to be myself—no matter what. This album in particular is, in my opinion, a perfect album; there isn’t a single bad song, and each one is a world of its own, spinning lyrical tales that span from the cosmic to the tender and everything in between. It’s an album I always come back to, and one that I’ll always hold close. Some of the other albums lower on the list may change or switch orders over the course of my life, but I doubt I’ll ever come across something quite as stellar as this.

Favorite track(s): Tie between “Quicksand” and “Life On Mars?”

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you listened to any of these albums, and if so, did you like them? What are some of your favorite albums? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

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

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Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 3-9, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

First and foremost, I hit 200 followers this week! (I’m currently at about 207, I think.) But I’d just like to give each and every one of you a big thank you for your endless love and support.

wholesome memes, aesthetic, cats and love and affection memes ...

I’ve definitely had a nice week. I spent a few days in Vail with my family, and we did lots of walking amongst flowers and eating too much sugar, so that was a lovely reprieve from the monotony of 2020 life. (Also, writing in a bunk bed is on another level of good vibes.) As far as writing goes, I’ve finally decided to resume writing my paranormal fantasy WIP, and that’s been fun to get back into the groove. All I’ll tell you so far is that it draws a lot of inspiration from Hellboy/B.P.R.D. and Guillermo del Toro, and there’s quite a lot of sarcasm, amphibious creatures, and questionable magic afoot.

As far as reading goes, the 4-5 star high capped off last week, and I’ve had almost entirely 3 star reads this week. I got another library haul yesterday, so hopefully that’ll help pick things back up again, but only time will tell.

Other than that, I’ve started catching up on season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, started watching Devs ([loud screaming]), and I’ve been rewatching What We Do in the Shadows with my family so that we can get my brother into it. (We’ve already blown through the whole first season) I also watched I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which was lovely.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles Book 3) (English ...

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals–Sy Montgomery (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals ...

A World Without You–Beth Revis (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Starswept–Mary Fan (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Starswept: Mary Fan: 9781946202277: Amazon.com: Books

The Good for Nothings–Danielle Banas (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Good for Nothings eBook: Banas, Danielle: Kindle Store

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Ice Wolves (Elementals, #1)–Amie Kaufman

Ice Wolves (Elementals, #1) by Amie Kaufman

Blanca & Roja–Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Blanca & Roja (9781250162717): McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books

Show Me a Sign–Ann Clare LeZotte

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte - Hardcover Book - The Parent ...

On a Sunbeam–Tillie Walden

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam eBook: Walden, Tillie: Kindle Store

Tarnished Are the Stars–Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (7/28/20)–Serpent & Dove

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve had this one on my TBR for about a year and a half, and I finally got to read it last week after having it on hold for…a good month or so? It was one of the most hyped YA fantasies of last year, and though it wasn’t a perfect novel, I’d say that it mostly lived up to it!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

Serpent & Dove–Shelby Mahurin

In Cesarine, witches are feared. The only thing that may be feared more, however, are the Chasseurs–the Church’s personal witch-hunters who will stop at nothing to burn their prey at the stake.

Lou is on the run, struggling to keep her powers–and her infamous witch heritage–under wraps. But after being caught by the Chasseurs, she is presented with an ultimatum: be killed for her crimes, or marry Reid, the captain of the Chasseurs. Stuck with the second option, she is forced to live with him, but she soon realizes that, despite their backgrounds, she has feelings for him–and they might even be mutual.

The witch GIF - Find on GIFER

Alright, right off the bat, I noticed something…

Did anyone else find it funny that we have two characters named Lou and Reid that were in a romantic relationship?

Like…

LOU REED?

lou reed gifs | Tumblr

[ahem] yeah, probably just me, carry on…

Overall, Serpent & Dove was a hysterical thrill ride of a fantasy novel! Not without its flaws, to be sure, but a whole lot of fun all the same.

My main issue with the novel was the world-building. At best, it felt…very messy. The setting is clearly inspired by 18th-19th century France, and uses tidbits of French in some of the dialogue. But even though it’s a fantasy world apart from our own, the predominant religion (and the religion pushed by the Chasseurs) is Christianity? Additionally, though some of the dialogue is hilarious, it often felt…a bit too 21st century? I mean, there’s no “yeet” or “vibin'” or anything, but mostly on Lou’s part, it didn’t mesh well with the historical-inspired setting. Reid’s dialogue felt appropriately stuffy, but that definitely threw off some of my suspension of disbelief.

But that’s where most of my issues end. I LOVED the characters–they were all completely over-the-top, but IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. From the beginning, I loved Lou and Coco–they were both wonderfully sassy and spirited, and I loved their friendship dynamic. Reid has a lovely beginning to his character arc, and honestly? I love him just as much as the others, especially since he got over some of the prejudice he held in the first part of the novel. And since I’m a total sucker for enemies-to-lovers romances, I enjoyed every bit of Lou and Reid’s relationship. Hey, opposites attract.

And with the theme of witch-burning and whatnot, Serpent & Dove not only presents messages of shedding previous prejudice, but it’s morally grey as well. There’s a great depiction of sides that are most definitely blurred when it comes to morality–and neither one can be pinned as the “hero” or the “villain.” A lot of novels get this wrong, but this managed to portray it deftly.

All in all, a simultaneously thought-provoking and gut-busting fantasy novel, with a romance to die for and no shortage of witty banter. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

Animated gif about loki gif avengers in Avengers bitch:)! by Miss ...

Serpent & Dove is the first in a trilogy, which continues with the forthcoming Blood & Honey, and an untitled third book.

Today’s song:

Okay but the point at 5:26 where Jeff Tweedy starts hitting those higher notes PERFECTLY

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