Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 1/8/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

I probably should’ve said something before tweaking my blogging schedule without warning, but I’ve decided to do a little something new instead of my weekly updates. I figured that I ended up saying most of the stuff I said in my weekly updates in my monthly wrap-ups, so this seemed like a more fun and creative use of my time.

Since last summer, I’ve been making graphics of songs that I’d been listening to during the week and shared them every Sunday, inspired by my brother. I’ve wanted to write about music more on this blog for a while, so I figured that I’d move my Sunday Songs to this blog as well to get the chance. As I said, these will probably replace my weekly updates, but you’ll be able to see everything that I’ve been reading in my wrap-ups at the end of each month. I know I’m going to enjoy writing about music more, and I hope you all enjoy the results!

the background format for this & all further Sunday Songs comes from a close up picture I took of the massive section of David Bowie CDs at Amoeba Records in San Francisco!

SUNDAY SONGS: 1/8/23

Gorillaz – “Left Hand Suzuki Method”

I can’t say anything about the whole album, but you know a band has endless talent when even the B-Sides (or G-Sides, in this case) sound just as good—if not better—than the original album material. I’ve been a huge fan of Gorillaz for years, but I didn’t hear about this one until it showed up in my YouTube recommendations out of the blue. And of all the things I expected to get from a Gorillaz song, Suzuki flashbacks was not one of them. I feel like I got whiplash the second I heard the sample of “Long Long Ago”, and suddenly, I was experiencing every piano lesson that I had from ages 5-7 (or something) as well as every recital that I ever attended at my old music school all at once. Whew.

But the way Damon Albarn utilizes this sample in “Left Hand Suzuki Method” is a testament to his creativity as a musician; building off a creaky sample that’s meant to teach kids how to play music, he creates a collage of funky keyboards and thick, punchy guitar intervals that transform a simple song into a collage of instantly catchy sound. Genius. Again, how was this a B-Side? (Sorry, G-Side…)

David Bowie – “All the Madmen”

I forgot up until a few days ago that this Sunday also happens to be what would have been David Bowie’s 76th birthday, so I’m glad I’m writing about him today. Happy birthday, sir. ⚡️

This one’s a bit lesser known than most of his (extensive) catalogue, but it’s crept up to become one of my favorite, underrated songs of his. Taken from The Man Who Sold the World, it’s loosely based on his schizophrenic half-brother, who was in and out of the institutions that the song fictionalizes. As you’d imagine, it’s appropriately chilling in that sense, but it has a lighter, almost nursery rhyme feel to certain parts of it—flutes and light drums that almost sound tinkling—before launching into epic, sweeping electric guitars that have come to define much of his early 70’s material. It all culminates into one of the most simultaneously creepy and catchy outros that I can think of in any song—as the guitars blend into synths as the song closes, Bowie begins a clapping chant of “Zane, zane, zane/ouvre le chien” (open the dog), a line which he later confirmed to be nonsense, seemingly the final nail in the protagonist’s loss of sanity. “All the Madmen” makes me appreciate Bowie so much more a songwriter—with his combination of sharp lyricism and musical craft, every song is a story.

Missy Elliott – “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”

At last…I finally know what my mom was referencing every time she said “Beep beep!/Who got the keys to the Jeep?”…

And my mom is also the reason why I found this song, after I told her about how I rediscovered “Get Ur Freak On”, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. Hip-hop isn’t usually my go-to, but even from the two songs I know her from, Missy Elliott is masterful at making a song so smooth and seamless that you miss the samples within—I just found out that the main structure of the song was sampled from Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” Like “Left Hand Suzuki Method,” “The Rain” creates a collage of smooth, instantly catchy sound out of a single, looped sample, creating a wider soundscape that keeps my head nodding through all 4+ minutes of the song. This phrase is definitely going to come up constantly in these posts, but…yeah, I need to listen to more Missy Elliott. So good.

Fontaines D.C. – “I Love You”

I know shamefully little about this band—before hearing this one on a friend’s Instagram story, the extent of my knowledge of Fontaines D.C. came from their glowing Pitchfork reviews (I think this album that this song is from came out on the same day as Everything Was Beautiful and got best new music instead of it? Come on, Spiritualized deserved it…I digress…why am I so fixated on these things?) and some guy’s hoodie that I saw in passing at the Smile show (“oh, the album with the elk on it?” – my internal monologue). I’m liking this song enough to explore more, though; through my first and only exposure so far, I love how “I Love You” slowly builds tension and breaks it just as quickly. With the faint bass and twinkling guitar notes in the quite first few minutes, the drums build to a slow, tight crescendo as the vocals intensify and then return to the peaceful, strangely sinister place where the song came from just as quickly, fading to nothing but a few strained strums in the very end.

So thanks, anonymous friend, for the new song and possibly new band to listen to! Maybe another album to add to my hydra-like list of albums that I have yet to listen to?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Despair (Acoustic Version)”

Going back to a mainstay favorite of mine for several years, here’s a beautifully uplifting song to take us into the rest of the new year. I know, look at the title, but stay with me: the song is more about overcoming despair than the despair itself, don’t worry. We’ll save my sadgirl songs for later. Although the original makes the uplifting message all the more prominent (because how else would Karen O. dancing on top of the Empire State Building in a rhinestone-studded jacket make you feel? Really?), there’s a certain intimacy that I glean from the acoustic version; whereas the original is a rallying cry for optimism and hope in spite of the darkness that life brings, this feels like a gentle comfort, a reassuring word whispered as you’re tucked into bed, promising that the monsters under your bed won’t hurt you after all. “Through the darkness and the light/Some sun has gotta rise.” Leave it to Karen O. and company to keep the light going in these uncertain times.

Oh, and I just realized that the original is almost 10 years old now, OW…

Since this post consists of all songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

I hope you all enjoyed my first time doing Sunday Songs! I love writing about music almost as much as I like writing about books, so hopefully you can enjoy it too. I look forward to writing more about music in the future outside of just album reviews (although I’m VERY excited to review Cracker Island when the day comes). Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

December 2022 Wrap-Up 🧣

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and happy New Year’s Eve!

Whew. This strange, chaotic year is coming to a close, but what matters most is that despite everything, we’re still here. Whoever you are, I’m proud of you for making it through another year. You did it!

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

December was certainly a little stressful at the beginning, what with my first finals season in college. Most of my classes were fine, seeing as all of my English *finals* were mostly essays and portfolios, but stats and bio anth were a little tougher. But in the end, I got out with good grades, and I won’t have to take a math class again in my college career. You have no idea how happy I am about that.

The great thing about being in college (in my case, at least) is that we have a really long winter break! After the chaos of finals, I’ve had a lot of time to settle down, relax, and spend the holidays with family. I’ve been in a major reading slump since finals, but the combination of some finds from my dad’s comic shelf, some Christmas gifts, and the haul from my Barnes & Noble gift card, I’m back into my regular reading rhythm! I’m so excited to read the rest of my haul!!

Other than that, I’ve been drawing more, putting together a puzzle (of David Bowie, who else would it be), watching Andor (SO GOOD), Glass Onion (I cannot stress enough how wonderful this movie is), and Decision to Leave (I still don’t completely know how I feel about this one), seeing The Smile live (CRYING CRYING CRYING), and enjoying spending time at home with my family over the break.

And yes, I know it’s New Year’s Eve, but there is a MUCH more important holiday going on today, and that’s Ringo’s first birthday!! My boy turns 1 today!! Everybody say happy birthday to Ringo

Also, I figured it might be fun to share some highlights from my apple music wrapped, sorry, replay—I’ve always wished that apple music had a wrapped equivalent, so, uh, Christmas miracle, I guess?

unsurprising, given that I spent a 2-hour plane flight listening to “Metal Guru” on repeat and nothing else 🥴
I am nothing if not predictable (David Bowie was #6 and Radiohead was #7 lol)
PFFFFFFFF ROCKY HORROR MADE THE CUT
Do I get Welsh street cred for this one?

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 15 books this month! It was my worst reading month as far as reading goes, but it was also finals week, so it’s all fine. I completed my reading challenge of 200 books and read 224 books in all this year!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Aces Wild: A Heist

3 – 3.75 stars:

Hellboy: On Earth as it is in Hell

4 – 4.75 stars:

House of Hollow

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe – 4 stars

POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE THAT I ENJOYED:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I ENJOYED:

fantastic on its own, but it was incredible to hear live with The Smile!!
unpopular opinion—this is my least favorite Blur album that I’ve listened to so far, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. this is certainly the best track
I never thought I’d say this in my lifetime, but new Sparklehorse just dropped?? and it’s not sad??????
again, this was so much fun live, but it’s great to finally hear the album version!!
I stumbled upon this one while trying to cite On a Sunbeam for my final comics paper—according to Tillie Walden, this is the song that inspired the title! fits the vibe of the comic for sure
SUCH a creative cover, wildly different from the original but in the best way possible
a great album to end the year on!

It’s been a scary and jarring year, but it’s been wonderful too. I graduated high school and started college, and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more than I have in ages. I made new friends, I went to so many amazing concerts and read so many fantastic books. It’s been weird and uncertain (and I cried a lot), but in the end, what matters is that we got through it. No matter how good or bad of a year you had, I hope 2023 brings hope, love, and good things to each and every one of you. We got this.

Have a wonderful new year. Spread love, be kind to each other.

— madeline

Today’s song:

came for the Gorillaz, stayed for the Suzuki flashbacks

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

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!

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

April 2022 Wrap-Up 🎫

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I keep saying things along the lines of “this week has been low-key…” in my updates and in my journal, fully knowing that it’s the calm before the storm (read: AP tests), but it’s been good to enjoy the calm nonetheless. And if I could get through three AP tests last year, then I can do it this year too. At least they’re all in one week again this time.

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Looking back, April was somewhat busy, but it never quite felt that way. Going to three concerts in a month was certainly a plus, however tired I got the day after the second two. I have less than a month left of high school (!!!!) and it certainly feels like things are slowing down…it’s all coming into perspective…

April’s been a great reading month as well! Aside from one DNF at the beginning of the month, I haven’t read anything below two stars. I found some great books in the bunch too, both from new-to-me authors and from tried-and-true authors! A good batch, I think.

Things have been slowing down as far as writing goes; since I shared my WIP, I’ve been in a sort of limbo where I’m not sure what to write next. For now, I’m outlining for said WIP’s sequel, but it’s been…rocky. I forgot how frustrating the beginning stages of outlining can be sometimes. Figuring out the playlist has been fun, though…Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, learning a few new songs on guitar, finishing Raised by Wolves (w h a t) and Severance (season 2 can’t come soon enough), watching Spirited Away, listening to an excess of Wet Leg, Spiritualized, and Jack White, and seeing Spiritualized, Snail Mail, and Ben Folds live. (All three were lots of fun, but Spiritualized was hands down my favorite!!)

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 18 books this month! I can chalk that one up to several lengthy books that took me longer than usual to read, but that’s okay. Still on track for my goodreads goal of 200—78 books as of now!

1 – 1.75 stars:

Witches Steeped in Gold

2 – 2.75 stars:

The Conductors

3 – 3.75 stars:

One for All

4 – 4.75 stars:

The Weight of Our Sky

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Extasia4.5 stars

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE THAT I ENJOYED:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I ENJOYED:

now THAT is an impressive high note
this was so beautiful live 😭
in which my dad and I try to catalogue all of the songs that they played at the Spiritualized soundcheck
such a fun album!
also a very fun album!!
every day I get more and more excited about the new Soccer Mommy album
such a haunting ending to a beautiful album
this was so much fun live!! the whole concert was so fun and interactive

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY APRIL GOALS?

  • Read at least 20 books: 18, but it’s all good.
  • Try not to spontaneously combust at the Spiritualized concert if/when they play “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”: …well, no “Ladies And Gentlemen,” but nonetheless, I spontaneously combusted. Hands down, one of my favorite concerts I’ve ever been to. Thanks again, J Spaceman!

GOALS FOR MAY:

  • Get through the AP tests
  • Finish high school strong! (aAAA STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GRADUATING—)

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: April 18-24, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

It’s been another fairly low-key week on my end; we had the day off on Friday, so I’m getting way too used to shorter school weeks. After last week, I’ve been on a streak of great books! So many unique books in particular—I can’t decide which one I’ll review next week! I’m nearly finished with the whole Heartstopper series too—I’ve got vol. 4 ready on my Kindle, along with my other library books!

Writing-wise, I’ve been attempting to outline for book 2 of my sci-fi WIP, and…it’s been…it’s going? It’s going. I have a clear picture of the beginning and the ending, but the middle is still hazy, so I’m trying to figure out what goes in between. Making playlists always helps get my sense of direction going, and it’s certainly helping now, at least.

Other than that, I’ve been listening to the new Spiritualized (AAAAAH), drawing a little, and playing some guitar. I also saw Snail Mail for a third time on Sunday night (great!) and Ben Folds with the Colorado Symphony last night (amazing!!), so there’s been a lot of concerts this month!! I’m tired now, but it was worth it.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Heartstopper, vol. 3 – Alice Oseman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Extasia – Claire Legrand (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Chandler Legacies – Abdi Nazemian (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Heartstopper, vol. 4 – Alice Oseman

One for All – Lillie Lainoff

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia Levenseller

The Weight of Our Sky – Hanna Alkaf

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 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 Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: April 4-10, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

Monday was the highlight of my week by far, but it’s been a good week overall. So Monday…I got a haircut in the afternoon, and that night, I got to see Spiritualized!! Without question, one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever been to. At this point, I’m not even mad that they didn’t play “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”—they played so well, and I feel so lucky to have seen one of my favorite bands live. Thanks, J Spaceman and company. 💗

I’ve had a decent reading week; I wouldn’t go so far to call it a slump, but it’s dangerously close. My first read of the week ended up being a DNF, but most of the others ended up being in the 3-star range. I’m moving onto my Barnes & Noble books and some others next week though, and those ones are VERY promising.

Other than that, I’ve been listening to way too much Spiritualized and rewatching videos from the concert, listening to the new Wet Leg and Jack White albums, drawing, finishing up Severance (AAAAAAAAA) and Raised by Wolves (I’m sorry what happened there), and hanging out with Ringo (still bent on biting my feet whenever possible, unfortunately).

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Witches Steeped in Gold – Ciannon Smart (DNF – ⭐️)

She Who Rides the Storm – Caitlyn Sangster (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Our Stories Carried Us Here – Tea Rozman Clark et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Measure for Measure – William Shakespeare (read for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Conductors (Murder and Magic, #1) – Nicole Glover (⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) – Martha Wells

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3) – Rainbow Rowell

Seven Devils – Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno Garcia

Today’s song:

I forget what dredged this song from the depths from my memory but god I love it

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

Book Review Tuesday (4/5/22) – Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!! I’m still reeling from finally seeing Spiritualized last night—such a transcendental show!

Rom-coms aren’t my go-to as far as genres go, but I really enjoyed The Henna Wars, so I wanted to given Adiba Jaigirdar’s newest rom-com a try. It ended up being one of those books that I put off for no good reason—I had it on hold at least twice at the library and left it on the shelf too long because of trips or something—but I ended up picking it up on Kindle over spring break. Having read it, I liked it overall, but generally, I have a few mixed feelings about it.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating – Adiba Jaigirdar

Humaira Khan—Hani for short—has started coming out to her friends and family as bisexual, but her friends don’t believe her. In their (horribly biphobic) beliefs, Hani can’t be bi if she’s only ever dated boys. So to save face, Hani blurts out that she’s dating Ishu, a top-of-the-class perfectionist and the only other Bengali girl at her school.

From then on, Hani and Ishu make a pact to orchestrate a fake relationship—as soon as both of their goals are achieved, they will stage a fake breakup worthy of the Oscars. But as they get deeper into their plan, they realize that their relationship might not be so fake after all.

TW/CW (from Adiba Jaigirdar): racism, homophobia, biphobia, lesbophobia, Islamophobia, toxic friendships, gaslighting, parental abandonment

I loved The Henna Wars, but despite all the hype that Hani and Ishu is getting, I’ve come away with mixed feelings. The setup is all there and the diversity is fantastic, but it’s difficult to enjoy a rom-com when the romance itself feels forced.

I’ll start out with what I enjoyed; Adiba Jaigirdar’s writing is consistently charming and funny. Her style is perfect for a rom-com, filled with wit and sarcasm. I can’t exactly say that she hit the perfect balance of levity and dealing with the aforementioned content in the TW/CW section (especially the biphobia, in my experience—more on that later), but it almost hit that sweet spot for me.

Adding onto that, it’s always wonderful to see POC characters at the forefront of rom-coms, and the fact that they’re LGBTQ+ makes it so much better! I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation myself (Hani is Bangladeshi-Irish, and Ishu is Indian-Irish, and they’re both Muslim), but most of the LGBTQ+ rom-coms out there are…pretty white. So it’s always a breath of fresh air to see non-white LGBTQ+ characters in literature.

My main problem, however, is with the excessive biphobia throughout the book. I fully recognize that all of it was challenged, but there was just so much of it that it became unnecessarily triggering. Hani’s “friends,” in almost every scene they’re in, invalidate her every chance they get, and a lot of the extreme bigotry they displayed definitely triggered me as well. All of the biphobia was challenged and I appreciate Adiba Jaigirdar for putting the trigger warning there, but for a book that was advertised as a feel-good rom-com, it decidedly did not make me feel good as a bisexual person. I feel like Hani’s bisexuality was well-depicted and relatable, but there didn’t need to be that much biphobia to sell the point of how bigoted and toxic Hani’s “friends” were—there was already enough evidence towards them being disgusting people. (I will say, though—Jaigirdar did a great job of writing how difficult it is to break out of toxic friendships. So props to her for that.)

Other than that, I never got on board with the romance. The setup was all there, but even through all of the bonding that Hani and Ishu had, I just never felt like they had any chemistry at all. There was just this feeling of…neutrality throughout the whole thing. Like their relationship was just acquaintances at best, even though they were sold as an almost enemies-to-lovers kind of deal. They just didn’t seem to click for me. And seeing as Hani and Ishu was billed as a rom-com, I didn’t get a whole lot of the “rom.”

All in all, an LGBTQ+ rom-com that was sweet in concept, but messy in its execution. 3 stars.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a standalone; Adiba Jaigirdar is also the author of The Henna Wars and the forthcoming A Million to One.

Today’s song:

this was the third song they played last night…still in awe of how smoothly they transitioned from “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)” to this. beautiful song 💗

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: March 28 – April 3, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

The beginning of this week was sort of weird; going back to school post-spring break hit me hard on the first day (and not getting much sleep the night before didn’t help), so Tuesday was a slog. But the rest of the week was nice and slow—I’m glad that I haven’t had a lot of schoolwork this week. Nice to ease back into routine.

I had more time to read this week, and I had a good batch of books from the library—all in the 3.5-4 star range! I got some more promising books from the library this week, as well as a few from Barnes & Noble yesterday (FINALLY got my hands on Any Way the Wind Blows!), so it should be another good week next week! I haven’t really done any writing since The Sharing of My WIP, so…

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, listening to too much Spiritualized (as usual, but now I’m freaking out that I’M SEEING THEM TOMORROW AAAA), watching Severance (A A A A A), re-watching the original Spiderman (you know, I’m something of a scientist myself…), and Death on the Nile (ehhhhh…at least Gal Gadot is gorgeous), going to Barnes & Noble, and trying to get Ringo not to bite me. He’s still in that phase.

And I hit 500 followers! I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: thank you all so much, you mean the world to me 💗

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Island of Excess Love (Love in the Time of Global Warming, #2) – Francesca Lia Block (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Most Likely – Sarah Watson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America – Amy Reed et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle, #2) – Rosaria Munda (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Witches Steeped in Gold – Ciannon Smart

The Conductors (Murder and Magic, #1) – Nicole Glover

Our Stories Carried Us Here – Tea Rozman Clark et. al. (anthology)

She Who Rides the Storm – Caitlyn Sangster

Today’s song:

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