Morning! I am still very much dealing with stress and grief, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve entered whatever stage messes with my sleep. I’ve been having nightmares nearly every night, and even on the weekends, I can’t seem to get on a sleep schedule that leaves me feeling rested.
But still, I am working to comfort myself by looking to things that have comforted me in the past. One thing that has always helped me is music, so I have been scouring the shelves of my local library’s CD collection and checking out whatever looks good.
A few months ago, I bought a few songs on iTunes from SZA, and decided to get her entire album, “Ctrl” at the library so I could feel it out before buying.
“Ctrl” is SZA’s debut album and it was released in the summer of 2017. It’s mostly R&B, but definitely has hints of soul. I would venture to say she’s got a bit of an Amy Winehouse sound (that is so difficult for me to admit, if you have ANY idea how much I love Ms. Winehouse), and she’s not afraid to come out and say whatever is on her mind.
After releasing many singles from the album, including “Broken Clocks”, “The Weekend”, and “Drew Barrymore”, “Ctrl” went Platinum as of March 2018 – hitting more than 1 million sales.
Last year, SZA was nominated for 5 Grammy awards, but walked away empty-handed. According to an interview she did with GQ magazine (read it here), SZA was “mad as hell” she lost, especially the Best New Artist award, which was (wrongfully) given to Alessia Cara.
But of course, she didn’t create the album to succeed at the Grammy’s, and this is precisely why Grammy Awards don’t matter – everyone loves mediocrity… don’t even get me started.
Even after listening to the album, “Broken Clocks” remains to be one of my favorite tracks, but I also love “Normal Girl”. “The Weekend” is one I’d love to dance to in my stiletto class, and I do like the very first song, “Supermodel”.
I ain’t had a smoke break
In about two days don’t break
Been about three years since I dated you
Why you still talking ’bout me like we together?
I moved on for the better
You moved on to whoever
-SZA, Broken Clocks
SZA has a very unique voice and style, and I’m excited to see what else we hear from her (there is a rumor that she will be collaborating with Missy Elliott).
On another note, I do want to throw something out into the universe that I have been grappling with for some time now, and that’s telling people “no.” I don’t mean telling people “no” in the sense of making plans that I’m too busy to have or taking on too much work, I mean telling people no because I am really just not interested in a relationship with that person.
For whatever reason, I keep getting confronted (often in front of other people) by the same person about spending time together and I feel like I have tried everything – explaining how I felt offended by things that happened between us, blocking phone numbers, posting things on Instagram about rude things they’ve said to me, ignoring them to their face, skirting invitations to hangout… I am at a loss here.
I don’t want to be mean, but I am also not trying to force friendships. I truly feel like I have nothing in common with this person, and I do not want to go to lunch, or discuss books, or even talk. I am just not interested.
Why am I struggling with this? Because I feel like everyone else loves this person and, well, I do not. I’m not going to get into reasons why, but I just cannot shake the anxiety that comes from this situation. Has anyone else dealt with something like this?
Either way, I’ll figure it out.
I’ve got another book to review this week and I think you guys are going to love it – see you then!
In early June, I was flipping stations on Sirius XM, and came across a song called “Location” by Khalid. I immediately liked the beat, so I kept it on, and I was blown away. I wrote down the song title in my phone so I could look for it on iTunes later.
Well, later turned out to be on my flight back from Indiana, and I listed to this track on repeat for longer than I’d like to admit. I love it! Even after I bought the rest of the album, this track remains to be one of my favorites.
I don’t wanna fall in love off of subtweets so
Let’s get personal
I got a lot of cool spots that we can go
Tell me what’s the move and I got you
I’m only acting like this ’cause I like you
-“Location” by Khalid
I quickly purchased another track (“Keep Me”), and after listening to it for hours, I bought the rest of the “American Teen” album, which serves as Khalid’s debut. And yes, he’s a teenager (19), singing words that are well beyond his years.
I’m a little late to the game here – the album was released at the beginning of March this year, and it’s getting rave reviews (rightfully so). I haven’t felt this way about an album in awhile – and by “this way”, I mean, I listen to it constantly.
I like listening to albums the way they were intended: in the order of the tracks on the album, before I start mixing things up. And this one, I listen to in my office, my car, I listen in my kitchen when I’m cooking dinner, and I listened all through the Dallas airport. It’s incredible.
Some of my favorite tracks, aside from “Location” are “Shot Down”, “Keep Me”, “American Teen”, and “Another Sad Love Song”.
I must be honest, I have a lot of pride
But I’m broken inside
I guess this sounds like another sad love song
I can’t get over how it all went wrong
But, I let the words come together
Then, maybe I’ll feel better
-“Another Sad Love Song” by Khalid
MTV named Khalid their Artist to Watch for the month of July, and they’ve been playing video clips of him, including an acoustic performance of a popular track, “Young Dumb & Broke” (watch it here). And here’s some of what the New York Times had to say about the album:
That’s an almost universal teen conundrum, something Khalid acknowledges throughout this song with constant use of “we” and “our” (“We don’t always say what we mean,” “This is our year”). He’s sketching a generational mood, and drives the point home when at the end of the song, the digital shimmer falls away and, backed by only an acoustic guitar, a group of young men — high school friends from back in El Paso — bark-sing Khalid’s chorus. It’s a campfire singalong, a signifier of tactile humanity for a singer who knows how technology both redeems and corrupts.
“American Teen” is a promising amalgam of bedroom art-soul and 1980s new-wave pop maximalism, and a union of lonely-boy mirror gazing with a sense of larger cultural purpose. It most vividly recalls the promise embedded in the soundtracks of John Hughes films — that an outsider’s story might in fact be the thing that can unify and move millions.
Some of the songs have an upbeat undertone to them, but overall it’s a pretty chill album. I hope you guys will check it out – if not, I’d love to know what you’re listening to right now!
I’m so excited for today – a new semester of my Blog Class kicks off at UT – plus, we’re halfway through the week! I know I was pret-ty skeptical of John Mayer’s latest album a few months ago, when we were only given a measly four songs per month.
But, now that it’s been released in its entirety (I actually got a free copy with the purchase of a concert ticket), and I’ve had a chance to listen to it – in my car and in my earbuds – and have heard a few songs from it live, I think I’ve got a grasp on my opinions.
From the jump, in general: I like it. Is it my favorite album? Nope. But there are definitely some gems that cannot (and will not) be ignored in the entirely of Mayer’s career. Here’s my take.
Best song: In the Blood
If you’re looking for one of those typical John Mayer songs that’s got genius lyrics and is going to cleverly teach you some life lessons, THIS is the one.
Although we’ve been told from Mayer before that he’s aware of his ways (you know what I’m talking about), this song really seems to drive it home, while also discussing his family life – which he’s alluded to in a few previous songs.
“In the Blood” has been released to country radio stations as his next single.
How much of my father am I destined to become?
Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?
Will I let this woman kill me, or do away with jealous love?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?
I can feel the love I want, I can feel the love I need
But it’s never gonna come the way I am
Could I change it if I wanted, can I rise above the flood?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?
I still really like “Love on the Weekend”, and it will probably remain to be a favorite of mine – I’ve had too many long distance relationships and understand what he’s singing about all TOO well.
There’s two upbeat tracks that are really fun: “Still Feel Like Your Man” (which Mayer admitted was about Katy Perry), and “Moving On and Getting Over”, which I had the pleasure of hearing live. It was fantastic. Many critics said this album was Mayer’s “return to pop”, but I disagree, and I think these two tracks are fair proof that he’s still going his own way.
And finally, there’s “Rosie”, which reminds me of early 90’s Lenny Kravtiz – loungey blues with desperate love lyrics. It’s catchy as hell, and makes for a good ear worm.
Yes, there’s a few other tracks stuffed in… and they may as well go forgotten. I’m not even going to pretend like a song titled “Emoji of a Wave” is worth my shit. Not even for John Mayer.
It’s no “Battle Studies”, but I definitely feel like we got a lot of hype for this one that was perhaps unwarranted. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll hold me over, but I can’t help but wonder if Mayer is suffering from a little bit of writer’s block.
In albums’ passed, we’ve gone on a journey with him over heartbreak (admittedly the ones we saw play out in the tabloids), his life as a famous person (before moving West), his family, and his struggle with getting older.
But is his journey over? His life is quiet now, and although that’s good for him, it sometimes isn’t good for the art. Been there, done that.
We were spoiled with the release of “Born and Raised” and then right afterward (#blessed) with “Paradise Valley”. It miiight be awhile before we hear from Mayer again, despite his claims that he’s got a vault of songs that were meant for “The Search for Everything”.
Guess we’ll see…
A few weeks ago, I took a 10-hour road trip (that’s 10-hours each way, which ended up being a good bit longer, but whatevs). I had to rent a car for my trip, because, well Jeep sucks (a story for another day), and about five minutes after I picked up the rental SUV, I realized just how spoiled my every day car has me – I love my Sirius XM!
I couldn’t figure out how to change the station in the rental car for the life of me – and anything I could find was definitely in Spanish. Not going to fly for 20 hours in the car. So, I drove right on over to my favorite place – the library – and checked out some audiobooks and some CDs. Here’s what I found:
“Hozier” by Hozier
This album includes the hits “Take Me to Church” and “Someone New”, so I was excited to listen to it. I absolutely love “Someone New”, but I was pleasantly surprised by the entirety of this album – it’s one of those you can listen to from beginning to end and enjoy it as a whole.
The album is a bit dark, lyrically and in sound, and it’s a bit gritty – but if you’re into soul, I think you’ll love it. One of my favorite songs is called “From Eden”.
This album really makes me want to see Hozier in concert – I can already imagine how much he would jam out!
Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?
-Hozier, “From Eden”
“I Am Not a Human Being II” by Lil Wayne
A long-time Weezy fan, I was really looking forward to hearing this album. However, I am not quite sure if there is any piece of work from Mr. Carter that can compete with “The Carter III”. Sorry, not sorry.
“I Am Not a Human Being II” however, brought us “Rich as Fuck” (with a killer beat) and “No Worries”, which is a song that will definitely put you in a good mood, if you’re not already:
What I love most about Lil Wayne is his ability to go bold and not give AF; and okay, he also spilled some clever, witty lyrics on previous albums that I’m straight up jealous I didn’t write. But, I have to say I rarely heard that on this album. It’s more about sex, and sex, and well, just lots of sex. Sorry, Weezy, can’t relate!
However, I did really like a track called “I Ain’t Nervous”, where you can hear a littttle bit of the Wayne we know and love:
Have my pants saggin like fuck it
I’m still on my business, spent my birthday in jail
I was making bad decisions, saw my enemy at the light
“Bangarang” by Skrillex
I had the pleasure of seeing Skrillex live last year at Hangout Fest and was blown away by how fun he was! Plus, I love his SnapChats. While I’m a little obsessed with his work in JackU, I admit I’d never listened to an entire Skrillex album – until I was driving across Texas around 6:30 am.
Holy craaaaap! If you need a wakeup call, just pop in a lil “Bangarang”! I’ll be honest here, this wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but it was fun to listen to while on the road. Here’s the first track on the EP, “Right In”, and it will give you a good taste of what you can expect from the rest of the album:
“Nothing Was the Same” by Drake
Yes, I have a few random Drake songs on my phone, but I’ve never really paid tooooo much attention to the dude until this summer. I have a special attachment with “Hotline Bling”, and absolutely love “Too Good”. So, when I saw a few of his older albums at the library, I snatched them right up.
“Nothing Was the Same” was released in 2013 and brought us “Started From the Bottom” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – both songs I love, and they both give us a taste of Drake as a lyricist. I’m obsessed with the line “I’ma worry ’bout me, give a fuck about you” – cause that’s just where I am right now.
The song I kept replaying had to be “Worst Behavior” – as its thick beat is perfect for in-car dancing and general bad ass swag.
“Thank Me Later” by Drake
This album came out in 2010 and served as Drake’s debut – and damn, this one blew me away. The album starts with “Fireworks”, featuring the one and only Alicia Keys, and has some fantastic lines in it:
I missed them before but won’t miss them again
I keep having the same dream
And I think that I just realized what it means.
This album also brought us “Fancy”, along with its title track. But, the song I kept bumpin’, kept repeating, and ultimately the reason I ended up buying the album, was “Show Me a Good Time”. The beat, the words – I cannot help but dance to this one, and I really would love to see a performance of this, because it’s just so damn fun!
So yeah, I’m looking forward to continuing listening to Drake – the old and the new; and now I’m just dying to seem him live. I know, I’m basic, but if it means dancing to Drake and finding some lines to live by, I’m all about it.
Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?
We don’t like to do too much explainin’
Story stay the same I never changed it
-Drake, “Started From the Bottom”