Music is my boyfriend

2014 – A Retrospective

In previous years, I spent the last few days of December thinking about what I wanted to achieve in the next year while simultaneously crying about all the goals I hadn’t achieved. I think that’s pretty much what everyone does and new year’s resolutions are a perfectly common thing. But it also feels like you’re already starting a new year on a bad note, setting yourself up for failure. No matter how often we tell ourselves that they’re no actual goals, just guidelines and rough drafts, we end up thinking of them as some kind of milestone or goal post anyway. And let’s face it, 365 days are a long time. A lot of things can happen. Most of the time, we aren’t even able to tell what tomorrow is gonna be like and yet, we make these resolutions as if the only factor in reaching our goals was us. And even if that was the case, we may change along the way. Our perspectives could change, we may change our directions, there may be a perfectly fine reason why we didn’t go for that thirty pound loss anymore, or that change of jobs, or why we’re still single, and yet, we feel like we’ve failed.

For 2015, I don’t want to do that. I don’t even want to think of what I didn’t achieve in 2014 or all the bad things that happened. 2014 was a bad year for me, yes, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have to spend the last day of the year dwelling on that. The good thing about having had a bad year is that for the next, the only way is up.

What I do want to do, though, is remember the good things, the nice moments and things, the highlights, however few there may be.

Good Things That Happened in 2014:

  • I am fine, my mom is fine. After all the health issues this year, this is something that deserves to be celebrated. I daresay we’re even doing better than before. Especially my mom is filled with more energy than I expected from her.
  • I got a new car. I don’t think I mention it often enough but I love, love, love little Bruce. Not only because it’s finally a black car and I love driving it but also because it’s the first car I ever bought (well, financed) myself. My first two cars were paid for by my grandpa, the third I did buy myself but my mom brought in her own car which she didn’t want anymore and that exchange took a huge chunk out of the total price. So this is the first time I actually got one for myself and that only makes it extra special and I’m proud of my little Dark Knight.
  • I went to not many but great concerts this year. The highlight being, in absence of any AFI shows, of course, Taking Back Sunday.
  • New opportunities. I started a new project at work and also something bigger in my personal life. None of which have led to anything big so far but they’re fun, they’re new challenges and help break the routine a little.

Favorite Songs of the Year


Favorite Books I Read This Year

Favorite Movies of the Year

Things to Look Forward to in 2015:

  • London with Mel in January. Four days in my favorite city with one of my favorite people. I don’t know how often we talked about going on a trip together. And it seems insane that we never made it to any proper day trip but managed to book a whole city trip together. But I’m so looking forward to it. It’s the first time I’m not only in the city with someone else than my mom (who is great company but slow and not very interested in a lot of things) and it’s not part of an AFI tour. Because that always took such a large chunk out of our time and people I went with rarely showed much interest in sightseeing, after over fifteen years of visiting London every year, there’s still so much I haven’t done and seen and Mel and I have already put so many of them on our list. Excited much?!
  • Mallorca with my mom in May. Not even half a year left until I’ll be back on the beautiful island I lost my heart to two years ago. We even booked the same hotel. I always feel a little bad going to a vacation spot twice, and even to the same hotel. There’s so much of the world left to discover! But Mallorca is so beautiful and there’s still so much I haven’t seen or didn’t have enough time to enjoy. We got so little time in Sollér last time and also didn’t make the best of Palma. I’m excited to go back. And hotels…well, there are so many bad hotels out there, why not take advantage when you found one that makes you feel at home?
  • So.many.awesome.movies. 2015 will be one of the greatest years, movie-wise. I should just rent a spot in our local cinema and be done with it. Just a few I can think of right now: Big Hero 6, Into the Woods (won’t be out here before next year), Minions, Cinderella, Mockingjay Pt. 2, Jurassic World
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Categories: Bookworm, Me Myself and I, Movies, Music is my boyfriend, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

My Blue Heaven

It’s a Tuesday night. I woke up early, when it was still dark outside, to go to work. Despite leaving work early, I’m so tired I can barely think straight. The plan was to get home, shower, then get ready and hurry back out. As usual, reality strayed from the plan. I made it as far as the shower, then crashed on the couch for a nap. Followed by…a nap. Dreaming of getting married on a beach because The Wedding Island or what it’s called was running in the background. That’s gotta count for something. Then I had to hurry and it was one of those ‘slap on foundation and lipstick simultaneously while blow drying my hair using all four limbs at once in the course of twenty minutes and hurry the fuck out the door’ affairs. I think I get bonus points for managing to order a last minute Christmas gift for my mom, though.

I gotta say, though, I have some kind of built in good luck when going to concerts alone because I usually find a parking space within five minutes, not even requiring a full drive around the block. Now I’m here at everyone’s favorite venue in Cologne (not!), the Luxor, waiting impatiently for Taking Back Sunday to take the stage, or even just the support act. I’ve already had a rather cute young girl approach me with a flyer of one of the support acts, urging me on to visit their website and download a free song. My inner music snob took a look at the emo-goth-rock-pop-esque band picture and wanted to crumple it. But the girl was so adorable that I think I may just do it for her sake, even if she’ll never know. I’ve had too many people snubbing me and my favorite bands in my life. So I’m sitting here (Yes, sitting! Right behind the sound engineer dude wizard!), doing my usual crowd watching and I can’t help but feel that man, TBS has grown up, and so have their fans. There are the usual scene kids around, sure, but they’re a minority and probably here because they try to score as many gigs as they can in one year, not because they truly care about this particular band. I’ve noticed, with shock, that TBS have been around for so long now that they’re a classic, a staple in everyone’s emo-screamo-post hardcore-punk-pop-rock playlist. It’s been eleven years since I went to their first show, a day before getting my first tattoo. It was the same city, but another venue. Front row, getting covered in Adam Lazzara’s spit while trying to pretend I knew more than one line of one song. Time flies.

The first support act takes the stage, Blitzkid, from Manchester, as the singer likes to point out, even though his accent may have given it away already. I’m instantly smitten by their music, not so much the singer’s voice. For the first couple songs, I feel like it hurts my ears and even though I’ve never heard anything by this band before, I’m pretty sure his singing is off. Then, I’m not sure what happens, his voice gets smoother, fits the music more, and it becomes a really nice experiences. I reach for my phone and quickly make notes so I’ll remember to check them out later, maybe even buy an album if they’re as good on a record. They’re music sounds smooth, some obvious emo influences, a lot of melancholy mixed with inspirational ‘Let’s Get Going’ lyrics. I can see this band filling bigger venues at some point. Nice.

Now, support acts are a delicate affair. First of all, they’re support acts. They’re the only thing between you and the band that you came to see. If you’re lucky, it’s someone you know and like, or at the very least their name was announced before the show and you could check them out. (I always say I’ll do that but then I forget anyway.) For the most part, theirs is an ungrateful job because at best, the crowd will only be 50:50 in their favor. And you just never know what’s in store for you. I try to be fair, give them a chance, go along with things even if I’m not 100% impressed, unless they really, really suck (in my opinion). But even I have my limits.

So when the second support act, Marmozets, takes the stage, I am considerably less patient. It is almost nine, I am tired, I have gone through my first bottle of water, I am more than ready for Taking Back Sunday. But nope. What follows is…a new kind of torture. I don’t even know how to describe their music, I guess that alone would be fine. They even have some good riffs and their drummer is awesome. But the singer, my god, the singer! When she talks, or actually sings, you can tell her voice isn’t so bad, even quite pleasant. But she chooses to use it to screech and scream instead, reaching notes that would make bats curl up on the floor and cry. Around me, I can see that a lot of people are equally shocked so thankfully, it isn’t just me being ignorant. In the front, I see people dancing and pumping their fists, so I suppose they do have a fanbase. Good for them. I won’t be joining that crowd anytime soon, though.

9:30 comes and goes. 9:45 comes and goes, too. Then, just before 10, Taking Back Sunday finally take the stage. It is quite unceremonious, or at least it feels that way after the Marmozets have used a dramatic intro. The first thing I notice all over again is how genuine and adorable the band looks on stage. More like a bunch of laid back guys deciding to make music together. It takes about one third of a song and you’re hopelessly smitten by these guys. What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost? has never been one of my favorite songs but it definitely makes for a good show opener. Personally, I’ve always wanted to hear them open a show with Carpathia because the intro to that song is just killer but it may never happen because it already seems to be one of those forgotten songs that no one ever remembers when asked about that particular band.

The setlist tonight isn’t the best I’ve ever seen them play but it holds some of my personal highlights, the biggest being My Blue Heaven which is very, very far up on my list of personal favorites (and ‘sing along to in the car’ songs, too, but that is another story, one that doesn’t beg to ever be shared with the general public, or anyone who isn’t me or my car). The choice of songs is also admirably diverse, containing some from the new album, of course, some more recent singles, but also a bunch of old classics.

If I ever forget why I love this band, I’ll just have to think of tonight. Because, as Adam explains later on, they were supposed to leave the stage at some point and sit backstage for a few minutes, playing the good old ‘encore’ game with the crowd. Instead, though, they squeeze in a few crowd requests, so we get additional songs instead of a couple minutes of dead time. Apparently they’re capable of playing pretty much their entire repertoire of songs by request – to a musical idiot like me, that’s admirable! Whoever asked them to play One-Eighty By Summer is a genius, too. Request well spent, my dear! Another little highlight comes when Adam points out a girl in the crowd, apologizes profusely for ’embarrassing her’, and tells the crowd that he recognized her from Twitter and how very much he and the rest of the band appreciate her dedication as a fan. These guys are so humble, it’s adorable! Imagine having thousands of people across the globe liking what you do and messaging and tagging you on social media websites every single day. Damn, I get overwhelmed when more than two people message me at once, and these people are usually my friends! And they remember a person who isn’t technically a part of their daily life and even manage to make her feel appreciated. Or at least I hope that’s how she feels.

The show ends with their biggest hit so far, MakeDamnSure. It shouldn’t be a surprise but it is because they’ve blown that one out early on the last time I saw them. I don’t care, either way, it is a damn good song and a great highlight to finish the show with. But it’s also awesome when a band shows they’re so in love with all of their work that they don’t need to have predictable highlights on their setlist. By now, I am so head over heels with Taking Back Sunday again, they could have ended the show with my least favorite song (which I can’t even think of right now), and I’d still be walking out of there with a stupid grin on my face.

I swear, every single time I’ve seen this band, I promised myself I’d stick around and finally ask for a picture with at the very least Adam, preferably every single member of the band. And every single time something happens that prevents me from it, not even myself chickening out but really some sign of the universe being against me meeting this band. This time, it was a combination of my parking time having run out and the fact that in theory, leaving your coat in the car to save space is a good idea. The practice, though, is that you emerge from a venue, slightly sweaty, and are met with a freezing cold breeze, then hightail it back to your car, all the while hoping you won’t lose a limb or two to the cold. So yeah, no picture this time, either. Boo. No pictures from the show, either. I tried to test the waters while Blitzkid played and got a blurry result that may or may not be a band on a stage. Serves me right for always, always, always, even against better judgement, relying on my phone all over again.

So this makes it the second time I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday in 2014 and while this year was pretty shitty in general, I can’t help but feel quite blessed because of this. I hope they’ll show us some love next year, too.

(I wrote the beginning of this entry on Tuesday, on my phone, inside the venue, hence the present tense. And I kind of liked it, so I stuck to that. PS: The WordPress app is pretty decent when only writing text!)

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It’s Just One of Those Nights

…and it’s only a little over a week until I get to see this live again!

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Lust and Love and a Smattering of Romance

So I am sitting in our local Starbucks right now and I am working on…something that I am not ready to share the details of out of fear that I’ll fail at it and feel like a tool again. And I have my earplugs in and am listening to my entire iTunes library on shuffle when this song comes on.

Hands down, that’s one of the best songs to lift your spirits. If this video doesn’t put a giant smile on your face, what will? If you’re having a bad day (or a good one, even better), do yourself a favor and watch this video.

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You Had Time to Waste and I’m Not Sorry

Alkaline Trio & Bayside, Cologne

Alkaline Trio & Bayside, Cologne

I went to see Alkaline Trio last night. I’ve liked them for a while but they’ve always been one of those bands that I enjoy listening to but would not call myself a fan of. But when I heard they were playing here only last week, and that the tickets were indeed only 20 Euros, I spontaneously decided to go. This was crazy in so far that I decided to go on my own. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. Yes, things are often more fun with nice company. But quite often, going alone beats the available company in my case. Going with someone is only fun if the other person is able to enjoy it, too. At least I’m not comfortable with feeling like I’m dragging someone along. So in most cases, I just end up not going at all. I don’t even know why.

I was so comfortable last night. The breaks were a bit dull, yeah, but I can always do stuff on my phone and simply go back to the good old people watching.

The venue, Bürgerhaus Stollwerck in Cologne, is one of my favorite locations in the world. It’s a community center that’s used for a number of shows, gatherings and other events, so it doesn’t look very ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ but the sound is great, the air never gets too stuffy, it has too large balconies that have a great view if you don’t want to go down into the pit and it’s easy to go their by car or public transport. That’s more than can be said about most venues in Cologne. And can we just take a moment to hate the fact that I actually have to go to Cologne for most things?

The awesome part of this show was that they were bringing Bayside along for this one. The downside was that they still had another support act, Apologies, I Have None from the UK. Musically, they were awesome but I didn’t like the singer’s voice at all, which is, of course, subject to personal taste and has nothing to do with talent. Still, I could have done without another support act.

Bayside were great, although I’m afraid to say that either the majority of the crowd didn’t agree or they simply didn’t like to show if they enjoyed it. I’m not much of a dancer myself but then I don’t go stand in the front rows. Sadly, just a small pit in front of the stage did rock out to the band, although they did their best to get the crowd going.

But then again, even when Alkaline Trio finally took the stage, that small island within the crowd was the only place where people really went along for the first few songs. After a while, though, people slowly started losening up and the mood got better and better. If I had one thing to complain about, though, it’s that I’m tired of American bands mentioning German beer. Yes, we brew some mean stuff, get over it!

The band themselves seemed a little moody but I don’t know if perhaps they’re just not to sweet bunch of guys. They seemed pretty…tough?! But that wasn’t what I’d come to there for. I wanted to hear some of the songs I’ve been listening to and loved for years and that’s what I got. Musically, they’re surely one of the best bands I ever got to hear live. Impressive!

It left me hungry for more, though. I’m thinking about going to see Kristopher Roe from The Ataris supporting MxPx next week but I don’t know. He’ll play an acoustic set and there’ll be a second support act again, too. I don’t know if I’m up for that. Right now I’d say yes but eeeehhh, decisions!

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Half-Way There #2

I almost feel like I deserve a medal for how well I’m doing at working my way through this to-do list. To hold myself accountable, I’ve decided on posting a little update.

  • Write piece for a Secret Santa due on Dec 25th 1/3 done
  • Finish making mixtape + cover for another Secret Santa
  • Write another Christmas piece I’ve set Dec 24th as a deadline for
  • Buy last piece of gift for friend
  • Buy gift for mom
  • Buy Christmas cards
  • Mail gifts and cards
  • Put up last pieces of Christmas decoration
  • Tidy up and clean living room
  • Buy ingredients for baking
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Plan meal for Christmas Eve and look up recipes
  • Finish Goodreads reading challenge for 2013 (1 book left) only 60 pages left

That damn mixtape really, really got me stuck, though. So even though I’ve only ticked off three more items on this list, I feel like I’m almost done. It took me four hours to finish the cover and I wish I could post it here without giving away who it is for. But I’m really proud of it. I put a rough The Nightmare Before Christmas theme on the thing and included both Christmas and Halloween songs with a few of my general favorites thrown in. So, keeping the cover in line with that, I used red paper, wrote The Nightmare Before Christmas in black glitter on it (and a nightmare that was!) and then added some artwork in which the two seasonal festivities were mixed, i.e. a jack-o-lantern with a Santa hat. Altogether, I’m really proud of how it turned out, despite myself sucking at crafts so much!

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A Fangirl’s Impressions

Today is the first day that really feels like fall is here. I was woken by a mini storm raging outside and since then, the wind has been shaking the trees outside several times and heavy rain has been pounding against my windows, startling the cats and getting me in the mood for seasonal baked goods. So while a hazelnut cinnamon tea cake is baking in the oven, I’m making more good use of this melancholy mood to reflect on my personal little highlight of the year: Burials, AFI’s ninth studio album. It’s been out here for over a week now and I haven’t listened to anything else. I’ve already become close friends with this album and the songs on it and now I feel like I’m ready to put my feelings into words…somehow.

I decided to go with a track by track-recap because the songs make up one beautiful big picture but they’re also individual little worlds of feeling and they just deserve to be mentioned and discussed as such.

The Sinking Night

For some reason, every second album since Black Sails in the Sunset seems to have its own opener track. So in that sense The Sinking Night is typically AFI-esque. Yet so far it’s the only track on the album that I cannot get quite into. I enjoy it for setting the dark mood for the rest of the album but I can’t quite grasp the heavy symbolism of the lyrics just yet. I feel bad for starting this post with the one song I like least but it’s not my fault it’s the first on the album.

Favorite line: On this sinking night I see your face.

I Hope You Suffer

This was the first song I had heard months ago, when AFI suddenly reappeared in my life with a bang. And I instantly loved it. Even though by now I’ve heard it a million times and I got used to its darkness and the way Davey’s almost growling the lyrics, I still absolutely love it. But I also still find it hard to bear at times. It completely lacks any sense of hope or positivity but is really dark and you can tell that you do not want to be in the focus of that kind of anger. And yet, I can relate to it as I, too, have felt about people like that.

Favorite line: I’ve seen my darkest days. You gave each one to me.

A Deep Slow Panic

AFI publicized this song just a couple days before the European release date for Burials. I pressed play on the streaming site – and instantly fell in love all over again. It starts with a few drum sounds, then quickly turns into a melody that is at the same time catchy and melancholy. You immediately want to sing along and it makes for good driving music but it isn’t meaningless background noise. What really grips me here are the lyrics and the way Davey sings them. The title really is so fitting and I can release to the sudden panic gripping you when someone you trusted stabs you in the back and you’re at the same time afraid of losing them but aware that what’s been there has passed and you can’t trust them again. It’s not just the words but also Davey’s voice which gets more and more high-pitched with each chorus and becomes the audio version of that feeling I know so well. It’s also the only song that seems purely sad and defeated rather than angry. It’s the first of my three favorites on the album.

Favorite line: Slowly I swallowed your fears for all of those years. How could you let them consume me?

No Resurrection

Another song that’s been released just before the album. It was also the first song I didn’t quite like at first listen. And indeed it took several spins of the album before it grew on me. It just seemed very repetitious at first. For me to fall in love with a song, I need one hook to get started on and then I take it from there.  And No Resurrection didn’t seem to have that at first. By now, the stomping intro to the song has become that hook and I’ve slowly embraced it more and more.

Favorite line: Don’t you know that heaven is slow?

17 Crimes

The second song to be released off the album, it stood in stark contrast to I Hope You Suffer and people didn’t know what to expect from the album anymore. Now that I know the entire album, 17 Crimes still stands out because it is a lot catchier and seems to have an all over more positive vibe than the rest. The lyrics are more hopeful and seem to be directed at someone else than the rest of the album. And yet, it fits in because of this. It’s that little glimmer of hope on the album and I’d love it just for that if it wasn’t already such a great song by itself.

Favorite line: Let’s run and kill like seventeen.

The Conductor

Another song I’d known from before the album (this was getting just a tad ridiculous, I swear!). My first thought was that it would fit perfectly on a Blaqk Audio album. There are a lot of electronic influences and at first, the music didn’t grip me. But the lyrics were instantly mine. By now I absolutely love the chorus and the short breakdown before it starts. I cannot wait to experience that live and scream the words back at the band.

Favorite line: Shake their frail beliefs. I’ll show them a believer.

Heart Stops

This is the second of my three favorite tracks. The first time I listened to the album, I was driving to work and the moment Heart Stops came on, I had the biggest, most ridiculous grin on my face. It’s one of those songs that come with such a fresh and unique sound, it’s so different and such an instant favorite. For me, it brings to mind the sound of Blink 182 and The Dear & Departed. Musically, it’s probably the most simple song on the album. Lyrically, it’s also very simply put but so spiteful. I just love how he changes from singing calmly to spitting out the words.

Favorite line: May the scars you left in me dig into you twice as deep.

Rewind

This is it, my favorite song on the album. I cannot even tell you how often I’ve listened to this already. It contains one of the most amazing AFI things: the screams! Oh my god, the screams! Every chorus rises and rises until it climaxes in Davey screaming “We rewind!” and I impatiently await the moment each time.

Favorite line: Call your doting dogs. As their weak servility feeds your emptiness, remember me.

The Embrace

I rushed to the theater to hear a tiny piece of this song in the Mortal Instruments movie and even though they were talking over it, I was amazed by how different it sounded. Had I not known it was AFI, I would have guessed it to be a Linkin Park song. Which isn’t a bad thing, just a completely new sound for AFI. It’s also very electronic and comes crawling at you and haunts you in an almost romantic way.

Favorite line: To take my deepest breath I walk into the raging sea.

Wild

This was one of the songs I found the hardest to get into. At first, it just sounds…yeah, wild! Just a cacophony of sound that I found overwhelming the first few dozen times. But slowly, it grew on me more and more. Now I just love the drums and the general craziness of this song.

Favorite line: Every one of my words – not worth believing.

Greater Than 84

Another song that immediately convinces with a catchy melody and a sound that just…pushes. It’s gonna work so well in a live setting, I’m sure, because it’s just contagious and really gets you going. It also has some of the most beautiful lyrics on the record.

Favorite line: Will you hold my hand as we count down the hours. Standing beneath the meteor showers.

 

Anxious

So far, this is the only song I don’t really have an opinion about, yet. I don’t particularly like it and I don’t particularly don’t like it. Right now, it’s sort of that “Bop My Head Along to”-song but hey, I’ve only listened to this album a couple thousand times by now, so who knows how much I’ll love it in a week’s time.

Favorite line: Swing love down and find the saddest song.

 

The Face Beneath the Waves

For the first five hundread listens or so I had the biggest problem with “getting” this song. Not the lyrics, mind you, but the sound. It’s very 80’s, very dark wave, very epic and depressing. I still cannot listen to it with every spin of the record because it just hits you with the full force of feelings that you may not want to deal with at all times. But when I do, it’s never just a casual kind of listening. It’s a song that you can’t help but feel.

Favorite line: Tell me what it’s like to hold a heart when it shatters.

 

There you go. These are my thoughts and impressions and I know this isn’t any kind of a professional opinion, let alone a review. You couldn’t expect anything that’s 100% objective from someone who’s loved this band for the past decade. Mainly, I’m just posting this here to recap the album for myself, collect my thoughts and maybe return to it later to compare my opinion then with my opinion now.

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