Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Albums of 2011

It was a good year for music and shockingly enough there was more good than bad. Though it's also the year that I swore off the radio and most mainstream music, so to me it seemed like a great year. I don't think Taylor Swift came out with a new album, unless she had some sort of live thing or we count wherever that horrid rendition of "White Christmas" came from. (I can not stand her as an artist. I think she is way over hyped and if I really get into it we'll lose track of what I'm trying to write about.) It took me a bit to come up with a list, but here's some of my favorite albums of the year, in no real order.

Early Morning Blues - Newest Versions EP - I'm not fully remembering when Bryan put this out, but I lean towards early early in the new year and it's been my favorite go-to music all year. Obviously, if you've read anything I've been up to this year that should be obvious. If you want to talk about music that save your life this is my music. Not because I was in a bad place or anything, but listening to it got me motivated to see it live and then I was actually living my life, writing about things I cared about and meeting new friends who shared the same passions.

I've got high hopes for the upcoming album, that there might be more coming our way that will be just as great or better. I'm hoping that will be around in 2012 and I can almost promise it will make the top of my list next year too. Yes I'm biased.

Cage the Elephant - Thank You, Happy Birthday - The sophomore album from my friends from high school dropped this year and made my January. It was so cool to see it out at Target, to see it sell out at stores and Rolling Stone grace them with a bigger honor, naming it their number #15 album of the top 50 of the year. There wasn't as much competition here on my blog, but yes this was a 'must have' of the year.

The Maine - Pioneer - This was a much anticipated album of the year, the self-produced album that was so different than their other music, but lived up to expectations. I kept it in my car for weeks, listening to it on loop and only pulled it out because Champ couldn't stand to listen to the album over and over again on a five hour drive. I would have been fine with it though, it's that good.

The Cab - Symphony Soldier - I've said before that while I only had to wait a few weeks for this one and the rest of the fanbase had been waiting years, it was worth every second. It's annoying to say an album is perfect, but Symphony Solider toes that line so well. Every song is good and every song gets better with each play. I listen to it when i"m driving, when I'm working out, when I'm sitting at my desk trying to get through the day.

Yellowcard - When You're Through Thinking Say Yes - It's always great when a band I already loved comes back with another album, but when a band I loved in college comes back with a vengeance and an album that sounds like a grown up version of what I used to listen to, I can't help but be thrilled. And it's just that. It's Ocean Avenue grown up and blasting in the car stereo.

Jack's Mannequin - People and Things - In a way I live for Andrew's music and this one, was completely fantastic. I'd gotten a taste of it seeing them live before the album released, but I had no idea what I was going to be getting when it did come out. It's a fantastic album, the work of a true singer/songwriter and the kind that you can just listen to over and over again (which is obviously a trend with my favorite albums this year).

So there you go, grab what you don't have already, because it's all good. What were your favorites that didn't make my list?

Theres a lot in store for 2012, so much that I can't wait. I'm looking forward of telling you all about it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Album Review: "American Kids" by My Girl Friday

I've been pestered for a while to listen to My Girl Friday, and hadn't actually gotten around to it, but the new EP, American Kids just dropped this week and I figured now was as good a time as any to start listening to them.

Part of me wants to send the whole EP to country music execs and remind them how it's possible to toe the line of country and rock without a fake drumbeat backing a song. (That could yield a rant though on my current levels of disappointment in the country music scene in general, so I'll spare you.) The title track, "American Kids", calls out Springsteen, and it has that feel to it, the old Boss songs from the 90s / 80s that were happy, easy to listen to and about growing up or just living. Probably a result of listening to too much of the Boss and Mellencamp, but when I was 20 I was doing the same thing. The whole EP actually samples from that kind of sound, simple songs that don't get so specific in their topics that someone in different shoes can't relate to the words.

I have a hard time with the 'alternative' tag that iTunes gives the EP, because I'm not sure it fits, because it doesn't seem to encompass the light hearted feel of the EP. It's a 'sound track for your summer' collection of songs, with happy beats that are easy to tap your toes to. Makes me wish it was warmer out to pop it in the stereo on the car while driving at night with the windows down. Sadly I'm sitting here with a scarf on waiting for winter to end.

It's bound to be a guilty pleasure music, probably better to speak to a generation below me (I know if I was 19 it would speak to me more), but I can see myself going to it when the day gets hard, or work gets too long, something to get through the day. What else could be the point of a song like "Love Will Find You" besides hope?

As a whole the 6 songs are easy to listen to over and over again, with catchy tunes that get stuck in your head. It's completely reasonable that I'll wake up humming one of them, but really? That's not the worst thing.

Pick American Kids up on iTunes.

Follow My Girl Friday on Twitter.

H.E.L.L. Compilation: Pre-Order

Had a great thing blow up my twitter feed yesterday. H.E.L.L. (Helping Everyone Live Longer) is a non-profit group in Boston that works with bike safety awareness and they have gotten together with the punk and alternative scene in Boston to put together a compilation album that proceeds from will go directly to helping H.E.L.L.

There's tons of music, some never heard before, some additions from local groups. Some of my favorites, Early Morning Blues, Ghost Thrower, and The Tower and The Fool, have all joined up to add their music.

Use your Christmas monies for something good and for a huge collection of great music from great talent. More information on where you can pre-order the LP, a digital copy, or the casette (Seriously casette) here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's Playing For Christmas

The Christmas holiday is around the corner, quite literally and of course I'm not done with shopping but that shouldn't surprise you really. Still, while you're rushing about trying to enjoy the holiday while doing too much at once, check out some Christmasy and winter type tunes.

First up is the Christmas-type release from This Century and their single "Kiss Me Like It's Christmas." It's adorable and catchy and though not entirely Christmasy and a little sad, you'll still be singing it for hours on end. Pick it up here.

What would Christmas be without one of my favorite punk rock bands releasing a Holiday EP? I know it sounds ridiculous , but here you go, Ghost Thrower put out a Holiday EP and I have to admit that I love it. Of course it's a little dark, because it's Ghost Thrower, but who says everything around the holiday has to be super happy? Change it up from whatever cheesy Justin Bieber song that got released.

I'm also really enjoying the free track I picked up off The Civil Wars winter EP Tracks In The Snow, "O Come, O Come Emanuel" which I never thought I'd enjoy. I should be tired of this song, especially after being raised in the Catholic Church that sings this one for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, every week, at every Mass, but I do like their version.

So while the radio keeps playing Taylor Swift ruining "White Christmas" plug in those headphones and listen to something else, something worthwhile.

Have a happy and safe holiday, no matter how you celebrate!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Album Review: Self-Titled from Young Statues

The full length, self-titled release from Philadelphia based group, Young Statues has been out for a bit but I finally got my hands on it. I really enjoyed their set when I saw them live in October and really did want access to more of their music, but it wasn't until just recently that I was able to order it online.

The album has a great sound, sort of a mellow feel overall. I can't help but wonder if it would have been part of The O.C. soundtrack if that show was still on the air. It definitely has that feel to it. Maybe it's the similarity to Death Cab for Cutie in front man Carmen's voice. Or maybe it's that the songs seem to have a similar beat to the same indie rock back. Either way, I'm voting for this album to be the cornerstone for the show if it ever makes a come back (If they bring back Arrested Development they can bring back The O.C. right?).

Maybe though it's just the beachy feel from tunes ilk "Half Light' which seems to be more named for the feel it creates than the lyrics (despite the title being mentioned in the lyrics). It sounds like the beach in half light, somewhere towards the end of the day or just as dawn breaks.

The same goes for "Athens" which actually sounds like Athens, GA (where I've been a couple of times) more than anything else. Turns out it was the first song recorded there and is named for the same reason, because it just feels like the city. That's what it is about the album that really jumps out at me, more than the lyrics or the guitar lines or drum beats, the feel of it as a whole.

It's a great album to put in and just let play while getting work done or just relaxing. It has that mellowing feel like I said and has become one of my favorites for at work to alleviate the stress of the day.

You can pick up a copy here and follow Young Statues on twitter.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Concert: $2 VIP Platinum Holiday Show

Another trip to Boston (again, it's my thing) and another show. There was a joke that Bryan didn't have a show that weekend until about four days before it and then suddenly he was playing at the big show that weekend. I had to laugh just a little, but I did scrounge and manage to get my hands on a ticket at the last minute.

The show was call the $2 VIP Platinum Holiday Show, a play on a local band that was charging $40 to get VIP passes into a show in their hometown. Thinking it was a ridiculous idea, this one was much cheaper to get into and every ticket was VIP. A collection of local bands were each playing a cover set of a more well known band.

The afternoon started with One Step Away a local group out of Andover, MA covering Boys Like Girls. Just a little awkward yes with Bryan there, but he wasn't in the room for their set, rightfully so. They sounded fantastic though, taking on one a few of the harder songs in the BLG line up. I was impressed when they busted out "Heart Heart Heartbreak" even more so when they went with "Dance Hall Drug" as well. There was a mess up where the lead singer seemed to have forgotten the lyrics to the second verse of Dance Hall Drug, but luckily for him, the entirety of the crowd was able to power through, a good set of fan girls.

The local BLG girls were really pleased when the lead singer busted out Martin's line from the live shows for "Hero/Heroine" where he asks the crowd "What do I got?" then sings the second verse of the song. I know Rana next to me got all excited. It was a really good set overall and I was pleased to see the crowd support the guys despite the awkward feeing it left a lot of us with.

The location seemed to know and as Bryan and the guys from Small Talk finished setting up for the next set, the house music started playing "Chapter One" by Early Morning Blues. It was a ton of fun to start singing the lyrics as loud as Rana and I could. It was also fun to watch Small Talk's front man Jimmy Welsh ask Bryan if it was him and Bryan shake his head to say it was weird.

Decked in his Ghost Thrower t-shirt, Bryan took the stage with the two guys from Small Talk for an acoustic set of Brand New songs. They didn't do a full band show because I believe they are in a bit of a transition between band members, but there wasn't a need for the full band set.

Jimmy has an amazing voice that lent to the music well and Bryan provided perfect back up vocals. I lost my breath a little during "The Quiet Things That No Ever Knows"; it was that good. The set was solid, especially as Jimmy finished it up with two songs, just him, the guitar and the microphone.

I have to admit that it made me ache for an Early Morning Blues ballad. Bryan's obviously got the chops for it, but i do realize that their sound doesn't exactly lend to ballads. Or nothing more ballad-like than "Never Leave" at least. Still, a girl can hope that maybe one day.

During the Dear Zim set Rana and I took a break and snuck out the back for a chat with Bryan and Jimmy, then heading out in search of a snack. They were play an All Time Low set and neither she or I like ATL that much (or at all?). I am glad we got the few moments with Bryan as he left not long after, needing to be somewhere else that afternoon. He did seem pleased to see that I'd showed up and mentioned one of my tweets about my trip being worthwhile if he played a show.

We got back just in time for The Jealous Sea to play their Fall Out Boy set. Overall their sound was great and I thought that they did FOB justice. I really liked the song choices, ranging from older tracks off the first album to some of the more recent singles.

Their stage presence was fun, a little silly from time to time. There was a moment or two where it was a little uncomfortable for those of us who weren't huge fan girls, but the fan girls ate it up. There's something to be said about appealing to your target audience.

Last up was STAY, a local group that I was pretty sure wasn't going to fit on stage there were so many of them. They played a Blink-182 set with tons of energy from the get-go. Again I'm forced to admit that my old self loved the set and how old all the music they picked was (or maybe Blink is just that old..) It was like an instant transport back to the better moments of high school, which were few and far between, but they all had either a FOB or Good Charlotte soundtrack.

The show definitely left me interested in all of the bands, except maybe Small Talk, but more because I already have their music. The true highlight though was seeing all my friends once more before the winter (and I don't make the trek because of the snow). I had to go out of 2011 with a great show and I think I did just that. It's been a great year, but I'm already looking forward to what's coming in the next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Album Review: "Pioneer" by The Maine

If an album can be a statement, then the newest release from The Maine is a loud statement of the fact that they are no longer the boys dressed in neon from the Can't Stop, Won't Stop days. Those days are long gone and while they got the now young men where they are now, they aren't going back any time soon.

To call the albume a "deviation" from their previous sound seems like a weak explanation, but it is nothing short. There was a deviation from the poppy sound of Can't Stop, Won't Stop with Black and White as that album had more of a folk feel, soft songs without a kicked up drum beat and deeper lyrics.

Pioneer goes down a completely different road, as the name implies. Gone are the cute lyrics about growing up and girls breaking their hearts. The new songs are harder, backed with a stronger base line and guitar riffs that prove that the guys aren't just pretty, but talented as well.

Some of the same sound is still there. John still croons his way through "I'm Sorry" which sounds very reminiscent of the B&W album songs, but if I remember correctly he was performing this one acousticly long before they went into the studio to work on this album. "Some Days" has the same feel, but the chorus isn't fooling around and is a lead into what to expect for the rest of the album. It's a shame it's not the first song, though it does fit well where it comes up and I fell in love with "Identify" after the first few beats.

That's where the similarities end, though don't take that as it being a bad album. As a whole the album is great and even with only a couple listen throughs, I like most of the songs. It's just not what I envisioned the third album from this group would be like. LIke aspects of Black and White it's a testament to where they are in their lives. "Don't Give Up On 'Us'" toes line, just as "Listen to Your Heart" on Black and White did, toes the line of not as much being about a girl, but about the band themselves.

That's really the mesasge to the fans of this self-produced album. Dont' give up on The Maine.

Follow The Maine on twitter and pick up Pioneer on iTunes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Endless Summer Releases New Single

I'm not entirely sure how I came across a band out of Missouri (I blame twitter), but I'm sort of in love with these guys. Their sound has a refreshing feel to it, strong vocals and great music. It's a talented group of musicians backing The Endless Summer and I can't get enough of it.

Their newest single "Satellites" just dropped and after loving the Fairweather EP as much as I did, I had to get my hands on it as soon as I could. Just like the EP the single doesn't disappoint and I can't help but admit that more than once I've hit repeat just to hear it again.

Definitely worth the test drive, trust me. And their singer Nick has a cute dog (if that helps sway your decision in any way). And apparently the dog follows me on twitter. Can't help but love that at least a little.

Pick up "Satellites" and the Fairweather EP on iTunes.
Follow The Endless Summer on Twitter.

Apologies and What's in Store

I owe updates from the last show I went to as well as at least two album reviews (hopefully I'll get my copy of Pioneer soon and I can review that as well!) but I've been pretty sick with the flu or a cold or something, and haven't been up for writing anything coherent. I'm feeling better today though! Which means I should be getting back to writing as soon as possible.

Upcoming posts:

- The $2 VIP Plantium Holiday Show in Boston MA (yup I went back)
- Review of the Young Statues
- Who from Run For Cover Records is getting replayed on my iTunes
- Review of the EP From Vultures
- Some holiday music suggestions

and hopefully that Pioneer review as well.

Hopefully everyone else is healthy and happy. Talk to you soon!

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Beginnings

I've been trying to post about this for a while, but it's been a little hard for me to do that.

When Boys Like Girls announced their return and posted their video update, they also announced they were short a bassist, one who seems to frequent my blog, Bryan Donahue.

Bryan took to twitter a few hours later and said that he'd been kicked out of the band and that it wasn't his decision to leave. (Yes. Whatever you are guessing in the way of my reaction is accurate.)

So the announcement of the new album from Boys Like Girls does come with mixed feelings, but Bryan's pointed out that he's still playing with The Tower and The Fool as well as Early Morning Blues. Early Morning Blues (Bryan) has also announced that their new EP is in work and that they'll tour as soon as they get booked and it's done. All good news.

It's a sad moment, but in a way it's good news. I've been a big Early Morning Blues fan (if the tattoo on my side is any indicator) and being able to go to small shows to see Bryan play was starting to get to be a thing. Losing that would make me sad (though there are plenty of small bands I go see now, but it wouldn't quite be the same).

Best of luck to Bryan in everything he does, and I'm guessing I'll be trailing along behind him no matter what it is.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For...

Spending Thanksgiving with Champ's family, which is always nice, but it makes me miss my family, obviously.

Still, it was a nice day, even with a few mishaps here and there, including a nice bumping of cars in the driveway (Not a good moment). I like his grandparents, probably because I've never had any, and I like his aunt and uncle quite a bit. It was a nice chance for a big meal with family. Of course the idea of eating again seems miserable.

That said, I figure it's a good idea to make a list of what I'm thankful for, what's good, and maybe give something to focus on in the harder colder days ahead. So without further ramblings, here's my list.

I'm thankful for:

- Family and Friends
I love my family, as strange as they've gotten over the years (it's hard to explain that I have an honorary nephew, who's dad is my mom's best friend's son, who is like my brother.), but I love them all. My friends have been there for me through so much, some are still part of my life, some aren't as much anymore and some are coming back (for those I feel beyond thankful).

-Good Health
Lucky girl that I have little wrong with me though a bout with the flu a few weeks ago had me worried I wasn't going to get well again.

-The Music
If it's not listening to it, it's traveling to see it, it's meeting people through it. I have good, real, friends who I've met through traveling to see concerts, I've had the honor to meet some people who I really truly adore and idolize. There's been a pull to follow what makes me passionate, write here, talk about it to others. I love it. And I am so grateful for it.

-The Future
There is so much coming, even if it is just getting a new job, just starting to write more and trying to find somewhere to write full time, it's going to be good. It keeps getting better. There's potential out there, even if sometimes it feels like it's not there. So much potential.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turn Up the Radio

I love this video. You don't have to like 30 Seconds to Mars to like this video they made about touring, about playing for a crowd about what music means to people. Yes, it's crazy that Jared Leto might look younger now than he did in My So Called Life, but this video explains it all. Towards the end, there's a girl, adorable scene kid with a lip ring and sad smile who says this:

"Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio."

I've seen people be offend by that line, but in this generation, in this world, where religion has meant so many bad things, I can't blame her. I know I feel the same way.

I was reminded of it again when I was at Yellowcard last week. I saw them for the first time in college when they were touring for the Ocean Avenue album. I went with a sorority sister, Whitney, whom I started the night off mad at because she was late and we missed The Starting Line’s set. As we were watching the show, she grabs my arm during “Believe” and says, “close your eyes.”

I have to admit, at the time I thought she was insane. We were at the Tabernacle, full of people and in the back and she’s telling me ridiculous things. But she shakes my arm and I figured ‘what the hell’ and went for it.

“Believe” is a beautiful song in any context. In 2004 or so though, 9/11 was still a raw memory, the images were still burned deeply in our heads, more than they are now that it’s been a decade. Closing my eyes had me there, living it, and my breath catching in my throat. The music wasn’t just there, it was flowing through me and I wasn’t listening, I was feeling. It changed everything about that song in one instant.

I grew up on music. I got my first boom box with a tape deck and radio when I was in elementary school and it was full of New Kids on the Block, Amy Grant and Paula Abdul cassettes. I’ve been listening to the same local pop station in Atlanta for over two decades. My mother blasted it in the car, current pop music, sixties tunes and later on in life country music. I was in the band by the 5th grade and didn’t quit for good until my brother broke my clarinet when he was in college. He’s the musician though, getting his Masters in Music Performance this spring.

In high school it was what I did, lay in my room and listen to the radio or CDs. When we moved to Kentucky, the Nashville radio station I listened to while doing homework did a “Top 5 at 9” that I wrote down in my agenda almost every night. There was no point in documenting it, but I did anyway. (They had a contest probably, but I never called in). Before that Yellowcard concert, I’d bee to other shows, I’d listened to tons of music, headphones or stero or computer blaring. I have to say though, that was one of the first times that I realized what it could do, what music could mean.

Lyrics had always been important, but in that moment it was everything. Just the last, tattooed and pierced kid says in the end of that video.

It would happen again, in London, when I went to see Bright Eyes. I knew about half of their music, not enough to justify the show, but I was in London on study abroad and I wanted to go. The venue was sweet, the weather great and I had a friend to go with. Halfway through the show I realized that if Conor Oberst started a cult, I’d join. It was that kind of music, it flowed through me like that. I didn’t have to know the words, I just had to feel it.

Standing in the Masque to see Yellowcard again, when they played “Believe” I closed my eyes. It wasn’t the same as before but it was still there, still in me. It never really leaves, which is probably why we’re so attached to the music we love. When all else fails the songs are still there. All we have to do it turn up the volume.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Boys Like Girls album!

After much speculation from Bryan Donahue's hints at 'news' and 'announcements' everyone's favorite drummer let the cat out of the bag today.

Leave it to Beef to announce the return of Boys Like Girls to the studio with his own bit of flair.

There's chatter that his other band, Empire Kids, are also busy demoing (in the same place?) which means more music on the front for all of us.

The last puzzle piece is a missing blond bassist, but he's also got an EP in the works for Early Morning Blues. Here's hoping for good things all around. I'll take winter if it brings a spring and summer of new music.

We'll Forever Be The Young

I’ve been thinking about this song by Yellowcard “Be The Young”. I’ve been playing it over and over again since the concert and I can’t get enough of it. It’s a beautiful song and it so well describes what it’s like to be at the age group that myself and my friends are in.

We’re starting to grow up, a lot of us are in serious relationships or are starting to look for them. Thos of us in our later twenties are starting to talk about families (some are farther ahead of us than others), or at least consider if that’s what we want. So many of the twenty-somethings are out of college, trying to sort out what our careers will be, discovering how much things have changed from what we learned in college and what we’re facing in the real world.

I’ve posted before about our generation being the lost generation, the ones caught between the cracks and now we have an anthem.

Things weren’t easy for us as kids. Some of us had had it better than others. Some of us weren’t kids of divorce and didn’t run into major issues. Some of us had undiagnosed disorders because people didn’t diagnose disorders unless something drastic happened or you flunked out of school.

Now as young adults we’re faced with growing up and it seems daunting and terrifying. It seems like the last thing any of us what to do, want to be faced with. So many more of us are unemployed or working no-end jobs and thinking “thank god I have a job”. We’re looking for careers, but if I’m anything close to a median for my age group, we aren’t content with what careers are available. The older generation that runs our offices has kept our passions in check, not understand our love of social media, our tattoos, our music, and our hair.

I can handle coverable tattoos (as much as I want my forearms done), I can handle keeping my hair a normal brown color and I can handle, for the most part, keeping my social medias in check (I suck at checking facebook anyway), but stifling my passions is hard for me, like I guess it’s hard for my peers. What’s wrong with loving music or a television show or something else that thrills us? What about that makes us so strange?

We are the young, we’ve always been the young and we’ll be, as Yellowcard says, that way forever. We have it in us, we love hard, we believe in things, and we connect to music, movies and characters. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, even if the younger generation doesn’t understand it, too caught up in instant gratification and the older generation sees it as a waste of time. We will find that place where the pain doesn’t define us, but the love does. I know we will.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Concerts: Yellowcard, Every Avenue and Go Radio

I have to say, the weirdest thing about being at the Yellowcard show was the size of it. I think the last 'big' show I went to this year was The Maine, which was a while ago. It seems like since then it was all small bands in small bars or houses and the idea of being in a real venue was a bit odd. And to not see the same fifteen people.

Still, going to Yellowcard, Every Avenue and Go Radio had been a goal all summer, I just hadn't gotten around to buying tickets until the last minute. Work's been up in the air lately and there wasn't an guarantee that I'd be around plus every time I thought of it, I didn't have the cash for two tickets. (Got to bring Champ to this one since it was in town.) I really love Yellowcard, saw them once in college with All American Rejects (yes that long ago I was in college) and I'd picked up the new album When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes earlier in the summer because it came high recommend. I have to admit that I wasn't even sure they still existed let alone had new music out, but the album was great.

The real draw of the show was seeing Go Radio, because due to Rana's influence I've fallen in love with them. It went from one song to ALL of their songs overnight. I would have paid the cost of the tickets to get in to see just them, and Yellowcard was like an added bonus.

I need to stop doubting Yellowcard. I always do that. It's a stupid idea.

The Masquerade wasn't even half full when we walked in 20 minutes before Go Radio went on. I was surprised to see that but at the same time, maybe not. I don't think it got much promotion here in Atlanta, but that tends to happen. It's not a big music city but at the same time is? I'm not entirely sure what happens here and why it's such a black hole for concerts.

Still we were able to get great spots for Go Radio and were completely pumped. I'm not kidding, they totally rocked the house. They had a great amount of energy, full of spunk. Even if you didn't know their music it was easy to get into it and Alex (their guitarist) made a big show of trying to get the crowd involved. They played quite a bit off the new album, Lucky Street, including "Redemption In The Verse" which surprised me. I wouldn't think that would be a good show tune, but it was pretty great. Though the crowd seemed to be in the dark about who they were, they joined in for "Good Night Moon" of course, which sort of made my heart melt. That song is killer every time I hear it. They won the crowd over before closing with "Any Other Heart" by playing their cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" (which you can grab off iTunes or on the deluxe edition of Lucky Street). That had the crowd jumping up and down to the music which was great fun to be in the middle of. And the cover is epic.

We moved back a ways for Every Avenue who took forever to set up. Another sign that I am yet again, starting to get used to small shows. I had time to go to the bathroom, look over merch, buy some water and still loiter around for a while before they went on stage. I had to admit I know nothing about Every Avenue other than the fact that their lead singer's name is Dave and he has interesting tattoos if he doesn't have his shirt on. That was where it ended. Their guitarist turned out to look familiar from tumblr or something similar, but still not someone I could tell you the name of. Overall I wasn't really impressed? They had some energy and people seemed to know their music but it wasn't that kind that sucks you in even if you don't know it. I didn't walk away from the show thinking "I need that album" because I didn't. I was waiting for them to finish so I could go meet the guys from Go Radio and Yellowcard would go on.

I did get to meet the guys from Go Radio after their set which was fun. Jason said he liked the shirt that I'd picked out, that it was one of his favorites they had, and he and the other guys signed it for me. They were super sweet and Alex gave me a high five after I said I went from nothing by them to everything. Even Champ was impressed by how nice they were.

Again I got annoyed by how long I had to wait for a show to start, but eventually Yellowcard came on. I need to stop doubting this band. I don't know what's wrong with me. I was obsessed with them in college and let it go and now here I was hoping they gave us a good show. I was so far from wrong. Good doesn't even cover it. The show was great. Great doesn't even cover it. It's an experience to see them, to feel their music move through you. They played most of the new album, including "With You Around" which Champ and I have decided is one of our new songs (awww) and "See Me Smiling" (which gets me all teary). I was shocked when they played "Believe" not sure that that one would make the cut for songs. I was beyond pleased and just like in college when my friend told me to close my eyes and just love it I did and it was another moment. I don't usually do that, but there's something about that music, that song that brings out that feeling, like it is so much more than that music and you are so much more than just one person.

They played "Be The Young" introing with talking about the first show they played in Atlanta being on Georgia Tech's campus at "Under the Couch" which was a shady half a venue in the basement of the the Couch Building (which was across the street from my dorm freshman year at Tech). I love the stupid place for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one would be going to see my friend Ben play a show there not long before graduation. Really, really cool. I love this song though, more than anything. The lyrics speak to my generation, the mid to late 20 somethings who are stuck in a world where growing up seems too damn depressing and being young would be awful. A lot of us are unemployed, or working jobs we hate because there isn't much else. We were the young who paved this great way of music and technology and we will always be those kids at heart.

This is loud / This is cold
This is endless and I know
Growing up has just begun

But there's a place
We could find
Where this pain is useless
And we'll forever be the young

The encore started with just Ryan Key (the lead singer) who came out with his guitar and answered the "one more song" chant with "Well how about a few more songs?" The crowd of course ate that up. He told us a story about his Aunt who had supported him when he made the decision to drop out of school and pursue music. How she drove cross country with him, talking about life and music and living. The same Aunt had died from brain cancer just a few weeks before. I knew what song he was going to sing before he said what it was. "Sing for Me" was a gut wrenching song without knowing what it was. Hearing what it was really about of course had me in tears as soon as it started. Ryan sang it alone with just the crowd.

He followed that up with "Empty Apartment" which was a theme for a good year in college for me (probably the top played song on my iTunes for a good 2 years) and then the rest of the band came back on to finish out the night. They tossed in "Avondale" as an old good one and that freaked me out but I was more than excited because yeah I love that song too. The night ended up with "Ocean Avenue" of course but that song is still as much fun as it always was. Everyone wants it to be true. We want it be like it was before "sleeping all day, staying up all night". It's a sad song really, but it's too much fun and too nostalgic to not love it.

If you haven't grabbed the new album, get it now and while you're at it grab the acoustic version as well. It's just as good (minus a feature of Cassadee Pope who just doesn't quite cut it), in some cases better. Spread the word about Yellowcard again, Ryan promised another album in works this winter and another tour next summer. The boys are back and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Start!

After a little bit of cajoling from my friend Molly I decided to do National Novel Writing Month. We will see how this pans out, but as i figure it's either going to help me get a jump start on my novel or I'm going to blog a ton in attempts to be 'writing', but not actually working on the book.

I've always wanted to write a book. I've started writing about six since I've graduated from high school (and that doesn't include the ones I started while I was in high school). I never really have the drive for such extended writing though it seems. Online role playing (writing based not WoW based), has helped with on going character development, but in those cases I'm working with someone else so I'm always building off something. I might just drag someone else in to help me with this book as much as I can I suppose.

Still, it's my last and final life goal to actually finish a novel and send it out to get published. Getting published, obviously, would be awesome, but it's more the personal goal of telling the whole story rather than anything else. I won't let the blog get flooded with the novel writing, but I will post some about it.

If you're participating or want to check upon me my profile is here! (username: winglesswarrior).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Links for Your Thursday

Struggling through that Thursday lull? Turn on some tunes and surf the internet for a bit.

Start with my friend Meag's blog. She's just start to get settled in California after being a big time lawyer in NYC (yes I realize that the brief overview sounds an awful lot like the plot for a tv series or a movie, but I swear it's her real life).

Read up on going against the grain and doing something for yourself if no one else will on Travis of Ghost Thrower fame's blog for Guitar World on desinging and making his own guitars. (Points if you can guess the owner of the bass he mentions.)

Catch up with John Keefe on twitter. He's traveling with his band Empire Kids and taking photos of small town rural America. It's stunning to see what the rockstar cowboy takes in.

Enjoy your more morbid sense of humor with A Softer World, because aren't we all a little dark on the inside?

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ghost Thrower Presale

As we've been reminded via every social media website I'm on, there's only 6 more days to pre-order your copy of the new Ghost Thrower album! I picked mine up a few days ago and can't wait to get it in the mail. Super excited.

You can check it out at their online store! Go support these guys, they are doing awesome work, really awesome work.

While your at it, grab the new release from The Tower and The Fool and Young Statues. Another collection of great guys doing great work.

I just need a record player. Someone have a suggestion? Or want to give me one?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Tower and The Fool

The Tower and the Fool

Bryan Donahue said it best as he was cleaning up after the show. "You're starting to make a thing of this aren't you? Coming up every couple months to Boston for a show." It really has become a thing. I hated that it had been almost two months since the last time I'd been to Boston to see my friends or see any of the local bands.

When Bryan informed us that he was going to be playing The Tower and the Fool, I was excited because I'd seen them before when I went to my first Early Morning Blues show and I really love their music. It's very different from Early Morning Blues, but with the wide array of music I like, it still strikes home. As Rana and i started talking about the show, she knew one of the openers, Daybreaker and Travis of Ghost Thrower told us about Born Without Bones, who also sounded great on their EP.

That was it, we were sold. Work managed to not get in the way and I spent my Wednesday in Boston, visiting a few of my favorite places, spending time with Rana and then getting to see the show that evening. It would be a long day, but hopefully one that was worth it.

The morning spent wandering around Newbury Street was great, including a visit to my current favorite clothing line, Johnny Cupcakes. The Newbury store is excellent, set up like an old bakery, complete with shirts in display cases. Not to mention the staff is completely awesome. They chatted me up about the trip into town and they were pretty excited to hear I was in town to see some local bands play. Can't help it, I love the Boston local music scene.

After that I wandered around some more until Rana was done with class and we had dinner. We made one more stop to Johnny Cupcakes so she could get an umbrella and got a fun "welcome back" when walked in the door. She had one more meeting before we headed out so I took care of getting whatever we needed from her place and then waited until she was done. Once it was time to head out we met up with her friend Colleen, whom I hadn't met yet and walked to Great Scott in Allston.

I was, as I've said pretty excited about the line up. I was more excited though to see Travis from Ghost Thrower walk through the door. Thankfully he seemed just as excited to see me and greeted me with a huge hug and asking if I'd seen Bryan yet. Bryan wasn't there yet, but Travis just shrugged and said he was late.

Born Without Bones was up first and they are just as good live as they are on the album. I was really, really please to hear their sound, and touched that their music seems to mean so much to them. They're definitely "one to watch" and I totally recommend picking up their music off their bandcamp page. I'm really looking forward to seeing them again, and I hope I get the chance. Right now they have a few shows around the New England area already scheduled for November.

Young Statues was up next and they aren't from Boston (out of Philadelphia) , but definitely won over the crowd after a song or two. I really enjoyed their sound, very similar to the other bands playing and I think they got a lot of positive attention. Good lyrics, great sound and wow, really great vocals. For someone who seems to hate all things from Philadelphia (okay just the Phillies and the Eagles) I think I might be converted. Well I still can't stand the Phillies or the Eagles, but I can start making some exceptions.

Daybreaker, like Born Without Bones was just as Rana and I guessed, really good. We were both really excited and I had to laugh when Colleen got two songs in and turned to us with a "you two were right they are good" face and nod. They rocked really solidly and have a great live sound. We really enjoyed the set, one of those ones that you can help moving along to.

It was getting late by the time The Tower and The Fool went on but that didn't stop us from being excited (or me at least). There was a moment late when Chris from the band asked how I enjoyed seeing Bryan play with a new band and I realized that this was the third group I've seen him play with live (though at the time I saw Boys Like Girls I was on the "Paul" side of the stage and hadn't been converted to the wonder that is their bass player yet). As always it never disappoints to see him on stage. They put on a great set, playing a lot of their new music as well as some older songs. They even played "Breach" which has always been my favorite song by them and I really loved it. The crowd knew that one and sang it with them, which was really cool to see with a small band.

I managed to score some more time after the show with Bryan, catching up as he made the comment about me coming up being a thing. We chatted Early Morning Blues a little and he says he's working on new music which I can't wait for. He dropped some lyrics on twitter a few weeks ago and it was good stuff, just like before and I'm excited to see what comes of it.

Another whirlwind trip that had me coming back to Atlanta the next morning, but it was completely worth it as always. I'm already looking to see if there's a chance to go back in early December (maybe to see The Maine on their tour or Anamanaguchi or maybe EMB?) and I can't doubt that I won't be there. Even if their is snow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Q&A: Anchors

I got a chance to do a quick Q&A with the guys from Anchors (I reviewed their EP here). I've said it before, but they are a really great trio of guys on top of being very talented.

Every band has a story, how they got to be a band, how they went from playing in marching band or basements to being who they are now. What's your story?

Brian - Rob and I took a class together at Northeastern University in the summer of 2010, and we immediately got along and talked about playing music together. We met Zach through some mutual friends pretty soon afterward, and the three of us started collaborating. It took a little while for us to find our footing with our musical style; we spent about seven months writing before releasing any music with our names on it. We needed to make sure that our first impression was a good one, and we all feel really good about the first steps we've taken as a group.

Where did each of you getting your start in music?

Zach - The first few bands I played in were very much in the vein of some of the earlier Tooth & Nail Records and Drive-Thru Records bands like The Early November, Dead Poetic and Something Corporate.

Rob - When I was six I took piano lessons and began learning the fundamentals of classical and branched out into jazz. I played for about 5 years until I moved from Toronto, Canada to Hartford, Connecticut. Unfortunately, I stopped playing because of the lack of owning a piano then. Around 8th grade, I took up guitar and drums (both self taught) and began performing with local garage bands in the Hartford County. In High School I played in a few different projects, those in the realm of pop punk (drums/vocals), screamo/hardcore (guitar/vocals), indie rock (vocals/piano) and had the opportunity to tour regionally. As High School ended, I branched out into different genres and projects as well as toured extensively. So the groundwork was built over many years, which will lend fuel for my story to continue.

Brian - I started playing piano when I was five, picked up guitar when I was eleven, so I've been around music for almost my whole life. Music has always been my favorite art form, if for nothing else other than the intimate, interactive nature of it. The feeling you get at a live show, that amazing sense of community, the connection between a room full of people united to sing along to their favorite songs; it just made sense to me to start playing in bands, so that I could contribute to that community that has given so much to me.

Who were your biggest influences music-wise?

Rob - Growing up in a European household, I was exposed to a lot of different styles of music; mostly that of pop and rock. Some of the greatest influences in my lifetime were bands and artists such as Queen, Yes, Pink Floyd, The Band, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and the list goes on. However, the one person who shaped my creativity and dreams was Freddie Mercury. The way he saw and portrayed music always fascinated me, giving me the aspiration to hopefully one day be able to move someone the way he moved me.

Zach - Like Rob I grew up on old school art-rock bands like Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd they continue to be a huge influence. That being said I have been heavily influenced by the music I discovered during high school: Thursday, The Early November, Converge.

Brian - My Chemical Romance has always been a really big influence for me as a musician. Their music and their live performances are so theatrical, it's amazing to watch them because you can see their blood, sweat and tears come out in their performance. They’re always challenging themselves, pushing to create a better, more developed sound, and I admire that about them. There’s no playing it safe, and I really respect that about any artist. Whenever I listen to them, I can feel their raw emotion, and I think all the best music has that quality in common.

Why the alternative genre? What drove you to make the music you make?

Brian Our style of music makes sense to us because it blurs the lines of a bunch of things that we love that don't necessarily fit together on their own. We've basically broken down all the music we love into its most basic particles, taking our favorite elements, and smashing them together. The sound we've begun creating makes us happy for two reasons. The first is that we feel like we've successfully achieved what we set out to do with the first songs we've written together, which was to carve our own path and not directly emulate anyone in particular. The second is that we've given ourselves a bar to clear, a specific expectation to exceed, and tons of space to evolve even further. I think that’s good for us, because it pushes us to challenge ourselves as writers so that we can make the best music we can possibly make together in the future.

What's your favorite thing about being in the music business?

Rob - The most rewarding and best part in my opinion is the fact that I am apart of such a great project and have the opportunity to share our music with people. As well, meeting new, interesting people and listening to their stories is what I love about what this business has to offer.

Zach - All the people we get to meet and friends we make along the way. To connect with someone through music is a huge inspiration for us to keep on trekking.

Brian - My favorite thing about being in the music business is playing music. I didn’t start playing music when I was six for any reason other than my love for the art. I agree with Zach, the connections people can make to each other through music is just amazing.

If you were going to switch places with a character in an 80s movie who would it be?

Zach - I would have to choose Atreju from The Never Ending Story; one of my favorite films when I was a kid.

Brian - If I could switch places with a character in an 80's movie, it would have to be Ferris Bueller. Dude had the car, the day off, and the girl. What's not to like?

Rob Hands down I would trade places with Michael J. Fox as Scott Howard, also known as Teen Wolf. He was an outcast, but when people saw how cool it was to hang out with a werewolf… well come on, the rest is history.

Follow the guys on twitter: @AnchorsMA, @BrianStaples, @robert_parks, @HollywoodZach
And check them out on facebook.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's Playing?

Starting a new Thursday post with what's been playing for me music wise lately. Maybe you'll find something new. I'm always taking suggestions as well.

Symphony Soldier by The Cab

The physical album finally came in the mail and I quickly popped it into the car stereo and have been pumping that for the drive to and from work. It's a great album, which I thought when I first gave it a listen through, but now with continued listens, I'm still in love with it.

It's a poppy album and a sound that reminds me of Maroon 5 without actually being Maroon 5 (not that there's anything wrong with Maroon 5). It has that same sort of unique bright sound that they have and the flow of "Bad" into "Endlessly" then "Animal" is possibly my favorite part of the cd.

If you haven't checked them out yet, do it. Also check out the video for the single "Bad" which is...well you'll know when you see it. I personally find it adorable.

Follow them on Twitter:

I've been digging up the old stuff at work lately, tossing the iPod on shuffle until it hits something I want to listen to. The past few days have been filled with Something Corporate and Boys Like Girls.

If you haven't relived the early 2000s with Something Corporate yet, do it. If you're a fan at all of Jack's Mannequin, you'll love what Andrew was working on before he was part of JM. If you already know SoCo, go put on "Konstantine" and fall in love again.

BLG is, if you haven't guessed yet, a standard go-to for me, but that doesn't mean I don't love it any less. I started off with "Broken Man" and went from there. I can't get over how good this band was, even on their first album. Martin, Bryan, Paul and John are some of the most talented artists out today and all four of them in the same place is just perfect. Here's hoping they come around and give us more music as BLG, but even if they don't? I'm more than excited for everything they touch in the future.

Follow them on Twitter:

tip: for more info on the other things the guys from these bands are up to follow @BryanEMB, @JohnBLG, @paulBLG, @martinsays and @jacksmannequin

I'm usually late to any party, but I've been rocking a lot of This Century while running. I'm really in love with songs like "Loud" and "Hopeful Romantic"

Follow them on Twitter:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Anchors - 2011 EP

I think I find more bands that just happen upon me on twitter than anywhere else. I can't even begin to tell you how the guys from Anchors decided to add me to the people they follow, but they did (probably because I talk about a million other local Boston bands). It was one of those things where I went: "aww they follow me." Honestly I thought little else, but then bored I looked more into it. Last night I finally got around to downloading the EP (I know, crime).

You know that feeling we've all been getting lately that alternative music is dead? Where everything sounds the same? Where sure, bands are coming out with new music, but it's still not any good or it sounds like the last album they released? Anchors might just be the break from that.

It's green, but that comes with a demo. Demo's are supposed to be green. But it's there, the potential, the talent. The first few lines of "Phantoms" hooked me not just because of the sound or lyrics, but the singer's voice. And it keeps hooking. It's an alternative sound with a singer who can actually sing (I know, unheard of). "The Weight of a Hummingbird" has a riff or two that reminds me of Tool, which I find a good thing. That's probably my favorite aspect of Tool and to echo it is definitely a good way to keep me hitting repeat on the song.

The lyrics are angst ridden but not whiny. The music itself is well put together, not trying to be something more than it should be. And the last 30 seconds of "Weight" is a little bonus piano bit, that I swear made me catch my breath. Perfect.

They are working on putting together some dates this fall and I am really looking forward to trying to make it up to Boston to see them. I have a good feeling they're even better live.

Pick up the EP for yourself here. And follow them on twitter. Really sweet guys as well.

Happy Engagement Anniversary!

Champ messaged me at work saying he felt terrible that he'd forgotten what day last Sunday was and I have to admit I was more than a little confused. I had to sit there, stare at the computer and try to sort out what day it could be. Not the anniversary, that's next week. Then it dawned on me.

Champ remembers what day of the year he proposed on.

And I don't.

I'm not sure which is more shocking. Probably neither. There's some massive standard role reversal going on there.

To celebrate, he brought home a treat from Cami Cakes. A delicious treat.

We got strawberry shortcake, cinnamon swirl, red velvet and cotton candy (seriously this man loves me). Absolutely delicious. So here's to 3 years!! And cupcakes!! (I think all things should be celebrated with cupcakes now. It's official.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Today Over Yet?

Meag re-posted my lost generation post on her blog. She liked it so much she decided it needed to a be a guest post for her blog. I was a little amused but pleased. I even offered to write something else but she liked it enough to re-post. Who am I to stop her?

Find of the century last night:

Yup. Giant Archiver's theme crop going on in the Mall of America. GIANT. I can't explain how thrilled I was to find that. Too bad I'm here for work and I couldn't participate. But they were having an 'outpost' sale which was full of cheap deals and I might have gone and splurged. Though I made out pretty good (like an inch thick stack of Basic Grey paper for $25?). Now to drag it home from Minneapolis.

On the topic of that, I'm really, really needing it to be the weekend. This has been a terribly long two weeks, with this one being worse than the last. I'm very ready to be going back to Atlanta. (Though the how is interesting and will earn it's own post I'm sure.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Being a Grown Up

Why did I agree to this again?

I was on twitter a couple weeks ago and Travis, my favorite twitter person and of Ghost Thrower fame, posted the simple: "When did you begin to confuse stress with accomplishment?" (Go follow him he tosses out jewels like this all the time. And he's adorable.)

I was all huffed up and then I went...shit. He's right. When did we do that? When did we decide that the more stressed out we were the more successful we were? Why does successful mean our jobs stress us out out to the point of being sick? Of working twenty-four hours a day seven days a week?

I love technology, I really do. I love my IPhone and the constant access it gives me to my email, my online friends, etc. But at the same time, the work blackberry they gave me means my work has free reign to contact me whenever they want. That said I'm not terribly the best at having it with me at all times on the weekend or evenings and I've let it die before and not bothered to recharge it. (My own little rebellion when I know full well my personal cell is listed in our directory.)

And that blackberry? It's considered an accomplishment to be given it. It's supposed to be something that only those at a certain rank are given. Congrats on your promotion here's the tether to work.

I've said more than once that I wish I was had less to contribute to the world than being rather smart. That if all anyone expected of me (and that I'd be satisfied) with doing is working at Starbucks. I think I'd be happier. Those people seem happier.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Lost Generation

I've started to find the generation divides very interesting though the more I look into it the less that I can actually find out about my own generation.

The problem is, we kind of get lumped everywhere. Born in 1983, I and my peers, are too young to be part of Generation X though there are aspects of that generation that I'm sure we identify with. For a while we were referred to as Generation Y, but that terminology has died out and now is trying to lump our age group in with those who are identified as "Millenials" which doesn't seem accurate at all.

The Gen Xers are the historical generation, old enough to remember so many major historical events of the late 70s and the 80s, while us Gen Ys are too young to remember even those early 80s details. (I'd be hard pressed to believe anyone my age or younger actually remembers some of the early to mid 80s details. I don't remember the Challenger explosion, not at all.)

The Millenials are marked with the influence technology has had on their lives, which is why the younger generation fits the bill so much better. Most have always had easy access to computers, if not at home then at school for sure. Most have always been aware of the internet and probably have little to no memories of life without it. As part of Gen Y I vividly remember getting our first computer as well as the first time we connected to the internet. That said though, it's not as if we aren't tech savvy. We were the first group on Facebook and Myspace, both websites being birthed while we were in college and had access to those sorts of things. I remember that my college was far more upscale than some of the other college choices of my classmates because a computer was required at the start of our first year. Not everyone else had one. We also had T10 internet connection, which I think changed my life.

We are the first users of the MP3s, the original kids who brought the Mac nation into what is is now and not the crappy computer lab computer I had that didn't have a mouse that worked properly. Yet at the same time we're different than these Millenials with their iPods in high schools and phones that do more than make phonecalls. We had all that as college students, now as adults. The kids born in the 90s have a completely different lifestyle, just like we have a completely different one from those born in the 70s.

We are the lost generation, the ones bridging the gap between one and the other and as time goes forward we become more and more lost. Our older counterparts are getting into Wii's for the exercise benefits and the younger counterparts are kicking our asses in Halo online. Though at the same time, we're the gamers with six different console systems spanning 20 years worth of gaming (at least that's the case at my house).

We're hard workers who are quickly finding that our college degrees that we strove so hard to get aren't exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives. So many of us have taken on things that we were told to love, told to expect and find ourselves on the brink or at 30 without feeling like we've accomplished much at all. We were raised with the idea that we can be whatever we want to be, we just never really sorted out what that was.

That said we're not an entirely unhappy group of people. Those I know in the lost generation find pleasure in some of the oddest things, things our younger friends take for granted or our older friends just don't get. Our hobbies are too old for us, or too young for us. We blog like mad about...everything. It's a constant attempt to catch up but another attempt to send things back to the old ways. That's life in limbo though isn't it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I am struggling as I start to write this. Partially because 9/11 was such a tragic event in my life, one that has left an imprint on my mind, but also because it's hard for me to get caught up in the hype. I think for me, the wish had been that by the time we reached the ten year anniversary so many more of us would have moved on, that would have come out the other side a stronger, better country and at times I don't think we've done that. It makes me worry even more.

We are afraid of everything and the older generations don't trust much of anyone. They've used the attack as a justification for their distrust and their hate and it makes me nervous to put so much attention into something that I've seen breed hate. It might be different in other parts of the country but I've seen people of my parents' generation that I respect say things over the past ten years that I can't believe anyone would say. It's cheesy to quote Star Wars but fear does breed hate and hate does lead to the dark side. Ten years later I worry we're still walking a very fine line between light and dark.

Still, over the years I've realized that the story of that day from my perspective had such interesting twists and turns that it's worth telling.

The first we heard of it was in calculus I recitation (that's the Tuesday/Thursday class where you meet with the TA and do example problems and where we took all our quizzes). When the TA walked in the kids in the front of the class were talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center and the TA actually looked at them like they were nuts and asked what movie they were talking about. When they said it was real he then told them they were nuts and shook his head, starting the class.

It must have been a quiz day, maybe (Meag probably remembers better than me, we were in the same class, but not the same recitation I think) because we were out early. As I got to the student center a classmate grabbed my arm, pointed to the tv and said "you won't believe what's happened" but then he walked off. When I looked up at the tv hanging in the post office it was nothing but a cloud of gray smoke, which didn't mean much of anything to me at the time. In fact it looked like the TV was broken, which wasn't unheard of. Shaking my head I got my mail and started up the stairs to go through the building and back to the dorms, and a crowd was gathered around another television. I asked someone I knew from SWARM (our spirit group for football) what was going on and he told me "a plane flew into the WTC". When I asked if it was a Cessna he corrected me and told me no a big one, 757 or something. "Well that's ridiculous. It's near impossible to maneuver an airplane that size, that close to the ground." (Snotty first year Aerospace Major at your service).

I left them, headed back to the dorms where I ran into a friend who lived in Freeman the boys' dorm attached to mine. I begged sweetly and he let me in their side door, which was a shorter walk through their hall to the annex to mine even if I was supposed to be escorted down the hall. I got about five steps inside before, Chuck, one of my friends on first floor Freeman grabs me and drags me into a room that wasn't his with two guys I didn't know. Now he's really explaining what happening to me and I watch in terror as the first tower collapses. Next thing I know I'm waking up my roommate who was still asleep, demanding she turn on the television ("Which station?" "Any station!") and I hear her lose it when she watched the replay. By the time I'd run back to my dorm she and I watched the second tower collapse together.

Classes were canceled before my 2:30 class, but it wasn't like anyone was going anyway. The university, right in the middle of Atlanta, went on lockdown and most of the kids with parents who lived in the suburbs left for home. Before I graduated I wound up seeing my college close maybe twice more and the college in KY where my parents live closed much faster than Tech did. Tech didn't close, not for much of anything. That they closed was huge. Those of us who stayed were out of town kids, or just the few who weren't afraid to leave. They sent home the entire staff, but our dinning hall staff, or the head of it at least, refused to leave. She let whoever wanted to go home go home, but the story was she said that if she left we wouldn't eat and she wasn't about to let an entire campus of kids starve out of fear. I still think she deserves a medal.

At one point I sat with Sara (my roommate) and friends from first floor Freeman, huddled in one room, all of us in shock, all of us sitting closer than normal, all of us shaking no matter the strong fronts we all put on.

To say that everything changed is an understatement. Even now, I live with it every day. I work for an airline, I'm working on a new configuration for an aircraft and we're discussing procedures and additional securities to keep the cockpit secure. I walk through TSA more than most. I know all of it. I don't need a special day to remember it, I live it constantly.

Still, there are some interesting moments to my story. That room with the two guys I didn't know that I was pulled into? One of the guys, Kevin, would years later become one of my best friends. We never met when he lived in the hall next to me, but third year in college we'd become fast friends, date for a while, but stay best friends. He remembers Chuck grabbing some random girl and her standing in his room for a while watching the coverage with them. It took us a few months to figure it out, but it was each other. Call it fate, call it chance, but it's interesting to me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

Labor Day weekend is typically a completely crazy weekend in Atlanta. There's plenty of sporting events (the Braves, the Falcons, the NASCAR race), not to mention all the normal Labor Day activities with sales and that last pull of summer being celebrated.

Downtown Atlanta is something else entirely though. Labor Day weekend is host to Dragon*Con, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the Southeast. These type of cons are getting more attention with ComicCon drifting into the mainstream, but it pulls a bigger and different crowd than Dragon*Con.

Unlike its counterpart, D-Con has a smaller, homey feel despite the large numbers it pulls in from all over the US. It doesn't have tracks sponsored by different networks or things like that which keeps the amount of commercialization to it to a minimum. The different tracks will try to cater to what's new and hip this year, provided their track does appeal to that. The Young Adult track has brought in Twilight actors and Harry Potter actors, the X-track this year brought in Supernatural actors (for the first time!), but that isn't always the case. There's always someone from Star Trek, usually a few former Star Wars actors as well. Beyond that there's comic book writers/illustrators, costume designers, voice actors or just people who have done actual research in the scifi field.

I wasn't sure I would be able to go this year, not up until the last hour, which meant I grabbed my ticket the day of, but that was fine. Armed with my 3 day pass, I let myself into the fray. Thankfully it was a lesser year for me, with very few of my fandoms represented with new actors (I saw Tom Felton speak last year and the people from True Blood I remember from the first season), so I wasn't as worried about not getting to do the entire weekend.

The first year I went I spent most of the time hanging out with one of my favorite actors, Thomas Dekker, and missed out on most of the panels that weren't his (not that his weren't great). Last year I made more of an effort to go to different panels. This year was almost strictly panels and not much else.

My favorite was probably the Supernatural panel with Misha Collins just because he's downright hilarious. The two women with him were funny too, but I think he helped that quite a bit. For those who don't watch the show, the last season ended with his character, Castiel, declaring himself God (trust me, that's so random it's not a spoiler). It of course yielded a million comments about him being God which made for even more fun.

I also dropped in on another panel run by my former TA from Computer Science at Tech. We'd kept in touch over the years via the online journalling, but had lost touch. I was glad I randomly spotted him. He's a sweet guy, always has been and I really enjoyed the panel he put together on real life super heroes. Surprisingly enough there was a real life super hero at the panel, and he spoke a little bout what that's like. It seems a little ridiculous, but it was really interesting.

As always though, a fan favorite are the costumes. Every year I talk myself out of dressing up (unless Cressie shows up with a costume for me), and every year I regret it. Next year we'll do something fun and big.

Cressie, my little sister in my sorority and one of my bridesmaids, went all out again this year. She made our costume from a few years ago, and we were picture perfect Beaux Baton school girls from Harry Potter.

This year she coaxed her fiance into dressing as zombie Prince William and Kate in their wedding garb (both of them actually look the parts really well).

For the parade and Saturday she was dressed as one of the USO girls from the new Captain America crew. Apparently they started on Facebook and developed a whole crew of girls all over who did the costumes up. There was a large crowd of them in the parade as well.

My favorite though was Sunday's outfit. Sometimes I think this girl's creativity has no bounds.

Yes, you're seeing that right. She's dressed as the credits from the intro to the Star Wars movie. Her little clutch had the blue font with "a long time ago in galaxy far, far away" and her fascinator in her hair had a little battlestar ship. It was awesome.

Now the bar's been raised for next year. There's my hope always to dress as characters from Terminator, but it isn't easy to do the resistance fighters and be recognizable. Maybe if I put more time into it. We'll see. I'm open to suggestions if you have them though.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Massive Fail

She hasn't called me out on it, but I missed a day. What's worse is I wrote the whole thing up just needed to add photos last night and completely forgot. I'm sorry. You'll get three posts today then, something from yesterday, something for today and this massive apology for being scatter brained.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hello Minneapolis

I'm a drawing a blank on what to write about so I figured, since I'm sitting in a hotel room, I might as well talk about the adventure that is coming to Minnesota for work this time around.

I've got an airplane in prototype (the first airplane to have the modification done) and all went well for the first part of the weekend. Of course, because it's a holiday, I didn't get to spend my holiday in a normal way but instead fly into Minneapolis Monday (Labor Day) afternoon to work all evening.

Of course by all evening I mean I was on the airplane from about 8pm to 2am with only a break to go get pizzas for the guys working (which was the most productive thing I did while there.) I wound up crashing out cold and getting up the next morning to work a full day. Not my idea of a good time.

After though I took Lisa, one of my coworkers, to the Mall of America because she's never been. I find it beyond fascinating if only for the sheer size and quantity of stores. There's stores for everything. We passed a store that sold socks. That was it. Tell me that isn't baffling.

There's still another full day of work, but hopefully I will be able to get out by the last flight out and get back to Atlanta. I'd like to be home.

I must say though, at least there's no snow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Camp Kudzu 2011 - Part 4: Pride


There is something truly amazing that goes on at camp. It's so much more than sunshine and kids laughing and trying new things (though all of those things are wonderful). Camp creates this overwhelming sense of pride in just living. In being someone who's overcome their disease to make so much of themselves, to live with it longer than people in decades past. There's this sense that the kids can do anything, anything at all, and I think they really walk away from the week with that message. They are more than diabetes, they are more than the other things they think hold them back.


And there's proof! There's living, breathing proof. Usually one day towards the end of the week at lunch or dinner we bring up all the staff with diabetes and put them in a line base on how long they've been diagnosed. There's a variety of people there (you can tell in just the photo above) and they all stand there and say how long it is they've been living and thriving with a disease that still doesn't have a cure. This is the part where I always wind up getting teared up (and I'm getting teared up now as I type). I am so proud of my friends, my camp family. who have lived with their disease for so long and have no let it stop them in anyway. That's something to be proud of more than anything else and something that even us non-diabetics can take away from camp.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Camp Kudzu 2011 - Part 3: Photography Dimensions

For the teens a camp we've started putting them in these "Dimensions" programs between dinner and their evening activities. The options vary from Arts and Crafts to High Ropes. Then we randomly assign counselors to the different activities and we get to watch the kids who aren't our normal campers have fun. I typically do the High Ropes course stuff because I love hanging out with the staff that runs it and it's such a cool thing for the kids. This year though they added a new Dimension, Photography and since I love that staffer too, I used my pull and got my name in that hat.

It was really cool to see what he taught them and to hear them talk about the different things. I wound up with a bunch of girls from my cabin, which was fun, getting to see them try and take better pictures throughout the week as a result and I got tips for myself. At the end we set up a mini studio and someone declared me model so they sat me in a chair and took my photo a million times. It was fun and Brantly, another staffer, had my camera, so I got home to a couple of gems. I really liked these and immediately changed my facebook picture.



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Camp Kudzu 2011 - Part 2: The staff

Katy and AJ
(Me and AJ)

There's always so much more to camp than the kids, which I know is admitting that in part it's not their journey, but coming back year after year to see the staff does make all the difference. They've become some of my best friends, my favorite people and more. Aly, my co-counselor was in my wedding two years ago even. Sometimes I only see them at camp, but it's worth it for the single week.

(Aly and Megan)


They are inspiring people who either do great things or have come from so little to be so much. I'm so proud of all of them, not just because of what they are but who they are. There are few people in the world as awesome as these people. I feel honored to be in their presence let alone work with them and call them my friends.

This year was a big year for new friends. AJ, who I remember as a camper and CIT, and someone I'd decided long before now was way cooler than I was, and I actually got to be friends. It started with asking about his shirt during staff icebreaker games and finding out it was the logo for Pete Wentz' (of Fall Out Boy fame) clothing line. More chatter had me going on about my tattoo (I'd gotten the day before) with Bryan's handwriting and we realized we like a lot of the same music. The more we talked the more we realized we are a lot alike and halfway through the week we were camp bffs and had my campers asking awkward questions about us. Not that it matters I was stoked to call the guy my friend, even now we keep in touch via twitter and texts. (He's got a band he's playing with now and once I have something to share I will.)

(AJ and Bethany)

We all look forward to our end of camp "post-camp meeting" where the staff gets together for drinks and camp songs and general fun. This year we had a ton of former campers who were staffers, which makes it even better. These are kids who grew up together, working together now as adults. Just a really awesome thing to be immersed in. (That and I know the top pediatric endocrinologists in Atlanta by name.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Camp Kudzu 2011 - Part 1: My Cabin

Every summer for the past six summers, I've taken a week and spent it at my favorite place in the world, Camp Kudzu. Our camp is a camp for kids with Type 1 Diabetes (aka juvenile diabetes) where they get to spend a week doing fun camp things and learning about how best to live (and thrive) with diabetes. It's a fun environment because next to everyone has diabetes. Those of us who don't are definitely in the minority. It takes away that stigma and really let's the kids hang loose.

So every year, I break all my rules about doing outdoorsy things (as in not doing them) and I counselor for the teen girls for the week. This year I had the best co-counselors a girl could ever ask for, one of my bridesmaids, Aly, and my favorite counselor at camp, Jenn. We had the oldest girls who were a lot of repeats from my cabin last year. It was a good group and a great year. (We had one mishap and a camper went home due to an unfortunate mountain biking accident, but even she left on good albeit a little bloody, terms.)

(my two co counselors on the right)





Friday, September 2, 2011

We Always Remember the Nights We Don't Sleep

I don't go "home" often and when I do I rarely go out. I've done it a few times and they've always been weird experiences. The first time I spent the entire time getting hit on by my next door neighbor (who's older and used to drive me to school in the mornings in high school) and an old friend (who's now a rockstar) tried to make out with me. Another time I saw about sixteen people I knew from high school all of whom pretended they didn't know me. The last time I was bombarded by people who claimed to remember me, but I'm not sure that was right.

It's a weird place where my parents live. I only did high school there, not much else, but it's like any other small town. People stay there forever and do weird things. I just can't relate I guess.

I was coaxed into going out to meet up with a twitter friend in real life, and to meet another friend who I haven't seen in years. The first hour or so at the bar near the college was normal. We laughed at drunk idiots, and I got to chat with Kevin and his new girl (who I went to high school with and only vaguely remember). That was nice. I know they'll be at the reunion which makes going far more appealing again.

I got a text/tweet from other friends that a band called Sleeper Agent was playing a house party at a place called "The Manor" and at least one friend would be there (another twitter friend who I have seen in passing in real life, but we didn't meet until online after the fact). I was very much in a 'why not' mood so we did some research and found this place, hidden behind some other buildings with no descernible parking area. Actually the only way I really found it was because my twitter friend drives a bright yellow Scion and I spotted that. I drug Champ with me because he's a trooper but as soon as we walked up to the door to flash our IDs and pay our $4 cover he was not amused.

The show was in the basement, which is a dingy unfinished cellar that looks familiar if only because I've watched this video a million times and it was filmed in the same house. Sleeper Agent put on a good show and I have to say, I was a little blown away by just what it was I was watching. It was a crowd of half drunk, half stoned, smoking kids shoved into a super warm small space freaking out about a local band. It was surreal and awesome at the same time.

Sleeper Agent @ the Manor

Sleeper Agent

I went upstairs for a moment to catch a breath of air in the middle of the set (and because I thought I saw a familiar face go that way) and actually walked into the house proper. Kids were everywhere, drinking and chatting. I went out onto the front porch and was floored to see them standing around, hipster kids in their outfits, tattooed, pierced and more. I was Alice in Wonderland.

After the set I managed to catch up with Aaron, who was how I found out about the show but also the boy I got my first kiss from. It was in high school, during a movie and I've always said that one of the things that made it so perfect was that he kissed me in the movie, then a few more times after and that we really only went out maybe once after that if that. He was just poof gone from my life, which was actually fine by me. Meeting him again (after we reconnected via twitter and facebook) was interesting. He looks almost the same only skinnier and has switched his wide legged skater jeans for a pair of ripped up skinny jeans. I have to point out that he was wearing a cape. I'm not sure the reasoning behind that at all, but he was wearing it. He seemed amused to see me again, though I think his memory is hazy.

While loitering talking to Britney (my twitter friend) another familiar face came towards us and as always I got to watch Micah slow, stare and then smile when he spotted me. I think he never expects me to be where I end up and when I do it's some sort of surprise. Guess that's what happens when you date someone ten years prior and never really stay with the same group of friends. He had to run in one direction but soon he was back, hugging me and grinning explaining that the party was his doing and apparently he lives in the house. I wasn't exactly surprised because face it, the run down, filled with random art on the walls, hipster hang out was Micah to a T.

There was an odd moment of realizing that with Micah, Aaron and Champ in the same place I had three guys I'd made out with all ten ft from one another.

I had a quick chance to meet another Shultz brother, Jeremy, who's related to the other two Shultz brothers (who make up the core of Cage the Elephant). Jeremy is in the video I linked up there. He was a really sweet guy for the two seconds we chatted, but then he was running off just like everyone else.

When we finally left we reeked of smoke and worse and it was closer towards 1 am. Not terribly late and odds are the party went on for longer, but I'd been there for the music, not the party. Kind of a crazy night.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Challenge

My good friend and fellow blogger Meag jumped on messenger the other night to issue the ultimate challenge.

A post a day for the entire month of September.

The woman is crazy to think that you all care what it is that I'm posting about but I'm going to take her up on it. So expect some interesting stuff headed your way. At least it motivates me to do something in September, and Music Midtown is at the end of the month! Plus there's Dragon*Con the first weekend! I'll find something.

I think.

I hope.

But I'm not the type to back down from a good challenge. Let BlogPact 2011 begin!

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