Favorite Thing Friday: New Music on My Old iPod

Standard

Somehow I got bored with music. Never mind that I have two iPods (don’t laugh) loaded with almost 4,000 songs. For months, I haven’t been able to get into any sort of music aside from a few tracks I added to The Muse’s sequel playlist.

Every once in a while I get in this funk and it’s hard to get out unless I find the time to do some major shopping or sit down to listen to samples or freebie streams. Winter Break gave me a chance to do that and I ended up finding some great new music to add to my Classic iPods (more on these dinosaurs later).

On the pop and rock end of things, these are some of my new favorites:

Ed Sheeran – X

Ed Sheeran – +

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1

The Script – No Sound Without Silence

One Republic – Native

So far, I’m digging every one of these albums, especially Ed Sheeran. I knew I liked him based on what I’ve heard on the radio, but I had no idea his albums were so good. There’s a song for every mood, yet they all string together beautifully. In particular, X explores a number of different styles without losing the common thread that connects every song.

Guardians of the Galaxy was hands down my favorite movie of 2014 (aside from Grand Budapest Hotel), so I was thrilled to get my hands on Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Part of what made that movie so great was how vintage music was integrated into the storyline and soundtrack. Even though I already had a couple of the songs in my collection, it was worth picking up this CD for the rest.

While loading my new music onto my old iPod, I poked around the iTunes Store and found even more goodies to add to my playlists.

For my BritFolk playlist, I found new-to-me music from one of my all time favorite artists, Johnny Flynn. A couple of years ago he composed the soundtrack for the indie movie, A Bag of Hammers. It wasn’t available for download until now! As expected it is all kinds of awesome.

For The Muse’s sequel playlist, I had jotted down the name of a song I heard on the radio and it dawned on me that I should look for it on iTunes. I found it and ended up liking the entire album. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness offers an interesting mix of modern pop with a throwback feel of the 80s. The song, Cecilia and the Satellite is helping me dig deeper into my main character as I set up his storyline.

While all of this new music is fun, I’m also reminiscing with my iPods. When Apple stopped selling the Classic iPod I think I had a small stroke. I’m not a fan of streaming or cloud storage when it comes to music, because I’m not always plugged into the internet. I like my music downloaded and accessible without being tethered to an internet or 4G connection.

Just the other day I pulled out my 5th Generation 2006 Classic iPod. I took it to work and my students snickered at it’s brick-like appearance until I showed them it’s 80GB storage capacity. Those snickers quickly turned to gasps of awe. Then, I showed them my 6th Generation 2008 Classic iPod. I thought their heads were going to explode when they saw it had 160 GB of storage space. Yeah, the screens are small and there’s no touch screen, but for me nothing beats having enough space to keep my stuff!

My new music plays beautifully on my antiquated iPods. The fact that they both still work perfectly after 9 and 7 years respectively, is pretty remarkable given the average life-span of electronics these days. All I can do is hope that Apple launches a new generation of something that is Classic iPod-esque.

Until then, I’ll be jamming to my new favorite music on both of my Classic iPods!

– – –

What’s your favorite thing this week?

– – –

c.b.w. 2015

Playlist For A Sequel

Standard

As I wait to hear back on the query letters I’ve sent out for my novel, I’ve been keeping busy with another little project.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been filling up another Novel Notebook with research, brainstorm blocks, image collages, sketches, research notes, and a playlist  for the sequel to Novel #2.

At the core of my writing process is music. The playlist for Novel #2 proved to be an immensely powerful tool in helping me shape characters and mood. Overall, 94 songs served as the soundtrack for the “movie” playing in my head from start to finish. As I embark on writing the sequel, I intend on using this tool once again to create a stronger emotional sense of my characters as they undertake new journeys and to aid me in creating an atmosphere that is a bit different from Novel #2.

Novel #2 is all about falling in love and fighting for what matters most in life. There is struggle, but also strength and determination. Therefore, the music on my playlist was often ethereal to reflect the nature of Ian’s identity, but also to emulate the euphoria of falling in love. In addition, songs with a strong beat and empowering lyrics dominated the latter portion of the novel to represent a fierce conflict that rages both internally and externally for my characters. Aside from storyline songs, the playlist also included music for individual characters. In particular The Beatles, Junip, and Death Cab for Cutie represented my main character, Amanda.

The sequel follows a different plotline in that it’s a step beyond the “origin” story for Amanda and Ian. They now find themselves in a new struggle that is defined by several factors:

  • Falling in love is great, but it’s not always easy
  • Confronting past “demons”
  • Once you have what you’ve always wanted, it isn’t what you imagined
  • Issues of identity

A new journey means new music, but there still has to be ties to the familiar in order to maintain continuity.  The mood is a little darker, but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. As for my characters, they are experiencing growing pains, but they retain their core personalities. To make a playlist to accommodate these issues, I started by selecting songs on the old playlist that I consider to be overall theme songs. These are songs that will work for the entire series as they reflect Amanda and Ian’s bond and the big picture journey they are traveling.

For example, Firefly by Delerium is the ultimate song that inspires Amanda and Ian’s journey as a whole:

At the same time, I am selecting songs that are unique to the plot and character development of the sequel. To achieve continuity, I’m looking to the same bands for new music that has a familiar feel. Delerium was the central component of Novel #2’s playlist so I combed through all of their albums and found a perfect new mix. Additionally, the band Junip has since come out with a new album, which is great news for Amanda!

Here’s a selection of what I’ve got so far . . .

Delerium – Semantic Spaces

  • Flowers Become Screens
  • Metaphor
  • Resurrection
  • Incantation
  • Consensual Worlds
  • Metamorphasis
  • Flatlands

Delerium – Single Tracks

Junip – self titled

Tempted (Conjure One Mix) – Collide

The Beginning – Joey Fehrenbach

Kaleidescope of Memories – Simmonds and Jones

The Cedar Room – The Doves

Russia – Magna Carta

First Snow – Emancipator

The Daydream – Tycho

Once I get this playlist loaded on my iPod, my muse will have the juice it needs to start writing the first draft!

– – –

For more posts on creating the perfect music mix, see The Daily Prompt: Mix Tape Masterpiece

– – –

c.b.w. 2013

The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again!

Standard

As an Autograph Ninja, it’s important to have a pen and something to sign on my person at all times, (see The Autograph Ninja).  So, when I went to see two of my favorite singer/songwriters in concert last week, I took extra care to pack a good marker and a special item to sign.

Marcus Foster has an incredibly soulful voice that soars with his blues infused brand of folk. When I went to London last summer I was hoping to catch him live, but instead had to settle for an EP album that isn’t available in the States.  Imagine my excitement when I found out he was going on a U.S. tour that included a stop in Arizona!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Foster’s opening act turned out to be an artist I’ve had on my iPod for the last year, (and just love!).  Sam Bradley croons with a crystal clear voice, giving his lyrics incredible emotional depth. I only have a few of his songs, but I’m looking forward to many more.

Both Bradley and Foster put an a great show!  Sometimes the best concerts are those where its just a guy and his guitar.  The voice takes center stage and reaches right into the soul.

Sam Bradley (c.b.w. 2012)

Marcus Foster, (c.b.w. 2012)

One of the best things about a small venue is that the artists are often milling about before and after a show.  The Autograph Ninja takes full advantage of these situations by keeping watch on the bar.  I spotted Marcus Foster before his set and managed to get a little one on one time with him.  Before heading backstage, he was kind enough to sign the CD I bought in London.

After the concert, both Marcus and Sam manned the merchandise table.   In between selling CDs and t-shirts, they signed autographs, posed for pictures, and gave hugs. I was one of the first in line to buy new music and get my CDs signed by both.  Marcus took my ninja marker, but I figured he needed it more than I did!  I got my picture with both and received a couple hugs as well.   These guys are so friendly, genuine, and gracious to their fans.  Before I walked away, both were adamant about saying, “thank you.”  I wish them so much luck for future success.

Top Left: Marcus Foster, Right: Sam Bradley, Poster: Marcus Foster

– – –

If you’d like to hear why I love these guys so much click on each name above for direct links to their official sites. In addition, you can visit these links to listen to samples of their music on amazon.com.

Marcus Foster

Sam Bradely

For the record, Foster’s “The Room” and “Movement” are among my favorite of his songs.

– – –

c.b. 2012

You Listen To What?

Standard

My taste in music is nothing short of eclectic as I’ll listen to just about anything as long as its good. Like everyone else I have my favorite artists, but there are some names that evoke a few raised eyebrows.  The inevitable question, “You listen to what?” usually follows those contorted brows.  It’s as if I’m not “allowed” to listen to certain types of music because I don’t fit the profile.  To this I say, there is no such thing as boundaries when it comes to enjoying music.  Nerds can love Top 40 bands and happy-go-lucky writers can dig reggae rap.

More than once I’ve written of my love for British artists, indie rock, and NuFolk, but my music collection reaches far beyond those categories.  Here’s a  list of 10 artists I love, despite the glaring disparities in personality.  It just goes to show that music truly does speak across all realms of humanity.

Note: I’ve linked each artist to a site where its possible to listen to samples of their music.  With exception to #9, all links will connect to my favorite album.  Enjoy!

1. Michael Franti & Spearhead

Equal parts rap, reggae, pop, R&B, and rock, Franti is a remarkable songwriter and performer.  His lyrics cry for social justice, peace, and political change with the stomp of a fierce beat.  He’s lightened up a little over the last few years, but he’s never given up his vision for a world without war and corruption.

Favorite Songs: “Everybody Ona Move” and “Life in the City”

Favorite Albums: All Rebel Rockers, Yell Fire, and Everyone Deserves Music.

2. Moby

Okay, so he’s a little weird and very bald,  but he makes some the of the best atmospheric electronica.  He thumbs his nose at convention and does his own thing, which is what I like best about his music.  Tones range from dance floor beats to ethereal synthesizers paired with piano and voice.

Favorite Song: “We Are All Made of Stars”

Favorite Albums: Go – The Very Best of Moby and 18

3. Linkin Park

I love this band because they exude raw emotion and hold nothing back.  No two albums sound alike and I like being surprised every time they come out with something new.  The last album in particular was a stark departure, but in my opinion its their best to date.

Favorite Song: “Waiting For The End”

Favorite Album: A Thousand Suns

4. Muse

It took me a while to catch onto this band, but once I did I never looked back.  Their sound is a cool fusion of hard rock and symphonic melody.  The lead singer has a unique voice that breathes incredible life into clever, bold, and brutally honest lyrics.

Favorite Song: “Starlight”

Favorite Album: Black Holes & Revelations

5. Thievery Corporation

This band found its way into my collection by way of a gift from a good friend.  Their vibe is a combination of soft jazz and electronica with a touch of middle eastern beats.  I’ve never heard anything like it, which makes every song an adventure.

Favorite Song:  “Holographic Universe”

Favorite Album: It Takes A Thief 

6. Mika

My love of Mika defies all logic, but I am hopelessly addicted to his dance beat and fun lyrics.  They guy just sounds like he’s having a blast and his energy is infectious.  Whenever I’m dragging in the middle of a run, Mika gives me a great jolt.

Favorite Song: “Love Today”

Favorite Album: Life in Cartoon Motion

7. Phil Coulter

My grandparents are at fault for my love of new age piano music.  Every night they would play a Phil Coulter album to help me sleep.  It never worked because I was always mesmerized by intricate piano notes and the beautiful flow of music.  Twenty years later, I still listen to him for the same reasons and actively seek out similar artists.

Favorite Song: “Oft’ In The  Stilly Night”

Favorite Album: Sea of Tranquility

8. Twelve Girls Band

Blame public television and my trip to China for bringing this powerhouse orchestra into my collection.  These ladies use traditional Chinese instruments to fuse Western standards with Eastern folk, thus creating something entirely new.  Their music is full of energy, life, and sheer emotion.

Favorite Songs: “Freedom” and “Jasmin”

Favorite Albums:  Shining Energy and Eastern Energy

9. Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass

Try hard not to laugh.  When I was growing up, Herb Albert was played almost daily at my grandparents house during the summer.  Those brass horns and peppy tunes always made me smile and they still do today.

Favorite Album: Greatest Hits 

10. Vladimir Horowitz

No one can play Chopin (or anything else for that matter) with the same passion and skill as Horowitz.  I literally get lost in the music when I listen to any one of his performances.  It’s no wonder he’s often referred to as the best concert pianist of the 20th century.

Favorite Song or Album: There are no favorites when it comes to Horowitz.  Every note is pure genius.  However, one album in particular sticks out in my mind, Horowitz: The Last Recording.

I’ve always seen music as a soundtrack for my life, so it makes sense to choose music from all different genres to make things more interesting and meaningful.

c.b. 2011

Music For a New Novel

Standard

My second novel began with a single sentence that popped into my head while I was at work.  I hardly know what is real.  I wrote it down and it lead to a notebook filled with an outline, pictures, and sketches, (I will be posting something about my new notebook . . . stay tuned!).  The story materialized in my imagination with such a vibrant presence, it’s as if it was there all along. While an exciting prospect, it’s also overwhelming as the scope of the story is larger than anything I’ve ever been inspired to write.  However, much like Noah haunted me, (See One Photograph Changed Everything), so are two new main characters: Amanda and Ian.  This is a story I must tell, even though the subject matter will require a lot of research.  From what I know of them so far, I think my history degree is going to come in handy!

While writing my first novel, I discovered music can be a powerful element in piecing together a story, (See How Music Help Me Write a Novel).  As I embark on writing my second novel, I am in the midst of creating a brand new playlist that is already giving my main characters more depth and providing loads of inspiration as I work out the storyline.  It’s amazing how one creative avenue lends a hand to another!

When creating a new playlist, I search through my music library to find tracks that will fit characters, shape the story line, and  create an overall tone or ambience for the novel as a whole.  This story is very different from anything I’ve worked on as it carries a deep message, but also has an air of whimsy and fantasy.  Picking out music to fit this odd combination has been nothing short of an odyssey, but I think I’ve finally got a playlist that will take me to the last line.

Story Soundtrack:

Sorry, but the story line is classified information!  Perhaps, this section of the playlist list will pique some curiosity!

From Delerium’s album, Karma

  • Enchanted
  • Twilight
  • Silence
  • Forgotten Worlds
  • Euphoria (Firefly)

From Mysteria’s album, Tempting the Muse

  • Elixir for Sunsets
  • Lift
  • The Loveliest Sin
  • Star Gazer

Time Is Running Out – Muse

Angels – Owl City

Vanilla Twilight -Owl City

At First Sight – Yanni

Rites of Passage – Yanni

On Sacred Ground – Yanni

Midnight Hymn – Yanni

Teardrop – Massive Attack

– – –

Amanda’s Music:

Amanda doesn’t just march to the beat of a different drum, she creates an entirely new beat in her head.  She is a staunch individualist, but finds herself stuck in a situation she can’t escape without a little help.  Indie rock and the revolutionary music of The Beatles truly capture her vibe.

The Beatles – every album, but Yellow Submarine in particular

Death Cab for Cutie’s albums, The Open Door EP, Plans, Transatlanticism, Narrow Stairs

The Morning Benders’ album, Talking Through Tin Cans

Junip’s album, Fields

Freelance Whales’ album, Weathervanes

– – –

Ian’s Music:

Ian is tricky!  I’m still working on him as he is an interesting character that continues to reveal his secrets in small doses.  He isn’t what he seems at first glance and he often resists my attempts to root him out.

Falling Away With You – Muse

Butterflies & Hurricanes – Muse

Lamentation – Delerium

Wisdom – Delerium

Tempting the Muse – Mysteria

– – –

Ian & Amanda’s Soundtrack:

Another work in progress.  These two are a very secretive couple and they only tell me so much at a time.  At the moment Ian is doing most of the talking and I’m waiting for Amanda to jump in and tell her side, (any day now, sweetie.  I’m listening).

Starlight – Muse

Endlessly – Muse

– – –

Tone & Ambience:

Owl City’s albums, All Things Bright and Beautiful and Ocean Eyes

Remembrance – Delerium

Closer to Heaven -Myseria

Awake Inside A Dream – Mysteria

Written on the Wind – Yanni

Nightingale – Yanni

Adiemus – Adiemus

Return to Innocence – Enigma

– – –

Well, I’ve either got a great soundtrack that will serve as an endless source of inspiration or I’ve done nothing more than prove I have one strange collection of music!  Either way, my muse has plenty of juice and I hope she helps me write what I think will be an interesting piece of work.

c.b. 2011