Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Albums of 2012

What I thought the best albums of 2012 were and why:
Best Album of the Year: Santigold Master of My Make Believe
Santigold took a few years to make this spectacular sophomore follow up to her self-titled debut, but it was indeed worth the time. She returns with her same unique hip-hop sound, but is clearly influenced by the voice of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Little Dragon's techno-Asian melodies. My friend downloaded this album and we listened to it the whole way to Jazz Fest in New Orleans and back, so I have very specific memories tied to this music. Her use of African percussion and political/girl power lyrics, place this album at the #1 spot for me.

"They wanna sit and watch you wither
Their legacy's too hard to take
Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out
Oh, how to win what they all lost"
- Disparate Youth

Check out: "The Riot's Gone" is very uplifting, and almost spiritual, "The Keepers" is under the Little Dragon influence and is very catchy, and "Never Enough," a summery reggae tune
2nd: St. Lucia St. Lucia EP
I normally wouldn't include a 6-song EP on an "albums" list, but this little gem is an exception. This EP is totally amazing and energizing, it's like diving in the ocean and into the 80's all at once. Just brilliant. Jean-Philip Grobler's music is upbeat, danceable, and summery. He has said that he is influenced by 80's masters Phil Collins and Lionel Richie (especially "All Night Long"), and upon listening it could not be more true. I'll forever associate this EP to spending the summer in Charleston and driving to the beach.

"Close your eyes
Face the night
Closer to the dance we climb
Arrange yourself
Before the fight
We will always intertwine"
- Paper Heart

Check out: "Closer Than This" the feel-good song that started it all, "All Eyes On You" has very a cool, tidal sound, and "Before the Dive"is so so so 80's!
3rd: Sigur Ros Valtari
This is going to be quite the varied list. There is nothing to say lyrically about Sigur Ros music because it's either in Icelandic or their own made up gibberish (seriously). This album should be a soundtrack to a film, because it is so beautifully composed and flows like a river going through a bed of volcanic ash in Iceland. The music's crescendos are like swelling ocean waves, and commands you observe it's quiet moments of peace and serenity. This album is breathtaking and goosebump-inducing.

Check out (also, if this were a film score): "Varúð" would be playing during the war scene, "Rembihnútur"would be playing during a childhood flashback, "Dauðalogn" should be the last song, when the lovers finally are reunited.
4th: Marina and the Diamonds Electra Heart
It's crazy that Marina and the Diamonds aren't selling out areas and number one on the charts, their music is so - now, but no overly trendy. It's sassy, upbeat techno-pop, but with biting and ironic lyrics. Marina's voice is unique, like a cross between Shakira and Regina Spektor. Her sophomore effort is definitely more mainstream and pop than her debut, The Family Jewels, but is still oh-so fun to listen to.

"Deception and perfection are wonderful traits
One will breed love
the other hate
you'll find me in the lonely hearts
under 'I'm after a brand new start'"
- Homewrecker

Check out: "Radioactive" is very super-model 90's and one of my fave songs of the year, "Primadonna Girl" is so damn catchy, and "How to Be a Heartbreaker"also catchy and dance party ready.
5th: Ellie Goulding Halcyon
Ellie's angelic voice combined with her sparkling production team makes her music so unstoppable and energetic. She's been an UK national treasure for some time now, but only became a chart topper in the states less than a year ago (thanks to Pandora? I don't know). The Brits always have a hunch about these songstresses. This sophomore album by Ellie has so many dramatic moments, brought to you both by her lyrics and the accompanying music. There's really a song in there for every emotion, fleeting feelings. It's just great.

"And God knows I'm not dying but I breathe now
And God knows it's the only way to heal now
With all the blood I lost with you
It drowns the love I thought I knew"
 - My Blood

Check out: "Anything Could Happen"was a 80's tinged, stellar first single, "I Know You Care" is beautifully sad and calm, and "Halcyon" builds and builds to euphoric sound.
6th: Andrew Bird Break It Yourself
This is Andrew's umpteenth album and he is never dry of new, experimental instruments or story lines. His songs are under the influence of many cultures - Spanish, Irish, American, French, etc. With all the different sounds he can make with his violin, you can be transported country to country, musically. His lyrics seem confusing at first listen, but repeated playing makes you realize how metaphorical and unique his songwriting is. They make you think extra hard because he just doesn't come right out and say it, he dances around it, so to speak. He is lovely and I want to marry him.

"So you dare the plane to crash,
redeem the miles for cash when it starts to dive
And we'll dance like cancer survivors -
like we're grateful simply to be alive"
 - Near Death Experience Experience

Check out: "Lusitania" is a wonderful duet with Annie Clark of St. Vincent, "Danse Carribe" is so giddy you'll do a gig, and "Desperation Breeds…" highlights his flowery violin playing.
7th: Regina Spektor What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
I was super disappointed with Far, her last album because it sounded rushed and like she was selling out, but with What We Saw from the Cheap Seats she regains my loyalty. On this album she returns to her story ballads and doing weird things with her voice, and I love it. It's the quirky Regina I fell in love with. Welcome back.

"The piano is not firewood yet 
They try to remember but still they forget 
That the heart beats in threes 
Just like a waltz 
And nothing can stop you from dancing "
 - Firewood

Check out: "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)" is a glass full of sunshine, "Small Town Moon" is Regina-funky, and "All the Rowboats" is emotional, historical and full of panic.

What were your favorite albums of 2012?

See also: Best Albums of 2011

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Y'all


Worthwhile's holiday window, Charleston last year

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 
I have so many exciting posts planned (as soon as I can find the time) - so stay tuned!
Safe travels to all - and happy gatherings


Thursday, December 20, 2012

La Petite Fashionista Magazine: Issue #2

I recently wrote an article on what to do in Charleston for Lauren's La Petite Fashionista Magazine. Her November/December issue is brimming with fantastic DIY gift ideas, cosy fashion, and fun theme party planning. It will be a good read if you're traveling for the holidays - all you need is a iPad.
I am very proud to have been a contributor and cant wait for the next issue!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mixtape Monday: Christmas Mix, Vol.7

xmas windows
Robot Candy's store window from last year in Charleston

I can't believe its a week away from Christmas Eve and almost the end of the world! So much has to be done before then. I thought that this year, being out of school with no finals to interfere with the holidays, I could enjoy them more and they wouldn't seem to fly by. 
Now, it's just a different kind of hectic, but a much more enjoyable one (i.e. company Christmas parties, old friends coming home for the holidays, trying to fit in watching all my favorite Christmas movies). I think no matter what your occupation in life, this wonderful time of year will always be too short. Best enjoy it while you can and leave the decorations and music on well into January. 

Now for the music:
1. Holly Jolly Christmas - The Format (2 members from fun. were in this band)
2. Jingle Bells (Robbie Hardkiss Remix) - Duke Ellington
3. Baby, It's Cold Outside - She & Him (I like the role reversal they do)
4. Twinkling Lights - Office Romance
5. Angels We Have Heard On High - Sufjan Stevens
6. When the Bells Start Ringing (feat. The Head & the Heart) - My Morning Jacket
7. Snow - Sleeping at Last
8. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Punch Brothers
9. The Heartache Can Wait - Brandi Carlile
10. Christmas in the Room - Sufjan Stevens
11. Boots - The Killers


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Classic Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

peppermints and candy canes for my Peppermint Christmas Dessert Party
chocolate covered gingerbread "pancakes" with royal icing butter from my Lumberjack Christmas Party
non-Christmasy, neutral leaves for my Holiday Cocktail Party
I've been making the same Gingerbread cookies every Christmas for the past 9 years. It's become a staple for me because of the subtly sweet molasses cookies and the crunchy-tart royal icing. It's a match made in the North Pole. Every year for my family's annual Christmas party, I try to switch up the look of the cookies, but they are devoured just the same. Its definitely a tradition I have started for myself, baking these while I listen to Christmas music late at night, and I think it will remain a tradition for years to come.

Classic Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
(taken directly from Martha Stewart)

6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks, then decorate with royal icing, if desired.

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 cup water

Beat sugar, meringue powder, and water with a mixer on low speed until fluffy but dense, 7 to 8 minutes. 
*royal icing dries fast, so clean bowl asap*
gingerbread gingerbread gingerbread
Christmas trees for my Black Forest Christmas Party

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mixtape Monday: Christmas Mix, Vol.6

nashville nashville 
All these illuminated tree pictures were taken last Christmastime in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry Hotel. Gorgeous, huh? I just LOVE that city.

Here's some classic and indie holiday tunes to accompany you while hanging your own lights on your tree:

1. Great Big Sled - The Killers (love that they put out a new Christmas single every year, this is 2006's)
2. Last Christmas - Jimmy Eat World (The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah is a vital holiday album)
3. Señor Santa (Mister Santa) - Y la Bamba (It's Mr. Sandman, but not)
4. Christmas Wish - She & Him
5. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Frank Sinatra
6. Auld Land Syne - Andrew Bird (love the bluegrass sound he added to this classic)
7. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Sufjan Stevens
8. Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) - Laura Marling
9. Blue Christmas - A Fine Frenzy
10. My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) - Regina Spektor
11. Silent Night - Sufjan Stevens

you can hear some of these songs here:
nashville nashville nashville

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Pins {Pinterest}

{pin it / source} // {pin it / source}

Here are some of my favorite Christmas ideas from Pinterest - everything from party decor to festive spirits and vintage holiday photos. I really do love this site for organizing my party's inspiration pictures and recipes - check out my board for my Lumberjack Christmas Party last year!

Peppermint-Eggnog Punch {pin it / source} // {pin it source}           
{pin it / source}
Pomegranate Vanilla Sangria {pin it / source}
     {pin it / source} // Gingerbread 7 Layer Bars {pin it /source}
Slow Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate {pin it / source}
// Pomegranate Margaritas {pin it / source}

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mixtape Monday: Christmas Mix, Vol.5

old pic
Yup, that's a blonde wig on a little Lauren. This Christmas card read "Hairs wishing you a Merry Christmas."

It's here, it's here! Ready or not, it's time for Christmas music, and I will be supplying you all month with some indie Christmas tunes (and cult classics).
Here's to start off the season:

1. Wonderful Christmastime - The Shins (off a new album called Holidays Rule, featuring great music from various artists)
2. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
3. Christmas Day - She & Him
4. Christmas After All - Maria Taylor
5. Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past - Sufjan Stevens (from his latest holiday compilation, Silver and Gold, which is a whopping 58 songs)
6. We Need A Little Christmas - AgesandAges
7. I Do Not Care for Winter Sun - Beach House
8. The Midnight Clear - Sufjan Stevens (also off Silver and Gold)
9. When the Leaves - Ingrid Michaelson
10. Auld Lang Syne - The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs

Hear the bells here:

Previous Christmas Mixes:

Vol.1 | Vol.2 | Vol.3 | Vol.4

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Albums I Will Always Love: M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming


Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

This album would have been #1 on my Best Albums of 2011 list, had I listened to it before the year was over. This monster is 22 songs long over 2 CDs, with each song having a sister track on the opposite album. The French band has been around for over a decade, but this is only their second album with lyrics in almost every song, and you wouldn't be able to tell. 
Their 80's synth sound and unique, futuristic orchestra can perfectly accompany you to anything from a dance party to climbing a mountain (seriously). It's got some sexy saxophone but it also has spoken word poetry (by a small child). It is a glittering, grandiose work of art that overwhelms you in the best way that music does, body and soul. 
My memories with this album will always be associated with my last semester of college and going for midnight drives with the windows rolled down and the volume up. I'll associate it with being young, uninhibited, and energetic but also the deep, introspective conversations you have with yourself about the future. And because this album is so varied, it can accompany and understand all those feelings. 
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be my everything in my 20's.

The city is my church 
It wraps me in the sparkling twilight 
- Midnight City (see video below)

I'm the king of my own land
Facing tempests of dust, I'll fight until the end
Creatures of my dreams raise up and dance with me
Now and forever, I'm your king!

Their connecting videos are visually stunning and have interesting plots, makes me wish a whole movie were set to this album.

Check out: "Outro"is a tear jerking, orchestral, and inspiring song that makes you feel like you can conquer the world, "Steve McQueen" has such great percussion and energy, "OK Pal" is so 80's and will make you dance immediately.

Buy: Amazon | iTunes

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...