Tag Archives: Brandi Carlile

2016: The High Points-Ranked

3 Jan

There was more bad times then good this year.  Or more accurately, a lot of the bad points overshadowed the good.  Or their were the normal good times, but the daily grind had a lot of negative.  But here, I have happily remembered many of the good.  From awesome to major thrill, here is my Top Moments Countdown:

Honorable mention:  The Trampled by Turtles concert with Lorn Huron as opener.  They put on a wonderful show (see review blog) but the venue totally ruined the whole thing.

trampled-by-turtles

11-Kelly Coffey circuit workouts/running on the trail in the summer

Cool has gained so much ground on this front, and it makes it fun, quality time instead of a chore.  It’s really nice to do it together.  And even though it was very hot (sometimes 104F) we both ran well AND had great attitudes about it.  I hope to continue our fitness stuff for a very long time.

10-Balloon Races/kayak

This went from the top spot last year to 10th!  But not because it was bad or anything.  I packed the car to the brim, but forgot one bag.  The one with all the cute outfits I had lovingly put together over the prior weeks and weeks.  It was a fun trip, as always, but even though there were technically more days IN the visit, we were way more rushed.  We didn’t even get to play yard games!  We have to plan better next time.  And some lady chastised my family when we sat down at Dawn Patrol.  Even though there’s no tickets and no seating arrangement.  She got ugly about it, saying “we’ve been here since 3AM.”  False.  They don’t open the gates until 4 AM, and shove it up your ass, lady.  I had fun, and I always love the balloon races, but we were kinda running around.  Plus, my mom was still recovering from her radiation/surgery.  And my dad was having trouble walking around so much.  We will do it better next visit!

lauurel-remax

9-Cool’s birthday in Park City

I bought Cool (and me) a massage package in Park City.  So we could try out being fancy (that’s not our life).  It was fun, but I just don’t think I’m a massage person.  Example:  They have a sign-in sheet and it asks what you don’t want in the massage.  I wrote “awkwardness.”  My gal was like, what do you mean you don’t want awkwardness?  Long pause.  What is awkwardness to you?”  Umm, THIS conversation.  And there was a hair treatment in the massage.  But that meant either you have to walk around with straight up oil in your wet hair–or shower.  So I had a weird semi-private shower, which I’m never a fan of.  So the massage was good, but I just am not going to submit myself to any more of that.  We did get to window shop in Park City and eat at High West, so that was nice.

boss-moose

8-getting the impossible raise

My worth ethic is unparalleled.  And my department under-pays so there is high turnover.  I ended up doing way more then my share (as I have always done) on a consistant basis.  The difference was, they keep track of checklists, so I saved them and wrote everything down.  Everyone in the company, everyone, everyone gets a standard 40 cent raise at their yearly review.  Everyone.  No exception.  But I worked more so I deserved more.  And I asked for it.  My supervisor said no no straight away.  I persisted that I worked very hard.  And they couldn’t deny that.  So the head of the department said he could try to ask for more, but it had only ever happened on very few rare occasions.  I said we could at least try, and he said he’d talk to his boss, but don’t get my hopes up.  I didn’t.  But the next week, he said I got it!  I got more than the standard 40 cent raise!!!  One of very few–nobody in recent memory.  But then, because he’s a douche and he doesn’t like me (because I caught him red-handed talking shit about me to another random employee AND went to HR about it)  he ruined the moment by saying, “You got lucky.”  No, you mother-fucker, I did not get lucky, I worked hard and earned it.  And Cool further ruined the occasion by picking one of our biggest fights ever.  So this should be higher on this list, but *sigh* other people. . .  I DID buy myself a really nice fitness tracker as a gift to me.  And it is hands free/cord free/phone free music.  Right on my wrist–with no other device necessary.

7-Zoo Brew

Best idea ever!  With or without alcohol.  The zoo put on a 21 and over event, which is genius.  I don’t always want to have kids pushing me, deal with screaming, and have little people running around scaring the animals and tapping on glass.  As long as you look at the zoo before the adults get out of the alcohol lines, you can see the animals before the adults start to exhibit (pun intended) this behavior.  It’s the first time we ever saw the palace cat out, because it was actually quiet.  Love!  And we went to the very first event, so nobody knew if it yet, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  Subsequent events were fun too, but word had spread and it was more crowded.  That May event–perfect!

giraffes-are-tall

6-my birthday:

I went extravegent for my bithday.  Not because it was a milestone year (33) but more because I had a job where I can take (paid) time off.  So I used it to my advantage and did bunches of things all week.  I got my hair dyed special. mussel-shooters-with-quail-egg She took the color out, then did a rinse so it was subtle, purple highlights.  I loved it!  And as soon as I catch up on money, I’ll get that again.  On your birthday you get to eat whatever you want, even if the other person doesn’t like that kind of food.  Cool is a very picky eater, so I always have to go without a lot of foods.  So I chose sushi.  The restaurant was cute, and had a mural and live music too.  I got a whole platter, which I never do, but it was my birthday, and I had to load up from the prior year of no sushi and the next year of no sushi.  And I got mussel shooters, which are fun to eat!  My actual birthday we paid for Red Butte gardens ($13/person and a total rip-off) which is MUCH smaller than Spokane’s free Manito Garden.  I won’t go back lizlard-wave-up-frontunless there’s a free day.  We went to Red Robin’s for lunch, which I wouldn’t choose, but my blood sugar got low and we had no other recourse and Cool panicked and got irritable.  Then we went to an independent theater and saw one of the films that had been at Sundance Film Festival.  It was “Swiss Army Man” see my review.  I liked it, and figured it out, so felt cool.  Then we had a Grapefruit Ballist Point beer on a patio and it was wonderful.  We had planned to go to our library’s coffee and chocolate class but some obnoxious lady sat immediately next to me, wouldn’t stop engaging me, and when she belched in my face I called it quits and walked out early.  Then sent a long complain letter to the event’s organizer–who turned out to be really, really sweet.  Signed us up for the next month’s (super competitive) class, gave me coupons for free coffee at the library shop, and gave me a birthday gift of 4 artisan chocolate bars!  Like, really sweet and very apologetic (that’s not usually my life).  Anyway, so we went to an oyster restaurant instead.  I like oysters, but found the restaurant very over-priced.  The day after my birthday, Cool had paid for an experience at the aviary.  I got to go in a private room with a parrot and a bird trainer.  The bird painted me a picture.  Well,  actually she went dab-dab dab with the sponge then looked for her food treat.  Then saw she had to dab more to get more food, so quickly dab-dab-dabbed in order to get more treats.  I got to take pictures right up next to her and took my painting by her home.  It was really neat to get up close and personal and she was a cute stuff.

painting-with-picaso-birthday

5-Halloween Costumes

We loved the year we were trick-or-treating, and I’ve always loved Halloween.  But usually, one of us is stuck at work.  This year–neither of us were, so we wanted to do something really big.  A couple’s costume!  So on Sundays we brainstormed and brainstormed, and researched, and planned.  The best, easiest thing for us to do was “Lions Tigers and Bears–Oh my!”  We bought more then we wanted, and made some cool accessories.  Then, I face-paintedgracies-contest-004 gracies-contest-026my little heart out!  It took forever, but we looked good.  We had signed up for a fun-theme-run, so we dressed up for that.  And the zombies chased us.  Cool body-slammed a zombie, and outran the children.  At the end, they had voting for best costume.  Except, they forgot to call us up (they said if you think you’ll win just get up there anyway) so we had to push through the crowd–which Cool is never good at.  There was no raised stage or anything, we were just in a parking-lot, and as short people, we were probably obscured to anyone not in the front row.  And the dope-DJ who was running the thing didn’t say our name properly he called us “a lion and a tiger.”  The voting was by audience cheer.  We got second place, but after all the afore-mentioned factors, I think we were robbed!  And I think the first place winners had stacked the crowd.  So we felt we could do better.  When a local restaurant announced they were having a costume contest for cash prizes ($500 Sunday night, $500 Monday night–when it had been one night the year before for $1000) we had to try!  Even though it meant taking time off work.  So I requested a partial day off Sunday (working corporate and having not only paid vacation, but as-needed employees to cover shifts is so nice!) to gracies-contest-025get ready and go.  I did my very best face-painting work and we hung out at Gracie’s waiting for the voting.  And some ten foot tall tree man took our prize!  With some king and queen getting 2nd, and that Tim Burton wig head dude and his gal-friend taking 3rd.  Disagree and disagree.  We should have at least gotten 2nd!  So we tried one more time and dressed up for work on Monday.  Because their was a contest and a secret prize, and our boss encouraged everyone to dress up.  He didn’t encourage us for work-spirit or anything.  That douche is a nerd and his big hobby is making and dressing up in costumes–even though he’s like, 50.  He has a batman, that could legit-be used for one of the movies.  That’s how much time and money and effort he put into it.  That is an old costume of his.  This year, he was working on a Captain Sparrow costume.  Which I thought was only so-so.  How hard is it to get a mscl-halloween-contest-copydred-wig, a sash, and buy tall boots?!  So we thought we’d at least win the work contest and beat him–cause who doesn’t love a group costume?  But alas, our boss won the whole contest.  And some gal painted herself silver and wore deer antlers (big deal) and beat us for 2nd place.  We didn’t even place at all 😦  So we had fun, and looked good, but this didn’t rank higher because nobody knows how to properly judge a contest, and we should have won, but didn’t.

haunted-5k-186

 

 

4-my thousand day in a row mile

I ran so many days-in-a-row that I made it to #1000 this summer!  To commemorate the occasion, I made flyers at work, inviting people.  Even though I knew those duds and douches wouldn’t show, I was excited and there was an off-chance someone might share in that excitement–plus, I could get acknowledgement of my huge accomplishment, and tie it to my resume that way.  As part of the work in-a-row-2event, I made it a coin drive fund-raiser so we could adopt a bird at the aviary.  The money goes towards feeding and care and they give you free aviary passes, a plush of your bird, and a certificate.  Only my supervisor came to my mile, but I really hadn’t expected anyone at all, so that was OK. I wore my running skirt and felt awesome.  And I used our concert window chalk and painted my accomplishment all over Rusty.  On the way from the fundraiser to work, I was stuck in traffic.  I don’t use my air conditioner–ever–in order to save money, so my windows were both down.  I heard a, “I promise I’m not hitting on you.”  Firstly, I didn’t expect it.  Secondly, I thought–that can’t be for ME.  Thirdly, I was like–do I really want to engage with this?  So after a long time, I turned my head, and some guy stuck in the traffic jam beside me, asked, “Did you really run so many days in a row???  That’s cool!”  So that was nice.  While I was at work that night, our Hispanic cleaning gal brought her whole family inside our lab.  They all looked really happy, and they asked if any of us spoke Spanish–none of us do, all of us randomly speak German, if any second language at all.  Her husband had his phone and somehow conveyed that they wanted to buy a car.  I heard “Isuzu” and realized what happened.  They saw all my window paint, but couldn’t read English.  So they assumed I was selling my beautiful Rusty for $1000, and they were ready to take it that night!  I was like, “No, no,no, not for sale.”  And they looked very disappointed.  And everyone in my lab teased me that I broke their hearts for the rest of that week.  Only like 3 people at work donated to the coin drive (I TOLD you I work with duds) but 2 of them donated $20s.  So we got to adopt a bird for $50.  I chose a black vulture 1) because vultures are important to our world and Andy N. Condor has enlightened me to their cuteness and cause. 2) Little Chewy and Vader of Tracy Aviary didn’t have any sponsors for 2016, and that made me sad for them.  3)  Our lab is SO vulture!   We are the clean-up crew of the medical industry as we have to sniff out mistakes and correct them.  We deal with icky samples.  And–we’re all anti-social and sort of put-down upon by the hoity-toity management and the super-social client services and phlebotomists.   I hung the flyer, the certificate/facts, and the vulture plush in the lab.  Everybody likes it and we named out vulture plush, Culture, which is appropriate for us.

1000th-mile-in-a-row-003

3-Brandi’s concert

Brandi always makes our list.  She always puts on an exciting show that you come away from amped up.  But the venue was awesome!  We were right in the middle of the Deer Valley bunny area, with mountains and trees all around.  And Park City is always fun–we of course snuck into their mini Arts-Fest (only for 2 min) and ate beer cheese pretzels and drank cocktails at our fave- High West.  It also made it the best time because we packed our own tailgate and pic-nic.  We had greek pitas, watermelon-rum slushees, salads and s’mores in (separate) mason jars.  It was delicious, and topped off the day nicely.  Oh, and we got the very best parking spot where we could exit the concert first, and easily, because one of the Deer Valley maintenance workers gave us a good tip.

brandi-date

2-Utah Arts Festival

It was bigger and better then I ever expected!  There were booths where we got to see SLC’s creative side.  The live music was cool, and we got to see Beats Antique–a legit band that made my countdown–at the end, right in the park.  The highlight of the day was getting a sampling of foods from there different food trucks.  And we came home with Rogue Bear and a beautiful pinned moth.

power-lunch

1.rodeo

We wanted to do something on our holiday weekend, but didn’t know what exactly.  At that time, we lived right pioneer-days-rodeowithin walking of downtown, but lots of things were closed, and nothing pioneer-days-rodeo-2016spectacular was going on.  But they do convert the whole arena each year for “Pioneer Days Rodeo.”  We thought we’d go check it out and kill some time.  We both wore our best cowgirl outfits and walked down.  Out front we stumbled on to a signing!  It was my dream at pretty much every event I’ve ever attended to have a meet and greet with the main person, but that’s not my life.  And here, we were standing in the middle of a meet & greet, but we didn’t know who any of the rodeo people were. . .  Still, the main guy invited us to get autographs, gave us a magazine to get signed, we had hats for them to sign.  They talked, and took pictures.  Everyone was really nice!  And inside the rodeo we had a lot of fun and excitement watching all the events.  We had no idea we would like the rodeo so much!  We had SO much fun that while we were sitting in the stands, we used my phone to buy tickets for the next evening as well.

 

So that’s the best of 2016, and I look forward to an very very much better 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moments of 2015-Good

1 Jan

I usually like to post all my reflections by December 31st and all my aspirations on January 1st.  Because of a full-time work schedule, and a holiday visit–it didn’t happen this year.  I’m setting aside more time tomorrow to write, but I did want to get something up on the actual 1st.  Even though I really didn’t have time because I spent the day rearranging the whole living room, organizing all the books, textbooks, class notes, and scrapbook items, and cleaning.  And that was a huge project, which was worth it because it looks so much nicer in here, there is more space (somehow, even though we added a bunch), and it’s less cluttered.  Anyway, so you’ll see the most important items in the countdown are unfinished.  But the post has to be posted on this date, I’m hungry, and times a tickin.  So I’ll edit it after dinner and after Cool goes to sleep, but for now–bare with me.

15-the relief of staying at the Missoula hotel at a halfway point in our move.

We hadn’t planned on spending the money.  Plus, the cats are generally horrible in hotels, and no sleep is had anyway.  But we finished packing, and loaded the Pensky in record time–like it was noon or something equally early.  So we decided why stay in a dusty, empty apartment when we could just shave off some miles.  We made a spur-of-the-moment reservation at our lucky hotel (lucky because they had an opening WITHOUT a reservation on Independence Day and saved me from a major allergy attack.  And from camping at pow-wow in the dust (and allergens).  The cats even slept a little that night and it made it a more bearable two day trip rather than one long haul.

14-getting a full-time position with a schedule that still allowed me to see Cool

You never know when homophobia will rear it’s ugly head.  I wasn’t sure if any work or housing protections are in place for LGBT people.  Besides, this is Utah–known for Mormons more than tolerance.  Also, work has a policy against spouses working in the same department.  Even though we’re not legal or married or domestically partnered in any way, if they want to make a case against you, they can usually find a way.  In short, asking for an alternative schedule to SEE Cool was a touchy subject.  With driving time, her job keeps her away from home from 8:15AM to 3:30PM and mine was supposed to be 4:30PM to 1:30AM.  We would see each other for 1 hour each day–while getting undressed from work (Cool) ready for work (me), and eating dinner.  It just wasn’t going to be enough.  And especially with bipolar in the mix and needing to stay apprised of the situation, it was going to be a major hardship.  I got brave and negotiated a good schedule, then it was promptly reneged (see bad moments blog).  In the end, work couldn’t give that other bitch Sundays, because that left Saturdays empty.  I was still not trained enough to take that day, and the other kid who could take it (and didn’t want Saturday, of course) is a lead–so he MUST work M-F.  So because they couldn’t move the lead, I did end up getting my schedule.  But not because they were doing me any favors.  Still, I’ll take what I can get.  And now I LOVE my schedule.  It’s really ideal.

13-Temple Square at Christmas

temple square christmas

Who knew Mormon Christmas festivity would make my top-of-the-year list?!  No, I haven’t been drinking the Utah koolade, it’s just that spectacular.  Around the temple, every tree, bush, and pond is saturated with lights.  There’s music and wreaths, and a really nice atmosphere.  Both malls have decorations, and all of downtown is dressed up for Christmas.  We took pictures, Cool stood in the middle of someone else’s marriage proposal, and we saw a fountain/light show to Christmas songs.  The best part?  We live within walking distance.  We did not have to fight for parking or make our way through the heavy traffic to enjoy it.  It’s so nice, people come from all over the state to partake.

12-exploring SLC, especially walking around the city

green haze

We didn’t move into this apartment complex to be downtown.  It just so happened that the ONLY apartment in our price range that accepted pets, AND actually called us back was practilly downtown.  We can walk less than a mile and be at both malls, the planetarium, the sports/concert arena, farmer’s market, the rapid transit–all downtown has to offer.  We took full advantage on the warm days, and even some of the freezing ones, walking everywhere this year.  And we’ve explored and taken pictures, and genuinely enjoyed this new city.  I can’t wait to explore more areas while increasing our step counts.

11-getting true weekends off of work

My whole working life I worked weekends.  Kennel work, of course, requires cleaning and feeding the animals.  As an assistant, I had to medicate animals as well.  In janitorial, those are the off-hours available to deep-clean.  I’ve never had a true entire Saturday, entire Sunday off.  Every weekend.  So when I went to a corporate job it was a really nice treat being in sync with the rest of the world (and Cool).  This only lasted for 3 months, but it was MY choice to work Sundays, and I exchanged it for Friday and Saturdays off and a late-start on Wednesday, so I’m still winning.

10-having a larger, brighter, more functional kitchen

kitchen

I knew I didn’t love the galley kitchen in Spokompton.  It was dark and unventilated and there was very little storage.  But I didn’t really how much I hated it until I got a huge, bright, super-storage kitchen that was more open.  All the kitchen stuff fits in it, AND there’s counter space!

9-getting a job in another state, before we moved

Moving is horribly stressful.  And it’s expensive.  I feel like it’s 2015, you should be able to secure jobs and housing online–but we are not there yet.  You pretty much have to be IN the state you’re moving to in order to get the job and housing.  Which is a major problme when you’re not made of money.  Because where do you stay in the meantime?  And how do you pay deposit and rent if you are not working (and you don’t know when you will be)?  It’s very scary and logistically almost impossible.  But, luckily, Cool’s Spokane company had openings within different departments in Utah.  So she couldn’t tansfer, but she was pretty well guarenteed a position in the company.  So she got a job.  Then, they had another opening in her company, and since I have a medical background and a minor in chemistry (and knew Cool), I got a job.  It was one of the greatest moments of my life because I was hired over the phone!  And it was a big relief because it gave some answers to questions and a safety net.

8-the entire Christmas visit to my parents’ house–especially the owl painting.

our owls--mine, Cools, Dad, Mom

We saw my parents a third time–a record–over Christmas.  It was special, because I’ve rarely gotten time off of work to go anywhere.  Especially over a holiday.  And Cool could come again.  So it would be the biggest Christmas I’ve ever had.  When I was growing up, it was just my parents and I because extended family lives in Montana where winter weather makes travel dangerous.  And after I moved out, vet hospitals got busy because everyone else was on vacation so where either boarding pets or using that time to catch up on their appointments, or bringing them in for Christmas-related emergencies.  So I always had to work, and be by myself over the holidays.  So it was special just having the 4 of us together.  But my parents had got Cool and I a surprise.  And they were so excited about  it.  And really building up the anticipation.  We were really worked up into a frenzy about what it could be.  At the very end, I guessed it was a painting session, and I was right!  So we were excited to try it because my parents had a good time with it previously–and you get to keep what you paint.  And my dad especially was all weird when we got there, because he was actually excited to paint, and for us to paint.  It’s a big deal, because he’s usually stoic.  The painting process was fun, and seeing all of our creations was a pleasure that lasted and lasted.  We gazed upon them, commented on their different personalities and styles, and looked some more.  We rearranged them and rearranged them again.  The whole thing was really the best from start to finish!

7-running on the trail with Cool

Aquarium with parents 134

Historically Cool HATES running.  And she’s not fun to run with because she slacks off, complains, and just doesn’t want to be there.  But this summer the stars aligned, she was in generally better shape, the weather was nice, and the trail new and beautiful.  We ran almost every day together.  She (mostly) actually ran, mostly without complaint too.  It was a time we could work on our fitness, then we walked back to the car together.  It was a really good time, being out and nature and having no distractions or screens, so we just caught up and talked to each other.  It was really nice times and now that our schedules are opposite, I miss it terribly.

6-Getting to see Brandi Carlile in concert

brandi and twins onstage

Duh!  Brandi always puts on an outstanding show.  Even though I wasn’t in love with the new album, I loved the way she performed the songs live.  She makes the crowd feel like family.  She gets me jazzed up and also moves my heart.  We weren’t stressed about standing in line or getting a good seat, so I was just able to relax and enjoy myself–unheard of for me.

5-Hope:  Moving to a better, cleaner city with better job prospects and working a job that might offer future (non-veterinary) prospects for me.

Spokane only offered so much.  We had sort of burned through what few prospects it had and were reaching a dead-end.  We didn’t want to get a Spokompton mentality or get stuck and be unable to move out, and unable to move UP in life.  So coming to Utah was amazing.  It opened doors and gave us options again.  Plus it’s a really clean, safe, walkable city where Spokane is not.

4-getting a washer/dryer

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This was a long time coming!  I had been doing coin-op since I moved out of my parents house in 2003.  And it sucked pretty much the whole time.  Taking your laundry out of your house is a burdan.  No matter the sute dorm bags, you still have to haul it.  And not just out to the washer.  You then have to leave the comfort of your house to change it to the dryer.  That’s if you trusted enough to leave it unattended in the first place.  Then you have to make a third trip to collect it from the dryer.  And good luck getting it dry–it’s never dry!  That costs a boat-load of money and forget any special care instructions or color-sorting.  That’s just not practical.  Also, think about if the cat pees on something.  Or you spill something.  Or after camping when everything is all icky.  You can’t always go to the laundry facilities at 4AM or midnight, so you then have to store that ultra-dirty stuff.  And it’s ick.  So getting a washer/dryer was AMAZING!  Now we are real people, and I love it pretty much every time I throw something into the laundry basket.

3-when my parents visited over the summer-especially the aviary day

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It took my parents 5 years to visit me in Missouri.  And we hadn’t seen them since 2010.  So when they came to Salt Lake City almost immediately after we moved here, I was really excited.  Even better, I had a training schedule at work that was only 25 hours per week–so I actually had time to see them.  We visited the aquarium and went to Cheesecake Factory, and showed them a lot of the same sights we had just barely discovered.  Nobody fought the whole time, which was a record!  That hadn’t happened in forever–we had gone through such tumultuous times.  So it was all really special and really fun.  The best was when the 4 of us visited the Aviary.  We got to feed Sun Canards by hand, watch a show, and just look at all the bird exhibits.  I love going to animal places normally, and including my parents and Cool was optimal!

2-when Cool and I had the exact same schedule, and worked together

It seems like Cool and I are always ending up on opposite schedules.  In Spokompton, I worked days, weekends, went to school, and pretty much studied the rest of the time.  While she worked swing shift.  We barely saw each other.  Then, when we got here, we suddenly had the same job, in the same department, and we worked the exact same hours.  We had the same sleep schedule, got to hang out together all day, then worked in the same room.  I loved those few months!  We could do all the errands together instead of 1 person having to suffer through it alone.  We could both clean the apartment at the same time, so it was faster and equal responsibility.  Our runs could happen together.  We had time to talk and hang out. . .  Then at work, it’s independent, but we could take our breaks together.  But then, Cool got an job offer doing billing in a cubicle upstairs which is more tailored to her personality, so in July or August, she went to the day shift and a different part of the building.  But being together was sure nice while it lasted.

1-DMB/Hot air balloons

Reno Balloon Races 065

We visited Nevada and had a great time with my parents!  My mom and I went in some historic railroad cars and got lost in Tahoe.  We were both very scared (we’ve seen the helicopters searching for unprepared stupids on TV many times) and despite that, we never fought!  Which is unheard of for us.  Especially when there’s no buffer person with us.  And very especially when we’re stressed.  So that was a milestone.  We also, on that trip, got to see Dave Matthews Band in Tahoe.  Which our seats were in the perfect spot, and it was fun to have my mom along–since she hadn’t been to a real concert in forever.  And DMB is always one of the best times.  But, the very, very best time was the balloons.  My mom and I had gone in 1994.  And it was miserable.  3 AM is too early, especially when you’re 9 yaesr old.  Even though it’s September, Nevada is COLD at that time in the morning, and we hadn’t dressed for it.  Also, back then, they didn’t sell blankets or sweatshirts, or warm beverages.  We got starving, and they didn’t sell food back then either.  My mom and I didn’t have a blanket to sit on, let alone chairs.  So the whole time we were tired, cold, hungry, cold, uncomfortable, cold, dusty, and cold.  It’s difficult to enjoy even the best things when you’re so physically uncomfortable–and I did not.  So ever since then I wanted a do-over.  I’d be prepared THIS time!  But September and college in no way work together.  Every time the Great Reno Balloon Race came around I was just starting school.  Or in Missouri, and getting ready for the first round of exams.  Or working at vet hospitals and unable to take a busy weekend off.  This year, I was only working a training schedule–and they had screwed me over on that PRN deal, so I didn’t feel guilty at all taking a week off.  I wasn’t in any kind of school for the first time in TEN years.  We could stay with my parents so it didn’t cost a bunch of money to visit.  I packed winter layers knowing I would be cold.  We made our own snacks and took hot coffee in thermoses.  We didn’t have chairs or remember a blanket, but everything else fell into place.  I was ready to enjoy myself this time!  We got a good parking spot and walked to the event, then stood/sat in one of the only empty areas.  We got to see the dueling balloons in the dark, and dawn patrol as the sun was rising.  I got great pictures.  Then, the BEST part was mass ascention.  We had unknowingly sat right down in the middle of the field, so all the balloons were blown up all the way around us.  We were right in the middle of the action!  And I got more good pictures.  It was even greater because my parents and Cool were there and everyone was in good spirits having a good time.  I had anticipated the event so much, and had previously been so disappointed, that this was AMAZING!  Now, I can’t wait to do it again.

our DMB posters

 

Overall, 2015 was a time of doubt and uncertainty.  But it was a very family-focused year and that salvaged things a lot.

 

Robo-Music: Countdown of Top Albums from 2015

29 Dec

I’m not certain if it’s this era in music I don’t really care for or if it’s the tastes of Utah.  Here in Salt Lake City, at least, everyone is in to DJs.  And electronic.  And very pop-1980s throwbacks.  It’s nothing live, nothing that has heart.  And that’s the whole thing for me.  I need substantial lyrics and some belting out.  Instrumentation.  The popular music in the Salt Lake City area is computer-generated or superficial.  So I feel like I’m musically starved.  And I hope it’s just this region that doesn’t know the story.  I did manage to scrape up some contenders for this list.

music- robot 2

This list was compiled based on album alone. Catalog, concerts, expectations, hype, and cuteness were not factors.  And as an aside, I posted this before really going through it with a fine-toothed comb, so to speak.  In the interest of time.  I’ve been  notorious in previous years for wanting to perfect these or wanting to listen to ALL the options, then not ever posting them.  Or posting them a year late.  So up it goes, but I may edit or add some things later.

 

DIDN’T Likes (Worst to Don’t Love Listening):

Diddy

What happened to the Puffy/Biggy days when there was a melody or two within the rap?  This is harsh and displeasing.  Almost grating.  I think it’s that electronic influence rearing it’s ugly head again.   Also, rapping was not really a thing (which is the point?) so I didn’t really connect with any lyrics either.  A disappointment.

Sleater-Kinney

Some people might like “No Cities to Love”.  I am not one of them.  But I don’t think this album is bad, it seems well thought-out and well-executed.  It is just not my taste AT ALL.

Sara Bareilles

I have liked her past albums.  Like a lot.  I think she is one of few that speaks for feminists.  And that’s so important, especially in the male-dominated music industry.  This album was barely listen-able for me.  It felt like a cheesy Disney soundtrack or a musical.  Very overwrought and sappy to the point of-barf.  I hope she goes back to her roots.

Matt and Kim

It’s TOO harsh.  I understand they are supposed to be electronic and robotic.  But “New Glow”  is robots in a war.  I need something to sing to, some catchy chorus, somewhere.  All the noise makes that difficult to find.  And even as an exercise album, which I expect substantially less from lyrically, it was too jarring and too syncopated.

music- robot

Blah-Neutral, Try Harder in the Future, and Up and Coming in no particular order (Medium-Passion from Me):

Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell

The first two songs made me think they were going to steal the Grammy from Brandi.  Which, despite a flagging enthusiasm for Brandi’s latest, I most definitely want her to WIN that prize.  So I was horrified, I really liked a couple of Emmylou’s songs.  It’s old country and Americana as the category has nominated her for, but every song was not a winner.  The album lost steam in a few places.  Aside from some boring tunes, it’s a down-home oldy-feeling work of art that a person could listen to one or two times before totally losing interest.

Jason Isbell

It’s hard not to compare Isbell to Brandi Carlile–since they’re up for the same Grammy and all.  But, this artist is ranked under Brandi, because I said I would look at the albums singularly.  And his is a whole different thing.  I think in some ways it is more listen-able then “Firewatcher’s Daughter” in that it makes easy, background music.  I like the gentleness of the sound.  But when it comes down to it, I personally like catchy things sung well and with feeling.  And this album has no hooks or unbelievable vocal range, as Brandi’s does.  But it’s a chill-mood and none of the songs are unlikeable (which I can’t always say about Brandi’s songs).  So check it out–but it BETTER not steal Brandi Carlile’s Grammy if it knows what’s good for it!

Kelly Clarkson

More of the same.  I’ve always liked Clarkson, especially her breaking up songs.  Except, I feel like her albums and sound are becoming more and more of a manufactured machine.  The genuineness is simply  not there.  I think Clarkson should write from her heart and sing from her soul rather then doing mathematical calculations in trying to secure top chart numbers and album sales.  I want to hear her stripped down and authentic–even at the risk of being less corporate.

Tim McGraw

Went skating.  Skating by on prior success, on his image, and on his fan-base.  I thought there was nothing at all special about this album.  I would like to see him strive for the next work–I know he is capable of growth, of branching out, and getting out of his comfort zone a little.  This album was put out for the sake of remaining relevant, and unfortunately, you can tell.

Jewel

On the other hand, Jewel tried too hard.  I can hear that she tried to replicate her earlier success.  But the effort had a disingenuous, forced quality about it that I didn’t like.  The poetry was there, some sweet-signing, and a little discord.  Folk was full-force, but “Picking Up the Pieces” still wasn’t comparable to “Pieces of Me” as I’m sure she intended.  Jewel formerly sold out and went straight pop for the money.  Then she tried to recapture success easily by going to the easier realm of country.  After that failed, she’s floundering–and it shows.  I wish Jewel would forget the record sales and corporate numbers and actually be genuine.  I think she has a place in music–but it’s not going to be  through her own force of will.  She needs to get in tune (pun!) with herself and her story if she’s going to get out of her slump.

Papa Roach

Also offered nothing really special or nothing really groundbreaking here.  I used to like their rebellious sound.  The blend of punk, pop, and rock they had going.  Now, it’s a little formulaic, with no real standouts.  Can’t music forgo corporate manufacture and be real?!

Avicii

“Stories” could be a great album.  But the first album, “True” (?) that I listened to raised my expectations very high so this newest one was sort of a big yawn for me.  After falling in LOVE with the last album, I just could find anything to attach to in this one.  I think it’s still OK, but it hardly equals “True.”

music- electronic

Worth Mentioning (but not a blurb):

Adele-  probably would rank on my list, but no Spotify, no rank.

Christine and the Queens- self titled

Death Cab for Cutie- Kintsugi

The Decemberists- What a Terrible World. . .

Imagine Dragons- Smoke + Mirros

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly

Luke Bryan- Kill the Lights

Sports- All of Something

music- robot 3

 

AAANNNNNND Top Albums of 2015 Countdown from Good to Very Best:

11 (honorable mention).

Kid Rock

Dave Matthews Band’s Lovely Ladies must have stepped into the recording studio with Kid Rock.  This album is good, but very, very different from previous efforts.  It’s more grown up and country/blues, than rebel rock.  I liked the gospel and southern flair and thought they were appropriate to the tracks.  The thing that would make the album stronger is a little more variation in the songs.  They all started to sound the same to me.  And though cohesive as an album, even the 80’s hard-rock Gods knew to throw in a ballad once in awhile.  There should be something that doesn’t meet expectations in here to really flesh it out.  And fans of the first few albums–prepare your ears–I’m not sure you’re going to like this even a little bit.

 

10.  rebel heart

Madonna

This album would have ranked higher, because the songs that I like, I really, REALLY like.  But there was some electronic/club influence that I’m trying to get away from—as you heard.  My top 10 is all about the human aspect of music.  What I liked was the variability in the album.  It all meshed together, but the songs were distinct and had different feels and influences in them.  We have a broken heart, dancy-club, a Jamaican sound, and of course electronic.  I especially give top marks for this seldom-seen vulnerability in many of the tracks.  It’s a softer, riskier sound for Madonna, and I feel like I know her better as a person because of it.  Of course I also like the stronger side of her personality and artistry, and that’s here as well.  Madonna’s sound has matured and she has leaned tons from her years topping the charts–but she’s still got IT.

9.  firewatchers daughter

Brandi Carlile

Let me just get it out there.  No, I have to soften it a little by saying Brandi is perhaps my favorite artist of the last 6 years.  And her shows are THE best!  She seems genuine and she’s personable, and of course she’s cute.  So my expectations for a new album were SKY-high.  Bear Creek was phenomenal, in my opinion.  The follow-up was sure to be even better.  But it wasn’t.  Not to me, at least–the rest of the world seems to disagree and is finally catching on to MY band.  Washington state, especially Seattle, feel like the band is OURS.  So I very much hate to say “Firewatcher’s Daughter” just seemed to meander too far to the right for me.  I’m not saying it was bad by any means.  But usually I attach to all but 1, or maybe 2 songs on Brandi’s albums.  This time, I only really-liked 2-3.  “These Things I Regret” was good and I think sort of a fan-song.  It was more the old style, the one I fell in love with.  “Mainstream Kid” with its strength and rock-flavor is the other obvious hit on the record.  And “Wherever is Your Heart” shows the band’s range and energy.  Honorable mention goes to “The Stranger at my Door” for most awesome song-ending ever.   The rest?  Too. . .  I don’t know, maybe just not MY style.  “The Eye” is not an album-song.  It’s meant for the live, breath-taking, ‘wow that’s almost a Capella  and look how they blend together as a group’ sentiment.  But even live (at the Gorge) the choruses repeat to the point of boredom and it just got tedious to me.  The Avette Brother’s cover is good.  But it also bothers me.  One, it seems too soon cover them–the Avettes (though their catalog is HUGE) are JUST going mainstream.  Mostly, though it seems (as gleaned from show commentaries and interviews) to be Brandi’s love song to her family and a gay anthem (from her perspective, I gather).  But it’s obviously written (and unchanged) for brothers, or at least siblings.  With the ‘which one of us would Dad be proud of’ stuff.  I want her to tailor it to her needs or really, just leave it to the Avette Brothers.  And “Wilder, We’re Chained” if it’s not a direct Fleetwood Mac cover, it’s MUCH too similar, and with “The Eye” having that same tone, it just feels like a throw away song.  I guess I won’t go into any more specific song detail (because I already wrote that blog) but I feel compelled to justify my options.  I don’t like “going against” my favorites.  Because–I feel guilty for being disappointed.  I am happy Brandi Carlile’s career is finally taking off in a mainstream way and she’s getting some long-deserved media-attention.  But, I hope Brandi Carlile does not continue to scout territory which takes her farther away from her core group of fans.  I liked the former albums–even if they didn’t garner all the attention, hype, and accolades.  Though they should have and I don’t know why she’s just now blowing up–it’s long overdue.  Maybe now that everybody’s watching she can go back to the more rock-folk style that I like better?

8.  Kacey Musgravespageant material

I like it:  A cheeky country gal.  The songs are catchy and foster an independent rebel spirit that I like, and that I think is totally necessary in the still good-ol boys country network.  I think she’ll join modern trail-blazers Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, and especially Miranda Lambert as the new spunky voice of country women, working to bust stereotypes and get outside of the social norms.  This album gives me an idea of what Musgraves stands for, and I like that message even better then the songs.

7.storyteller

Carrie Underwood

Is back to herself–thank goodness!  I love her bitter songs where she gets feisty and this album has that in spades.  Seeing Underwood sell-out and try to please mainstream (impossible/boring) was sad, so “Storyteller” is all the better.  It offers almost every song as independent woman, talking trash to some loser who mistreated her.  The passion in Underwood’s voice is back to go nicely with her always strong voice.  Love.  And I hope she remains true to her roots from now on.

6.

Mumford & Sonswilder mind

I loved their sound so much.  When “Babel” exploded onto the scene, it was stripped down, featured a kind of country feel, and was completely different.  So I’m a little disappointed the band has chosen to deviate to the sound that contributed to their huge mainstream popularity.  I liked it because it WAS different and not the normal mainstream sound.  But alas, though I’m not sure I’m on board with the band changing its tune (another pun!), but I’m judging “Wilder Mind” by itself.  And it’s masterfully done.  Really, it’s a solid work as a group.  You can listen to the album over and over and it’s a really great work.  There are no real individual songs that pop though.  And as a side-note to the band–get back to your acoustic roots.

5.Mika-1st albumMika

Mika- The Origin of Love

Yes, this album is pretty-pure pop.  BUT it is strong in a socially-conscious way.  Mike SAYS something in this album.  Opposed to Cee Lo’s closet-case, Mike is totally uninhibited gay.  Like, old-school, flamboyant, proud to be a little feminine, gay.  This album is an anthem for all the homos everywhere, even going so far as to ask, “Where Have All the Gay Guys Gone?”  And the songs are catchy and dancy which doesn’t hurt one bit.

4.  The Indigo Girlsone lost day

When I was just thinking about the album, I felt sorry that I was a little disappointed in it.  “One Lost Day” is not an evolution.  Some past albums were much stronger, showed more growth, or talked more of political issues.  But if the Indigo Girls can do anything, they can subtly change their sound to remain relevant in current times.  Just look back at how long they’ve been around.  And just TRY to sound two very similar albums from there—they are all different.  And apparently, in order to be relevant in 2015, you have to have an electronic or strong-pop flavor.  I couldn’t remember any stand-out songs when I thought about the tracks of “One Lost Day,”  and I even thought maybe the new album was a little too pop.  When I actually turned on the songs to hone in on my  list-placement, I remembered why the Indigo Girls are masters at what they do:  The album has a clear ark and tells a cohesive story. Each song contributes to an overall story.   The songs are polished and you know the duo has absolutely perfected their writing/recording process.  But there is always a feeling-invoked and an authenticity about their works.  Yes, obvious success and maybe a little pandering is going on, but The Indigo Girls still have their amazing harmonies, their political ideologies, and a personal story to tell.  I call this one polished, but not superficial.

3.  Beth Hart

Beth Hart

I didn’t even want to sample Hart’s new album, because Douche had told me once that she attended a Beth Hart concert and the artist was sloppy.  Like, obviously impaired, and asking the audience for drugs while performing on stage.  And I’m not into supporting obvious drug-addicts.   BUT I came across a recent article about Beth Hart outlining her addiction, new sobriety, and bipolar diagnosis.  So I listened to “Better Than Home”.  And I’m glad I did!  It’s bluesy and stands out from the crowd right now.  Hart’s voice is resonant and her lyrics deep.  Also, she has this vibrato singing style that’s very technical and amazing.  It’s a different sound in a sea of similar female voices.

2.Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton

Where did she come from?!  All I remember is that “A Thousand Miles” song that was over-played to the extreme until it became hostile to listen to again.  But “Liberman” is so great.  It’s a stripped-down feel, heavy on the piano, and with good song-writing.  It’s a chill listen without being boring.  I don’t know if you could over-play this album–it’s sure been heavy on my rotation and I’ve yet to tire of it.  Think Ben Folds Five, but with a female vocalist.

  1.  Cee Lo GreenHeart Blanche

This is totally beside the point, but does anyone else think Green is a seriously closeted gay?  This album sets off my gay-dar.  It’s upbeat and dancy, but in a good way.  I may not have a lot to write about the album, but I want to convey it’s a fun, yet serious album that has good singing, true writing, and I found it very pleasing to my ears.

Cee Lo Green- gay

P.S.  Yes!  I finished this entire post, BEFORE the next year.  This is the first time in 3(?) years I can say that.  I am very pleased, and this means good omens for 2016.

My Most Listened to Music of 2014

8 Dec

I’m not finished blogging.  And that dearth of posts wasn’t some planned hiatus (don’t worry, I would have warned you).  I just stopped making time, I guess.  I used to really think about my blog a lot.  If something notable would happen, I’d file it away.  At night, I would think of cute blog titles.  When bored, I might think about how I would write down an event or story.  But this last year was full of surprises.  I won’t be sorry to see 2015 become my past.  I had been in my post-bac program working very hard to get to grad schhol–and that didn’t happen.  So everything changed.  And we moved to a new state.  Again (for me) and that’s always a huge logistic, emotional, and time adjustment.  I got caught up in just getting back to a secure, stable place.  Finding the job and getting enough hours and a good schedule, check-check, and check!  Getting my car all legit for Utah-check.  And exploring this new city and state–a mission in progress.  Between that and the daily things, blogging just fell by the wayside.  But I’m in no way giving it up.  I’ve worked very hard on this collection of posts–and I do enjoy it, when it doesn’t become an obligation.  So I’m going to try to think about it again.  No promises on the quality or quantitity of posts just yet.  I just promise to put it in my mind.  Besides, I love looking back at a year, count downs, and looking ahead–which January is ideal for.

Here is a post that I’m not sure why I didn’t publish LAST December.  I probably intended on making it better–which is also  a reason I haven’t written in awhile.  I wanted to have solid ideas, write well, edit, and make sure the posts were GOOD.  Well, I’m taking that pressure off, and just getting things out there for awhile.  So about my 2014 music listening:

PHOTO_20151127_164525

This isn’t some feeling I have, it’s based on statistics from my LastFM scrobbles.  If you’ve been living under a rock, and don’t know what that is, here’s a description:  An add-on that sends every song played (itunes, Spotify, ipod, ANY program/device that plays music) to the website.  The site compiles most listened to artists, songs, and albums.  And they do it for the week, month, 3 months, 6 months, year, and overall.  Really, if you just learned a bunch of stuff–you should check out LastFM and start scrobbling.

So without further ado:

10]  Akon

Has still got it.  I’ve always liked him, and still do.  It’s good for running and during squeegee time at work too.

9]  Hans Zimmer

I think this came about out of Spotify’s Classify list.  You can pick a mood/instrument/era/etc and listen to music that represents that.

8]  Dumpstaphunk

Because I tried to give all the Gorge Caravan bands that Dave picked a fair shake.  But despite many listens, I wasn’t really feeling this one.

7]  Piano Tribute Players

For studying purposes.

6]  Linkin Park–>Burn it Down

They are one of my long time favorite bands, and they put out an album in 2014.

5]  Brian Tyler

Honestly, I can’t even tell you who this is.  Lesson–be careful what you listen to if it means nothing.  Maybe it’s on a soundtrack of some sort?  I really don’t know.

4]  Moon Taxi

WTF?  Prep for Gorge Caravan–which we didn’t end up listening to.

3]  Vitamin String Quartet–>top song:  With or Without You

A girl has to study.  But it doesn’t have to be a bummer.  I get to listen to my favorite songs without distracting lyrics, no problem with that!

2]  Brandi Carlile–>top songs 1-3:  Turpentine, Fall Apart Again, Closer to You (who knew?)

My musical girlfriend HAD to be in the top spots.  And congratulations on 3 amazing openers at the Gorge!!!

1]  Dave Matthews Band–>with 1-5 most played songs:  Lie in Our Graves (a summer tour staple), The Stone, Ants Marching, Crush, and Crash.

Of course.  Because of concert prep, excitement before and after the ticket purchase, excitement before and after the concerts, and just all the billions of versions of each song–it’s obvious it added up.

Red Butte Gardens: Zoo-Tunes Reloaded [Brandi Carlile part 2]

24 Aug

I hated Zoo-Tunes.

I thought I would love it. I love the zoo, and am happy to support it. Seattle is a wonderful concert city. The weather is usually mild, and I enjoy the outdoors. And who doesn’t love a pic-nic? Especially AT a zoo, and with top-of-the-line musical entertainment.

And I knew what I was getting into.  I had researched the Zoo-Tunes ticket:  Members go for an outing, not the music.  People talk over the music.  People sneak in alcohol.  It’s lawn seating = crammed in.  But I had been ready for it.  I bought VIP tickets–I would not have to deal with pushy people, or taller chairs in front of me.  I paid my way out of the crowding, and probably the talkers too.  I was confident.

But that’s not how it went down.  Events in zoos are not for the music.  And even paying VIP prices didn’t buy me out of talkers.  People stood in front of me and weren’t told to sit.  It was fairly obnoxious, only being redeemed by the Indigo Girls’ showmanship–they know what they’re doing and can capture even an unruly audience’s attention.  By the end, even those who weren’t there for the music, and hadn’t heard of the Indigo Girls were captivated by the show.

Amy across the quad

Still, I’d never go back to Zoo-Tunes.  It’s annoying.

I knew Red Butte Gardens would be much the same.  And I was not going to camp in line.  I did not want to get there extremely early in hopes of securing a good seat.  I knew people would be drunk and talking.  I knew people would probably stand in front of me, blocking my view.

Thus, my expectations were low.

I drove to the venue several weeks ahead of time to find the route and scope out parking.  The lowest lot, farthest away from the venue, had an North exit.  everyone else would cram into the closer parking lots and leave by the Western exit.  I would rather trek up a hill in the beginning and walk back down, past all the slow drunk people blocking the roads on foot.  And past the snail-trail of drunk-drivers slowly leaving past police escorts.

Also, I was in no rush to get to that line.  I knew, even if we had gotten there at 8AM, and camped in the heat all day, that in the end the pushiest people will get the best seats.  And Cool and I are not those people.  I also knew from Zoo-Tunes experience, that even if you are lucky enough to make it to the front, the center, or an otherwise primo location–pushy people who come late will squeeze you out.  And you can’t belly-ache about it without looking like a super-douche.

Even though doors opened at 6PM, we strolled up to the line at 5:45PM.  Something old, pre-planning, overly-anxious me would never have done!

red butte gardens 4But as I expected, all the pushy people made it to the best lawn places.  I saw people coming in half hour after the opener started, when nearly everyone had their sport secured–making their way to the front center and squeezing in.  That’s just how it goes.  People will be late and pushy–there’s no fighting that.  And we got a good enough seat with a side view of the stage near the far right.  And it was fine.  And people weren’t severely crowding us.  And we were lucky not to be next to any really inconsiderate drunks.

We had our picnic, sitting on a Lion King blanket while enduring the opener.  Then, set-up for Brandi seemed to take forever, and I suspect they were intentionally waiting for dark to optimize their light show.  It seemed a long wait for the band to get up there.

But they opened with my favorite song from the new album, “Firewatcher’s Daughter.”

Brandi- Red Butte Gardens Aug 2015Brandi was sensitive to the crowd, as always, and really gave the feeling that she personally loved the venue and cared about each individual as fans.  She did the obligatory city-pandering saying she loves Salt Lake City, which I always find disingenuous (from ANY artist) but know is how you play the game.  Best of all, she was not tired or fatigued from the big show she WAS excited for-Red Rocks-just the night before.

I was happy they dug out some older tunes and didn’t just stick to the new album.  “The Story” is always amazing live and those Bear Creek selections are my personal favorites.

There were many references to “testify” “pray” “faith” and churcyy-themed stuff.  I’m not a big fan of that, and10857914_10153344619528936_124799587122048377_n I’m glad I’m not FROM Salt Lake City, because I guess that stuff comes with the territory here.  Literally.  You can’t escape the Mormon history or current LDS influence.

I had heard the live version of “Turpentine” on the symphony album, and she played it for us.  I have to say any talking on live albums is interesting for the first listen.  Maybe it’s funny for the first 3 listens through the CD.  After that it gets tedious and repetitive–you’ve heard that story before.  And even though I knew about the audience signing harmony–and was tired of hearing the set-up for it on the CD–in person it is spectacular.  You really feel a part of the band and the whole audience has this connected, magical feeling.  It was really cool to be a part of.  I’m glad she’s still trotting that out.

The night was nearly perfect.  Sure, the set-list had been done before.  Talk about gay marriage, talk about the darkness in the love song, all that hadn’t been the first run-through.  But though it was not fresh and innovative material, it still felt like the band’s truth.  And even rehearsed, that’s special to see played out.

I wish Brandi would play something more upbeat at the end and in the encore, but all 6(?) of her shows I attended would wind down.  I think it would be better if instead of starting on a high note and working her way downward to quiet songs, she did more like DMB and played one slow, and one fast encore song.  Because by the encore, I’m all jazzed up and wanting to end on an energetic one, not 3 slow sappy ones.

faces

But aside from those teeny observations, just the feeling of the night was as close to perfect as you could get.  It’s this intangible thing, separate from the seating, the setlist, or the talking.  I would go to a Brandi concert any time!

 

 

Brandi Carlile at Red Butte Garden [part 1]

17 Aug

I’ve seen her at the Knitting Factory in Spokane twice, and both times she was on the verge of outgrowing the venue. Overcrowding lessons my good time, but they did amazing at both shows. Also, the first year she started late and I had to leave early (I still loathe Forster-Friday for forcing that regretful choice on me) and the 2nd year the venue had to hand-write tickets, and drunk Spokomptonites nearly ruined the show with their debauchery.

I also saw Brandi and the twins play with the symphony at Benaroya (spelling?  IDK) Hall in Seattle. symphony dress Unfortunately, not the year I lived in Seattle.  I under much duress, I had to take vacation time from work, and drive the 6 hours over the pass one Thanksgiving break.  The show wasn’t until the end of the visit (Cool’s family) so we were tired, and I was very worried about missing an exam and work in the morning.  It had snowed uncharacteristically hard, and I didn’t want to get caught on the wrong side of the pass.  So by the time the show came around I was already tired, then worried.

Brandi with our sign 2

 

 

 

 

For my 4th and 5th Brandi shows, it was her opening for DMB at the Gorge.  So it was a great time, but not HER shows.  She played a bunch of covers, and it was windy as HEEEELLLL.  And apparently, all the greatest tricks were left for Saturday, when we had Friday and Sunday tickets.  And Cool was kinda of a pill that weekend.

But last night, in Salt Lake City, the band outdid themselves.  I was worried because our show was the day after Red Rocks, which Brandi was all jazzed up about (of course).  I thought our show–if it went on at all–would be like DMB post-Gorge.  Still good.  Still a concert.  But much less enthusiasm/energy after the peak of the tour.

Plus, Cool got her tickets from a 4th party, because the venue is very hard-core on scalping and makes ticket limits, and ID’s the ticket-holder to make sure the name matches the ticket purchaser name.  And we couldn’t hold the tickets until “an hour before the show.”  Naturally I figured we were getting scammed.  I knew we would never hold the tickets, and even if they were legit, we would not be let in.

I did not allow myself to get my hopes up, because I just knew our concert wouldn’t pan out.

But the day of the show, the tickets were e-mailed.  I was only slightly relieved.  We couldn’t print them.  Cool had to make an emergency run for ink.  Then, it wouldn’t print without BOTH color and black ink.  And still, our tickets probably weren’t legit–and we weren’t on the list as the original purchaser.

After 1.5 hours, Cool printed two tickets.

So I packed our bags and got dressed, and we went to the venue.  Next–the actual concert

Review of Firewatchers Daughter

4 Mar

pin drop chi-townHere is my review of the newest album from one of my favorite artists.  My expectations are high because Brandi Carlile is super-talented, and because her last album, Bear Creek is one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) of all time.  This time around I didn’t really take advantage of singles availability or track previews.  I wanted a sense of the album as a whole.  “That Wasn’t Me” is one of my favorite songs, but I didn’t think it really went with the vibe of it’s album, so my expectations were all weird going in.  This time–I’m starting with a clean slate.  I went song-by-song, writing a blurb about my very first listen, then adding on after an entire day on repeat–once I got a feel for things a little more.  So here we go, first impressions followed by today’s feelings:

The first song, “Wherever is Your Heart” started out very folksy-Americana with Brandi’s solo Brandi Carlile 6vocals. It becomes a little more rock at the chorus.  And halfway through, a sense of pleading and desperation when Brandi’s voice becomes somewhat gravely.  After a day of listening to the album, I listened again.  I was inspired to belt this one out right along with the band.  It’s exciting and lyrically intricate.  In the top three strongest songs of the album.

The Eye conjures an earlier time of Fleetwood Mac or Crosby, Nash, and Stills, what with the acoustic instrumentation and harmonized singing.  I heared this song at the Gorge Brandi-Pin Drop Tour-NYwhen they opened for DMB, so the generational throwback sound was no surprise to me.  Cool brings up a good point–do hurricanes have an eye?  I know for sure tornadoes do, but I’m unfamiliar with the structure of a hurricane.  The structure of this song is beautiful as well.  It was both haunting and exhilarating live, but I thought the song went on too long at the Gorge–because the words get repetitive.  But the amazingness of a sparse song and the harmony isn’t fully captured on the record either.  It’s best live, but a little shorter or with some different words (less chorus) to keep it interesting.  Anyway, I’m not as enamored with this one as the rest of the world I guess–it’s not my favorite on the album, let alone catalogue, but it’s pleasant.

Brandi at the Gorge

The Things I Regret.  I could tell right away I was going to like this song.  Brandi sings with a pining, and I could feel the mood they were trying to convey.  And I like a “wooo wooo” segway, going into a strong drum beat to keep things climbing in intensity.  The 2nd day, I was still impressed with the vibe and yearning on this song.  I think the strongest thing about this is Tim and Phil coming in vocally on the lyrics.  And I still think the stronger beat and staccato phrases are spot-on and make the song more emotive.  Today, I thought the end is too sudden with the cut-off, “like a holy rolling stone.”  Very abrupt.

I immediately liked the punk-ish rock vibe of “Mainstream Kid” with the strong vocals by Brandi Brandi in Virginiachanneling Janis Joplin and the electric guitar.  This song transcends neat categorization of this album.  Maybe the rest is rock/Americana, with some more familiar staples for the fans, but this song puts this record in it’s own place.  The hand clap section may be starting to get a little trite, but that’s going to make for some awesome audience participation at a live show.  On the 2nd day, I really liked the genre jump of “Mainstream Kid” (through abrupt) because it provided some harder rocking that I needed after all the soft, slow stuff.  But I think the style in which Brandi sings the main stanzas is a little cheesy/phony, just because her voice is a higher register or something that sounds a little unnatural and forced.  I think she strays from herself a little too much and that makes the sound a tiny bit superficial.  Add in the claps, and this song goes downhill.  Yet, this is one of the best songs on the album, because it ROCKS.  What I love is the syncopated chorus and hard-core instrumentation.  I also love the intensity, especially toward the end when Brandi stretches out the word “mainstream” into a growl and sounds like Carrie Underwood ready to kick some serious a$$.  Brandi, just don’t sing this one live too much, because it sounds like you will hurt your vocal cords with this rougher style.

Brandi and baby“Beginning to Feel the Years” takes the album back down to a softer level.  Which may be a poor transition.  The singing begins sweetly.  This song is probably the closest to the band’s earlier efforts.  Harmony accompaniment sneaking in every so often, and light guitar strumming.  The 2nd day I liked the definite genre break with this song.  It’s very sentimental and lovely and features just enough of the twins to make it similar to their older, popular songs.  I’m glad they gave their long-term fans something recognizable.  The end is also abrupt–they stop playing.  I think they need to work on better conclusions.

“Wilder (We’re Chained)” seems like another story song.  It starts out with just Brandi, but broadens to a harmonized word.  It is also very Fleetwood Mac.  I liked the instrumentals briefly pin drop tour-brandiplayed.  The 2nd day I noticed Brandi is singing with a twang that I hadn’t previously heard.  I also thought this song sounded like “The Eye” but not as strong.  It is one of the weaker songs on the album.  The thing that redeems it at all is the cello peppered in (but not frequently enough).  I hope they do something more with this song in live performances, because it’s lack-luster here.

“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone” sounds a little like Amy Ray’s punk-inspired sound.  Brandi’s voice and the claps make it a little superficial.  I like the stronger drum beats further into the song and Brandi at Disneythe twin’s “uh oh ohs” are pleasing yet simultaneously cheesy.  The shouted chorus began to grow on me halfway through the song.  2nd day:  I can see what the band was going for in this song–but they didn’t quite accomplish it.  And that’s why I like this album as a whole, less then their previous efforts.  I know what the overall feeling of this album is:  A bobby-socked 1950’s band trying desperately to be hard-core.  A lot of the songs have intensity and feeling, but they have an underlying cheesiness about them (the clap-clap and “uh oh oh ohhhs”) that is off-putting to me and accomplishes the opposite of their goal.  I want to take the songs seriously, but they are a little soda fountain-poser for my taste.

“I Belong to You” has a nice melody, and I liked Brandi’s vocal stylings.  I could tell instantly I would like this song.  It’s a nice, romantic song.  It has a country end refrain that breaks away Brandi Carlile marriedfrom the style of the song and makes it more interesting.  2nd day I found this one to be lyrically complex and I really appreciate that.  This one is a good love song and made me think and feel sentimental.  I think it’s successful even though it deviates from the sense of the album, because it speaks to the band’s former material.  They are good at vocally-strong, stirring songs that don’t have the trappings (and cliche) of studio magic.  It’s all about the writing and Brandi’s voice, throw in some harmony to close it out.  I think this album would have been more successful if they had stayed truer to what they do best.

“Alibi” is cheeky right off.  I like the shouted-harmonized chorus and strong beat.  This is a brandi tomtoesstandout on the album.  The instrument break with drum stick sounds was exciting too.  2nd day, this one is my favorite (maybe 2nd favorite) of the album.  It’s rocking, still features Brandi’s voice loud and clear, but sticks to the tone of the rest of the album.  The harder sound is a relief from the other songs and makes me cue in to the music.  I like everything but the “ahh ahhs” and “woo oohs” parts that goes back to that sock-hop feel again.  The twins are amazing at adding vocal stylings–I’m not sure why they’re only added in cheeseball “oh ohhs” on this album.

“The Stranger At My Door” says the album’s title right away.  Which makes me happy, because I was going to look up what a firewatcher was, exactly.  This song sounds like a Johnny Cash brandi vest and bolo(talking rather than singing) song.  It’s more folksy rockabilly story, then belting out a range of notes.  Brandi’s “woo woo’s” are both haunting and old-country.  The piano with marching and electric guitar “We All Go Marching” segway was a spectacular end that was both unexpected and made sense.  Best song ending yet!  2nd day:  I think this was in the top three strongest songs on the record (it’s quickly becoming my favorite), just because it has a cowboy poetry vibe, and some clip-clop fancy sounds, but the twins “woo oohhs” actually sound right in this context.  I feel like she’s telling a story during a desert horseback ride in the tradition of the old west.  The deviation into the march and the ending in a familiar tune was maybe the best song ending of all time, most definitely in Brandi Carlile’s catalogue.

“Heros and Songs” begins quietly.  It features a slight background and Brandi’s lyrics.  I kept Brandi and Eltonhoping it would get a little more jazzed up, and waiting for something else.  It’s maybe the most boring song on the album-perhaps it will grow on me.  Sometimes the first listen isn’t indicative of what I’ll like long-term.  2nd day listen:  Brandi is a good singer, and I like that.  The lyrics are meaningful and varied, I like that.  Not much else is going on here though.  I feel like they were finished with the album, and their label was like–we need one more song to fill it out.  So the band hurried and wrote something on a napkin then hastily recorded it.  It’s sort of a throw away, and will be forgotten quickly.

“Murder in the City” is an Avett Brothers cover.  And this is one of my favorites from them.  Brandi and the twins do a good job of it.  Brandi does the talk-singing well, and the twins are always exceptional with contributing harmonies.  The instrumentation is a little richer in this version, which I like, with the cello lending a deep, rich sound to this track.  My least favorite part of the song was the last 3 strums.  It was a lackluster finish that made me want to find the original song to see how it ended.  It also wasn’t a very strong song to finish the album on.  on the 2nd day listen I still thought this was an impeccable cover and good choice for the album.  The band did an awesome job conveying the same sound and emotion that the Avett Brothers had.  The only troubling thing is another abrupt ending, and possibly the placement on the track order.  I would have closed with “The Stranger at my Door,” because 1) it mentions the album title, tying the concept together and 2) that stand-out ending would be a big, big close for an album.

English Cowboy

While I’m on that point (of rearranging songs) I would have reordered this entire album.  “The Eye” was not in a place that capitalized on it’s wonderfulness.  There were times when the relief of a strong song would have improved things, and alternately, times when the quiet song was such a big drop in momentum it made me lose the mood.  In another post I’ll tell you the order I would do.

Brandi tim and philAfter the first listen I was disappointed.  Let me clarify, Bear Creek was so outstanding and became an instant favorite that really anything that followed would be a let-down.  But I think The Firewatcher’s Daughter is a solid 3rd place behind Beak Creek and The Story in the Brandi Carlile catalogue.  There are two types of albums:  The ones that are immediately awesome and the growers.  This one is the latter, featuring some songs with potential that I will listen to more.

I feel like the band tried to deviate from their normal genre in this album.  And that’s fine, but I feel a commitment to one type of sound would have been better.  As it is, The Firewatcher’s Daughter is not a cohesive work, but a collection of random songs.  Kudos for stepping outside of the box and trying something new, but the result feels a little contrived and scattered missing the mark.  Stick to what you’re the best at:  Lyrically-driven, songs featuring Brandi’s amazing voice and Phil and Tim’s harmonic additions.  And if you want to try something new–cool–but stick to that thing throughout.

At any rate, still love Brandi Carlile, still would kill to attend a concert–or even better several festivals, and I plan to listen til I love it.