Friday Five

Five Albums for 2012– Same thing as last year, some of these were released or popular before 2012, but they didn’t hit my ears on this side of the world until this past year. Here are the tunes that have been my savior in 2012.

Volume 1 & 2She & Him
Starting off with two albums. After watching 500 Days of Summer, I should have realized that Zooey Deschanel was going to have a record. Or did by then. I don’t know. What I do know is her haunting voice is perfect for tuning out blaring music on a bus or floating my subconscious away from rice fields and just float away on a cloud. Or something else a manic pixie dream girl might conjure up for you.
Favorite Tracks: Take It Back and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me

Boys & GirlsAlabama Shakes
I wasn’t the biggest fan at first. And then I stumbled back upon them after having the album for a while. Then I couldn’t turn it off repeat. To describe the singer’s, Brittany Howard, voice in a word: powerful. I feel like I should be in a bar in a broken down drunken depression and slow dancing with some fool to ease my sorrows. In a good way. The perfect background music to a self-pitying homesick PCV after a long day ‘in the trenches.’
Favorite Tracks: I Found You and Heartbreaker

I love the simplicity of this album cover. From:

I love the simplicity of this album cover. From:

Some Nightsfun.
The name of the band is a pretty good description of how I feel about this album. Upon listening to this group, I can’t help but get in a better mood and feel my spirit lifted. For a bit this was my go-to morning bike music so I would be peppy and smiley for school. Or just dance around in my house to ‘We are Young’ and remember how grand this thing called life is.
Favorite Tracks: Some Nights, We are Young, and One Foot

RedTaylor Swift
‘But Erin, this album was only released in mid-October. How could this possibly be one of your albums of the 2012?’ you might be thinking. Well friends, that’s because Taylor Swift is really freaking awesome. I’m just going to come out and say it, I think I have a girlcrush. I made sure to get this album before I started traveling with my Mom and I’m so, so, so glad I did. It has been my first choice background music since I acquired it and my friend on all my long bus rides around Thailand. I might even venture to say I’ve listened to at least one song from Red every day since October. I’m not joking.Taylor’s sound is really different this time around compared to her last and very decent/listenable albums. But homegirl has taken it up a notch. She’s growing up and captures those feelings unlike any other current artist, especially for her female fans. I’m so grateful I’m getting to grow up with her. Do your thing girl.
Favorite Tracks: How do I choose? 22, Stay Stay Stay, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and State of Grace

Did I mention how she's become such a style icon for me too? I would kill to take a gander in her closet. Photo from:

Did I mention how she’s become such a style icon for me too? I would kill to take a gander in her closet. Photo from:

Where do I even begin? I first heard of Adele when I was living in London and she was winning British awards for her debut album, 19. I got it, but wasn’t too impressed with the whole and put her on my back shelf of music interests and people to look out for. Then I listened to a podcast that mentioned her ‘Someone Like You’ as the best sad song the person had ever sung along with. I was intrigued. Hook. Line. Sinker. I love this album with the power of a freshly made convert. And my ears love to worship the sultry sounds of Adele. 21 is easily my most listened to album of 2012 and possibly in my entire music library. I’ve lost count how many times goose bumps have been raised in an emotional moment when listening. This is the only album that could break me out of my Taylor Swift binge session the past few months. And it’s still not gotten old for me. I don’t think it ever will.
Favorite Tracks: Someone Like You, Don’t You Remember, One and Only, and Rolling in the Deep

Another simple yet stunning album cover. Girl. Love you. Photo From:

Another simple yet stunning album cover. Girl. Love you. Photo From:

Also, this video:

Tuesday Travel Photo

I realize I’ve been a little MIA, an explanation will be forthcoming, ish. Until then, enjoy this Tuesday Travel Photo, Austrian style.

Kind of makes you want to spontaneously burst out in ‘Edelweiss’ doesn’t it?
Image from:

Scout Camp

In fifth grade, my elementary school took kids on a one week trip to Camp Allegheny where we went hiking, learned about different plants, and sketched birds. Every kid looked forward to it from when your older siblings went to the fateful month in October. I’m a little jealous that fourth grade on, Thai kids get to do ‘scout camp’ every year. Days of preparation were put in by students and teachers alike for one full day of action, a night spent at school, and I’m not really sure what they were doing the second day. I was going to try to get out of it to do a much-needed recharge of my batteries, but I’m glad I talked myself into it (though next year might be another story). Tree climbing, a small rope course, English ‘telephone,’ and of course, lots and lots of dancing.

What do you think of the new intro?

Tuesday Travel Photo

I know, I know, Barcelona has already had the honor of being a Tuesday Travel Photo, BUT given that I think it’s the most romantic city I’ve visited and Valentine’s Day happens to fall on a Tuesday this year…. phew take a breath, that was one long sentence. Barcelona has many of the qualities of my ideal city: near the water, beautiful streets to get lost, fantastic shopping, awesome architecture, clearly some music playing in the middle of a square, need I go on? As an added bonus, this is where I met RF.

One of my own.

Oh yeah, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday Five

Top Albums of 2011

Cee Lo Green– The Lady Killer
Holy Buddha this man can sing and I can just feel his heartbreak in the songs. He knows how to do I hate you songs, I miss you songs, and I’m going to get you back songs. It took me a little longer to really appreciate this album, so don’t give up on it after a listen or two. It just gets better the more you listen and discover little quirks of lyrics and vocals. Cee Lo makes me want to be ‘Old fashioned,’ know that ‘It’s ok’ and I’m definitely a ‘Fool for you.’
Favorite TrackNo One’s Gonna Love You 

No, that's not Kanye

Ray LaMontagne– Gossip in the Grain
One of the best things about making new friends is picking their music loving brain. Jeff introduced me to Ray and I am forever grateful. It’s hard to believe a voice so sweet could come out of such a bearded man. But it does, and so are the words. The man has such a way with them that I had to download all his available albums, but this one is my favorite. The entire thing is extremely listenable for any mood, though I lean towards ‘I still care for you,’ ‘Meg White,’ and ‘Let it be me.’
Favorite TrackYou are the Best Thing 

Despite the facial hair, I still think he's pretty

Tom Petty– Wildflowers
I realize that this album isn’t exactly new to the world, but it was to me as of this year. Another Jeff Jackson introduction, this is the nickname he has dubbed me with and there’s no Tom Petty album I can listen to without thinking of Jeff. I like listening to Tom when I’m feeling guitar-y and a little hippie.
Favorite TrackWildflowers

Hours have passed imaging myself in a sundress walking through a field of wildflowers

Nicki Minaj– Pink Friday
I love Nicki Minaj for being a strong female role model. She thrives in the overwhelmingly male dominated rap/hip-hop community often with some of the best lines of a collaboration. Say what you want about the Lil’ Kim beef she has had going, Minaj is tearing up the trails that Kim and others before her first blazed. When I need a confidence booster, I’ll try ‘I’m the best,’ ‘Fly’ featuring Rihanna, or ‘Last Chance’ featuring Natasha Bedingfield or ‘Right through me’ for a smile about the manfriend. The best thing about Pink Friday? Knowing there’s going to be another album following.
Favorite TrackSuperbass doesn’t have 233 listens on my Itunes in six months without reason.

I'm surprised she doesn't have something showing off her very famous derrière

Lady Gaga- Born This Way
There’s a reason Lady Gaga is my favorite artist. She just keeps getting better. There’s something about the universe that had the Mother Monster release an album titled ‘Born This Way’ when I’m in a country that constantly questions my looks, my attitudes, and sometimes my very existence here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve plugged in the earbuds to release some kind pressure of living as a Peace Corps Volunteer with ‘Born this way,’ ‘You and I,’ ‘Bad kids,’ ‘Edge of glory,’ or ‘Americano’. I can’t say enough about her Ladyship, just do yourself a favor and listen to this album.
Favorite TrackHair

I haven't always 'gotten' her album art, but the music speaks volumes

Honorable Mentions: Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers, Sky Blue Sky by Wilco, and Sweeter from Gavin Degraw

Welcome to the Christmas Blog

This is me getting ready for the holidays. No decorations in the village (I had a hard time explaining the light decorations that typically populate American cities and the Festival of Lights we have every year in my hometown), so here’s some red and green to get into the spirit. Also, something I wrote down after listening to Christmas Music while on the way to Korat this past weekend.

The Ironies of Listening To Christmas Music in Thailand
Listening to:
-White Christmas when driving through the rice fields
-Silent Night when Thai music and comedy shows are blasting so loud the bus is shaking and I can barely hear my music at full volume plugged into my ears
-Let it Snow. In Thailand. That’s all.
-Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer when all I see is little brown faces peeking above their seats in front of me to catch a glimpse of me
-Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree when the only kind of trees in your area are palm and the like
-All I Want for Christmas is You and every person I could possibly sing that to is at least 100km away and on average a few thousand km away
-I’ll Be Home for Christmas and getting so homesick it’s hard to breathe

The first few made me chuckle and grin wryly, the last two made me choke up a bit. I still think I am where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing. That might be the best Christmas present yet.