Let’s Get Vulnerable

A couple months ago I started an Instagram account to post my poetry on. My words are something I hold incredibly close to my chest, and I spent days and weeks and months afraid of ever sharing anything. My mind raced with thoughts of not being good enough, of nobody liking it, of the world not needing it. I didn’t want to take up space that doesn’t belong to me and I didn’t want to let go of something so personal and revealing and telling. But I felt like I had to do it, so I did it anyway. I still feel scared every single time I upload a new piece, but posting also feels like freedom, and I’m going to run with that feeling for as long as I can.

Sharing my poetry is a daily act of vulnerability, which is something I’ve been working on. The world makes us hard in places we should be soft, and I gave into that for a long time. I put walls up and kept my mouth shut and wore armour around like it didn’t add an extra hundred pounds of weight to my back. Despite all those bricks, everything ended up crumbling, and I gave up neutrality and blank faces and unshared emotion. I learned that being vulnerable means being brave and being vulnerable equates to strength and being vulnerable opens my heart up to the world in ways I still can’t quite fathom. Vulnerability feels good.

Art is inherently vulnerable. It has to be. Artists reach deep into their souls and pull out their lives and put their secrets on display for the whole world. Artists tell stories of pain and sometimes of triumph, of mistakes and sometimes of success. Artists peel back layers of themselves and reveal their flesh and bones without anything to protect them. And if we want to have any hope of turning our lives into art, we have to learn how to be vulnerable too.

Vulnerability shows up in painting and literature and film. Sometimes I find it in all of those things, but mostly I find it in music. I find it in the strained voice of a lead singer, in the way faces contort during performances, in the way words hang in the air and take shape and tell an unspoken story. It’s a beautiful thing to listen to your favourite bands and hear them sing about things that you understand, that you’ve gone through, that you know deeply. Musicians lay themselves out to the world for the sake of connection, for the sake of being honest, for the sake of letting go and finding a bit of the freedom that they once lost. And that’s really powerful.

So many of my favourite songs are vulnerable. Maybe that’s not on purpose, but I like that it shows up anyway. MUNA’s breathtaking debut album, About U, is the first thing that made me stop and think about it. Every track is raw and honest and open in a way that I hadn’t really heard before. They sing about what’s important and real and they make me feel less alone.

Out of all of MUNA’s tracks, I chose “I Know A Place” for this playlist, mostly because I bawled my eyes out the first time I heard it before proceeded to send a link to everyone I love. Months later, I saw them perform it live, and I cried again. Standing near the back of Massey Hall, Abby and I singing at the top of our lungs, flailing our arms around and feeling every word. The track fits into my heart like it doesn’t belong anywhere else. It reminds me to keep showing up. It reminds me that my past is not my present or my future. It reminds me that there are people in my life who love me better than I’ve ever been loved and that I don’t have to be afraid that they’ll leave, because they won’t. The track is a gift, and I carry it around proudly.

After MUNA, it became easier to notice how sincere music is as an art form.  The tracks on this playlist are some of my favourite examples of an artist putting trust in their audience, knowing their fans will keep their secrets safe under their skin. There’s Lorde’s “Writer in the Dark,” which sends chills up my spine with each listen. Melodrama is steeped in vulnerability, but this song has always stood out – the vocals that make my heart ache, the lyrics that express anger and sadness and everything in between all at once. From Patti Smith I added “Pissing in a River” because of the way it expresses putting everything you have into a relationship and never getting the same thing back. Patti is always honest, sometimes almost alarmingly so, but I love the power and heartache here. It begs and pleads and maybe it comes up empty, but at least she got her feelings out there.

It was difficult to narrow it down when it came to Florence + the Machine, but “Too Much is Never Enough” starts quietly and builds in strength and it comes across like an audible representation of how it feels to be vulnerable. It’s difficult at first, words nothing but whispers, but you do it often enough and eventually you feel as if you have the power to scream your innermost thoughts from New York City rooftops. After Florence is “Terrible Love” by The National, a song that makes my heart clench each time I play it. The entire thing is tender, but I especially adore the pleading repetition of “it takes an ocean not to break.” If I could choose to be swallowed up by those words, I probably would.

One of my favourite tracks of all time is “All The Sad Young Men” by Spector. It has been the soundtrack to a lot of my most candid moments – friendships falling apart and friendships beginning, driving down Bathurst at night in the rain feeling every word soak into my soul. It exposes truths and it speaks to things that a lot of us are hiding and it feels like real life. Following that, Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” is there mostly because I remember hearing it for the first time and being captivated by the integrity of the lyrics. It’s the kind of song that puts weight in your heart, and I really like that.

It wouldn’t really be one of my playlists if I didn’t include The Vaccines, and I love how frank they are in their tracks. I spent a lot of high school scrawling the lyrics to “A Lack of Understanding” into the margins of my politics notebook, repeating “is this everything you always hoped that it would be?” over and over again in my mind. Sometimes being vulnerable just means having the courage to ask that question. The penultimate track is HAIM’s “Night So Long.” It’s lonely and it hurts and the emotions are palpable, and that’s why I love it so much.

I had to end the playlist with Harry Styles. “From the Dining Table” is a song that I stop what I’m doing to absorb, a track so simple and stripped back that nothing can be hidden. I’m struggling to say more than just “this song makes me feel things,” but it does. It feels like everything all at once – the happiness that once consumed a relationship, the pain of the unravelling, the loneliness of loss. I like that Harry’s solo career means we get to hear more of him. More emotion, more experience, more life. More vulnerability.

Being vulnerable is difficult. It always will be. As hard as it is, though, it’s equally important. Nothing feels quite as rewarding as pulling the skin away from your chest and pushing your lungs aside and revealing your heart to the people who matter. It breaks down walls and brings us closer and builds up our power, and I think it’s something we should all tap into more often. Here’s to vulnerability and it being one of the best weapons we have.

 

Advertisements

The One Where I Remembered Why I Love Music So Much in the First Place

Somewhere over the past year or so, I’ve gotten pretty bad at running a music blog, or at least trying to run a music blog. I didn’t just suddenly stop loving music, but I had a bit of a crisis and realized that I wasn’t sure whether or not I could fathom the idea of dedicating my life to it. That led to a weird phase of not listening to my favourite bands and not putting any effort into discovering new music and feeling all kinds of stuck, and it’s something I’ve only just figured out how to get out of.

Losing your grip on something you love is a weird feeling. Music has occupied so much space in my life for so long, and then things shifted a bit and I wasn’t sure how to move music aside to make room for other things I love. I didn’t know how to not be the girl who runs a music blog and won’t stop talking about bands, even though I didn’t really feel like that girl anymore. I wanted to be the girl who won’t stop talking about bands, but who also won’t stop talking about art and poetry and people who inspire me.

After a while away from the intensity of loving something with my whole heart, I feel like I’ve found my footing again. I’ve bought tickets to a dozen shows and seen bands I love and bands I just kind of like, and I found something good in every one of them. I’ve gone to a lot of art galleries and I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve written a lot of poetry. I’m learning not to push myself into a box and close myself off from all the things that make me feel alive just because I can’t figure out what the world wants me to be. And that’s the thing – I don’t have to be what the world wants me to be. I get to be who I want to be.

I have to admit that I’m kind of scared about changing this blog and making it about more than just music. But my life is about more than just music. It’s about standing in the AGO staring at Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge, Fog and feeling like the entire world is confined to the millions of dots painted by Claude’s hand. It’s seeing a book on the top shelf in the music section in Indigo and buying it because of the faces on the front, not knowing that those faces belonged to Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and that they would change my life forever. It’s sitting in the grass on the south bank of the Thames writing everything that filled my heart in that moment. It will also always be about music, but I need to define myself by more than that.

After all that going on about getting out of the box of music, I’m going to write about music. Because over the past two months, some pretty insane music-related things have happened, and all of them reminded me why I fell in love with the way humans arrange sounds and words and emotion into art. So here they are.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Most importantly, I saw Patti Smith. Even just typing that sentence seems surreal, despite the fact that it’s been nearly two months since it happened. The entire thing is crazy, mostly because tickets were bought on a whim and Charlotte and I drove a sixteen-hour roundtrip to New York City just to be in Manhattan for twenty-two hours, but we saw Patti Freaking Smith. We stood in line in Central Park, Charlotte bought me fries from the concession stand while I laughed a little to myself at her tipsiness despite the fact that she was only a couple drinks in, I picked out a shirt and got my hands on a signed copy of Devotion. Patti walked on stage and I started crying right away, unable to wrap my head around the fact that the woman who had a hand in making me who I am today was standing twenty feet away from my person.

She started off reading “People Have the Power” as if it were a poem, and she went on to sing it twice more. She told us the story of Fred coming into the kitchen while she was peeling potatoes, turning to her and saying, “Tricia. People Have the Power. Write it.” She sang “Land” and she forgot the words to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and she danced to “Looking for You (I Was).” She looked at her kids as if the whole world existed inside the two of them, she yelled about Trump and war and tearing down walls and uniting instead.

She walked off the stage and took a piece of me with her, but I also felt like she left a piece of herself with me. Charlotte and I spent the next morning drinking bad 7/11 coffee because that’s what she drinks, eating pretty good 7/11 glazed donuts because that’s what she eats, and shuffling around Chelsea and Greenwich Village and the Bowery. We stood in CBGB, looking in awe at the walls smothered inches thick with gig flyers. We went to The Strand and I bought a Sam Shepard book. We drank a disgusting egg cream in Tompkins Square Park and visited Robert’s studio at 24 Bond Street and peered in the windows of what used to be the café that Patti sat in to write M Train. I wanted to die in the eight hours it took us to drive back to Toronto, but I felt changed and brand new and my heartbeat felt steadier and more powerful. Patti is everything.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

It’s hard to follow on from seeing Patti Smith in concert, but less than three weeks later, I was graced by the presence of none other than Harry Styles. I still haven’t fully processed it, mostly because I get a little pain in my heart at the absence of him and I can’t bear to think about it for longer than a few seconds. But it happened and it was glorious and he wore a jaquard-patterned suit that for some reason had tiny Donald Ducks all over it and his ringed fingers clasping a microphone are one of the best things I’ve seen in my entire life. He pranced around the stage like he owned the place – which honestly, he did – and he danced terribly and stood back often to stare at the crowd in awe, a massive smile plastered across his face that mirrored the ones on the faces staring back at him.

In my mind, Harry’s show is made up of dozens of singular moments. Harry standing in the middle of the stage, telling us all that in that room, we could be anyone we wanted to be. Harry mouthing the sincerest I love you’s to the crowd. Harry counting down the minutes we had left with each other, as if he was just as sad as we were that we’d eventually have to part ways. During the encore, while he belted out the bridge of “Sign of the Times,” I had to stop and stand still and look at him doing the thing he was made to do. I clutched my hands to my chest and watched his eyelids flutter closed and his passion for his craft course through his veins. His light is blinding, and while he glowed, I felt like I started glowing too. That light didn’t fade when he walked off the stage, and I still find flickers of it hidden under my skin. Harry is special and magnetic and he occupies a substantial space in my heart, and I feel so lucky that I was fortunate enough to see him live. I can’t wait to do it all over again a couple times next spring.

vaccines

Last, but certainly not least, is the band that has defined me for nearly six years and the ones who are responsible for reigniting my boldest, deepest love for music. The Vaccines have returned, and I could not be happier. On Friday morning, while I was sitting in a lecture hall of nearly two hundred students, the band posted a comeback video and announced a show at Alexandra Palace. I (somewhat) contained myself for the remainder of class but proceeded to pre-order the biggest possible merch bundle for an album that doesn’t yet have a name or a release date. In the days since, I’ve watched the promo video countless times, memorizing the lilt of their words and the snippet of a new song at the end and the posters plastering the bedroom walls of a teenage girl sitting on her bed embroidering a top. I see myself in that girl, past me and future me and present me all wrapped up in one, each facet completely enamored by a band who dug its way into the cavity of her chest and have yet to make their way out.

The Vaccines have a permanent position in my life. Their faces are printed on shirts I wear often, their records are on constant rotation on my turntable, and I stay up late at night watching old interviews and performances as if somehow I’ll notice something I haven’t noticed before. The Vaccines make me feel like me – all the lust of What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?, all the angst of Come of Age, and all the heartbreak and distrust of English Graffiti. They remind me that emotions are valid and that art can be sad and angry and ugly and it’ll still be art. I don’t know who I’d be without them.

The best part about The Vaccines’ comeback is that their show at Alexandra Palace is at the tail end of my month-long Easter break, one of the many benefits of spending a semester studying in England. In a fantastic series of events, I’ve managed to become lucky enough to see my favourite band in my favourite city at a venue that I’ve only ever dreamed of. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, aching for it, and often complaining about it. And it has worked out exactly as it was meant to. I’m a much different person than I was when I first discovered the band, but they still make me feel the same. I’m better and brighter and more alive, and so are they. In a little over five months, we’ll be occupying the same space. I’ll be singing my favourite songs at the top of my lungs, and they’ll be on stage in front of me, playing the chords I know so well. It all feels surreal and serendipitous, but I’m relishing in it, partly out of fear that the feeling will leave or end, and partly out of intense happiness. Words don’t really do it all justice. Patti happened and Harry happened and The Vaccs are back and so am I. And I won’t promise anything, but I think I’m back for real. If you send all the good writing vibes to me, I’ll send good vibes back to all of you. Let’s be the best we can be together.

Gig Review: Little Boxer at The Rivoli

I haven’t been to a concert in what feels like forever. I went to Field Trip at the beginning of June, but even that was nearly two months ago and the festival high is long gone. The constant cycle of recording and releasing and touring mean that a lot of my favourite bands end up playing shows at the same time, but that also means that there are long, long dry spells that seem to stretch on forever. Needless to say, I think I breathed an audible sigh of relief a few weeks ago when I stepped into the light-strung backroom of the Rivoli to see Little Boxer perform.

I adore this band. I have to admit that I’m not really a night owl and I don’t often make it out to a lot of local shows, but when the stars finally aligned and Little Boxer invited me to their set, I jumped at the chance to see them live again. They don’t feel or sound or look like a band that plays in tiny clubs – they’re a group that should be playing fairly hefty venues, a band that wouldn’t look out of place at The Opera House or The Phoenix. The four-piece walks onstage and fills the extra space with a brass section and a keyboard player and some kind of magic thrums in the air before they even begin to play. When the first song starts, things get electric, and there’s no turning back.

Little Boxer create a rare feeling that allows for both intense intimacy and sweeping expansiveness. There’s a sense of grandeur to their set, a practiced way they have of interacting with the crowd, a sense of camaraderie between them all that makes the audience feel like they’re being let in on their lives. That extends to the way the tracks come across, too, and every song feels like an inside joke or a vulnerable conversation at midnight or a secret that you only share with the people who are closest to you. It’s all raw and real, but it’s also the most fun you’ll have on a Saturday night in a bar in Toronto.

The group’s set list was pretty damn perfect, a selection of songs that blended the slow and steady tracks with the big ones that fill the entire room to the brim. It’s nearly impossible for me to choose a favourite – I love “Problems” and I love “Dementia,” but I would be happy listening to any of them on repeat forever. With names like “Downtown Girls,” “Hungry Poets,” and “Shot in the Dark,” there’s something there for everyone, and I guarantee you’d hear one that sounds like it was meant for you. To top it all off, they finished off the set with a cover of Springsteen’s “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and I sang and danced along like it was the last night I had on earth.

I don’t really think Little Boxer needs any more explanation, because their music is overflowing with personality and their shows are bursting at the seams with it. They play like they were born to do it, they put their heart and soul into everything I’ve seen or heard them do, and they’re the kind of band that you know is never going to back down. They’re a group that’s here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Gig Review: Local Natives at The Danforth Music Hall

There’s something refreshing about going to a concert on your own. The anonymity you feel being in the midst of a crowd of a thousand people who have no idea who you are. The fact that you can just let everything go because you’re not with anyone and you don’t care who’s watching. The ability you have to stand in the crowd and feel everything and not worry about anyone but you and the band on stage in front of you. It feels strange at first, and then you stop caring about the fact that you’re alone and the whole thing feels amazing instead. I’ve only done it a couple times, mostly because I often second-guess myself when it comes to doing big things alone. With Local Natives, though, I went anyway. I stood in that crowd and had one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Local Natives stepped out onstage and I think I melted right away. The opening chords of ‘Past Lives’ began streaming through the speakers, a smile appeared on every face in the crowd, and the band went straight into the performance. That track in particular is one that I adore, one that soars straight into your soul to light you up from the inside out, and it was the perfect way to start the night. I was captivated from the very first second, I let go of everything outside myself, and I tuned in and didn’t tune out until I was on the streetcar home.

The band went on to play ‘Wide Eyes’ before moving into ‘Villainy,’ another personal favourite from their most recent album, Sunlit Youth. From his place on stage, lead singer Taylor Rice asked the crowd if we wanted to dance, only to be met with a resounding “Yes.” A “yes” that meant something. They dove into the song, the crowd began to dance while simultaneously screaming the lyrics back to the band, and I felt everything melt away. There’s something about that song that ushers in a new beginning, a fresh start, a shedding of your old skin to make way for a better, thicker one. And I felt all of that. And then Taylor jumped into the crowd to continue the dance party, and I fought to feel the moment while capturing as many seconds as possible. Three songs in and we were already off to an unforgettable start. I couldn’t believe my luck.

The set was a spectacular mix of songs from all three of Local Natives’ albums. From Gorilla Manor came ‘Sun Hands,’ ‘Who Knows, Who Cares,’ ‘Wide Eyes,’ and ‘Airplanes.’ From Hummingbird came ‘You & I,’ ‘Breakers,’ ‘Colombia,’ and a few more. The majority of the set list was from Sunlit Youth, but nothing felt out of place in relation to the older records. The nostalgic feelings brought on by songs I listened to throughout high school were balanced perfectly by the tracks off of an album that ushered in a new beginning for me. The show felt like a renewal – like I had to see the band who helped me through a tough time standing right in front of me in order for a new chapter of my life to actually feel real. I doubt I’ll ever stop being in awe of what the right music is capable of doing.

On ‘Dark Days,’ the band brought out Charlotte Day Wilson, a Toronto fan-favourite. The collaboration was dreamy and expansive and over far too quickly. ‘Jellyfish’ was another amazing performance, and one made more personal by Taylor’s explanation of the track. ‘Masters’ was incredible. ‘Colombia’ was stripped back, emotions laid out for the crowd. ‘Fountain of Youth’ was the rally call that we all needed to hear, a small beacon of hope in a Trump-era world that feels like it could crumble in a second. Nearly twenty songs went by in what felt like a millisecond, and I would give anything to be back in that crowd once again.

Sometimes, when a concert is really good, you start feeling everything at a heightened level. The songs sound ten times better when the band is only a few feet in front of you, the crowd around you is unified under the same feelings and reasons for being, and your heart pounds just a tiny bit faster as you tune into the excitement of what’s occurring in that very moment. You get to forget about everything else because the most important thing to you is the band on stage and the people you’re surrounded by and the songs that you feel deeply connected to. I felt that as soon as Local Natives graced the stage last night. It was evident in the goosebumps on my arms, in the smile that didn’t leave my face for an hour and a half, in the way my heart pressed against the skin of my chest as though it was trying to escape, and in the way my soul was being stitched back together with every word muttered into a microphone. It’s not every day that you get to feel like that, and I’ve learned to really savour the times when you do.

There are lots of tiny moments from last night that I wish I could share with enough detail to do them justice. There was a moment during the encore when Taylor stood on the barrier, begging everyone to come closer, to be more unified, and we all did. During ‘Who Knows, Who Cares,’ the crowd sang so passionately that it sounded like a well-rehearsed choir, and the band stepped back for a moment or two, wide smiles plastered almost permanently onto their faces. Kelcey and Taylor argued about whether or not to tell the audience about the beautiful weather in their home base of Los Angeles, and Taylor made a joke about the crowd giving the band a warm welcome to an otherwise cold climate. Those are the things I’ll carry with me for a long, long time.

What I got last night was a thousand times better than anything I could have ever imagined. I danced. I sang so loudly that my voice disappeared for a little while. I smiled so big and for so long that my cheeks still hurt. Almost twenty-four hours later and I’m still riding a concert high, still feeling the immense joy that Local Natives brought to The Danforth last night. When I think about it, the only words that really come up are “thank you.” Over and over again. For the music, for the happiness I still feel, for the free feeling that lingers. For the crowd of people that weren’t afraid to dance their hearts out. And for the fact that I live in a city that allows me to see my favourite bands easily and often. Local Natives restored something in me last night in a way that only the right band can, and I wish I could thank them a thousand times over. Hopefully my words do that sentiment justice.

Bands You Need to Know Now: FLIIIS

Two-piece Manchester-based band FLIIIS (pronounced ‘flies’) is dead-set on staying genuine to their creativity and making art that they’re proud of – and that’s exactly what they seem to be doing. Their self-declared genre of ‘art-pop’ suits not only their sound but their image as well, and each crazy element comes together to create a unique, real form of music that’s often hard to come by in an age when the charts are full of songs that all sound the same. FLIIIS forgoes the ordinary, instead choosing musical romanticism and dreamy vocals and trance-inducing melodies, and it’s all kinds of wonderful.

The duo was a natural progression for best friends Daniel and Jazz, both of whom “have an uncontrollable urge to create,” says Daniel. That sense of artistry truly comes across in their work – it all sounds natural and organic, and that’s because it is. As Daniel puts it, “the band was never really started because it was always there, it just had to be manifested and let loose.” Isn’t that the best way to go about making music?

The band is inspired by just about everything, and they speak passionately about all that influences them. Daniel says they “love everything that breaks a boundary, be it the writings of Harold Pinter, the shots of Miles Aldridge, the beautiful monotony of Philip Glass’ scores.” Those seemingly-unrelated inspirations have left a clear mark on the duo’s work, each track reflecting something different or experimenting with a new feeling. There’s emotion and brilliance behind the music, and that makes all the difference.

FLIIIS has built up a solid collection of songs over their time as a band, and one listen to their Soundcloud account shows you just how strong they are as a duo. Each track is remarkably put together, crafted to perfection, and released into the wild only once it’s the best it can be. The songs differ from one to the next, but they all stay true to the duo’s overall creative ideas. ‘Feel It’ is a definite standout, a song that’s energetic and sparkly, the kind of thing you can’t help but dance around to. Their newest track ‘Conversations’ is also incredible, a wonderful proclamation of lust and adoration. Everything blends smoothly together, each track linked by an inexplicable thread of similarity, and that thread creates something absolutely magical.

With things working out so well for them, Daniel and Jazz show no signs of stopping. They’re “happy if [they] can genuinely create art that inspires thought or evokes a connection with people whilst staying true to [themselves].” At this point I’m so engrossed in their work that I can’t really bear the thought of being without it, and I’m sure once you give them a listen, you’ll feel the same. FLIIIS makes music that sounds fresh and current, and they’re a duo that I want to see on the music scene for a long, long time.

Monthly Music Favourites – August 2016

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

I listen to an awful lot of music. I work at a record store that plays albums for nine hours a day, I spend a ton of my free time digging through Spotify, and of course I have my own favourite vinyl that I drop a needle onto when I need the comforting warmth that only comes from records. I read once that in order to be an artist, you have to consume as much art as you possibly can, and that has stuck with me ever since. The queue of things I take in – especially music – is essentially endless, but that’s how I like it.

Because my intake of songs and albums and the like is so constant, I’m left with a lot to mull over. I write about as much as I can, but there are often things left that don’t necessarily fit into a category or have a good place on this blog, so I’ve somehow ended up here, writing a post about all the music and music-related things that I’ve been loving this month. In the end, I want Babbleogue to be an amalgamation of most of the music that I’ve ever adored, so why not document my monthly fixations.

1. Gabriel Bruce

I fell in love with Gabriel Bruce on a plane home from London at the end of May. I had saved his debut effort, Love in Arms, onto my Spotify, and it was the first thing I decided to listen to as we soared through the sky and away from the city I had fallen head over heels for. Love in Arms is something incredible. Bruce’s music is intimate and consuming, it draws you in as if it’s a deep and dark vortex of intensity. The entire album is hills and valleys of exuberant triumphs and profound lows. It’s honest and real, and his words tell vivid tales and weave beautiful imagery into your mind – images of heartbreak and love and the messy stuff in between. Listening to Gabriel Bruce is almost an out of body experience, his songs hit you straight in the chest and cause shifts in your mind that feel as big as the movement of the tectonic plates. Love in Arms, as well as his newly released sophomore record Come All Sufferers are two albums that came to me at the perfect time, almost as if I had manifested them out of need. And I’m so infatuated with them and with the man who created them that if I could climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu and yell and scream about the beauty of these records to the whole world, I would. I adore these songs, and if you listen to anything today, it should be Gabriel Bruce.

2. Anderson .Paak

I’ve never really listened to hip hop. In my mind it all kind of gets lumped together into a mess of misogynistic, vulgar lyrics layered over samples and beats, but over the past year or so I’ve come to realize that that’s not always the case and that there is actually hip hop music that I really enjoy. Anderson .Paak is included in that category, and he’s occupied a lot of my music-listening time over the past month. He’s a musician who has crafted a beautiful space for himself, one that he uses to stand tall and tell incredible stories and testimonies. His songs aren’t all explicitly hip-hop toned – in fact, they’re often soft and smooth, the kind of track that invites you to settle into it, to close your eyes and let it seep into your skin. I love how honest and real and idealistic his lyrics are, how easily he colours his world and paints a picture of a specific moment for his audience to step into. I’m quite enamored by his art form and by the musician himself, and I’m happy that he’s helped me open myself up to music that I never thought I’d enjoy.

3. Roadies

 I just started watching Roadies last week and I’m halfway through the series. I’m interested by anything to do with the music industry and anything created by Cameron Crowe, so this show seemed right up my alley – and it totally is. The show is pretty self-explanatory and it follows a group of roadies throughout their time touring with a band. It documents the highs and lows, the problems that arise and seem as though they’ll end everything, but also the triumphant moments of putting on an incredible show in a different city each night. That alone would be enough for me to love the show, but the creators have also added small touches to the series that only a true music fan could appreciate. They feature a specific song each episode, and there are guest appearances by real life bands and musicians like The Head and The Heart and Lindsey Buckingham, just to name a couple standouts. Roadies excites me, it’s cheesy in just the right way and it pulls at my heartstrings without making me overly emotional. When I watch it I can feel the excitement of being at a concert, it draws up the perfect feelings and stirs my spirit in the best way. So far it’s only solidified the fact that I want to work in the music industry and be part of something that big and that powerful and that moving, and that’s all I can really ask of a TV show.

4. Spector

It’s safe to say that I’ve been slightly obsessed with Spector for the past three years. I think their lyrics are absolutely genius, their songs are catchy as hell, and they can put me in the best mood or let me wallow beyond belief when that’s what I need out of life. I’ve spent the last two months (or three or four, really) listening to them on repeat, and I think at this point I can confirm that they’re one of my favourite bands. Their debut album, Enjoy it While it Lasts, is full of hit after hit about adolescence and young-adulthood – the awkwardness of it, the moments that you want to capture in a snow globe and keep on your shelf, and the naïve beauty of what it is to be young. It’s about the weird limbo-like state that can sometimes happen in relationships, the nights that make all the hard stuff worth it, and the things you wish you could change. The band’s sophomore effort, Moth Boys, is almost a follow-up to that storyline. It’s sullen and often heartbreaking, it’s about coming down after the highest of highs. There are bursts of joy and triumph within it, but a lot of it is about the beauty of life’s lows. Both of these albums have come to be companions to me, and I genuinely cherish them. One of the best feelings in the world is rediscovering your intense, overwhelming love for a band, and I spent all of August in that dreamlike state. And I adored it.

I feel like I got a lot out of my system after writing all that. Hopefully you’ve found someone new to listen to or a cool show to watch, but if not, we’ve always got next month. Let me know what you think about the things I mentioned and feel free to tell me what you loved in August!

My Music Festival Bucket List

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Music festivals are a beautiful thing. In a nutshell, a music festival is a weekend full to the brim with all sorts of magic. Amazing bands play each stage, you run around with your friends all day, you eat food truck food and drink that freshly-squeezed lemonade that only shows up at big events. You spend so much time listening to good music and singing along to your favourite songs and dancing around in a crowd of people that you feel as if your heart is about to explode with happiness. Music festivals are something special.

I’ve attended a few different festivals over the past few years –TURF and Field Trip and Osheaga and, most magically, WayHome’s inaugural year. Each one has its own pros and cons and each one does different things to stand out from the rest. TURF’s stage that sits under the Gardiner feels cool and urban, Field Trip is chill and relaxing, Osheaga is spread out and has lots to discover, and WayHome is absolutely full of incredible visual art and wide open spaces. I’ve loved every music festival I’ve attended, and I know I’ll be returning to at least one each summer for the foreseeable future.

For most of my life I’ve been especially intrigued by international music festivals. Aside from Woodstock, the UK seems to have invented the very idea of a festival, of a weekend spent camping in a field, wearing rubber boots and trekking through mud puddles, and listening to great bands amidst tens of thousands of other people. They all seem so huge and important, and although Canadian festivals are definitely growing, they aren’t quite there yet. As a result of my fascination with these events, I’ve come to create a mental list of all the festivals I’d attend if I had the chance. The list is long, but there are definitely a few standouts, and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Glastonbury – Glastonbury, UK

Glastonbury just seems like the festival to end all festivals, doesn’t it? I’ve lusted after it for years and years, and I am just about dying to go and experience such an intense (but surely magical) weekend. Glasto always draws massive acts and massive crowds, and I’m sure it would be an overwhelming and unforgettable experience. Also, the fact that it’s still cold enough to wear jeans and leather jackets while at the festival is a definite draw.

2. Reading and Leeds – Reading and Leeds, UK

Reading and Leeds always looks cool. The fact that it’s in two different locations on the same weekend is pretty awesome, and it would be interesting to experience each one. It’s also always in late August, and I can’t think of a better way to send off summer than a giant music festival.

3. T in the Park – Strathallan, UK

T in the Park has definitely grown in size over the years, resulting in me being even more drawn to it. Festivals in the UK just seem like a different breed, and I’d love to go to this one in Scotland. Scottish accents, beer brewed just 36 hours before the festival, and great UK and international acts – what more could you ask for?

4. Hangout Fest – Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA

I hadn’t heard of Hangout Fest until this year, and it quickly found a spot on my festival bucket list. Held in Alabama, the festival is situated on the beaches of Gulf Shores. Great music, sandy beaches, and water as far as the eye can see sounds like a winning combination to me, and I can only begin to imagine how beautiful the sunsets at the end of each day would be.

5. Governor’s Ball, New York City, New York, USA

It honestly pains me to say that I’ve missed Governor’s Ball all these years, especially when The Strokes have played the festival not once, but twice. The event seems just as eclectic as New York City itself, and the organizers are doing a great job with the lineup as well as the vibe of the festival – from what I can tell from social media, at least. At this point I’ve made a vow that I’ll be there the next time The Strokes are, I’m just waiting for my time to shine.

6. Pemberton – Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada

Straight up, Pemberton looks like something out of a dream. Waking up each morning to be surrounded by mountains and watching the sun set over them each night sounds absolutely perfect to me. One day I’ll surely be making my way out to this festival.

7. Bonnaroo – Manchester, Tennessee

Often Bonnaroo seems like one of the most fun music festivals you could ever attend. Aside from the music itself, Bonnaroo is full of other attractions. From craft markets and a silent auction, to a cinema and comedy theatre, to parades, games, workouts, DIYs, and a splash pad, there’s no way you could ever get bored there. I can’t wait to experience it for myself one day.

8. Secret Solstice – Reykjavik, Iceland

Held in Reykjavik, Iceland each year, Secret Solstice sounds too good to be true. Occurring over the course of the summer solstice during the period of midnight sun, the festival never sleeps, and the sun never sets. Often showcasing new and emerging talent, Secret Solstice is said to have a unique vibe and great entertainment.

9. SXSW – Austin, Texas, USA

What kind of music fan would I be if I didn’t want to go to SXSW at some point in my life? Held in many different venues across Austin, South by Southwest showcases new talent, screens great movies, hosts informative talks and networking events, and much more. It’s an event all about discovery, as well as the intersections of various forms of media, and it sounds like a beautifully overwhelming week.

10. Outside Lands – San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco is one of the best cities I’ve visited, and a festival held in Golden Gate Park is something incredible. Listening to great bands while surrounded by all sorts of wildlife as well as the most breathtaking views seems like a perfect weekend to me.

I realize that ten festivals is a lot – and to be honest, this isn’t even all the ones I have on my list. I’d love to attend each one at some point in my life, and I can’t wait to check them all off as I do so.