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the hold steady

Heaven is whenever we can get together… / Record Store Day 2015

Posted in Music by

It’s the most wonderful musical time of the year: Record Store Day! I’ve been lucky enough to sit in on town hall planning meetings and post-mortems in the past, so this is an event very dear to me. I went to my first Record Store Day back in 2009 at Vertigo Music in Grand Rapids, MI, and I’ve been going ever since. If you’re unfamiliar with the what and why of RSD, here’s some background:

Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally.

Last year’s releases didn’t slay me, and I was only able to find one on my list (The Muppet Movie OST!) but this year there was a slew of fantastic releases that I just wanted to get my grubby little hands on – including two rereleases from The Hold Steady, my true loves. (Plus this year I actually have a record player, so, you know, excuse to Buy All the Vinyl!)

As crazy as last year’s RSD in Charlottesville was (when I got elbowed by someone I worked with and walked around with a black eye for a week over a Dave Matthews Band set), nothing could have prepared me for the craziness in Nashville. Though I walked away unscathed, people camped out overnight at Grimey’s and Third Man Records. I work right next to Third Man, and when I left last night around midnight, there was a little tent city that had popped up. I made the decision early not to try my luck in those lines at all and instead just hope for the best and head out to the smaller stores. Even they had some pretty long lines. In the end after a lot of undue stress and 30-40 minute waits in line from the time we made it to the front doors of the stores, I got almost everything I was looking for (just missing that twenty one pilots Ohio-shaped record). Because of work, I’ll miss out on most of the bigger festivities – most of the record stores here bring out food trucks and book major bands and make it a day-long affair, but I’ll be missing out on that this year. Here’s a look at what is considered a “short” Record Store Day line in Nashville plus my haul!

Store 1: only about 15 people in front of me... still took a solid 31 minutes to reach the releases

Store 1: only about 15 people in front of me… still took a solid 31 minutes to reach the releases

Store 2: a line of roughly 20 people in front of us ballooned to a line at least 50 trailing us by the time the doors opened

Store 2: a line of roughly 20 people in front of us ballooned to a line at least 50 trailing us by the time the doors opened

It seems like we stood on these steps forever knowing that the releases we wanted were just beyond those doors

It seems like we stood on these steps forever knowing that the releases we wanted were just beyond those doors

Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom doors, and listen to your records.

Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom doors, and listen to your records.

Some of the festivities included a sidewalk sale

Some of the festivities included a sidewalk sale

My full haul!

My full haul!

Are you a vinyl collector? Have you ever gone out for RSD? Let me know in the comments!

April 18, 2015

tune tuesday / best of 2014

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angaotyEveryone is releasing their “Best Of 2014” year-end lists now, and once again, I find myself disagreeing whole-heartedly with Rolling Stone’s number one pick. This could easily be the “Year of the Playlist” for me as my BFF and I made each other devastating playlists that we played ad nauseum all year, but there were a few albums to see heavy rotation as well. Here’s a look at some of my favorites and as always follow me on Spotify to see what I’m digging every week!

the hold steady teeth dreamsthe hold steady teeth dreams

While I LOVED the last The Hold Steady release (2012’s Heaven is Whenever,) I was in the minority. Fans and critics lamented the departure of longtime accordionist/organist/connoisseur Franz Nicolay and wondered if they would return to their “former splendor.” Teeth Dreams shut all those critics up – though the sound is slightly different than their first big albums, the addition of Steve Selvedge on guitar plays great against Tad Kubler’s lead, and our old friends the Cityscape Skins even make a comeback in “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You.” In interviews, Kubler has given me reason to be nervous, saying that when writing this album he felt like it might be the last time he ever wrote with Craig Finn. If it is, they’ve given me a lot here. My favorite track? “Spinners,” which was my #1 most played song on Spotify this year. The chorus says “heartbreak hurts, but you can dance it off,” and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Listen on Spotify.

cory branan the no-hit wonder cory brananRS at least got this one partially right by listing it on their top country albums of the year, so at least we agree there. Cory Branan is one of the best songwriters you haven’t heard of, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing him twice since I moved to Nashville. Another record with dynamic stories from both ends of the romantic spectrum (my current favorite is “The Only You”: I got me another girl, she looks like you at twenty… three. While she sleeps I trace the places where your tattoos used to be), some of my other favorite artists including Jason Isbell and Craig Finn joined Cory on the making of this album. Stream it on Spotify.

moose blood


These British punk darlings had my heart from the first moment I heard their Boston/Orlando EP back in May. It’s rare that I will give a new band a play if I’ve never heard anything about them, but a friend posted “Boston” on Tumblr with a few of the lyrics (I sleep alone by the phone, waiting for you to come home) and I’ve been hooked ever since. I special ordered this vinyl from my local record store and it hasn’t come off the record player since November. It’s a perfect blend of sweet sentiments (I jumped a flight of stairs because I knew you were waiting there, I jumped a flight of stairs because I was so excited to have you home) and bitter asides (I hope you’re miserable) and I can’t get enough of these guys. Listen on Spotify.

jessie ware tough love

jessie ware tough love

I actually got into Jessie Ware by accident. NPR featured an interview with her and I never actually caught her name, but I figured the British “Jessie” they were talking about had to be Jessie J. Nothing from that interview made sense to me based on what I know of Jessie J and when I googled it later, I discovered why – I was listening to the uber-talented Jessie Ware speak instead. Her voice is soulful and warm, ethereal on “Tough Love” and longing on “Say You Love Me.” She talks about love and heartache (but mostly heartache,) and the relatability I find in these songs makes it one of my top picks for the year. Find it on Spotify.

johnnyswim diamonds


I admit: I was sleeping hard on these guys. They sold out three nights at my venue and I had heard of them but never listened to them despite two of my close friends raving about them for months leading up to the show. I became a fan before soundcheck was even over. Their 2014 release’s title track was described as being a “suck it” song for someone who had told them they would never make it and I cried the first time I heard them play it. It’s been a tough year – “Diamonds” may well be my anthem for it. Other favorite tracks include “Take the World” (’cause they can write stories and they can sing songs, but they don’t make fairy tales sweeter than ours) and “Over” (so wake me up, the dream I had is over.) Check it out on Spotify.

What were your most-played songs of 2014? What do you think was the best album this year?

December 16, 2014

High Anxiety & the Power of Staying Positive

Posted in Mental Health, Personal by

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It has been truly another whirlwind month. After thinking that I had finished the transition process (and trust me, there’s no part of this summer that was NOT a transition) I was proven wrong again. I am typically a glass-half-empty kind of person. It’s just my nature, and I work very hard to overcome it and be the happy, bubbly girl you see here 😉

Earlier this month it felt like my world was falling apart and that I had no way to control it. I won’t go into the gritty details yet. But it’s been a crazy, chaotic, stressful month. It’s no secret that I have pretty severe panic disorder, so coupling that with the pessimism that lives in my head made it really tough to keep on keepin’ on.

I heard this amazing story from The Moth by Peter Sagal, one of my favorite NPR hosts, that really helped me feel like I could get through. He talks about his divorce and running Boston as a guide for a blind runner during the 2013 Marathon.

There were nights that I literally could not sleep and I just kept saying to myself “relaxrelaxrelax” in my head, over and over and over, in order to keep other thoughts out of my head. And then I’d wake up two hours later, still panicked into a frenzy, and have to repeat that “relaxrelaxrelax” mantra.

It’s funny to look back on when Sixx and I first met – he was really uptight, followed the rules to the letter, was totally the opposite of me. It took us years to get him to go with the flow. He teases me about this now when he tells me over and over to “let it go” and just breathe.

But it’s funny, because since this life-altering thing and getting through the initial few weeks of terror, I feel this sort of peace now. For once, I really believe when people say that things will be okay. (Basically because at this point if anything else goes wrong, I’m going to be just checked into the hospital :)) But there came a point where I made a decision to take charge and override the doubt and take a page from the book of The Hold Steady and stay positive.

Since I decided to do that, things have improved greatly. This girlfriend of mine has a saying she liked to trot out in college: “it’s all about the bounce back.” I’m hoping to bounce a little higher than I have before, and I think my attitude change is going to help me get there. And I have a lot of things to be happy about – Sixx comes home in a few weeks, I’m seeing my family this weekend. My mom bought me a really nice set of headphones. TV season is back in full effect.

It’s tough because my life doesn’t look like I thought it would look right now, but in a way, it looks the way I always thought it would.

And here – if that wasn’t enough positivity for your day, check out this cute little interview from a high school football player.

September 25, 2014

Tune Tuesday: Summer Gym Mix Up

Posted in Living by

summer gym running playlist

Happy Tuesday! I’ve seen a lot of people lately looking for new music to get them pumped up on runs or in the gym, so I thought I’d make a playlist and share some songs to mix up your playlist. My music tastes vary widely (as you’ll see,) so there is literally something for everyone on this playlist.

Lea Michele, “Louder” I just wanna hear your voice, don’t be afraid, why don’t you scream a little louder?

Jason Isbell, “Grown” you took my little hand and took me to your room, you taught me how to want something so I learned how to move.

Neon Trees, “Sleeping With A Friend” all my friends, stay up past midnight looking for the thing to fill the void. I don’t go out much like I used to, something ’bout the strangers and the noise

Scott Woodlee & Postmodern Jukebox, “Timber” It’s going down, I’m yelling timber, you better move, you better dance. Let’s make a night you won’t remember, I’ll be the one you won’t forget

The Hold Steady, “Runner’s High” Man I’m so tired of running.

To get playlist updates all summer, follow on Spotify!

April 22, 2014