Friday 18 November 2016

Dolly On ... Smashing My 2016 Reading Goal!

So back in April, I'd read a total of two books: The Martian (that I read while I was in Thailand in February) and Midnight's Children (that took me the entire month of April to finish). I never thought I'd make this years' reading goal (26 books), but I am more than happy to say that I've smashed it out of the park and am on 33 books and we've still got six weeks of the year to go! I think I'm gonna up my goal to 40, because there's so many books on my TBR!

So, without further ado, below are the 33 full size books I've read this year (I've also read some short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, and the short Pottermore e-books, but I've chosen not to count them on here). I've put a star rating next to all the books, mostly I've given 4 stars, and I don't whether that means I've really lucked out on choosing good books this year, or I'm too nice to give anything lower. It's probably a mix of the two. 

I've arranged these in loose categories, not by date read, in fact, I literally finished Empire of Storms a few days ago, but I wanted to put the whole series together - obviously. 

Throne of Glass | Sarah J. Maas ****
Crown of Midnight | Sarah J. Maas ****
Heir of Fire | Sarah J. Maas ****
Queen of Shadows | Sarah J. Mass *****
Empire of Storms | Sarah J. Mass ****

Shadow and Bone | Leigh Bardugo ****
Seige and Storm | Leigh Bardugo ****
Ruin and Rising | Leigh Bardugo *****
Six of Crows | Leigh Bardugo ****
Crooked Kingdom | Leigh Bardugo *****

A Court of Thorns and Roses | Sarah J. Maas ****
A Court of Mist and Fury | Sarah J. Maas *****
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child | J. K. Rowling & Co. *****
Zenith | Sasha Alsberg ****
The Invisible Library | Genevieve Cogman ***

Freedom is a Constant Struggle | Angela Y. Davis *****
Are Prisons Obsolete? | Angela Y. Davis ****
Bad Feminist | Roxanne Gay ****
I Call Myself a Feminist | Victoria Pepe ****
Between the World and Me | Ta-Nehisi Coates ****

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas | John Boyne *****
The Reader | Bernard Schlink ****
The Diary of a Young Girl | Anne Frank *****
Slaughter-House Five | Kurt Vonnegut ****
Midnight's Children | Salman Rushdie ****

The Martian | Andy Weir ****
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick ****
Room | Emma Donoghue ***
The Girl with all the Gifts | M. R. Carey *****
Every Day | David Levithan *****

Bitch Planet Vol. 1 | Kelly Sue DeConnick ****
The Examined Life | Stephen Grosz *****
Stiff | Mary Roach ****

Thursday 17 November 2016

Where I'm At | November 2016

Hey guys, so I just logged into Blogger and realised that I haven't posted since April. That's what, seven months ago? Just wow. I'm terrible - but I'm pretty sure we all knew that anyway. So, I'm gonna just give you a life update, and then to ensure that this doesn't become too boring, I'm gonna share with you some of my current jams (that's songs for those people who aren't as awesomely cool (read: super lame) as me).

Ok, so what's happened since April? Well, a lot and also not much at all. I got a new job that I think I love (it's hard to tell when you're as mentally unstable as me), and have been there for just over six months now. The work is boring, but I've made some really good friends, and it's great to hang out with them all day. Everyone's also really social, so we go out at least once a week which is pretty much all I've ever wanted. 

I've also 'given up TV', in that I'm not watching any new series'. This has worked really well for me, as I've been a freaking monster with reading! I've read 33 books this year! I'm planning to write more about books, so look forward to that.

Apart from that I've been my usual up and down self, still not found a way to level myself out, but Im trying. Sometimes.

November Jams

Daniel Caesar | Get You (feat. Kali Uchis) - I discovered this artist through a playlist on Apple Music called #Mood. He's a mixture between D'Angelo and Frank Ocean, who are two of my favourite artists, so he was bound to be a winner. Unfortunately he's not got that much music out, but what he does have is fantastic - especially this track. 

Childish Gambino | Sober - Yet another thing I have Apple Music to thank for is the Childish Gambino Essentials playlist. I really like 'because the internet', but I've never really taken the time to branch out from that, so this playlist opened my eyes to some of his other tunes. There's some really great stuff on there, but at the moment I think Sober is my fav. 

Kiiara | Gold - Yes I know I'm late to the party with this one, but I was only introduced it through this cover by Pentatonix. Mitch's voice is incredible, but I have to admit that this is the one time I prefer the original to PTX's cover. Mostly because I just love the minimalistic production. 

Ariana Grande | Santa Tell Me - You know I love Ariana Grande right? Know I love her so much that my mum has put a ban on me playing her music round the house? Well, that happened, but #noregrets. Anyway, as soon as the clock struck midnight on All Hallow's Eve, I had this song on. I fucking love it, and I just hate that I've given in to the unwritten rule that one can't listen to Christmas music all year round. 

Solange | Cranes in the Sky - This song is fabulous. In fact this whole album is fabulous, and if you haven't listened to it, I give you permission to leave, do that right now. GO!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

I Met Nick Jonas!

Ok so, if you've read this post, then you know that I'm a HUGE fan of Nick Jonas' first album. It follows then that I'm less than patiently awaiting the arrival of his second, 'Last Year Was Complicated'. So, when Nick posted on his Facebook that there was going to be a Meet & Greet in London, I was like 'where the hell can I sign up?!'. 

Long story short - I won! I got an email from the people at Universal saying something along the lines of 'can you let us know if you'll be available at 5.30pm, if not we'll find someone else'. Ok this is where the story gets juicy. I already had plans with my dad (he'd booked us into a rehearsal studio to make some music until 6), so I forwarded the email to him saying 'I totally forgot about this (lie), is there any way we can move the studio to 5?' Of course, being me, I accidentally replied this message to Universal!!!!! Basically making it sound like I was asking if they could move the meet & greet for me! #megaawks Anyway, hilarious story short, the guy replied saying 'can you let me know you'll be there for 5:30'.

We were allowed to bring a friend, and I took one of my school friends who was so excited and, because she was going to be late, forked out for an Uber! Not sure I've got many friends who would do that, so thanks again babes. Anyway we get there and they sign us in, put us in the lift and send us up to the 7th floor. Once we're there they take our phones and lead us into 'The Boardroom', which is awesome! It had pictures of all their artists (pretty much anyone who's anyone) all over the walls, free food at the back (yum - yes I broke the diet and took a chocolate bar), lovely pink chairs, and a fantastic view of London. 

We were probably about the 15th people to arrive, so we took our seats in the back row, also I get very anxious sitting in any row that's not at the back. After being in there for about half an hour, with ladies regularly coming in to tell us that Nick was still in an interview and he'd only be 5 more minutes, he walked in. First thing I noticed was that he is sooo small. I knew he was small because of this video with danisnotonfire, but in real life he did look a bit like a child. Not that that's a problem (I swear I'm only ever attracted to small men - Chris Messina anyone?), I'm just super uncomfortable about my height and people making me look big, so I wasn't looking forward to the photos. He also looked very tired.

Anyway, Nick walked to the front of the room, sat down and told us how excited he was for his new album, how he's really delved into his sound etc. Then he told us he was gonna play us four songs from the album (silly me thought they would be playing them live, but no, just through the speakers), starting with the next single 'Champagne Problems'. He said it was about a night in a hotel room last year when he broke up with his girlfriend. The song's actually on YouTube now so you can listen for yourselves, but, as I'm sure you'll be able to guess, I really like it. Nick can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. The chorus is great. 

Stupidly I didn't take any notes when I came out, so I can't really remember much of the other tracks (I'm sure I must've mentioned how I have the worst memory in the world). He played us Chainsaw (which he said was a very personal song, and he'd like it to be a single), and Good Girls with Big Sean, and tbh I can't even remember what the last one was, I think it was The Difference. You can't blame me for not remembering though - I was starstruck! I was in a room with fucking NICK JONAS!! Queen.

Anyway, so then we all got to go up and have photos with Nick. Me and my friend walked really fast so we could get right next to Nick - sneaky eh? So he shook our hands, said thanks for coming or something and then we stood next to him. He put his arm around me which is what you do, but I'm so awkward I just stood there with my hands firmly by my side. Anyway, it's a nice picture, if not the best angle for me. And also, my hair is NOT that colour, it's like greyish purple. 

P.S. I went for a walk the other day and came up with a list of about 20 blog posts, so I'm planning to write all of those and post one a week for the foreseeable future. I have a LOT of updates!

Saturday 27 February 2016

Fifth Harmony | Work From Home

So Fifth Harmony just dropped the track Work From Home, complete with a video, and I have a few things to say about it. Read on ....

I love 5H! I went to see them last year and they were fantastic! Their first album is pure gold, not only does it show off each members' powerful vocals, but it also gifts us with some sick beats (can I pull that off? I don't think so) and genuine throwback musical elements. Anyway, with that said, I wasn't anxiously awaiting new music, but when I saw Work From Home blowing up on social media I was excited to take a look. I'm sad to say that I'm disappointed with this song, but am holding on to the hope that the rest of the album, titled 7/27, is going to be better. 

I don't even know where to start, the video or the song? Either way, both are incredibly boring and remind me of someone equally boring, like The Saturdays. The lyrics are terrible, just trying to squeeze in every work/sex metaphor they can in the verses. The chorus is literally repeating the word work a thousand times, and it's dancey and fun, but as I've said, feels like it could be sung by anyone. There's nothing unique about this track at all. In my opinion the rap feature is sooooo overdone. Two verses by the primary artist with the third done by a rapper is so boring. Why doesn't anyone flip it up? Take a leaf out of Kanye and Big Sean's book on All Your Fault and try something new. The only bit of the song that sounds like 5H is the climax of the song where you can properly hear their voices and you've got both that electronic melody and a beat. 

The video is a whole other problem. Granted the girls all look beautiful (especially Lauren's new haircut), but what's new? It reminds me of the video for Satisfaction. I guess it's kind of a feminist statement that they've switched out the women for oiled up men? But anyway I hate that they feel the need to overtly sexualise themselves - let the music do to talking! 

Friday 26 February 2016

Album Review: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it | The 1975

I've been waiting for this album for a long time. I've been a fan of The 1975 since Chocolate - I'm not going to pretend I knew them before that, I'm not that cool. But I do remember where and when I was when I first heard it, so does that make me cool? Anyway, I thought they were you're classic run of the mill indie band, that was until they released Girls. Probably my favourite song of all time, definitely my favourite lyric of all time 'I know you're looking for salvation in the secular age but girl I'm not your saviour'. Long story short, we went to see them at Alexandra Palace a few years ago, they were great, but at the time I only knew the singles which was a shame. So I went home and bought the album and fell in love. I'm definitely going to do a post all about why I love the band, and I'll talk a lot more about the first album there. Basically I've been excited about new music from The 1975 for a long time and all in all I haven't been disappointed. 

I went out for a walk this morning to focus on listening to this album, and I wish I could have recorded my inner monologue. It was mostly 'wow's, 'no's and shocked 'fuck's, some of which have made it into the post below, so ... language warning!

When I first read the track listing for this album I wondered if The 1975 was going to be a whole new song, or the same as the track of the same name on the first album. Either way I would have been happy, but I was kind of hoping for the band to release a new song with the same name as one of their older songs, because what would be more The 1975? Anyway, it's a good track, and does, as I think it's supposed to, introduce the bands' unique sound. 

Love Me was the first track the band released as a teaser for the album, and I have to say it left me quite apprehensive for the future of their sound. This song is very different to anything on their first album. Granted, it's upbeat like Girls and The City, but in a less poppy more glam rock, in fact David Bowie-esque, way. Anyway, as you'll see, I had nothing to be apprehensive about, and do in fact really like this song, even more so after hearing Matty talk about it here. Wow looking for that video I found this one, which makes me love them even more <3 and feel like I am indeed in on the joke - yay!

The second teaser from the album was UGH!, and as soon as I heard the first few bars I felt like this was the best piece of music I'd ever heard. No joke. The music is happy and funky (especially that bloody fantastic bridge!), yet the lyrics are complex and clever. This song reminded me how much I love The 1975 and led me back to listening to nothing but their first album over and over. I think this was also about the time when I realised that The 1975 were (and are) my favourite band (sorry Paramore - we had a good ride). Everything about their music is perfection to me, the electro-funk happiness mixed with clever, funny, self-aware and sometimes mocking lyrics just feel like exactly what I want and need from music right now. This song has worked its way right to the top of my Most Played, sitting behind only the gospel version of Jealous

So the first track that was actually new to me, was track four, A Change of Heart. This song feels like first album stuff with a second album twang - I feel like the uplifting/happy edge makes it stand out from the first album. They really are the pink to the first albums black. One thing I remember about listening to the first album was that I didn't have a clue what Matty was saying in maybe 70% of the songs until I googled the lyrics. Now, it might be because I'm now very familiar with their style and am able to decode what he's saying, but I feel like I heard every single word in this song. It feels weird to say I'm disappointed by that, but I think that's just what I was expecting to get and didn't. Anyway, back to the song itself! I really like it, though I'd fucking hate to be the girl he's talking about. It's funny and chilled out and has all the musical elements I've come to expect from the band. I also love the references to their previous songs! What other band does that?! Have I said how much I freaking love them enough yet?

Fuck Me! That intro is the best thing I've ever heard. Before I listened to the album I scrolled through the Apple Music top charts and noticed that the highest charting album track was She's American, so I had high hopes. I've said it once and I'll say it again - I love funk! Music that makes you dance in your chair (like what I'm doing right now) is all I want. I feel like this song is actually very similar to both UGH! and The Sound, which is anything but a bad thing. If The 1975 decided this was their new sound and only made tracks like this I'd be happy. As per usual, it's impossible to define the 1975, but this song feels simultaneously 80s and 10s (is 10s a thing yet?). Also I feel like the band don't use drum kits too much, so that's quite a nice change in this song. 

Oooooooh I do like If I Believe You. So far the album's been full of banging single-worthy tracks, but this song is their first furore into the slightly more obscure, inaccessibility of early tracks like Antichrist, Menswear and Woman. But fuck (I'm sorry for all the swearing, but I did warn you!) this song is so good! About a minute and a half in it turns into a proper gospel/real R'n'B slow jam, it sounds so much like another song and I can't think what it is, for now lets say it's Untitled (How Does It Feel). Of course The 1975 use a gospel choir on a song about atheism - talk about perfection. To be honest anything to do with atheism is my jam, but this song just fucking hell wow. I'm gonna listen to this song so many times. You know what I think it is just major Untitled (How Does It Feel) vibes that this song is giving me. Oh and then there's a jazz breakdown with a sax four minutes in. The last few minutes see Matty repeating 'If I'm lost, then how can I find myself' over what sounds suspiciously similar to the Skins theme tune, and I love it.

Ah, now we get to Please Be Naked. When the tracklisting was revealed I assumed this would be another tongue in cheek, funk rock riot like Love Me, but no! It turns out to be one of the most beautiful instrumental pieces the band has ever made! Always flipping things upside down and challenging expectations these 1975 guys. Listening to this with my eyes closed transports me to a massive but empty auditorium that I'm sitting right in the middle of. I also feel like this would be a perfect song to listen to if you were on a desert island. Or sitting in the middle of a very busy road intersection when it's raining.

Ha ha, so one of my favourite 1975 tracks is Fallingforyou, and I wondered whether they were going to release any new music with no spaces in the title (yes I know I over think everything), and they did with this next song Lostmyhead. This is the first song that I feel could have actually been on the first album, it's got that very ethereal sound that just seems to surround you and run through your veins, without the shine and sparkle of the new stuff. If I close my eyes I feel like I'm a part of this music (is it too much to say I feel 'inside it'?). All in all this is a beautiful if slightly tragic track. Dare I say 'tragically beautiful'. This song, like a lot of The 1975s, has an epic quality to it, similar to that of 30stm, but in a way that doesn't feel like that's what they were going for. I really hope they do this live. I'm sure I'd cry.

Lolwut? The Ballad of Me and My Brain opens with what sounds a bit like a choir warming up. Be still my beating heart. I love love love when singers shout/scream their lyrics which Matty does to open this song. This song confuses me a lot in that I don't know if I like it or not. I feel like its a grower, I need to listen to it more to get into it, like how I feel a lot of the songs on the first album or EPs are. This song feels very short, which at this stage of my feelings for it, is a good thing. Awks. I really really do like the introduction though. Edit: Ok it's a day later and I love this song.

I first listened to Somebody Else sitting in a hammock in Thailand staring out across the sea, and I think that's the perfect place for this song. I wasn't too keen at first, mostly because the previous three teaser tracks had all been big poppy singles that you fall in love with on the first listen, and this really isn't that, but having given it a chance I do really like it. And, as I'm sure you'll probably have guessed, I particularly like the funky bridge, especially when Matty says 'fuck that get money!', it sounds so high and his accent makes me smile.  

Loving Someone has a quite dark somewhat spooky opening that leads into a singing/rapping thing that's very reminiscent of Menswear and M.O.N.E.Y. I love when they break the fourth wall (does that work with music?), when Matty sings 'sentient something or other, I can't remember' and then says 'whatever'. I love it. As soon as you get comfortable with the verse chorus structure of the song it throws out a spoken word portion that is just honey to listen to. Let me be the first to say that Matty has a really lovely speaking voice. This is the second song where they've had a female vocalist, and can I just ask why I wasn't approached to do this? I know I've never really sung in public and no one really knows that I want to be a singer, but I would have been perfect for this job!

So the title track of any album is going to have quite high expectations laid upon it, but for me I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it had a particular draw for me as I thought it might explain the ridiculously long album title! It doesn't. It does however do a lot more than that, it feels like about five songs in one, complete with a middle section that sounds like the soundtrack to an advert for Windows, and just does something so different and weird, much like the title itself. I feel like this song is The 1975 (the song) of this album (does that make sense?).

The Sound was released soon after UGH! and I didn't think that anything would ever live up to the perfection of that song, but this does a damn good job. I love the 90s keyboard riff and the dancy happy feeling that runs through the whole thing. I also flipping love the lyrics! They're so hilariously tongue in cheek. And don't even get me started on that fantastic guitar solo at the end. An altogether great great song.

I absolutely love the opening of This Must Be My Dream, it's upbeat but in a slightly more muted way than The Sound. It feels like a mix of the ethereal Lostinmyhead and the pure fun of UGH! and The Sound. I want to dance to this, but in a more laid back way than the singles, and with my eyes closed. Trust The 1975 to throw a Careless Whisper-esque saxophone solo into this fairly standard but elegant pop track. 

Okay so I think Paris is my favourite song on the album, and I think they should have ended the album here. As I think I've made pretty clear, I love love love love love happy sounding songs, and this is just that. The riff is very simple and actually sounds quite childlike. The lyrics are very clever (as expected), I particularly love the line about Mr Serotonin Man. I feel like such a fake using the word juxtaposed, but I love when The 1975 juxtapose really happy, seemingly simple music with sad, deep lyrics. They do it a lot and that's a big part of why I love them so much. I can't wait to make an album so I can sneak in cheeky references like this one. Oh this song is so beautiful, and another one that I wont stop listening to until I hate it. 

'Voila! That's the end of the album!' I wish. 

When this song started I was in shock. It's an acoustic guitar. On a 1975 track. Literally what's going on? I don't really know what else to say, this is not what I look for from the 1975. Anyone can make this kind of music, it's actually quite hard to listen to after the greatness of Paris. But anyway, Nana is obviously about Matty's grandma dying, so the lyrics are very sad and heartfelt, and maybe a bit close to home for me to listen to. Basically I don't know if this will ever get more than the two plays it's taken me to write this blurb. It's very sad (which is not what I like at all) and I don't like acoustic guitars on anyone by Ed Sheeran.

NOOOOO more acoustic guitar! I'm so over it. She Lays Down could literally be sung by anyone and I'm sure it's deep and meaningful, but this is not my music. I'm so so so glad these last two songs weren't the first things I'd heard from The 1975, because I probably wouldn't have given them another chance. Almost how it took me over 3 years to get over The A Team and like Ed Sheeran. So I just don't understand how they thought this song was a good closer for the album, obviously I don't know them as well as I think.

So altogether I really do love this album, but I'd love it even more if it was only 15 tracks long and ended with Paris. I've only listened to the non-single tracks a few times, so I may end up updating this or writing a totally new post about my favourite tracks and how I've grown to love Nana and She Lays Down (though I very VERY much doubt it). Okay guys, I think this is the best post I've ever written. Maybe I just need to stick to writing about music. It comes so easily.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Welcome to Thailand!

Okay, so I made it to Thailand! About two weeks ago (embarrassed emoji). I've meant to blog before now, but we all know what I'm like. I have been trying to post something every day on Instagram though! The link to that is in the sidebar, my username is lostinallmyselfishthoughts. 

So I came travelling with the idea that I was going to vlog. I was going to film and upload something everyday. I quickly realised that that was NOT what I wanted to be doing while ravelling. How do vloggers do it?! I also didn't bring my big camera with me (my canon DSLR), and although I'm still pretty miserable about this, I think it's caused me to look around and absorb my surroundings a bit more. Granted, I'm not going to go home with the most incredible photographs (which is kind of annoying) but hopefully I'll be taking more meaningful things back with me. I have been making sure to take photos on my phone and at least one video every day which I'm planning to compile into a little travel video when I get back. 

I also didn't bring a laptop/tablet with me. This has also depressed me quite a bit, but now I'm here there's nothing I can do. This has contributed largely to the fact that I haven't blogged since I've been here, because typing long posts on my phone is not particularly fun. But I'm gonna suck it up and just go for it! 

So, ignoring the fact that I can't work out how to add photos (the app won't download on my phone) and the lack of formatting,  look forward to a nice lot of posts coming up  over the next few days and weeks. After Thailand I've got some exciting things lined up :)