Falling asleep to waking up: In Rolling Waves by The Naked and Famous

InRollingWaves-770x770

Insomniacs have a tendency to let their head fill up with thoughts and memories and worries. Whenever my introspection is excessive, I combat it by filling my head with music.

These albums have a special place in my heart. While I’ve always dealt with the difficulty of falling asleep at night, whenever my insomnia is worse it’s because I’m dealing with change or stressful environments or even just feeling self-conscious. These are the albums that relax me to the point of serenity. These albums are able to take away the buzz of my mind and allow myself to just relax. Just relax and listen.

Sometimes, though, when an album can help you get through something, it can be lodged with that feeling for a long… long time. So your once saving grace becomes an uncomfortable reminder of the stress that you had to get over.

With these sorts of things, it’s best to just let those songs lay dormant in your music play-through. Those songs won’t show up for awhile and, even though you got so used to having it be part of your every day life, you’ll learn to be okay with it.

Some of these nighttime albums have become this, some of them not. Some of them are just calming and nice to listen to while I sleep. Some of them I listened to so I could fall asleep.

With In Rolling Waves, it was a little bit of both.

I didn’t use it to fall asleep often, but boy, did it calm me down. I attribute this to the first time that I ever listened to the album the first time, which was last year when I was in London.

I had been extremely excited for the album ever since the band released “Hearts Like Ours” during the summer. Its energy was infectious, a perfect compliment to my experience in the East Village. I couldn’t wait to listen to the catchy synth ballads that were to come.

Months passed and I moved back home for two weeks from the city and then to London. My life became exciting and full of opportunity and fulfillment but also filled with uncertainty and distance from family and stressors that I had never accounted for before. Things that I was always just used to kept becoming more and more different. I kept a smile as much as I could but sometimes the stress was debilitating. I could feel myself wanting to make sure that I was doing things perfectly, that I wasn’t making wrong choices. I was trying to do everything and I wanted to be good to everyone.

After walking through Covent Garden with my friend, we happened upon a fantastic media shop with a focus on CDs. And there it was – I had forgotten about the release date but it just so happened that In Rolling Waves had come out the day before. I dropped the quid on the album and downloaded it into my computer as quickly as I could. My iPod synced, the album was ready for me.

I waited to listen to it.

“Hearts Like Ours” wasn’t just any other song and I knew that this wouldn’t just be any other album for me. I had to treat the music with respect and wait for the perfect setting to listen to it in.

Deep in the late hours of the night, I shut off my computer and laid down. The window was open in my tiny room and the breeze fluttered in. It was still relatively pleasant outside, so the air billowed into the room, making everything feel so fresh.

I put on my headphones and I started.

“A Stillness” buzzed into being and I was wrapped up in the sound already. I loved the dreamy quality of the song, the little build-ups and fade downs. And of course, the crescendo into the release of sound near the end of the song was the perfect emotional transition into “Hearts Like Ours.”

I had never listened to the album before, but I could already feel myself nodding off. It’s one of those special things where you know something is so right when right away it just works so well. I was so used to manicuring my listening pattern before falling asleep but here I was, dozing to “Waltz.”

“Rolling Waves” was the definitive song of my trance. It felt like waves crashing on the beach. It was such a peaceful discovery of a song. The waves of sound pushing and pulling like the tide pulling me into sleep. The lyrics itself were about sleep and it just fit so well with the quietude of the night.

I went deeper and deeper into the beginnings of sleep and didn’t even realize I had listened to “The Mess.”

“Grow Old,” however, was a different story.

Again, it starts small and muted and like a story in the background. It’s a song to easily underestimate.

The climax, however. The one that comes at 3:05. It ripped me into hyper-awareness. I gasped as the guitars and keyboard and vocals came crashing together, everything exploding. I felt like it was such an example for how I had been feeling those past couple of months. That I was dealing with a lot of different things but that it was going to be okay because I could at least feel myself express myself through the music. It was okay that I was growing up and that I was changing.

And then the song ended just like how it began. Just a voice, small and dialed down.

The mental effort that took to listen to that song is why I fell asleep for the rest of the album play-through. Normally I would have chastised myself, but I didn’t mind. It was one of the best listening experiences of my life and that feeling still is so vivid in my mind.

So much so that I felt it a few days ago, completely mirrored with my first time listening through. It took a long time before that could happen again.

That album became a staple of my London experience and helped me be able to settle in a place that was a country different from my own. It helped me learn how to navigate new places and people and experiences.

But because it was such an emotional album for me, I had to take a break from listening to it.

I never had bad memories associated with any of the songs, but the songs became a vehicle for emotional release. I didn’t want to over do it, I wanted to still enjoy the songs for the sake of enjoying the songs. I had to find other things to listen to, which I did.

Throughout the rest of the year, I’d perhaps listen to “Hearts Like Ours” or “Rolling Waves” from time to time. Never “Grow Old.”

But the album would pop up in conversation from time to time. I kept thinking about it and how it had such calming qualities.

Coming into senior year so far has been an exciting and wonderful but extremely surreal experience. Again, change. I have to take extra measures for myself to process change just because I know I feel it so fully.

So I listened to the album again. I didn’t even mean to recreate the first time that I listened to it. I just was lying in bed and it was nighttime and there was this summery breeze coming in through the window. I felt at peace and that feeling of dreamy tranquility came back to me. I felt like I was in two times at once. The wonderful thing, though, is that this time I wasn’t using the songs as an emotional release. I was listening with fresh ears and enjoying the music for how it was. The memories of those songs just made the music even more powerful.

I didn’t finish the album, but this time purposefully. Not soon after, I fell asleep, thinking of the waves of the Thames, but also thinking about how I could listen to those songs now in new places. How they could grow into new parts of my life.

Personal Legend Playlist: Songs found while traveling the world

Personal Legend – Definitive List (Spotify playlist)

There is also the Personal Legend – Memory Bank playlist that is an ongoing list of songs that I listened to throughout the year as I remember them.

~

This past spring, I started reading Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, the story of a young shepherd who leaves everything in his life behind to go on a quest- or his “Personal Legend,” as a magical king he meets calls it – to find his treasure at the Pyramids.

I guess that’s why I haven’t wanted to finish it. I don’t want my own quest around the world to be over.

I’d like to blame the fact that I haven’t finished reading on being busy. You know, I could say things like, “When you’re past the furthest reaches of your world it’s a little difficult to remember to do little things like that. Read books. Watch TV shows. Keep up with a blog.”

But it’s something more than that. It’s the fact that I don’t like endings.

This past year, I lived in New York City, London and LA. I had been to all of these different places before, but I had never lived in any of them before. And I certainly had never lived in a metropolitan setting before.

My whole life, I had always wanted to do two things: travel and live in a city. When I actually took the initiative to make it happen, everything changed. No question about it. Maybe there are things I recognized in each of these places, but in the beginning my head was swimming in the newness and discovery. It was enthralling and at times overwhelming. I always had a wonderful support system of friends and family from home, school and each place that I lived in (shout out to all of you lovely people). Sometimes it’s still hard, though, just because there are some situations that are just tough to deal with whether it’s something as bad as a car accident or something as great but stressful as traveling across Europe.

Through my travels I always had my music. Music, which has always helped me through times of change and discovery and wonder and elation and confusion and hurt and despair, became even more important in this year of hopping from place to place to place. Music was one of my constants. Music grounded me, but also it enhanced the discovery.

My mind expanded along with each new path I took. After going to as many places as I could, and as weird as it may sound, the world feels like it’s in my head. The vastness lives in my mind through memories.

All of this is a lot to process before, during and after. Especially if you want to write about it.

Something that I’ve realized since being home is that coming back is just as much part of travel as is the actually act of traveling. You’re back but in such a different way. You can sit down and realize that while you were traversing in that ether of extraordinary living, you did things beyond your imagination. You met people who did more than just inspire you; they guided and shaped your experiences. You became the adventurer you always wanted to be.

I lived the fantastic and the impossible. And it feels amazing.

So maybe this particular adventure is done. But that just means there’s going to be a new one. This summer I have an internship and I get to be at home, a place I’ve barely been in for over two years. Next year is my last year at school. I need to be ready for it.

Sometimes you have to let the dust settle after you’ve run a marathon. Sometimes you need to breathe a little. Sometimes you need to take it piece by piece.

Sometimes to move forward you have to reflect. The good, the bad, the ugly – the whole adventure. You must look back and look at it straight on or else you’ll just always be checking what’s behind you instead of looking ahead. Or, more importantly, living in the now.

So I’m going to reflect in the way I know how – by making a playlist. Songs are really just memories with melodies.

Here are some of the memories of my life in New York, London and LA.

 944105_10151602487207973_1484714458_n

1. Hearts Like Ours – The Naked And Famous

In my mind, this will always be the New York song. My commute from where I lived in East Village to work was a ten-minute walk (and I had no inkling of how good I had it). As I walked to Fifth Ave every day, I would pass through Union Square. My favorite days were when it was sunny and warm and the farmer’s market was set up. The vivid sights and smells passed by as I walked through the vendors. From there, I would cross the street and walk down to Fifth Ave, turn left, and there it was: the Empire State Building. Every day.  My dream realized, the grandness all around me, as I would walk to work I would look up at the tall buildings and look at the shops and restaurants in awe while listening to this song.

If I could, I would put the entire In Rolling Waves album in this playlist just because that particular album really has stuck with me throughout the whole journey. Rolling Waves is especially distinctly attached to my memory of walking over the Millennium Bridge in London. I had some time after class to relax so I looked at the Thames. What a relaxing, peaceful sight. The river flowing past and the sun setting on the bridges before me. It was so healing to watch and to listen to the song. My existence didn’t matter, just the waves and the light.

One other Naked and Famous song that sticks out to me is also Girls Like You, a song I had started listening to when I ran at school. I don’t know if this was the particular song I was listening to, but I’m pretty sure this is what I listened to when I sprained my ankle. How rewarding, then, two months later running through the Narnia-esque Central Park, ankle healed, and I was on top of my world.

602425_10151613849382973_1891239256_n

2. Don’t Swallow The Cap – The National

As shiny as the inspiration felt, something I didn’t expect was the murkiness of change and facing difficult situations. Moving is a form of uprooting yourself and I was planted in a foreign environment.

A friend and I saw the National perform in Barclays Center and it was a fantastic set. The encore was the most powerful moment when they performed Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks; the band did it as an acoustic piece and the entire stadium sang along. One giant chorus.

After the performance, Trouble Will Find Me became an album on repeat for the rest of the summer. Don’t Swallow The Cap was the song that would float around in my mind as I laid in bed at night, watching the stream of light peeking through the blinds from the honking taxis and storefronts that sold pizza past midnight. One individual in a sea of people.

1002559_10151724554572973_544996629_n

3. New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem

As much as I loved New York, there were things about it that really, really sucked. I hated the feeling that I could never be alone. And boy, I am someone who just sometimes needs to be alone. I’m already quirky enough as it is. If I don’t have that time to recharge without people constantly looking at me, then my self-consciousness and sensitivity are only heightened. People can sometimes not understand how I’m acting, and I’m not much of a help because I don’t really know what I’m doing ether.

But it’s a sort of sickness, you know? To be drawn to be something that isn’t good for you. The over-crowdedness, the haphazard sleeping, the overstimulation, the aloneness in a sea of people. These are all things that I shouldn’t be drawn to, but I am. I have a taste for the daring, for the challenging. It is foolish, though, to mistake characteristics of a place as challenge to change. This was something I had to confront while living in the supposed “city of my dreams.”

1044230_10151694873342973_1968911177_n

4. Gravitas – Little People

In contrast to the overwhelming clutter of movie bodies on the sidewalk, whenever I listened to Gravitas I could feel the rhythm of the city. The mass amounts of people instead invigorated me, not suffocate me.

There is such a wonderful texture of life in New York City – I can’t think of a place that I have been to in the country that is more diverse. People from all over the world and from all different backgrounds. It’s amazing to think how we come and go in each other’s lives. In my mind I like to visualize it like strings. Each string is individual, but once the two meet either it can be a knot if it is a short encounter, say meeting a musician on a metro car, or the strings can become intertwined, no matter how far away each string started.

And I’d be passing by these people of the world everyday. My favorite place to think about this would be in front of the Flatiron Building, sitting next to the cafe. I’d have a book that was bought from the Strand and I’d be watching people enter and exit Madison Square Park, riding their bikes and weaving through the taxis. So many people that I’d never see again or I would and not know. So many people with their own worlds. And then I’d open my book and be entrenched in my own world.

1044009_10151667679572973_1327742431_n

5. Dreams – Passion Pit

One of my favorite movies growing up was You’ve Got Mail, so I had a sense of obligation to listen to Dreams at least once every week while living in New York.

I listened to the original a few times, but my heart was always set on Passion Pit’s cover of the song. It felt relevant to me, like it was from my generation. (Really, I just wanted to flatter myself in thinking that I was this generation’s Meg Ryan).

Through all the ups and downs of living in East Village, I always really liked the feeling of living in New York. That I could say that, even if it was for a summer. I know it’s really dorky of me to have such exuberance, but when has that ever stopped me?

Because, through ups and downs, I still have memories of going to the Daily Show. Of walking through the best bookstore in the world every day and writing scripts at the coffee shops nearby. Of watching the fireworks. Of seeing a free show at Central Park. Of the dazzling buildings above and that I lived and worked in them like everyone else.

1236852_10151800983737973_1272770736_n

6. Loaded – Primal Scream

“Just what is it that you want to do?”

“Well, we want to be free. We wanna be free to… to do what we want to do. And we want to get loaded and have a good time. And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party.”

No opening to a song could better describe the period of time that was between the months of September 2013 and December 2013. This is otherwise known as: London Semester Abroad.

This is the song that starts The World’s End, which I watched right before going abroad. And it put me in the perfect mood to go to Britain.

New York was a summer of work and I was ready to let loose. And really let loose. I was brimming with confidence and ambition – this was my time to shine. Studying abroad had always been something my family praised and encouraged us to do, and now I was carrying on the family name abroad. I couldn’t let them down.

That, and I was in London. As much as I loved and dreamed of New York, London was London. It still has that effect on me – I feel like my life is a series of events that leads me back to that city.

I grew up loving British media and now I was going to be able to get a taste of being part of the culture. And God, I loved it. I loved the pubs, the West End shows, the museums, the diversity of people. The Tube was heaven-sent compared to the L and the Metro. The different dialects in the city, the river Thames, the fact that Europe was just a plane or train ride away. The world lives in a city and that city is called London!

And, oh, the pubs. There is nothing as beautiful as a pub. I felt like I was walking into an elaborately set up living room every time I entered one. Even if it wasn’t an authentic pub, it was still wonderful being part of the experience. I could feign being a local or fit right into my extended tourist status. Pubs were warm and filled with glorious beer and fish and chips. Pubs were where people conversed and friendships were formed.

Traveling Europe was something that was also a priority, right from the beginning. That’s where friendships were made or grew. I have so much admiration and respect for the friends I made in the program, and those people that I explored with will always have a special place in my heart.

The feeling of packing, repacking, unpacking, repacking, unpacking became routine – I was traveling nearly every other week. To see the world and test how far I could go was exhilarating. One of the best weeks of my life was spent in Keswick with the Encompass Trust and meeting truly inspiring, incredible people from around the world. Shout out to you guys if you’re reading this!

I don’t remember sleeping that semester. Pretty much at every hour, every minute, every second of the day I had something planned. So much so that I remember literally running to class a lot, especially if it was a show at a theatre in another zone.

Without a doubt, I had a party.

1379851_10151873767067973_699862627_n

7. Loud Pipes – Ratatat

The Tube song, as I like to think of it. My commute for this semester from the flat to school took thirty minute with roughly a 10 minute Tube ride. Also, the Tube was really the best way to get around London (although I subjected many a-friend to my feats of walking around… I could go seven hours without stopping).

The rhythm of the tube and its dependency made the morning experience relatively easy and mainly enjoyable (if it wasn’t incredibly crowded or if there were repairs). “Mind The Gap” and everyone would politely walk on. Standing by the little window at the front of the car was always fun if you wanted to be silly and have your hair flapping everywhere. People were mainly quiet on the Tube, but every now and then there were kerfuffles (largely the arguments were about rudeness).

My favorite station to come out of was the Liverpool station. It was grand and the windows and escalators made everything feel so tall, but mainly my regular destination that I had once I got out of the station…

1239679_10151823770232973_582895125_n

8. GMF – John Grant

Near the end of the semester, I got into the habit of regularly going to Rough Trade East in Shoreditch. I would always pass through the Old Spitalfields Market, gazing at the different merchandise that the vendors set up. Coffee shops, knick-knacks, fedoras. Magnets, journals, ornaments, Banksy wall signs. Any quirky little thing you could think of was in Spitalfields.

But that wasn’t the ultimate destination – that was a few blocks over. I would pass by the AllSaints and turn into a small street with a sign directing me the right way. I would turn the corner and a Space Invader and Andre has a posse would greet me high above on the buildings. And then, there it was, my indie haven: Rough Trade East.

In New York, my regular place of media meditation was the Strand, a bookstore with weaving shelves of books old and new. Everyone who shopped and worked there had a love for the literary. It felt so good to be surrounded by so many words. In London I had Rough Trade, where I was surrounded by eclectic music and coffee aromas from the in-store cafe.

Rough Trade was where I realized that I still have so much to learn – here I was thinking I was on top of my game in music knowledge, but when they released their top 10 albums of the year, I had maybe only heard of one of them. So, instead of listening to them online, I would just come to the store since they would play the entire albums overhead. That’s how I started listening to John Grant.

GMF (Greatest Motherfucker, if you want to bypass the censorship) is intricately written and beautifully sung. It’s sad but it isn’t, it’s funny but it isn’t. His sarcasm and anger at those who didn’t understand him was so pointed and it never felt heavy-handed. These sorts of musicians are the reason to go outside of your normal realm and see what else is out there.

1488179_10152050038217973_144010880_n

9. All In White – The Vaccines

Leaving London was harder than I could have even imagined. Once I was there, the semester had this glow and warmth like it was never going to end. As the weeks grew fewer and fewer in number, I had to face the inevitable end of my abroad adventure. I didn’t want the bliss of living in London to end, so I tackled these feelings through the best way I knew how – walking.

In New York, a common habit of mine would be to just walk from point A to point B in Manhattan to just see what life had to offer above the Metro lines. Because places I needed to be in London were further away, I didn’t have as much of a chance to do this as often. So, after my last class, I decided to walk home from school to the flat. It was pretty much a straight shot via Oxford Street. I decided to listen to the Vaccines, one of the many Brit rock bands that circulate through my listening cycle. I had first started listening to their What Do You Expect From The Vaccines? album in line at the Trader Joe’s in East Village, it was only fitting to listen to it straight through in London.

Double-decker buses whizzed by under the string of lights. The storefronts brightened the sidewalks and started to dim the further away I got from Oxford Circus. Hyde Park gleamed with the Winter Wonderland festival in the distance. And finally I was almost home with Jay Jay Pistolet crooning in my head. These scenes of familiarity would soon just turn into memories, but not before I could say good-bye.

1233406_10151823772182973_523318385_n

10169445_10152313472657973_8052958919782626873_n

10. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

This song started to be in my listening cycle in London and carried over into LA as the album shot up in the charts. I had always liked the Arctic Monkeys, but AM is what stopped me from being lazy with listening to their stuff. I have a before and after memory: The “Before” memory was in Rough Trade when their album started to be displayed all around the store. AM was one of the albums that they played overhead and I could feel that this was the start of something big. (Or at least, I’d like to believe that I had that sort of intuition). The “After” memory was when I was sitting in the car in LA after one of my first days of work. I had missed my turn home and I was destined to turn around and wait in the intimidating line of traffic.

I had not driven in over a year and hardly in the past two years. I put in AM to calm my nerves.

“Alright. Alright, so you made a mistake. But we have the Arctic Monkeys and it’s gonna be okay… oh god I’m so screwed,” I said to myself. But then Do I Wanna Know? started and it was this slight bit of distraction helped my fear ebb.

So I did it. I was able to get home and get through about three fourths of the album. So it’s an understatement when I say that AM is a very comforting album for me.

1621987_10152194143307973_820027985_n

11. Lazy Eye (Acoustic) – Silversun Pickups

This is not the song I was listening to when I got into my car accident. That was Substitution, and I almost put that on the playlist.

I could try to explain what it was like going through that. But I don’t want to. I like to think of my memory of listening to Silversun Pickups in LA as a positive one.

I thought a lot about which Silversun Pickups song to put on the list just because there was resurgence of their music in my listening cycle during the beginning of the semester. This was largely due to the fact that I finally, finally, finally got to watch a record store performance after my failed attempt in London.

After just haphazardly picking up flyers at Other Music in New York and never really doing with them, I decided in London that I would actually take initiative. So, after class one night late in the semester, I hopped on the tube and went to Shoreditch to Rough Trade. It was a half hour after the performance had started and… it was over. I was walking into a semi-full store with cables being coiled and microphones being taken down.

This time, I wasn’t going to miss my chance.

Amoeba Music was having an acoustic set of Silversun Pickups featuring Nikki and Brian. I was able to write an article about it on Amplified, which you can find here.

So I drove down into Hollywood, the traffic becoming less foreboding as I had become more accustomed to driving again. I was proud of myself for being able to navigate and park during rush hour. I got inline outside and was the second to last group to be let into the store. Fortune would run out the next day (as that was the day of the accident), but not at that time. At that moment it was about the music and the band.

Entering Amoeba is the most satisfying feeling for a music junkie to ever experience. After so many articles describing the decline of the record stores and being used to hole in the walls (which are still fantastic, just different), it is a shot of adrenaline to walk into a warehouse-sized store of just media, most of music. Rows and rows and rows of new and used. Discounts! Sweepstakes! Sell back your old music! These were signs that popped up around the store, whether it was near the poster section or next to a listening station near the book section. Upstairs was the film and television section and it was made for cinephiles: there are different sections such as films categorized by directors. So, this was of course the place that I chose for Record Store Day. I didn’t stand in the line, but I was able to get a silkscreen shirt and sneak Regina Spektor’s single at the cashier so I fulfilled my goal of getting a RSD exclusive.

Entering Amoeba on the night of the in-store performance was that feeling times 30. The store was packed with people, like lined up next to each other. I was on the right side of the store facing the little stage, looking over the bookshelves to get a good look.

Brian and Nikki were dynamic on stage together as a duo and in their music. The best part of it was that everyone around me was just excited as I was.

“Yes, oh yes I wanted them to play this!” a girl my age next to me gushed as they started Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings).

I smiled, bemused and happy. The feeling to be surrounded by people who like the same music as me is new, so talking about bands like Jukebox the Ghost or Local Natives is still exciting to me. Growing up I’d largely keep to myself what I listened to because I figured none of my peers would like it. Thankfully, I’ve met people that have proven me wrong and have in fact started many enriching friendships based on music.

I was on my tiptoes for the concert, my stomach tightened as each song played. They weren’t playing it yet.

For their last song, they started playing Lazy Eye and now it was my turn to be bubbly and emotional.

“You were waiting for that one, huh?” she laughed next to me.

“Oh my gosh, yes, this is the best, just the best.” I blabbered, my smile widening.

And they closed the set with that powerful, gut-wrenching song. That vortex of emotion and instrumental angst. It filled the whole space of the store.

I had never felt so happy to be part of a community.

1796476_10152175050262973_471966329_n

12. The After Party – Bad Books

After the accident I couldn’t really listen to my normal cycle of songs. I’m someone who has always had emotional ups and downs, but this was different. This was like I was in a fog. I walked and I talked but I still felt like I was living the accident, the numbness and the shock not really shaking off. I knew I needed something different, something to cut through the dullness. I asked for song recommendations and this is the one that stood out to me. I didn’t listen to it until it was night and peaceful. I had been writing down me thoughts and feelings into the late hours and felt that it was time to try to listen again. The song started and it was dark and broody, tranquil and harrowing. The intense aloneness that I had been feeling was being described in such a visceral way… it was like I had thought of it.

And then… crash. The ending of the song was an explosion – with the shouting and guitars being shredded, the loneliness turned into anger and confusion and desperation. My heart flipped over and it was like I came back online. I broke down as the song finished, calm as the guitars strummed to the end.

I wasn’t in a good place yet, but at least I was there again.

10154063_10152293757787973_827429060073395195_n

13. Whirring – The Joy Formidable

If The After Party is what helped me get back online, Whirring helped me deal with change, inconsistency and the day-to-day frustration of simple things like driving. I had listened to the song before, but only the three minute cut that SPIN Magazine had released online with their monthly free playlist downloads (when they still did that sort of thing). The first time I really listened to the song, though, was when I was trying to fall asleep one night.

Thinking that I’d have a nice little moment of yesteryear nostalgia, I was greatly mistaken when the song didn’t end. I already knew that it sounded different from the version that I had gotten to know, but I didn’t think it’d keep going…

But I couldn’t stop listening. The title of the song made so much more sense now, the guitars and power blasting through until the end.

This was the strength that I needed.

I listened to this when I felt unsure or tired or questioning. The feeling of being anxious, especially when driving, was starting to be more tolerable. I had a song that could get that anxiety and frustration out. I didn’t need to shout or cry; I had Whirring.

68674_10152099034657973_770500062_n

14. Strong Hand – CHVRCHES

This is one of the ultimate LA workout songs, perfect for the mind and body.

If you go abroad and you gain weight, you’re doing it right. But, coming back to reality, it’s important to get healthy again. Luckily, I was no stranger to developing a workout routine. At school when I first started really getting into the routine of working out (I had to – second semester of freshman year was a blur of Cheez-its and Gatorade every night), El Camino was the album for me. On the elliptical I felt unstoppable, unreachable. The Black Keys are my force.

It hadn’t been until CHVRCHES’ The Bones Of What You Believe where I felt so amped up by an album as much as El Camino. I’d play it in the car driving to school, while I was running. Strong Hand is what turned me into a fan.

This song was fun, vibrant and ballsy. Their best fan video is a choreographed workout video and it’s awesome. The song embodied my drive to get back in shape and take on the craziness of LA. Once you get past some of the anxiety that goes with the city, LA has things that are unlike any other place in the world. Sentences like “I met Danny Pudi and talked about Chicago” are commonplace in LA, something which floored me. Panels, festivals, exhibits, markets are everywhere. It was like a caffeine-kick to join the brilliantly textured scene of the city.

santa monica1

15. Heaven – The Walkmen

The semester ended with friends, exploration and triumph. In LA there are so many “what-ifs” where you can easily go crazy with worry. “What if I don’t talk to as many people as I can? What if I can’t go to the beach this weekend? What if I miss that screening?”

It’s better to just live in the moment and see how much you can do.

What I was able to do was hang out the amazing friends that I had met while being there. With a few of them I was able to finally have one last exploration to Santa Monica Pier, something I had wanted to right from the beginning. I wanted to feel like I was adventuring until the very end.

What I was also able to do was talk to as many people as I could about the business. I got so much great advice and learned so much from a variety of people. Now what I need to do is digest it all.

So what song was there to better describe accomplishment and optimism than the Walkmen’s Heaven? This was the song that played over the credits over the HIMYM finale. I watched it with a few friends, one of them being a mega-fan of the show. It was an elating experience to watch her reactions, and her passion was inspiring. As I left their apartment after the show was over, I listened to the song.

“Remember, remember all we fight for.”

Without the friends that I had made and developed in each city I would not have had the phenomenal experiences that I had. Without the people that I kept in contact with overseas or back home or back at school I would not have been able to still feel connected to other places that are significant to me. It’s these people that inspire me and make me want to continue to get to know more people and to explore and keep testing myself. I have so many goals for myself and I want to achieve as many as I can. I know that I have the strength and sometimes I just have to remind myself that I do. That feeling of dreaming even after all of the experiences that I have had hasn’t gone away and that’s the best feeling of all.

We do the things we want to do for a reason and with every leap that you take, you learn how to jump a little further.

As for me, I’m still jumping.

~

hawks win1

Bonus Track: Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis

This song applies to every city that I was in… How could I not include the Chicago Blackhawks song? In New York, I watched the Blackhawks win it all: the Bruins fans were dumbstruck and the Blackhawks fans were choking on air after those 17 seconds. Even a few hours after the game I was still jumping up and down outside of my building on the sidewalk and shouting to my brother on my phone.

In London, I lost touch with hockey. However, it was when I watched an Arsenal match in a true football pub that I felt the nostalgia for my hockey viewing days. The shouting, the jeering, the cheering. People spilled their beers like it was no matter when their team scored a goal. The electricity of sports viewing was contagious, and I wanted to get back into the routine of watching my team.

So, I did in LA. If I could I would catch a game and get back into the swing of things. I’m newer to the hockey fandom, but not new in the slightest to sports fandoms. By the end of LA, I was keeping up with the Hawks diligently.

Things come and go and things resurface. It’s all about the place and the time.

Let’s Be Still by the Head and the Heart – Sit with me and listen to this

elheadandtheheart-500x500

The lounging front of the Head and the Heart’s new album Let’s Be Still is something we could all afford to do more often – just relax.

The new album is encouraging for the rising band – it is strong, it is set in their sound, and it expands upon themes explored in the band’s first album. It also sounds like a band that has a name – they stepped up to the pressure of creating an album to follow such a strong start.

It’s also the best thing that you can listen to if you’re a little rattled.

I’m a bit rattled.

This has been a year of shake-ups and mess-ups and come-backs and happiness and sorrow and reflection. Running around and realizing myself but having to remind myself to be a team player, yet at the same time promote myself because, you know, real life is around the corner. Do I really want to be doing this? Is this good for me?

I feel like I’m constantly on a subway, watching things blur by and the ground rumbling below my feet, with people coming and going and changing and sitting and standing and being afraid to bump into one another.

My appearance and heart changes constantly. I am shades of myself with different people and in different places. What I want in Manhattan is different from what I want in Queensway. My identity is a liquid, and I feel like only so much can ground me. Fortunately, and obviously, music tends to do this.

After being so used to speaking quietly and holding my head down, to not rock the boat, I’m finding that I have a voice. But I haven’t quite figured out the power that my voice has. It sometimes comes out stronger than I intend, with my opinions thickly woven into my words. Not everyone agrees with what I am saying. But how else am I supposed to communicate?

I’m shaking that “oh, I’m not worthy” vibe off, but I can’t think I am the most worthy. Because that is self-destructive.

My values are so set and so defined and I never really knew that until this year. Working with people through a complication is one thing, but failing at working out a solution is another. Things fall and break. Things hurt. Things are confusing. But I keep going on. I move from place to place to place.

Life moves on. And you breathe.

The people that stick with you, that really are still with you, let you breathe. They’re watching you rattle and rumble and run around – being crazy – and they stand still. They stand still so you can stop for a moment and just do something normal for a change. Go to a movie. Talk about a band. Visit a museum. Not worry about all of that soul-searching garbage for once.

With those people, your personality is a given. Maybe they haven’t known you for long, but they know you in the sense that they know you’re a person. They don’t put you on a pedestal or give you tasks to try to accomplish so you can prove your worthiness. They say things like “you look nice” when you’re wearing a new shirt or “hey can you pay me back?” because maybe you forgot to go to the bank and they want to remind you so you don’t have to worry about being in debt to them.

You also need to let yourself breathe from time to time.

I find that I breathe the best either staring at buildings or looking out onto water. In recent times, this has been the Thames and when I was looking at the BBC Broadcasting House. The Thames is a wide and fast river, more dynamic than the Chicago river. Think if Lake Michigan was put in a long, winding line across the land. The water moves and you don’t need to think of anything. You don’t need to think of that form for housing or how you’re going to approach a professor you want to ask questions about a class. You’re just looking at the water, and it’s like a painting. An impressionist painting in motion.

And buildings. Buildings are solid, buildings are real, and buildings are grounded. They are there. I feel like I have this striving sense of wanting to be here, to feel like I am in the moment. Buildings are always in the moment. They are there. And they can be so inspiring. A building can represent a beautiful passion, like how the BBC represents my passion for storytelling.

So breathe and be still. Sit and look at things. Don’t think about people, fill yourself with your surroundings.

The Head and the Heart is the antidote for the always-going, always-changing. It’s great to have goals and ambitions, but you need to lighten up from time to time.

These are things I tell myself, but things that are only understood by not thinking about these. These are things that I must feel. I must feel peace and I must feel the ability to breathe in order to actually breathe.

Listening to the album, I am in a different state. The instruments are all so real sounding, the words and the voice sound so honest. People just living. People just looking.

So sit and look around. Be everything and be nothing. Be still.

Brit punk and the world of a new sense of mainstream music

In a hummus shop, I heard the Vaccines.

At first I wasn’t sure, but once I heard the singer, I knew it – “If You Wanna” was being played in Hummus Bros on Southampton Row.

To say “I was stoked” would be to say it lightly.

Hearing gems such as the Libertine’s “Can’t Stand Me Now” being played casually in stores, shops and pubs is something I really need to get used to, and boy, I better let it soak in.

Every now and then back in the US, you’ll walk into a store like Forever 21 or AllSaints and hear something like Au Revoir Simone or tUnE-yArDs, but normally you hop in a cab, and the same top 40 is being played on the radio.

I should clarify something. This isn’t a rant against top 40. In fact, pop and mainstream music has paved the way for independent bands to either rebel against that type of sound or play off of it and make it unique. Pop as we know it in the 21st century is something that constantly changes, so completely writing it off is also hard to do because, well, what of pop are you dismissing?

That being said, I get really tired of artists like Miley Cyrus sometimes.

Why do we turn to people such as that? Because we’re told to listen to her. She has the visual, and bands such as Palma Violets – a fantastic new age punk band with a loosey-goosey attitude that played at Lolla this year – don’t. Then again, not every band wants that same kind of visual.

But, I’ve grown up with not being a fan of top 40. It doesn’t mean I hate all of it, but I am, in the most true sense of the phrase, not a fan. I don’t go out of my way to follow it because I don’t have to since it’s everywhere, and most of the time I’ll either flip the channel to XRT or plop in a CD since I’m still affectionate of albums on CDs. It’s where it started for me – CD players, not iPods.

It’s very easy, as a rock, indie, and alternative fan, to completely dismiss pop or top 40. It’s easy to get into rants, and to feel self-righteous that you listen to the Sheepdogs instead of Kanye West.

But there’s a catch! Indie is starting to become mainstream.

There’s a couple of ways this is happening – indie artists are starting to be top 40 artists. Thank Foster the People for that with “Pumped Up Kicks” (although why that song out of all of them made it big still fascinates me).

Also, Ellie Goulding is becoming a sensation, but she’s not completely new. “Lights” is from 2010, but in recent years it’s become a household song.

This is also happening with the Black Keys – Brothers made it big and you’ll have to go out of your way to find someone who’s listened to Thickfreakness.

Who do we have to thank for this? The Brits, of course.

Now, you can’t completely generalize it, but a lot of these sort of rock or indie bands that make it big in the US were initially hits in the UK.

The reason why I am such a big Kings of Leon fan is because my dad gave me the CD of Because of the Times – which was a sensation in the UK. It wasn’t until “Sex On Fire” and then, more widely played, “Use Somebody,” that Americans started hearing the Kings on Kiss FM and the like.

So I have been given a golden opportunity.

Being in the UK for the semester, I have the opportunity to see rising British acts and acts that have made it big in the UK, but are only a whisper in the states at this point. The most relevant example of this for me personally is the Vaccines. They played to a reasonably sized Lollapalooza crowd in Chicago. In London, they played to a packed O2 Arena, which houses 20,000 seats.

Yeah.

Whether or not the Vaccines reaches Kings of Leon fame doesn’t concern me. But, if they gain success and enjoy it and use it to their advantage, then all the power to them. I cannot stand it when people criticize their bands for getting big. I’m sorry, you don’t like seeing their success? Or the fact that your friends can actually join in a conversation about them now?

Again, as an indie fan it’s easy to have that attitude. The “I was here first!” syndrome.

So, while I’m here in London, I’m going to be musically exploring as much as I can. If I go to a show, check Amplified for a review.

For now, cheerio.

The National: Emotion, memories, and experience at Barclays Center

IMG_2612

There’s that one band where you have a very personal, private connection with them. Explaining your reasoning for liking them so much is something you entrust specific people with. Because you’re not just telling them why you like a band. You’re letting them inside your head. You’re opening a window to a part of your soul that feels really raw. But when you do let them in – doesn’t matter if you know them all too well, or how you feel about them – then it’s a great feeling. They see how much you care, and you don’t really need to finish the sentence. They get why you like them so much.

That band for me is the National. If I were going to delve into each song that I have personal connections and memories associated with, I’d write a novel. This is a blog post, so I will spare most detail. But, maybe that novel will come eventually.

I will admit that I was hesitant to write this post because of how connected I am. But I want to share some of the reasons as to why I love them. “Make the private public” as my writing teacher used to say. So I’ll open the window a little bit.

Seeing them live I ebulliently exuded my excitement. I was happy and enthusiastic, which isn’t really the style of the bands’ songs. But I was like that because of the simple fact that I was seeing them live. The emotions don’t match with the mood of the music, but for me it made sense.

The great thing about this band is that they aren’t afraid to really look at emotion and the range in which we react to different things.

I’m “emotional” and they’re “emotional.” They get it.

They started off their set with Don’t Swallow The Cap, a song that I had recently started to really listen to a lot. There’s an element to the song that’s sort of scary because of some of the lyrics. There’s urgency in the soft way “don’t swallow the cap” is sung. Beautiful way to start the set, though.

After that was Bloodbuzz Ohio. Bloodbuzz Ohio was the first song I had ever heard by the National. To tell you the truth, I didn’t like it right off the bat when I first heard it. They were mellow and moody, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

But I liked the way some lyrics stood out to me. “I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees” had such interesting imagery.

I became endeared to the song the more I listened to it. It started to feel rich, a song that I pulled out for gray days and moments where I was feeling drained. It made me feel like I wasn’t so alone in my intensity of feeling things.

This was freshman year of college.

By second semester, I found another one of their songs, Sorrow, through, embarrassingly, a fan fiction I had read about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson based off of the show Sherlock. And no, I don’t normally read fan fiction. And no, it was not erotic. It was a very touching piece about John taking care of Sherlock who had a terminal illness. It was called “Alone on the Water,” a lyric from Sorrow.

Another nerdy reason for liking one of their songs – Exile Vilify is an easter egg in Portal 2. I’m pretty sure I stayed in that test chamber a good ten minutes just listening to the song in the game.

I became obsessed with Sorrow, even if it was slightly inspired by the fact it was loosely associated with my favorite television show. I really did enjoy the band, though, so I looked up a couple of their other songs from High Violet.

Terrible Love. Hmm, not bad.

England.

England was it.

The swelling, the rising vocals. London.

I immediately downloaded it from iTunes and sent the YouTube link to my sister. She said she really liked the end of the song too.

I would listen to it as snow was falling at school, at night, walking around campus. I thought of how I was going to one day go back to London. I had so much hope while listening to the song. (I found out later that it wasn’t really about London, though, but the feeling still remains).

During the concert, they played England and went straight into Graceless. Both of those songs are my favorite songs from their respective albums. It’s a coincidence, but the moment spoke to me. And by that, I mean that I punched the air and smiled.

After I found England, I got the rest of High Violet and it became an album I could listen to anywhere, anytime, but only with a purpose. Arbitrarily listening to the National doesn’t feel right. There’s always a reason when I put them on, be it a whole album or a specific song.

There was a time this past spring where I was listening to them every day and it was becoming too much. I couldn’t stop listening to them, but I realized that they’re a band where you can’t always listen to them. You need to let the songs sink in.

Terrible Love became my next song of choice. I remember being on the train ride home for spring break during freshman year, and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was agitated and anxious and just wanted to sleep. I was in Cleveland and there was a large building across from where the train had stopped. The lights were still on – it looked like the ground floor was a dance hall of some sort. I put on Terrible Love and imagined myself dancing in the room, what it would be like to look out and watch the trains go by.

I started to close my eyes and I felt safe and calm.

“It takes an ocean not to break… it takes an ocean not to break…”

The repetition was a lullaby and I could feel myself start to relax.

A few more songs in the album played and I effectively fell asleep until Walk Off.

They played Terrible Love in their set, and I had been waiting for it.

It can be interpreted that the song isn’t really about a “terrible” love, it’s more about the fear people feel about love. Birdy does a really good cover of it.

There are these little hidden nuisances to some of their songs, but others are what they seem.

“This song doesn’t have any clever little metaphors. This is just about me missing my wife,” Matt Berninger said.

Then they played “I Need My Girl” from the new album.

They played a lot of songs from Boxer, High Violet, and Trouble Will Find Me, with some songs from their older stuff that I don’t know as well. I guess I can’t claim hipsterdom with this band.

Until this past spring, I had only really listened to Boxer twice through, and hadn’t really caught onto what all of the hype was about. I enjoyed it, but really only invested myself in Fake Empire and Start a War. Before the concert I listened to the album again and… I really liked Mistaken for Strangers. I mean, I really liked it – I felt like I was listening to it for the first time. And then the rest of the songs played and I felt like I was listening to the album new, and I loved it. That’s also a really cool thing about the band – you can keep listening and keep listening and new things will pop up in your mind.

I filmed when they performed Mistaken for Strangers as an experiment – I wanted to see what the quality of the video would be like. I also was indulging the nerd in me and wanted to feel like I was one of those videographers who filmed Queen in 1981 or Bruce Springsteen during the Born to Run 1975 tour.

Throughout the show they were funny, and that’s another why this band is so good. They have this humorous undercurrent and satirical edge. Even when Annie Erin Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent, came on stage to sing This Is The Last Time, they were poking fun at her hugging and saying that she had to then “hug everyone.”

Even when they played Sorrow, they joked how “we’ve played this song a lot,” referring to their six-hour long set at MoMA PS1 where they played Sorrow over… and over… and over again.

I can’t imagine if that was someone’s first experience of the band.

I will admittedly sound preachy at this part: If you haven’t really listened to the National, you’d likely think that all of their songs sound similar. Surface level maybe, but take a deeper listen and you’ll find that their range is amazing. A great example of this is Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, specifically with the higher vocals.

I wasn’t thinking about that when they played that live, though. I was thinking about something else.

I was in church choir for most of my childhood, and have some very dear friends from it. During high school, our choir would sing at different churches and road trip to different places during spring break. My freshman year was New York City (I got sick during the intermission of Curtains), I didn’t go my sophomore year but they went to New Orleans, my junior year was Philadelphia (I saw the Liberty Bell and explored a mall), and my senior year was Toronto (I have a picture with the Stanley Cup and saw Niagara Falls for the fourth time).

I’m still sort of figuring out my own views on spirituality and religion, but I loved those trips. I always felt like we were doing a good deed in the true sense of doing good deeds – we were making music for people. They’d come up and thank us after the show. We had host families and stayed with them overnight, getting to know a variety of people.

My favorite part of each concert was whenever we sang a cappella. Just singing, no accompaniment. We just were connected through voice.

Since leaving high school, I haven’t sung at all because I really can’t sing. I mean it, I suck. I don’t really miss singing in choir, but not in a cold way. It just feels like it was a full experience that lasted exactly as long as it should have gone. It was a great chapter of my life.

But when the National came out after the encore, I remembered. I remembered that feeling.

They played Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks unplugged. It was a trumpet, a guitar, and the band singing. Or, rather, the band conducting the audience. The whole Barclays Center was singing together. We became a choir, if just for three minutes. We all joined singing and people were swaying.

Then they left the stage and the crowd left the arena. But that feeling didn’t leave, not immediately. People left and were smiling and quiet. Some not saying anything.

Because you don’t really need to say anything.

—————————————————————————–

My photostream of the concert:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68987032@N05/

Video I did of Mistaken for Strangers:

Facebook link of the photo they chose from my instagram page:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151416242521010&set=a.10151416242466010.1073741824.11539801009&type=3&theater

Playlist #1: Traveling

travel playsj

When you’re packing to go traveling, you need a good playlist to keep you steady through your adventures.

I’m about to spend a summer in New York City and a semester in London, UK. I’ve always dreamed of living in these places. I’ve been to both cities a few times, but now I’ll be able to really look around, see what these places have aside from the tourist experience. Also, next semester I’ll be able to travel outside of the UK to other countries.

I’ve always loved traveling and going to new areas, be it in the United States to destinations such as Sitka, Alaska or Yellowstone National Park, cities in Canada such as Toronto, or various places in Europe, such as Glasgow, Scotland, Barcelona, Spain, or Nice, France.

These songs listed are memories and dreams – both the types of songs associated with different travels, and songs that inspire me to keep visiting different corners of the world.

Also, you can listen to the playlist on Spotify – Travel playlist

1. Road to Nowhere – The Talking Heads

Great song to get pumped for the journey. Also, it kind of has that “travel for the sake of traveling” kind of vibe. Also it speaks to me on a deeper level as I get lost a lot… so I’m constantly on roads to nowhere… literally.

2. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

This one has a special place in my heart. I’d listen to this in middle school and think of all of the different places I was going to go to. I guess I can tell my younger self I was able to do it. That’s kind of a cool feeling.

3. Who Are You – The Who

This one is a simple one. Just watch that one scene from Louie and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse

I have a memory of me listening to this song on the plane ride over to Scotland to visit some family friends. I think this is a self-conjured memory, though, as I visited Scotland in middle school and I didn’t start listening to Modest Mouse until high school. But I still like to have that fake memory.

5. Let Me Entertain You – Robbie Williams

Okay, so this one illusionist on a cruise I was on did this crazy trick where he was sitting on a motorcycle on stage and then there was a flash of light and then he appeared from behind the audience riding the motorcycle. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And – he did it all with this song playing in the background.

6. Pomp and Circumstances – Smashing Pumpkins

Another song from a cruise experience – this one is a bit more artsy-fartsy. My favorite thing to do was sit on the deck, draw in my sketch book, and just blast Zeitgeist, straight through. I don’t even really remember drawing all that much – I just really dug Smashing Pumpkins and looking out onto the sea.

7. Postcards from Italy – Beirut (not on Spotify)

I’m a postcard collector and sender – I love receiving postcards and I’ll send them out, even if it’s from school. They’re just fun little things, I feel. That and I have more motivation to write a postcard than an actual letter.

8. The Winner Is – DeVotchKa & Michael Dyanna (not on Spotify)

From Little Miss Sunshine, one of my favorite movies and a fantastic road movie. I loved the sense of realism – how hot they looked in that car is definitely something my family has experienced with our annual trips down to the gulf in Alabama. That and I really dig Greg Kinnear’s dad socks.

9. Satellite – Dave Matthews Band

The first time I watched the sun rise was in a coach bus on the way to Disney World with my high school’s marching band. I woke up kind of early and put on this song and watched the sun lift above the trees. A really peaceful moment.

10. California One/ Youth And Beauty Brigade/ Ask – Colin Meloy

This is from his solo album after Castaways and Cutouts came out. I remember sleepily listening to this for the first time on the plane ride to Boston as I was visiting colleges. I liked the song so much that I listened to it again and fell asleep to it.

11. Manhattan – Kings of Leon

The first time I visited New York City, I got the flu. It was my freshman year of high school. During a performance of Curtains, the show featuring David Hyde Pierce (whom of which I was an aficionado of at the time), I threw up. I was determined to finish watching the show, so my body held it together for the second act. The next few days I spent recuperating in a hostel near Central Park. So, my initial impression of the city was a less than pleasant one at best. I went back my junior year, though, and immediately liked it better. I liked it so much that I decided to go to school in New York with the hopes of eventually living in the city. Funny how some things work out.

12. Belongings – Clock Opera

I had traveled around my whole life, sure, but moving? That was a newer concept to me. The only time I had moved in my life was when I was 8 months old. Moving to college was big for me. The weeks leading up to the move were emotional, as I was starting to realize how much I was going to miss everyone. This song describes that feeling perfectly.

13. Wake Up – Arcade Fire

As much as I was realizing I was going to miss people away at school, I also was ecstatic to go to SU. It was the place I had really wanted to go, and I was entering a major I was stoked for (I mean – how much fun does something like “Television-Radio-Film” sound?). This song was in the background of a welcome video Syracuse played at one of the prospective days. It became my anthem for getting psyched about going to school.

14. Rivers and Roads – The Head and The Heart

I listen to this song whenever I’m homesick. Not really about “home,” though, more about people. So, when I’m in Syracuse, it’s when I’m thinking about all of the people I miss in Chicago. Now, after two very full years at Syracuse, I listen to it and I miss the people that I met at school. I’m sure I’ll listen to it off in NYC and London on those days when I miss home in all of its forms.

15. England – The National

I’m a bit of an anglophile. Ever since Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I’ve loved British culture, art, music, comedy, drama, you name it. Last year, second semester of freshman year, I was starting to realize that I was getting closer and closer to when I could apply to study abroad. Listening to this song with the snow swirling all around inspired me to keep that dream going. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I can finally go to the place I’ve always wanted to study in less than 100 days.

16. Gotta Knock A Little Harder – The Seatbelts

I listened to this going to and from Breckinridge, Colorado. On the way up the mountain, it was to pump me up for a trip of epic skiing. On the way down, it was a sense of relief that I was able to survive a horrible bout of altitude sickness and still be able to get some skiing in.

17. From Finner – Of Monsters and Men

I just really like how this song talks about how you can be miles and miles away from home and yet still be really, really happy. I feel like that’s something I’ve felt with a lot of different places I’ve visited, and especially with Syracuse.

18. Loud Pipes – Ratatat

Coolest song to blast while wearing awesome shades and driving your car. In my case, it’s a boxy, green Honda Element. Epitome of classiness.

19. Going to California – Led Zeppelin

I’d really like to study in LA, and it’s something I’m going to try to do within the year. Also, I think that this would be the perfect song listen to while looking out the window, driving.

20. Weather With You – Neil Finn

A great sort of send-off song – it reminds me of the Irish Blessing. So to all of those who are planning on traveling or like to travel: may the weather be with you!