Thursday, December 30, 2010

Marching Onward

As 2010 draws to an end, I've been seeing things everywhere that attempt to wrap up, rehash and rank the year's events.

A lot has transpired in the last 12 months; the Rangers went to the World Series, oil spewed into the Gulf for way too long, Lost finally ended...the world was graced with Antoine Dodson's brilliance. It's really too much to try to sum up, so I'll leave it to the experts. Therefore, I will choose to look forward.

So here's what I'm doing, in no particular order:
  • I'm reading My Life In France by Julia Child and dreaming about a summer rendezvous in Paris.
  • I'm also brushing up on my classroom French, you know...for the same reason.
  • I'm registered for a hot yoga class with work friends to make winter a little less bitter.
  • I'm taking an adult spring break trip with 10 of the craziest people I know and seriously considering snowboarding the Breckenridge slopes.
  • I'm starting a tumblr. in hopes that the casual and simplified blog/twitter hybrid will be updated more than once a quarter, as is currently the case over here.
  • I'm going to set spontaneous goals for myself. (Did I mention that I ran a half marathon this year?!)
Most importantly, I'm going to channel the gumption and confidence of Elizabeth Bennett. I just re-read Pride & Prejudice, a personal fave of mine, and like all classics tend to do, I learned something new from it this go-round.

"The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them." - EB

Be genuine. Be unique. Be what the Lord has called you to be.

Cheers to a wonderful 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Or total eclipse of the moon. I stayed up last night to see the lunar eclipse in all its glory. It was pretty strange and kind of incredible; not sure I've ever felt so small. In my own personal experience of the eclipse, I envisioned the song from Fievel Goes West as the perfect soundtrack, but this version is pretty dramatic too.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Social Network

I get chills every time I see this movie preview in theatres. I'm pumped about the movie, but it's mostly just because the song and the trailer are so well put together!

How good is that?! It's exciting because we were at the perfect age when Facebook came on the scene. I was at a large university that was one of the select few to have early access to Facebook, before it opened up to the entire world. In that regard, I think that this movie will sum up our generation and the past decade perfectly.

I'll come clean here; I am a choir-junkie. I started kids choir at church as a mere babe and continued on into every school choir, youth choir, select ensemble and musical I could audition for. It's a lifetime devotion...I'm just waiting to get old enough to join a big Baptist church choir without any awkwardness about being the youngest person there by a few decades.

All of this confession to emphasize how I can't get over the creepiness and the awesomeness of the song! Turns out, the new take on Radiohead's "Creep" is by a Belgian girls' choir that covers all kinds of famous grunge and hard rock hits. As soon as you click on to their website, you immediately hear their cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters"...are you kidding me?! They've got it all from Nirvana and Muse to U2 and The Police.

Hi - my name is Alyssa, and if you're looking for an additional member, give me a call.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mr. 152 Insights Into My Soul!

As I sat on the lawn taking in the cool breeze and the steady scream of the guitar, I tried to add up how many times I've seen John Mayer live and when this whole torrid love affair began. The number I came to is 6, but I swear that seems low...

Believe it or not, I'm aware of the absurdity of my obsession. Most people want to label him as a womanizer, a douchebag, or a sell-out, but the truth is that he's a musical genius. And when you take all the tabloid headlines and supposed character flaws away and evaluate the work aside from the person, it's easy to understand how a dreamer like me could fall into this trap.

In my defense, I'm not the screaming girl in the tiny "I heart JM" tee holding up suggestive signs to get attention. I much prefer to revel in the moment quietly, take it all in and sing along. There's just something about someone who has that much passion poured into so much God-given talent that is hard to look away from.

Why is talent so attractive? Why do these types of people seem impossibly untouchable? And why on earth are these the only people I'm attracted to? I have no answers to these questions and I seriously consider that this may be my #1 character flaw and the reason for my single life. I cling to the hope that I was made this way for a reason...

Here are a few excerpts of some of my favorite lyrics. All kidding aside, it is its own kind of Shakespeare.

When Autumn comes, it doesn't ask
It just walks in where it left you last
You never know until it starts
And then there's fog inside the glass around your summer heart

I never liked this apple much; It always seemed too big to touch
I can't remember how I found my way before she came around
I tell everyone, I smile just because I've got a city love...
and I can't remember life before her name

You're not the perfect hand but I don't hit on 19...
and I don't need another kind of green to know,
I'm on the right side with you

Once in a while when it's good, it'll feel like it should
And they're all still around, and you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing, til you cry when you're driving away in the dark
singing stop this train, I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Change Of Pace

The blessed cool front that has blown through Texas this past week has shifted the dead of summer attitude to a revived readiness for fall. I think September just might be my favorite month. Besides the literal breath of fresh air, it also has the US Open, the start of college football, the launch of fall clothes and the start of the new TV season. Yes, I believe it is my favorite month.

This past weekend, a great group of college girlfriends traveled from afar to commence our last summer hoorah like pioneer women. Don't be fooled, we were not roughing it. Quite the opposite, really. We had 700 acres, a ranch lodge, 2 mules and a zebra-painted safari vehicle all at our disposal for the best Texas weekend getaway. We rode horses, we bass fished; some of us learned to shoot skeet, and like true city slickers, we all walked away saddle-sore.

We also discovered that there's no better time to reignite your love of the Dixie Chicks like a 6 hour car ride with your best friends! It's amazing how even 10-12 years after they came out, you can still sing every single rift to every single song. There was also a smattering of other old country songs as we confessed our favorite childhood stars: John Michael Montgomery, Doug Stone...Diamond Rio.

But with the close of the weekend and with the temperature returning back to tolerable from stifling, my heart is fully set for the fall. If you're not quite there yet, here are a few things to help set the tone for you:

Arcade Fire's new album Suburbs is amazing, and I haven't really taken it all in yet! I'm the worst about picking 2 or 3 songs and keeping them on repeat (Suburbs, We Used To Wait, & Modern Man). And if you haven't participated in their interactive video, you're missing out on a convergence of musical & technological genius.

Fanfarlo is also on my shortlist for fall. I've had the cd since May, but had only listened to Fire Escape because it was the only song I knew. Now that I've broadened my horizons, I'm a big fan. My favorites so far are Ghosts and Harold T. Watkins.

And for your sneak peek pleasure, check out Chris Martin's debut of a new song that he claims may never see the recording light of day. Happy September!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Small Joys

Not much explanation needed to share these little nuggets of joy!

Please listen to Ray LaMontagne's new album, "God Willin' And The Creek Don't Rise". .."New York City, you're killin me..." while I politely disagree, it's classic Ray and I can't be anything but thrilled!

Also, as a former Beyonce impersonator, I feel a personal obligation to post this. Sara B's new album is coming out (and she's touring with Greg Laswell!) in September so she's doing some fun things to help promote it. Check out her cover of Single Ladies for Billboard. She has a style that is much more fitting to me that the original beat's heels and leotards.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Indie-pendence Day

Thanks, iTunes for the catchy title that I just ripped off. Apparently this lapse in blogging and my recent head-first plunge into Corporate America has sucked out all of my creativity. My life may be lacking an appropriate creative outlet at the moment, but it is certainly not lacking in fantastic tunes! It's been the summer of diversity here at A Musical playlist has ranged from Passion Pit and Local Natives to Eli Young and Lady Antebellum! I guess that's what it means to be indie in Texas...but I do hate to label.

A very cool find for Dallas folks and web streamers alike is the new KXT radio station. A blend of cool music and the always trendy, yet old-school NPR world news, KXT's tagline is "Music to the Core" which you have to love. I still surf the airwaves for a morning dose of Alejandro, but it has revitalized my daily commute and made my cubicle life a little less droning and cliche by introducing fun, local bands and playing those artists that you never get to hear in a public setting.

Check it out:

Another sweet and budget-friendly find came to me from a little facebook birdie! Levi's brand has introduced a new concept they are calling Pioneer Sessions, where current artists re-craft unforgettable hits in their "Revival Recordings". Each week a new artist is posted with a remix of a classic and all are available as free downloads. When you get offered a free download, most people naturally assume a no-name artist butchering a song that you never really liked to begin with, but I'm talking She & Him covering "Fools Rush In", Passion Pit, Colbie Caillat, The Dirty Projectors, John Legend with The Roots, etc. etc. My personal fave is Ryan Bingham (you know, wrote the song for Crazy Heart) singing Otis Redding's "That How Strong My Love Is"...swoon.

"These recordings celebrate the most important part of music: The song, its influence and the inspirational effect on the generations that follow."

Go check out the site, read the stories, see the pics and download your favorites. Who can argue with that?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Life In The Day

What I wouldn't give to live just one day of this life...

"A Life In The Day" from John Mayer on Vimeo.

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Easy Sell

I'm an easy sell when it comes to taking a trip. You want to go the beach? Yeah, I could probably swing that. Take a Greyhound to Providence? Why not?

New York is my favorite place in the far. So I jump at the chance to go at any time. I think this may be the best reason yet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March Madness

I know, I's been like a month. March Madness has taken on a new meaning in my life this month, and I'm not just referencing the complete upheaval of the NCAA tournament. (Thanks for nothing, you so-called experts; I've gotten my tail kicked in two separate pools and it's not even over yet.) But really, life has just been crazy can we just do a little recap action and pick up where we left off? Call it even? Um k, thanks.

First off, San Diego was amazing! We had such a great time catching some rays, catching up with friends and literally eating our way around town. A California burrito stuffed with carnitas, fries and guacamole? Let's just say been there, done that.

Aside from the random snowfall on the first official day, spring has finally sprung in Texas! Earlier this month, Megan had a friend in town for the weekend who'd never been to Texas before. Seeing as it was the first beautiful and reasonably warm weekend we'd had, we all offered up our Saturday to show her that Dallas knows how to have a good time.

An early morning patio brunch was followed by a trip to the Nasher Sculpture Museum, where we were challenged to a drawing competition.

We visited everything but the face painting table, and decided it was just too pretty to call it a day. Why not head to The Ritz to have a mimosa? We walked the few blocks downtown and headed into The Ritz lobby like we owned the place. After being lightly cautioned that the pool was on the second floor and was for guests only, we matter of factly strolled over to the elevators and pressed "2". Worth a try, right?

Right. Not 30 seconds after approaching the locked door, a very friendly pool waiter happily swiped his key and welcomed us right in. After making ourselves comfortable in a row of padded lounge chairs, we ordered mimosas and smuggly snoozed in the sun.

That is until we heard a familiar voice making conversation to our left. Ever so sneakily, I peeked from behind my wayfarers to find a familiar face indeed. Amy whispered "Is that...John Tucker must die?" "Umm hmm."

This is the best shot I could get in my feeble attempt to remain cool. We quietly watched Jesse Metcalfe's every move and eavesdropped on his every word for the next 30 minutes or so. We casually sipped mimosas and enjoyed the view until we could giggle, twitter and text everyone we knew.

Next up, John Mayer. I think a few of you expected a ridiculous, overblown, obsessive post after the concert. (I really don't understand why...?) Truth is, I didn't swoon quite like I used to. Am I growing up? Or is it just all his recent bad press? I don't really know, but he's definitely still a favorite and I'll always jump at the chance to see him live.

This time around I was ahead of the game and pre-sale ordered floor seats a mere 4 months in advance. They were by far the best seats I've had for one of his shows and we got to sit next to Chad, his sound guy, which was kind of cool! His tour crew gets to see the show night after night, so it was fun to watch their reactions; you knew when they were really impressed and when they thought he was being ridiculous.

I wish I had some great photos to show you, but unfortunately this was my view for most of the night:

I hate this about concerts; my perfect (and expensive) view, blocked by love birds and bump-its.

Even still, the show was great. He was extremely grateful, the band was incredible and he showed Dallas a lot of love.

Also, my bracket isn't the only thing that hasn't fared so well through the championship. The Beers? suffered a gut-wrenching loss to end the winter kickball season this past week. There was blood, words were exchanged, and there may have been a few threats to pants their pitcher, but overall we were good sports. We'll be back to take the gold next season...I mean, look at this fierce bunch!

I'll leave you with a quick musical snack. The Temper Trap's Conditions is arguably the best album I've heard this year. I mean it. I've had it in rotation for months now and I'm not over it in the least. I'm seeing them live April 12th, so more to come on them soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis

Last year I distinctly remember my friend Micah wishing me a happy 24th birthday and asking me how I felt. Being the slightly-OCD person that I am, I thought 24 was a really solid, even number which gave me a positive outlook on the year. "Ask me that next year," I joked, "25 is a really scary number."

Well, here we are.

Someone else asked me this year, "if you were talking to your little self, do you think you'd be proud of who you are?" - albeit it a very serious question for a birthday celebration, it's worth giving some thought. When people told us as kids that we could be whoever we wanted to be and go wherever we wanted to go, I always believed them. So as my little self looking forward, I think that I'd be proud of the fact that I've taken some chances, learned some lessons, and made a pretty joyful life along the way.

Quarter life crisis? Eh, not so much. It's hard to call anything in life a crisis when you're surrounded by such loving, encouraging and fun people! Birthday plans took shape early this year after rumblings of the fact that I'd never been to Billy Bob's, or owned my own pair of boots. (I think I was called the most "unTexan Texan, ever.") A group of my closest and dearest coordinated a night out in cow-town with a trip to the stockyards for Joe T. Garcia's fajitas and ritas, followed by a Miranda Lambert Concert at the World's Largest Honky Tonk.

My (new) vintage boots, courtesy of Mom!
These babies hadn't seen the light of day in over 30 years!

As I've become accustomed to the past few years, the tone of my birthday was set my a wonderful little snow storm. In New York, it was fun and we were familiar with it, but 12.5 inches in Texas made for a nice little surprise. It also added slight complications to the weekend. I've maybe never laughed as hard as I did while 3 girls in boots & dresses tried to push a BMW out of the snowy Billy Bob's parking lot...only to end up on our knees while the tires spun.

The snow also brought along the illusive snow day at work, and a mid-week sleepover due to power outages! As expected, Robbie was prepared with pizza and cookie cake.

A Brulyssa cookie cake & a New Moon cake?
I think Robbie made enemies in bakeries across Dallas for these novelty items.

All week, Kristen and Robbie had made a point that they wanted to give me my gift on Thursday night before the big day. A little worried that this gift seemed plotted and planned, I obliged and excitedly tore open the Nordstrom bag. If you're unclear on what kind of friends I have, here is a perfect example. In the expertly wrapped box was a birthday outfit - my favorite color blue dress, in the right size and fit, accessorized with a slimming chunky belt.

In case you don't know me at all, let me explain just how special this is. I'm the type of person that anticipates an event like this for weeks, and an hour before stands in my closet frustrated and hopeless because I have nothing to wear. (And sure enough - I had plans to leave work early on Friday and make a quick mall run.) And how many people do you trust to buy you clothes?! I would trust no one else to outfit me perfectly for my 25th birthday celebration; it is pretty much equivalent to me trusting them with my life. I'd do both, for sure.

Flowers, massages, cupcakes, books, cards and facebook messages. I have the best friends and family I could've ever known to ask for. What could I possibly have to be in crisis about?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When It Rains, It Floods

The title really has no reference to the massive snow storms blowing through the Northeast right now, although I do wish I was enjoying a fresh New York City snow. You know, the kind that's so pretty before it turns to black slush and ruins your shoes.

I've had a recent influx of free music, all of it worth sharing. During my routine Starbucks run this morning I picked up a couple of "Pick of the Week" cards. I love Starbucks for a lot of reasons, but this ranks at the top! I love that they pick really quality songs and artists to feature; I don't feel like they're trying to sucker me into downloading some completely obscure and bizarre track that I'm going to spend an hour trying to figure out how to delete from my iphone. Right now you can pick up Corrine Bailey Rae's I'd Like To Call It Beauty and Spoon's Mystery Zone. Both have been added to my current rotation.

Also, I downloaded a free compilation cd prior to the holidays with great stuff from some up and coming musicians. Since then I've gotten lots of freeby offers as they are starting to release new stuff. I haven't listened to all of this yet, but if you're looking for a "try before you buy" kind of deal, check out Matthew Mayfield, Meiko, and Josh Ritter for some free downloads.

And I have to give credit where credit is due. I watched an episode of The Buried Life this week on MTV with Kristen (our resident MTV expert) . I laughed, I cried (actually, I just teared up - barely) and then I downloaded no less than 3 songs from the single 30-minute episode. MEEP! I couldn't help myself! As much as I like to take shots at MTV, I have to say that their music selection is always shamefully spot-on. Plus, I'm gearing up for my annual trip to San Diego (can I call it annual if it's only my second?) and I'm building my SoCal playlist. I'm not sure if it was the tunes or just the show, but it all seemed very California to me. Plus, they're adorbs.

Check out Walking On A Dream by Empire of the Sun, and don't be scared by their anime album cover - just turn a blind eye. Also Stacy Clark's Strange and The Temper Trap's Love Lost. Also worth noting, Miike Snow's Burial and Animal.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Freakin' Weekend

Work has been kind of slow this week. That is by no means a complaint, merely a statement of fact. It's a week like this that reminds me why I work.


Isn't that why you have a job? To afford yourself a social life? For a single 20-something professional, your week is a bit like a roller coaster. Let me provide you a visual.

I guess it's a tale as old as time, because Loverboy nailed it perfectly back in 1981, before this world was ever graced with my presence.

Everyone's watchin' to see what you will do
Everyone's lookin' at you
Everyone's wonderin' will you come out tonight
Everyone's tryin' to get it right

Everybody's workin' for the weekend
Everybody wants a new romance
Everybody's goin' off the deep end
Everybody needs a second chance

Can I get a fist pump for Friday?

Sunday, January 31, 2010


This weekend has felt like my own personal Lollapalooza, packed with concerts and car jam sessions. And in my world, “packed with concerts” also indicates that the weekend was abundant with opportunities to swoon. But that’s probably just me.

I’ll start off with a mention of John Mayer’s Storytellers that aired Thursday night. I melt at the thought, but I wasn’t too jazzed about the songs he chose…I have a lot of respect for his talent, but I could’ve done without hearing Your Body Is A Wonderland.

Friday evening, we piled in Robbie’s car and headed for burgers, a fried ride and a local school benefit concert. We were enticed with the promise of Megan’s boyfriend’s uncle playing the cowbell for a classic rock cover band. With all the great images and high expectations that come to mind at the thought of someone playing the cowbell in real life, we were committed with the hopes of something along the lines of Will Ferrell in his tiny tee. Although it was entertaining, we bailed early with our cowbell fever cured and headed for a local pub that we knew had a jukebox. As the entire kickball team filtered in, Kristen quickly worked her jukebox magic and roused the crowd with some Queen and Otis Redding.

Saturday morning, Robbie made good on a promise that he would get us copies of all the new music he got for Christmas. Enter the new Timbaland and Kris Allen cds! From Saturday morning on, Kristen and I kept Kris Allen’s Alright With Me on repeat as we rotated between Volvos. Maybe it was just all the magic that a Saturday brings, but I would challenge you to play that song on repeat and not at least feel the urge to snap! (I also highly recommend Bring It Back.)

Saturday evening was another benefit concert for the Bethesda Young Life Organization featuring Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz. Thus began the real swooning (and an impromptu marriage proposal via twitter). I have been a huge fan of both of these guys since college; so much talent and such great hearts. They shared a lot about their own stories, played some of their favorites and made lots of jokes. But Dave Barnes singing Grace’s Amazing Hands is nothing to joke about…you could see the girls going down in the audience one by one.

With a spring in our step, we scurried out of there (listened to Alright With Me about 3 more times in the car) and claimed a couple of extra tickets from some friends for the Yo La Tengo concert. I have to say that my favorite part about it was that the lead singer (age: still TBD) was married to the lady drummer and the band had been together since 1984. When he got crazy and starting distorting the amps about 13 minutes into a particular song, I’m sure her heart swelled behind her drum set. It was also the type of concert where the anonymous guy in the fedora felt comfortable enough to light up a reefer as he pleased…I guess that’s the life of a real rock ‘n roller.

I’ve also got the new Vampire Weekend cd to chew on, but I think I’m re-prioritizing my Sunday to include a serious nap before the Grammys red carpet begins, so more on that later.

Hope your weekends rocked too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Song Is Love

Tragedy has consumed the world in recent days. Sitting in a safe and comfortable place, it's hard to see and understand that these images are a reality for so many people in Haiti right now. It's all I can do to restrain myself from adopting a Haitian child.

I took some time tonight to catch up on the "Hope For Haiti Now" celebrity telethon that aired this past weekend. The images are nothing short of gut-wrenching, but there are tremendous stories of faith, survival, hope and perseverance. One of the stories they featured was of a Haitian man who stood outside of the building, where he knew his wife was trapped, for days on end, never giving up hope that she was alive. On day 6, he found her; and she came out singing.

There are so many great organizations that are gathering funds and aiding in the relief and rebuilding efforts. But this Hope For Haiti album is a new way to give and further your passion. Some of the most incredible artists of our time have gathered and added their spin on old classics. 100% of proceeds go to support the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, and Yele Haiti Foundation.

If you need a little more convincing, listen to Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris's version of Hallelujah or Jennifer Hudson's Let It Be, or Coldplay's acoustic medley of The Message. "Stranded (Haiti Mom Amour)" features powerhouse musicians like Bono, Rhianna, Jay-Z and The Edge. I assure you, you'll never get this many names on an album for this price, for a cause as great as this.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Sweet Disposition

I don’t do resolutions. One of the key things I lack as a person is self-discipline. I’m not a runner; I’m not a dieter; I’m not a consistent blogger. Therefore, making a new year’s resolution is like setting myself up for failure – and I have a serious fear of failure. So when the inevitable question flies my way, I take the edgy and confident approach of “I don’t do resolutions.” transitioning my position from failure to trend-setter.

Truth is I’m not inspired by a calendar date. I think inspiration finds you at the most unexpected times and places. After a low key weekend of spending quality time with friends and watching really romantic movies (and football!), I found myself full of hope and optimism for the New Year.

In a frenzy brought on the arctic blast and 1* wind chills, I booked a flight to California to spend 4 glorious days with my two best girl friends.

Kristen introduced me to this blog, which entertained me for hours and restored my faith in love and fun. They give me hope and fulfill all my crazy ideas about life.

I read this tonight in a magazine: "The most elusive of men, Mr. Right is difficult to locate but well worth the effort. Many women settle before finding him, so go out with your friends, be yourself and he will appear. Mazel tov."

Trivial they may be, but here are the few things I can commit to doing in 2010:

I’m going to keep my hair long (until I’m tired of it), because it makes me feel girly.

I’m going to finish reading the Harry Potter series (currently in book 5) and also try to read lots of other, more mature books too.

I’m going to pray more.

I’m going to keep testing the waters with indie music, because once you get past the weird stuff, it’s really, really good.

I’m going to invest in my loved ones, because the ROI is immeasurable. (And it’s not like I have a 401k to invest in.)

I’m going to be happy for others when they’re happy, and celebrate in their accomplishments.

I’m going to turn 25.

I’m going to figure out how to turn off the closed caption feature on my DVD player.

I’m going to keep writing this blog, because every time someone notices that I haven’t blogged in a while, and they see this as a negative thing, I get a tiny surge of joy.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found in you," declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11-4