you are alive, but are you living?

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Dress: Motel, Jacket: H&M, Booties: Topshop

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to stroll around the Distillery District in Toronto before catching the last weekend of the Light Festival once sundown came. Lining the Insta-worthy cobblestone streets of the Distillery, there are several trendy bars, restaurants and shops to check out, as well as several art galleries if that’s more your thing.

On our little adventure in the Distillery, I paired this dark floral dress with this oversized moto jacket (also worn here). It was actually freezing cold out once it became dark, so I had the jacket zipped all the way up (not cute paired with this dress haha), but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? I purposely wore this dress to show that florals are not only reserved for spring/summer (I know it’s officially spring now, but it’s still cold out so it’s not spring yet in my mind).  Florals can definitely work in the colder weather too, especially when it’s printed on a dark background like my dress. Just layer it with a jacket, tights, and boots and you can easily winterize an otherwise summery piece.

So this week’s song is another one by The Maine. I know I’ve already featured them twice on this blog, but I can honestly say that they’re the one band who’s music I feel like I can relate to like no other. This week’s song is called “How Do You Feel?” and it comes off their latest album release. I’ve had this song on repeat quite a lot over the last two weeks, and the line “you are alive, but are you living” in particular reminded me of how lucky I am to be alive on this planet.

In particular, once I heard this, I also remembered something I read in The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. In his very first passage, Nepo reminds us of what a rarity it is that we are all alive as human beings in this universe. Out of all the millions of different species of animals, plants, and minerals, how often is it that we get to be alive on this planet with the consciousness that we as humans are so blessed to possess? If I wasn’t a human being, I could have been a mouse, or an ant, or a cloud. So what a miracle it is that I’m here, alive and able to write blog posts about my style and music, and other human beings like yourself, are able to read and react to it. Tomorrow I could be dead and become an ant, but right now, I’m a healthy and alive human being.

It’s so important that we take advantage of this rare opportunity, making sure that every moment we’re here, we spend doing things that are fulfilling for our souls.  For me, that includes things like meditation and yoga, eating carbs more than once in a while, listening to and discovering new music, writing this blog, and going after my dreams.  In doing all this, I have found myself to be more grateful of the opportunity I have here on earth, simply by making the conscious effort to do the things that make my heart sing.  I think we all owe it to ourselves to make sure we’re living the best possible life that we can for ourselves. Because what a shame it would be if we weren’t.

my top 5 concerts of 2017

As promised last week when I posted my Top 5 Albums of the Year, this week we’re talking about my Top 5 Concerts of 2017! Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m an avid and very frequent concert-goer. I mean, it’s the only way to FEEL the music you love, up close and personal with those who make it, while being surrounded by those who love it just as much as you do. In 2017, I was lucky enough to have the chance to see so many amazing artists and bands that narrowing this list down to only 5 was quite difficult. These five shows are the ones where not only did the band put on a performance worthy of a standing ovation, but also helped to cultivate a warm community at the show and made me feel the most sense of belonging.

5.   Alt-J @ Massey Hall, October 2017

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Alt-J’s tour this year was in support of their newest album, Relaxer. Although this album was a bit disappointing for me compared to their previous releases, their show made up for it. They played all of their most popular songs including Fitzpleasure and Breezeblocks, but what really made this show stand out to me was the lighting. I would even go so far as to compare their light show to that of Sigur Ros’ (whom I have also had the pleasure to see live), which says a lot, seeing as how Sigur Ros has won an award for Best Lighting at the Knights of Illumination awards in London.  Nonetheless, Alt-J sounded amazing live like I knew they would, and the lights contributed to the dark and mysterious ambiance. How fitting, since the show took place over Halloween weekend.

4.   Third Eye Blind @ Echo Beach, June 2017

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Ahh, what an exciting way it was to kickoff this past summer, with none other than seeing my favorite band of all time play their self-titled debut record live from front to back, for their Summer of Gods tour. Third Eye Blind being my favorite band automatically means that I go to every single show of theirs whenever they’re in town, and this year it was no different. Their Summer of Gods tour was to promote the 20th anniversary of their self-titled album in which they played the entire album from front to back, something that they’ve never done before. For me, this was so exciting, given that this would be my first time hearing them play some of my favorite songs live, songs that they don’t normally play live! Pretty sure I was almost in tears as soon as they played “I Want You” – this is a song that means the world to me, so much so that I even had part of the lyrics tattooed on my back. Of course, they also played their hits off the album such as Semi-Charmed Life and Motorcycle Drive By which had the crowd in such a good mood, singing along at the top of their lungs. You can definitely say that this show was more for nostalgic reasons, but still hands down one of my favorite 3EB performances ever.

3.   Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ The Mod Club, February 2017

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BFL is someone that I have listened to for many, many years, but for some reason, never had the chance to see live. This year it changed though. We saw him play on a cold winter day, but the show itself was anything but cold. BFL’s performance was simple – no fancy gimmicks, backing band, or even a backdrop at his show, it was just him and his guitar, and he rocked it. I love it when artists do stripped down shows because it really shows off their talent – raw and heartfelt, the way their music was meant to be heard. BFL has one of those soothing, smooth, deep voices that I feel like can cure almost anybody. That voice with just his guitar made it such an amazing and intimate performance. There was a point where he even jumped into the crowd and sang and played, with everyone just circling him. You could make out the crowd singing along, low under their breaths. BFL was definitely one of the most raw and beautiful performances of the year.

2.   Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness @ The Opera House, April 2017

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Andrew McMahon is hands down my favorite musician to see live. He has this way of making each and every one of his shows so upbeat, positive and full of energy that it’s easy to leave all your troubles at the door. I always have the best time at one of his shows.  This time around when I saw him back in April, there was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life, stuff that made me anxious and uncomfortable. But that night, it felt like I had no care in the world for any of that. I felt free and happy, singing and dancing along to all of his songs, just like everyone else in the crowd. Not once did those things that were bothering me even come to mind that night. At one point, Andrew even rode on top and through the crowd in an inflatable duck – something so fun, unique, and interactive that only he would come up with and only he could get away with. The majority of the show had Andrew playing a ton of songs off his new record which also came out in 2017, but also some old classics from his Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate days as well. You may remember from an older blog post (read it here!) how much Jack’s Mannequin’s music has meant to me over the years, especially during my high school days. Every time that I see Andrew McMahon live, it literally makes me feel like I am back in high school, young and free spirited with still an entire world out there just waiting to be discovered.

1.   Local Natives @ The Danforth Music Hall, March 2017 & Osheaga Music Festival, August 2017

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This may seem a bit biased and perhaps it is, seeing as you all know by now how much I love Local Natives. But aside from creating great music, these guys also create an amazing, dream-like show. This past year I was so fortunate to have the chance to see Local Natives twice – the first time at the Danforth and the second time at Osheaga music festival. Prior to this year, the last time I had the chance to see them was in 2014, so it had been a long time coming, also making it one of my most highly-anticipated shows of the year. And boy they did not disappoint. What makes a Local Natives show amazing is their synchronized vocal layering – something you hear in their songs, but is even more impressive and beautiful when heard live. On top of the great energy that they clearly have with each other and on-stage presence, it’s just not possible for these guys to put on a bad show. I remember at Osheaga while we were waiting (front row, of course) for Local Natives to come on, the couple beside us asked if we had ever seen them live and if they were any good. I excitedly told them that they are amazing live and that they would LOVE it. Right after Local Natives ended, the couple turned to me and said, “You were spot on. Those guys were awesome!”. I could not have agreed more, even telling some of our friends afterwards that I wish that I could “just die and live in that moment with them playing, forever and ever – my version of heaven.”

What a wonderful year of live music. I am so excited for all the upcoming shows and music festivals in 2018. What was your favorite show of 2017? I would love to read your experiences too!

my top 5 album releases of 2017

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Since 2017 is coming to an end and every other online publication is publishing their “Best Of” lists, I decided I would do one as well. Since this blog is a space where I love to talk about music, today I’ll be counting down my Top 5 Favourite Album Releases from this past year.

5.  Melodrama – Lorde

This year, Lorde came out with her much anticipated, second full-length album, Melodrama.  This album has received rave reviews from almost everyone, and I agree to no exception. Melodrama is a more grown-up followup to Pure Heroine, where Lorde explores and experiences the world as a young woman looking to find, embrace, and love herself.  There is a bit of romance, but must of the album revolves around the growing pains of going from a teenager to a young woman in today’s society.  All the while, the album still consists of those infectious pop hooks on songs like Green Light and Supercut,  with more ambient and atmospheric sounds on The Louvre. Check out Melodrama on Spotify below.

 

4.  Presence – Petit Biscuit

It’s funny that I have yet to feature much electronic dance music on my blog, considering that I actually do listen to a lot of electronic music. One of my favorite electronic albums this year is by Petit Biscuit, an 18 year old from France. Prior to this album release, he had released several remixes and singles (Sunset Lover, anyone?), and had toured around the world this past year, pretty impressive, right? Presence is Petit Biscuit’s first full-length album which showcases his more melodic approach to EDM, including heavy synths and vocals. The standout tracks to me include Beam, Waterfall, and Wake Up, but the entire album feels complete, with each song transitioning seamlessly to the next. Petit Biscuit has crafted a great atmospheric EDM album, and at such a young age, it’s a given that he will have a great future ahead.

 

3.  A Moment Apart – Odesza

At number three, I have another electronic album. I told you that I actually do listen to a lot of electronic, right? This year, Odesza released their third full-length album titled A Moment Apart. I’ve been a huge Odesza fan for the last few years, and they’re actually one of the first electronic duos that even had me interested in electronic music in the first place. Prior to discovering Odesza, electronic was actually not a genre of music I listened to, or even liked all that much. But upon hearing Odesza’s music, I was hooked. Each song is so catchy and well produced. Their album A Moment Apart, is no different. This one might even be my favourite album by them yet, which says a lot, because I don’t believe there is one song by them that I do not like. Standout tracks to me on this album include Across the Room (ft. Leon Bridges) and Falls (ft. Sasha Sloan).

 

2.   LANY – LANY

My second favourite album this year has got to be LANY’s self-titled debut.  LANY has had an incredibly successful year,  with the release of this album as well as headlining sold-out shows around the world in support of the album. I’ve already talked about my love for LANY and my thoughts on their album previously (read it here!), so I will not go into it too much, but I will say that if you’re into atmospheric synth-pop with simple, millennial friendly lyrics, you HAVE to give this album a listen. Standout tracks include Dumb Stuff, Super Far, and ILYSB.

 

1.   A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs

My favourite album this year goes to The War on Drugs’ newest release – A Deeper Understanding. Similarly to Lorde’s Melodrama, A Deeper Understanding seems to be a popular choice amongst the music community this year, and rightfully so.  A Deeper Understanding is the followup to The War On Drug’s critically acclaimed 2014 album, Lost in the Dream.  A Deeper Understanding is so well-crafted that it literally sounds perfect, in the sense that every one of the several musical layers is so detailed and fine-tuned.  The result is an album with great depth, that is so meticulous and cohesive, each song working into the next, yet still has a broad range in tempos. This is one of those albums you listen to from front to back, truly savoring each and every moment.  I have also previously featured Thinking of a Place, the 11 minute song from this album on the blog (read it here), and although there is not one bad song on this album, my other standout tracks are Knocked Down and Nothing to Find.

 

2017 has been a great year of music, tons of amazing album releases but there are my top 5! Looking forward to new music in 2018. I will also be counting down my top 5 favourite concerts from this past year in a future blog post, so look forward to that very soon!

Wishing all of you a warm, fun and safe New Years!