EQUIPPED WITH MUSIC I’VE BEEN LOVING THIS YEAR AND SUNGLASSES

Hey, hey! 

It’s the end of July, it’s basically Halloween to me, which also means we’re a very decent amount into the year. Crazy right? This year has weirdly blown by me like a passing breath. One moment it was January and I was changing into a different University major years into my degree, and now I’m here with an abundant list of music I’ve been listening to all year. 

HALESTORM’S BACK FROM THE DEAD [ THE ALBUM] 

I actually wrote down my first thoughts to each song when this album dropped with the intent of a review, however the days and months went on and I was still too burnt out, too tired, and too sad to write a thing. Yet, in saying that, I listened to this album constantly during that time. See, Back From The Dead is aggressively feminine with a soccer punch of personal growth, age, and worth. It is quite literally everything I wanted and definitely needed. Enriched with kickass women-hood and acceptance of self delivered in a metal music love letter. The album just straight bangs. I mean, I’ve only heard the term “bombshell” in regards to women from the mouth of a man with eyes of sexualation. While I wouldn’t say reclaimed is the right word here, I want to still make a point of it. I think that’s kinda something important to unpack, as well as being a testament to what this whole project is doing. 

Notable favourite song recommendations from said album: Wicked Ways, Strange Girl, My Redemption, and Psycho Crazy. 

POPROPICASLUTZ! 

This might get kind of “fangirl” of me, but really that’s a good sign. I have not gone a single day since January of this year where I have not listened to these guys. That’s not even an exaggeration, my Spotify “On Repeat” is cursed now. January 2022 met us with that iconic release of WW3, and I have been basically drugged musically since. I am an addict. I want my Poptropicaslutz fix all the time. I don’t even know how to describe this stuff to you, me who writes poetry, is at a near constant loss for words. My only attempt would be if you take the Neon Pop Punk era, Myspace Scene sound of I Set My Friends On Fire/Brockencyde, 2010’s emo rap (though not necessarily “Sad Boi”), and throw it in something more intense than a blender. I don’t know how it works. I don’t know why it does. I do not know anything other than everything – and by God do I mean everything – is straight heat. I literally be giggling and kicking my legs when they randomly tweet out “new song tonight”. 

Notable favourite song recommendations: romeo & juliet, I MISS 2007, user not found, eccentric hats & motley patterns, and Hysteria is impossible without an audience. 

HOT MULLIGAN 

Do not bother making “this is a red flag” comment. Do not bother asking “are you okay?” because I do not have an answer for you. What I do have is Spotify history of the year where Hot Mulligan is very, very present, and truthfully I’m not mad about it. Well, they’re pro Milk, so maybe a little mad about it. God I hope someone gets that joke, otherwise I’m gonna look so stupid. Back to the point, I have been religiously listening to Hot Mulligan all year. I mean I will always love and be emotionally attached to this beautifully mastered genre of Pop Punk. They’re one of the few I think is making the 2010’s styles translate magically well into that of current. I also just think they’re funny. They make me laugh and feel warm and poetically sad. Of course I’ve been listening to them so much. 

Notable favourite song recommendations: Feal Like Crab, Drink Milk and Run, Featuring Mark Hoppus, and Dary. 

SCARLXRD 

This is a little switch up to the previous two, but if you know me I am always listening to Scarlxrd. I tend to keep my playlists pretty organised, yet he is there in pretty much all of them. Scarlxrd is perfect for any mood at any time. Sad? Scarlxrd. Angery? Scarlxrd. Feeling your inner God complex? Scarlxrd. His discography is fairly large, so if you’re into this intense, trap, metal, rap, aggressive bass, there is bound to be something you vibe with. I love him. I love his music. He’s up there incredibly high on my top artists of all time and has been for ages. 

Notable favourite song recommendations: {Flex’}, Rxbxt Slut!, I WANT TX SEE YXU BLEED, Bible Black, and Gin Shxt. 

MAGNOLIA PARK 

This is not the first time I’m talking about them and it sure as hell will not be the last. I think around this time last year I wrote this piece about artists you should be paying attention to in the scene with them as the forefront. So I guess I’m incredibly happy to say not only are they still some of my top played artists but also their incredible growth. I’m kind of emotional about it. Proud don’t begin to cover it. Mag Park have put out numerous tracks since then, and I’ve loved every single one. They are the epitome of what Pop Punk is in this modern wave, and everything that we needed to further progress. Constantly challenging the privileged white attitude/opinions (you know the ones ugh) that has always been plaguing the scene and doing it with some of the best music I’ve heard in forever. There really isn’t a question as to why I’m always listening to them. They’re too cool, too vibrant, too outstanding to not be. 

Notable favourite song recommendations: Don’t Be Racist, Outside, Kids Like Us, Liar, Serious, and Back Home. 

AISLINN DAVIS 

Again, a little bit of a switch up here, but if there is anything to know about me is that my music taste is truly everything in existence pretty much. With that being said, I, like many others, became obsessed with Aislinn’s music via TikTok, and really it’s been living rent free around my head for a while. Her voice is truly prettier than heaven knowns and I could honestly listen to her sing about anything. I can’t really explain what her music makes me feel but I know it’s something I want to never stop feeling. I don’t know guys, but there’s something about the gentle sea-breeze of my town, soft setting sun, open windows, and her music that makes me believe I am living the best human experience available. 

Notable favourite song recommendations:  poltergeist, Devil Boy, think about u, death wish, and Gwen. 

HONOURABLE SONG MENTIONS

  • Dove Beach – Baby Queen
  • SELF-SABOTAGE – Waterparks 
  • Chaos Castle – Xavier Wulf 
  • Just Sign the Papers – Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties 
  • Blender – 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Clearest Blue – CHVRCHES
  • What I Would Give – Angelmaker 
  • Kiss – Lil Peep
  • Loser – Sueco
  • Two Week Notice – Leanna Firestone
  • life’s such a trip – Softheart 

Soak Me In Bleach (Or Well Alcohol Actually)

Hey, hey! 

As promised, a music related blog post, one that I have been trying to bring to you for over a year. In early 2021 or late 2020, I purchased tickets to go see some live music — however, as we’re very aware here in Australia, it’s only been the last maybe four to six months where live shows have been back in action and that gig was postponed not once, but twice. Now, there’s no ill will here or anything, I feel for the impacts the pandemic and lockdowns had on the music scene, but if anything it made the arrival of the set date more exciting. 

Usually I wait a couple of months or just under a year for the dates of shows to roll around. That’s for the bigger ones, not the local joints I like to hit up when I can. Maybe I should write something about those types of trips? But this time it was basically a year and half, which if I’m honest, built up enthusiasm for it and, in turn, the crowd was rowdy and insane. Put a bunch of Aussie metalheads in an 18+ alcohol filled gig for Aussie bands after that long of a wait and it makes sense the chaos that erupted. I loved every second of it, even the weird or negative parts, because now I get to tell this story to you. 

THE ACTS

The main act, infamous The Amity Affliction, who are known for being very aquatic in tone. (No really, I can’t look at the ocean and not go “ah, like the amity songs”). They’re also known for being intense crowd wise, I’ve never heard of them not having at least one wall of death much like the multiple we had at second Sydney show, located at The Roundhouse. 

Although I initially brought tickets for the main act, I was just as excited for the openers Nerve Damage and Waax. Nerve Damage started it all off with an Acknowledgement to Country, which if you’re not Australian, is the acknowledgment for the indigenous peoples who’s land we’re on. I’m sad to say that it is the first time ever that’s ever happened at a concert, and I’ve been a frequent attendee since I was 13 years old. Their set was like the best taster for the night, loud, in your face, and overall politically charged. I am proud to say that I was centre barricade for this show, partly because I travelled out to the venue and always account for traffic issues and such, which left friends and myself there a tad early. However, it meant I had a fantastic view, and was blown away by each act. Especially by Nerve Damage.

Now, I love Waax. I’m not like a super/long term fan or anything (yet anyway) but I knew them, I liked them, and I was excited for them. My expectations? More than met, especially when the ever-so dashing vocalist grabbed my hand. Listen, I nearly shed a tear. The stage presence was lovely, and I am so happy to see women on stage. In fact I even managed to be handed – yes handed not snatched – a setlist. I’ve never managed a set list before. Guitar pics, drum sticks (I think? My memory sucks) even, yes, but never before a setlist. 

Okay, onto what you’re all here for, The Amity set. My loves, I don’t know how to tell you this, I think I just had one of the best show experiences of my life. There was fire! FUCKING FIRE! Honestly, I’m glad there was it turned up the temperature and being winter it was so cold that night. The energy was wild, like I said, all the built up time and restlessness made us all crazy. I lost my voice like three songs in, that’s how hard I was screaming. I think I nearly threw up from emotions, it was all so raw. Also there were mirrors? Fun house mirrors maybe? They lit up? I can’t recall exactly but it was cool. The setlist was top tier. Like you always have those conversations with people about songs you want an artist to play, what you hope or think would be cool to be heard, and that set was exactly that. I was a little sad when it was over. Part of me was exhausted and sore (more on that later), and the other part of me didn’t want it to end. I would pay for Amity to preform in my bedroom but they’d probably burn it down. 

THE EXPERIENCE 

I’ve told you how much I loved the acts, how good they were, but now for the fun part: the details! 

I mentioned centre barricade, which is a brilliant but cursed spot to have. It’s such a “stick it out as long as you can survive” position as you get an entire crowds worth of body weight pressing you into metal. Depending on the type of show of course, some aren’t that aggressive. There’s no shame in lasting one song or the whole act, but I’m excited to say I survived the whole thing without jumping out. Not without escaping some injuries. I am incredibly bruised and aching. One of my calves is black near the knee.

I had some brain cells to bandage up some body piercings before attending, and I’m so thankful for that sober-smart Taylorlani who did that because otherwise there would have been a hospital visit. I did lose an earring as it was jacked out and, to be fair, I don’t remember it happening which goes to show how much was happening at any given moment. It’s okay, I put a safety-pin in it for the time until I got home. God, the adrenaline. 

I did nearly have my medusa piercing torn out by a crowd surfers knee, but that’s okay because I did accidentally punch him in the groin trying to lift him up. I’m 5’2 guys, I’m the height of a 12 year old. I genuinely haven’t grown since that age. If you’re that guy, I’m so sorry, really I was trying to not get crushed. Speaking of crowd surfers though, one guy smelled like a metalhead stereotype, and another kicked me in the head. It’s okay, I’m okay, I’m sure they had the time of their lives. Especially the lad who stood on the crowd – yeah like on his legs – and then jumped directly on me. Iconic of them, I’m so weirdly happy I got that on camera too, otherwise I don’t know how to describe it. 

I was slammed into the barricade more times than I can count and believe me I know numbers, I can count to ten. Applaud me. It was so hype, it was so rewarding to be back at a live gig like that. But alas, there is always something that leans more negative on the night. 

A wonderful gal and lad were elbowing my side, my arm, my body all night really hard and more forceful than the crowd. At first I was like, c’mon you know? But during a quick break between songs they leaned over to apologise and say how they’re trying to stop this one large guy from groping me as he’d been trying all night. Now, I hate to say that this is something I’m used to but I am, and I knew someone had during Nerve Damage, but pushed it aside. I appreciate this couple so much. There’s this stereotype of how metalheads are terrible, big, and scary who will beat you up. But it’s a person thing, not a metalhead thing. Assholes aren’t dictated by genre. Yet, this is the type of attitude I do encounter a fair bit these days. This, like, protective community. Really, I’m so thankful for them, and I’m incredibly grateful that they even went out of their way to do so. 

Metal is full of this hand in hand, help each other out, mentality if you look deeper for it, and I’m proud to say I also live by it. I’m short, but there are plenty of girls who are shorter and smaller than me who attend. It’s not hard to help out when crowd surfers head directly for them. Not to say they’re weak, they’re at a crazy metal gig of course they’re not, but having a body thrown at you can be hell, and I do try my best to cover people when I can or it’s safe for me too.  

On a more higher note, there was insane pit action, there always is at Amity shows. There was multiple walls of death which even I at the barricade got the privilege to be crushed in. My friend got a guitar pic. We spent money on merch. I took a cup from the ground that was cool and sticky. I saw some limes floating in the air, on the floor. I got sprayed with beer and water, as well as spat on. I’m sorry to cleaners. 

It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. I don’t regret a single second of it. I chase the gig adrenaline more than anything in my whole life. It is pure erotica. I’ve been addicted since I was 13 and still wearing a scene mullet with fried bleached hair. I live for music, for live music, for the everything. I love writing about it, the whole thing. It’s more me than if I handed you a bone from a ribs. 

Wait for the Good Things 2022 blog post, since I am happy to announce I will be attending. God, I’m so (happily) broke. 

Movies That Left Core Memories So Bad That They’ve Replaced The Sad Ones

Hey, Hello, Hi, 

I want to simply brush over the fact that I haven’t written or posted anything since, I believe, February. There are many reasons, all of them dull and boring, but I think I’m back to possible frequent uploads. Thus, while a music piece is in the works, here is a list, in no particular order, of films that have left a lasting impact. 

I would be lying if I didn’t say this post wasn’t inspired by my lovely friend, Ty, who you should be reading from and posts way more than me too. Anyway, as they said, I’m no film degree nerd with any true stance to be able to comment like one, but alas I will. 

1. Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe 

2005, Director: Andrew Adamson

I feel like, for many of my generation, this one speaks for itself. However, while I loved fantasy films and novels like Eragon, C.S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia truly never left my head. Like ever. So much so that I freak out when I realise how old this movie and I are. You’re telling me it’s nearly been 20 years and I still think about this all the time? I remember as a kid I was so upset that the wolves were always displayed as evil in these films, which I still stand by fully, however that scene of them in the ice castle when Edmund betrays his family? Rent Free. 

2. Whiplash

2014, Director: Damien Chazelle

This film makes me sound like an obnoxious film guy at university who doesn’t really understand the complexities of it, but I like to believe I’m not like them. Miles Teller is a chef’s kiss, and considering the most recent release of Top Gun: Maverick, this is the perfect time to talk about the absolutely brilliant performance from him and his co-star J.K Simmons, who truly made me fear potential mentors/teachers. Now, I’ve heard people say this movie is boring, which I highly disagree with. Nonetheless, I understand it is the type of thing you need an attention span for to really grasp it.  

3. The Spectacular Now

2013, Director: James Ponsoldt

I am a Miles Teller girlie, through and through, since this movie and the Divergent adaptations. I believe I even forced my last partner to watch this movie with me, and couldn’t shut up during it. It is so much more than a silly love story, and to be fair one of my favourite aspects is the real depiction of mental health through a teenage boy. Yeah, Perks of Being a Wallflower is there and should be on this list in a way, but The Spectacular Now is so vastly different to it and just as important. Relationships don’t cure mental issues as much as we want them to. 

4. Coraline

2009, Director: Henry Selick

This is usually what I say when people ask what my favourite movie is and that still highly stands. I adore Coraline so much, and I’m the kind of friend who bullies you for a) not having seen it or b) were scared of it as a child. I never was, yes it’s a flex, and I even analysed it this past semester for a monster media class. 

5. Pride and Prejudice

2005, Director: Joe Wright

Oh, the love, the adoration, I have for this movie. It is truly just so magical, so outstandingly beautiful. The score, the cinematography, the casting – I mean Kiera Knightly was one thousand percent part of my sexual awakening. This film is a core memory, the essence, the atmosphere, all of it holds weight in my heart. 

6. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

2013, Director: Harald Zwart

Did I at the time hate this adaptation? Yes. Was I super hopeful for the show version but then dramatically betrayed, and even see myself as a victim of that show? Yes. Now, despite all that I still had it as a guilty pleasure film. Little Taylorlani would stay up late reading with it on in the background and would first try to dabble in realism portraiture trying to draw Jamie’s Jace. It was horrible, I was like 11. 

7. The Hunger Games

2012, Director: Gary Ross

Is there a running theme of 2000s novel adaptations on this list? Of course, I am nothing but a little book nerd. City of Bones is a guilty pleasure, but with The Hunger Games, there is not a single ounce of guilt. I could write essays upon essays about the book and the movie. I rewatch the whole series at least three times at minimum a year and own multiple copies of the books. I am convinced anyone who never liked it, or was team Gale, just never understood. 

8. The Crow

1994, Director: Alex Proyas

Ugh, this movie. I heard there might be a remake? I don’t want it and I don’t think anyone should. Brendon Lee’s depiction of Eric is unmatched, it is beautiful, and it is tragic the way his life ended from it. I was raised on this movie, my dad owns this doll-sized figurine of Eric and as a kid, I threw fits because he would not let me play with it. If you haven’t seen this at least once in your life, please do. 

9. Scream

1996, Director: Wes Craven

Okay, so this is not a surprise. This is deeply loved, and I am another one of those lovers. I arguably watched it way too young and was actually scared of Ghost Face when I was little, though that has done a complete switch up now. This movie was important to a loved one who passed away, which is a sad, but beautiful way of keeping their spirit alive. 

10. Love, Rosie

2014, Director: Christian Ditter

Lily Collins is another common feature on this list, and truly I do love her. This movie encapsulates the mundane, the normalities, and the complexities of human relationships, ageing, and love. It is rich and warm in emotion. Comfort movie, and living in my head. Oh, for that love.

11. X-Men: First Class

2011, Director: Matthew Vaughn

I am completely a comic girlie at heart, although I am not an MCU one to be fair. I don’t hate it, it’s really not that deep, I just view comic adaptations the same as book ones and a lot of them leave me disappointed. First Class though? Adore it. Yeah, Wolverine isn’t in it (besides that small cameo), but that’s kind of why I love it so much.  

12. Man of Steel

2013, Director: Zack Snyder

Again, comics, my heart, although yet again I am not really a DCEU girlie. The same reason as above, but I do read more DC comics. Man of Steel was one of the first comic films I fell in love with, outside of my Spider-man obsession. To be fair, I can’t tell you why besides the atmosphere, the depth, and the way it actually made me cry. Man of Steel set up something that sadly couldn’t be topped by the follow-ups for that era. In my opinion anyway.

13. Into the Spiderverse

2018, Directors: Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman

I mentioned the Spider-man obsession, it’s intense. My father would tell you he hates Spider-man because of me, for every time I was around when I was young I would be binge-watching them. I saw Toby’s third movie in the cinema, yes it was 2007, and yes I was 5 years old. Now, as someone who is biracial, Into the Spiderverse and just Miles as a comic character, is something I am emotionally attached to. I will always feel more in tune with him than Peter, but I am typing this as I have a Peter Spider-man blanket on my bed. Yes, I am 20. 

14. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2012, Director: Peter Jackson

I remember when I was in year seven we had to read The Hobbit, at that time I didn’t want to, not because I hated it but because I was deep in my YA fantasy/dystopia 2010’s era and my interests laid elsewhere. Because of this, I watched the film, however, it was at that moment I fell in love with the movie and also realised that the book was being broken into different parts and had to read it for class anyway. 

15. Fantastic Mr Fox

2009, Director: Wes Anderson

Finishing off this list with an animation masterpiece, though there are plenty of more movies I can mention. I wholeheartedly cherish this movie. It’s pretty, it’s coloured like my soul, and so comforting that many of the scenes are core memories. It just makes me happy, which is something I can say for everything on this list which is ultimately the most important thing to me. 

The Grief Of February

Hey, hey!

This year I wanted to start being a little bit more personal on here, like sharing life updates and just different aspects of myself that aren’t strictly “here’s a book!” or “hey look at this band!” 

February is a month that comes around every year, and every year it pulls me under a blanket of shade and shuddering breath. When I was younger I lost an incredibly important person to me very suddenly, it shook up my life and myself to the core. February was his birthday month, and so every time the calendars flip it’s a reminder of time. 

I could talk for days about how grief and death has affected my life as I grew, how it impacts my life years down the track but I don’t really want to. I feel like I live in this loop of life that snaps like a rubber band and I never really leave it behind. 

Thus, here I am to talk about my February so far and things I do to take care of myself. That’s an important part of this whole thing is remembering you’re alive and you need care. 

FRIENDS

I try to be as social as I possibly can be – and manage – in February. I’m usually on a university break around this time just before it goes back for the year and I try my best to compact as much in person social interactions as I can in the weeks. 

It’s important when mourning to remember those around you who are still here, to not let moments slip between your fingers that you might regret if anything were to happen. I do try to not think of things “happening” to my loved ones but the paranoia is there for sure. This month I’ve traveled a lot, catching train after train to different parts of the South Coast of NSW to see friends. Later this month I’ll be travelling out of state for the first time since I was 17 and in high school to see family. 

Friends are also important in taking care of yourself because, as hard as it can be to accept, they’re there for you to lean on when you need it! Especially if they’re offering, it’s okay to need that. Some of my closest friends, Tyneesha, Alana, and Bonnie are truly the most talented and beautiful people I have ever met so I want to use this moment to shout them out.

LOVE

I was gonna title this hobbies but I know that’s clique, so instead it’s love because just do things you love. For you not for anyone else! This can be a bit difficult because sometimes I can get wrapped up in the “they’ll never get to see me grow into this” thoughts which are heartbreaking at best. But this is why I say for you, do it for you. 

For myself I’ve written a bit, two blog posts, a book review that is up on my bookstagram, this post here counts because it’s healthy to talk about your feelings positively! I’ve been messing around with my poetry again and my novel which has sat there untouched for a shamefully long time.

I’ve been making art separate from writing. Filling up my sketch book like it’s a dairy (it is) and messing around with all different unfinished pieces on my iPad. Art isn’t therapeutic for me to be fair, it’s stressful and time consuming and half the time I can’t work out why the hell this nose bump isn’t translating correctly. But it’s fantastic to channel feelings into, taking it all from within and throwing it up.

I’ve been reading, though slower to last month, and just taking my time with things. I’ve started posting TikTok’s! This is because I’m just trying to, romanticise if you will, my life and the aspect of being alive. I like appreciating existence, and taking the time to film little things has helped me mentally get back into this idea of actually living.

TAKING TIME

I won’t ever recommend just ignoring your grief, pushing it back or trying to forget. I find it does more harm than any kind of good and, personally, I like to know I still have the ability to feel those things and bring his memory alive. Taking time, taking things slowly or whatever pace is best for you and still having those moments to breathe. I fear the forgetting that comes naturally with time, so this is a really big part of February for me. 

I became obsessed with the moon and the stars because of him all those years ago, which is something really cute when you think of how I practice witchcraft and study those things now. I usually will find time to sit with them and remember, I find this an important part of this month. It’s recognising another year gone and it’s sitting with it. The weight, the tears, the love, the shaking laughter as I recall all our memories and how I live parts of my life with their influence daily. 

Grief is an ugly, unforgivable thing that you never really lose. When I was younger I hated that but now I welcome it, I welcome knowing his story will live through me and I feel these things because he lived. It takes time to get here, it takes time to get through the month of February annually but I’m okay with that.

JANUARY – I READ SOME BOOKS

Hey, hey!

Last year I read around 71 books and it was a real achievement for myself. I fell out of love with reading in late high school, not for any reason, and I only started to get that back in the pandemic but it was only a book here or there amidst the lockdowns.

2021 changed that, around mid year I decided on the goal of 70 and beat it. And this year I have a larger one of hopefully meeting 80. Which is, quite frankly, exciting!

In January I read around 10 books, though a lot of these were rereads for various different reasons.

We started off the year with ‘All Rhodes Lead Here’ by Mariana Zapata, this was a reread simply because I kept seeing excerpts from it that tugged a little bit at me. It was a great second experience, in fact I think it started off the year nicely to have something easy to fly through.

‘Second First Impressions’ by Sally Thorn took me by surprise. Thorn, the author of the recent book to film adaptation ‘The Haring Game’, has never really been it for me personally. ‘The Hating Game’ was fun, it was enjoyable and I liked it. ‘99 Percent Mine’ on the other hand was one of my lowest rated books of 2021. ‘Second First Impressions’ was a complete rotation, I didn’t just like it, I didn’t hate it even, in fact I adored it. Maybe it was more relatable, character wise, or maybe I just like how Thorn’s writing has grown, but it was everything I didn’t know I wanted.

By now most people have read the brown sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert, but I never jumped on that train at the time. I am usually late to the party on trends. ‘Get A Life Chloe Brown’ was fun, I found myself liking it the further I went. I think part of the reason I stood off from reading it was the expectations set by everyone else, and while I really liked it I didn’t become obsessed. That’s okay though, that doesn’t dismiss everyone who is, I think it was lovely and enjoyed it all the same.

I have been going through some stuff recently, and a large part of that has to do with my identity. So, as one does, I picked up my childhood escapism, my favourite books of all time, though their not even remotely fantastic pieces of writing. Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Shiver Trilogy’ isn’t by any means literary greatness or really great at all to be fair, but in my heart, the heart of my inner child, all three books are perfect. I followed this up with the companion novella ‘Sinner’ of course. If you’re wondering if returning to this deep comfort aided anything, it did.

Again a reread, but this time it was Emily Henry’s ‘Beach Read.’ This book was a stand out for me in 2021, I really, really loved it. Though I find that I relate more to Gus than January, it still is riddled with pure understanding of the human experience around grief and mourning, not just that brought from death either. My main reason for this reread was how deeply I wanted to annotate it.

From this I went into ‘House of Salt and Sorrows’ by Erin A. Craig. I went into this knowing nothing really about it other than ‘dead sibling mystery type beat’ and I was nicely surprised. I will say it started off stronger than it left off, and the middle got a bit drawn out which left the ending feeling quite fast paced. Still I really enjoyed it, and the world building of this sea side gothic setting.

Now if I thought Emily Henry’s ‘Beach Read’ took the themes of grief and did it justice I wasn’t ready for her ‘A Million Junes’. This one was written before the infamous ‘Beach Read’ and later novels and was YA so I was unsure what to expect. That being said I found my new favourite out of all her works I’ve read. Damn, wow, I am speechless. I think I have a picture of my tear stained pillows from when I finished this somewhere. As someone who mourns and lives with the weight of loss and death everyday I particularly find myself drawn to books who understand it and boy did this stand out. Not only that, diving into it through these ideas of generational trauma, expectations through fanatical afterlife magic and ghosts. I can’t wait to see if this will be in my favourites of the year.

There’s some books here which I have started or been slowly pacing through I want to mention here too. Firstly, as it is too a comfort book Awsten Knight’s ‘You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You): A Collection Of Personal Stories And Advice’. As you can tell from the title this is a non-fiction and is broken into sections around Q&A’s or personal stories. This makes it easy to have as a continuous novel to pick up when you want to without getting lost. I have read it before – a few times – and this is my second time around annotating. I fear one day every line is going to be coloured pink. Secondly, I’ve been moving through ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara very pacedly. Content wise it’s very drastically heavy and a little too relatable for aspects of my life at times that it’s only something I pick up if I really feel like it and I don’t think I’d ever really recommend it. Lastly, I’ve started Taylor Jenkkins Reid’s ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ after having it on my TBR for, well for like ever. Again, I’m late to the party.

I think for the first month of the year I’ve started off on a pretty solid run towards that 80 books of 2022 but I’m curious if I can keep this momentum up.

I’ve Been Much Better But At Least I’m Healing – Song’s To Listen To When Alone At Night

One of my favourite things about Pop Punk is the way it made me feel, especially when I was younger and would spend hours on Tumblr. It is simply one of my favourite genres to listen to when I’m sad alone at night. And I have been doing so for years at this point which is why I think I’m ready to share a collection of songs that are perfect for those moments. Not everything here is Pop Punk to be fair, but a fair amount is, not that you need to apply genre’s to everything. I’ve said it before but never box yourself in with that.

This isn’t a complete list or anything, there are tons of songs, of albums, of playlists that could be here. But for now here’s 12.

How To Never Stop Being Sad – Dandelion Hands

Would you call this Pop Punk? Some say yes, some say no, some would probably suggest it being more Midwest, either way I’m 100% including it. The thing about Dandelion Hands is that their music is the opposite of a hug, if that makes sense. It tends to leave me senseless in a way that I can’t stop staring at the ceiling and playing over my own mundane actions of life. It’s not comforting, but you don’t want it to be, not really. It’s a moment of “oh”. It is simply something you need to experience at least once. 

The Night I Drove Alone – Citizen

This right here is a classic Sad Boi anthem and if you’re into this style of music it is probably no surprise that it is here. Have I sobbed to Citizen multiple times? Absolutely. Is it usually at night in some of my darkest moments? Correct, yeah. Do I think you should give it a listen in those times for you? Yes, yes I do. Citizen nail this thing about gripping vocals that make me feel as if I’m screaming from the heart.

High Definition – Waterparks

This might be my favourite song on this list, mostly because it is one of my favourite songs of all time. I will take no slander for it at all. I don’t think I can even describe what it is about this song. All I know is I relate to it too much sometimes, and perhaps you will too. Especially if you struggle with ideas of love. Awsten sometimes says this is the best song he’s ever written and I hope you take a moment to listen to it.

Bummer Summer – Charmer

Oh, I cannot even translate how dearly I love this classic midwest-y tune. It is just something you need to experience. It, like most of this style of music, reminds me so much of fall and broken promises. It leaves me feeling a little less empty, but a little more sighing in sadness.

July (Part One) – Hotel Books

Only listen to Hotel Books if you really want to be broken. Or, maybe, you already are broken and just need reminding of it. If you need something to scream about, something to violently sob for a second if you really relate to the context of this. I’m sorry if you do, but please take this as my offering to you.

Whole – Basement

Just – just listen to it. In fact just listen to Basement. I’m losing my words here.

Losing Days – Hot Mulligan

Hot Mulligan is one of those bands that I listen to when I’m sad, happy or ready to think about my existence. I really thank them for that ability, and the fact that their Twitter really radiates some kind of energy that makes their music more enjoyable than it already is. Losing Days is only one of many songs I recommend listening to late at night in your room.

I Usually Call This One “Dying” – Gloom

Ah this, this doesn’t necessarily sound sad, not really. But it’s a nice breather between the others I have mentioned. I don’t really know a lot of people who listen to Gloom, but I will suggest it. This is a song that’s a vibe, reminds me of when my fairy lights flicker as I cry a little.

It’s Too Much – Moose Blood

Okay, I know people either love or hate Moose Blood and this genre has a ton of issues from bands. But this song, hell any of their songs? So good and I hate it. Moose Blood had music I loved early on in my exploration of Pop Punk and I cry often to them. It is just, I really can’t explain it, so beautifully sad. 

Sixteen – Real Friends

Oh, Oh Real Friends. I treasure them with my entire heart. They are the perfect sad band for me. I love everything they’ve done, even if it leaves me upset clinging to a pillow remembering my pain that never really leaves. This song is one that if you take anything away from this post at all, is that you should listen to it.

The Grey – Movements

Like Real Friends, Movements is that band that can fill a song with a broken heart, trauma and loneliness in a way I am obsessed with. Their Feel Something album is quite loved for this reason, and yes this song comes from there. Movements are like a blanket to me, they weigh me down but comfort me at once. I love them so much.

Well Adjusted – Summer Wars

There’s something about being an anxious person to the core and cold, rainy weather that Well Adjusted pulls out of me. I don’t just listen to this at night, but it hurts me a little more when it is. I am not well adjusted, I like to think I will be one day, and everyday I get up and attempt to be so. However, in those times where I am down so many levels this song is like taking a hammer to me feelings.

I recommend listening to these tunes. Really, each song here makes me feel things when it’s 3am, I’m staring at the ceiling, and I have a Uni class in a few hours. I cry to music a lot, and sometimes it makes no sense when I do. Like why do I cry to Future? That – that one makes no goddamn sense at all. However, these song’s right here are perfectly crafted for these moments of loneliness.

You can find each of the song’s mentioned here in this playlist of mine that includes the artists and music I talk about for University.

The Words’ll Never Come Out Right – Pop Punk Artist’s You Should Be Paying Attention To

In recent time’s Pop Punk has come again into the light of mainstream attention as it did when bands like Yellowcard, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and All American Rejects were played constantly on the radio or the soundtracks of movies. History repeats itself constantly, so really it should be no surprise that it has once again caught on – at least for the moment.

I have no issue with this. Like I said it’s not the first time and really it’s a way for kids to discover things. Not to mention some of what has arisen from the current spotlight has been pretty decent. That being said, the mainstream lane right now is not at all what is happening within the genre. The only way I can describe it is that no matter how many different eras/styles there are to choose from – neon, skate, sad boi, etc – they only ever go for the same thing. Nostalgia, let’s revise the sound of what mainstream Pop Punk used to be. It’s always the same thing with a new face and a hint of contemporary to make it “now”. And to be honest I get it. It’s smart, who doesn’t fall for nostalgia? But really that whole lane is completely separate to the current state of the genre. The way popular culture picks things up is not to be a part of what the current wave is doing, from what is actually happening.

For a while Pop Punk from the 2010’s hit a rut, even me who adores this genre won’t hesitate to say so. It becomes, like most genres do, over-saturated with copies and personations. So with that being said, nothing within the genre really was interesting for a while.

At least, I think so, until now.

The new wave that has been appearing for a moment has been encpatualising. It has not completely moved from the ‘Sad Boi’ tumblr style, but it is totally switched up. I think after that massive hit of Emo Rap we had, bands have started to adapt to this way of not sticking to one thing anymore. In my opinion it’s great, amazing even. Especially when everyone has different ways of incorporating multiple things. Not to mention the features! The 2010’s era was full of features from other artists, bands, from the genre and it was great for sure. But now? I don’t think I’ve encountered as many slight rap crossovers as this new wave has been bringing. And no, I’m not talking about MGk’s album, I mean the artists who are separate from the spotlight.

Part of the reason why I wanted to write this was to share some really great artists who are being overshadowed by mainstream popular culture though. Of course someone within that is going to be a more prominent result when searching new wave Pop Punk than a band with a single EP.

SO, THE ARTISTS?

If I’m being completely frank right now, this isn’t a long list. This is partly because I have hardly been engaging with the Pop Punk scene for a while, just glimpses here and there. Not because I don’t love it, not because I hate it, but simply because I enjoy so many different types of music that it just hasn’t been my main focus right now. That’s okay though, and it leaves room for me to make an updated list in the future, but for now here are a few artists you should be paying attention to.

Magnolia Park

I discovered Magnolia Park from tiktok of all places. I was just aimlessly scrolling, as we all don’t lie, when a snipped for one of their songs and the band came up. Paired with ‘can we be your new favourite Pop Punk band?” text I stopped to pay attention. It was great marketing, I’m not gonna lie. Hell, these kids didn’t even have a single EP when I found them, yet I was actually interested.

They sounded like a mix of classic upbeat Pop Punk with this newer level of production and mixing that would have been labeled as ‘fake auto-tune bullshit’ from those types of fans. To be honest, this whole new era probably is labeled just like that to them. 

I would also like to point out that Pop Punk for the longest time, and taking a look at the mainstream counterpart right now, is very white. Really, most of who you’ll encounter are just pretty white boy’s, and while that was kind of the ‘midwest, angry, white guy’ frontman was a thing for a while, it’s kind of fucked. Magnolia Park features more than one, and not ‘just thrown in there’, POC unlike most in the genre. Actually, it was part of the reason they caught my eye.

Magnolia Park is a five piece pop punk/alternative rock band from Orlando, Florida. The band blends elements of hip hop, pop punk and Emo rock to create a captivating sound and haunting aesthetic. Their music is produced by legendary alternative rock/pop punk producer Andrew Wade of The Audio Compound, who has worked with bands like A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, Wage War, Real Friends, and more.

Magnoliaparkband.com

As smaller artists they’ve done quite a bit of collabs and brought people to feature on tracks. This is a really smart thing. For example, ‘TDH2S’ from their ‘Dream Eater’ EP feature’s Oliver Baxxter, the vocalist for Broadside. While Broadside isn’t a name like The Story So Far or Neck Deep, their existing presence within Pop Punk is there. Along with that, ‘Back on My Bullshit’ which was a popular single before the release of the EP, features iamjakehill. Both of these and others, especially with the appearance of popular emo boy Kellin Quinn, have enabled the band to engage with multiple different audiences before even an album.

To me, Magnolia Park really encaptualates what modern Pop Punk is and needs to be. It’s so interesting and different from where we just were in the genre, and I honestly just adore them. I can’t recomend them enough.

Point North

I think Point North has been around for a little bit, and to be honest I still don’t really hear many talk about them. It could be due to the fact that they’ve always had this new wave style to some extent a part of their music, and like I said before, people don’t ‘like that’. I first heard Point North because of Spotify – thank you Spotify so much – all from their cover of Nothing, Nowhere’s ‘Hammer’. It’s nothing like the original, it’s fast and loud and high energy. Honestly, I would describe most of their music like that. I love Nothing, Nowhere but that cover tops the original by far.

Point North have two albums, ‘A Light in a Dark Place’ (2018), and ‘Brand New Vision’ (2020). Both of these, to me, really express the type of stylistic choice Pop Punk is having currently. Their 2021 singles, especially ‘Nice Now’, are bright, loud and evocative, something that has always stood out to me with them.

Though most of their stuff goes back to 2018, a moment when the 2010’s had kind of a stand still in defined sound, I think they’re gonna thrive with where this genre is headed. You can already feel it with the release of their second album mid 2020, and now with a new single every few months. They’re picking up this fire momentum, something I think will get them far. Like Magnolia Park, Point North has had a feature from the infamous Kellin Quinn, who from the looks of things really enjoys getting involved with smaller artists.

Meet Me @ The Altar

As I mentioned above, Pop Punk always had a white dominating scene, and along with that male. I know you’re probably sitting there like ‘but hey Paramore!’ and you’re right, sure. However, the amount of discourse over Paramore being simply just a Pop band was everywhere in the 2000’s and 2010’s. It really wasn’t about the music, it was just about the fact Hayley Williams is female. Not to mention, Tonight Alive and Against The Current are both female fronted bands that never got anything as much as others based simply on gender. There’s this stereotype of ‘Misogynistic Pop Punk’, lyrically and community wise, and for the longest time it completely was.

I say all this because one of the incredible driving factors of this new wave is the diversity in race and gender. And Meet Me @ The Altar is making impacts in changing how the scene has been for the better.

Once again I did find their music through TikTok, which is proving to be a solid platform for music artists. Honestly, I didn’t come across them themselves, I saw many different people talking about them instead. The thing with this genre is that it is incredibly closed off, or used to be, and so many fans still want that for it. Which is why when you hear a lot of people talking about the same artist, especially newer, they’re usually really good. And boy, are Meet Me @ The Altar is.

An exhilarating blast of sticky-sweet vocals, fluttery electric riffs, and a dangerously catchy chorus (“Your flowers will finally grow!”), it’s all but guaranteed to have you longing for the days of black eyeliner and studded belts.

rollingstone

Meet Me @ The Altar is really moving this genre forward at such a fast pace, and I do wholeheartedly put a lot of the new transitions that are happening to them. Their song ‘Hit Like A Girl’ is completely an anthem for me. It’s something I wish younger me could sing along to rather than ‘Do you look yourself, straight in the eyes and think about who you let between your thighs?’. It’s been time for change for a while, and it’s here finally. If you should pay attention to anyone on this list, if anyone I have mentioned is going to make massive headways, it is them and you should really, really check them out.

Honourable Mention – Lil Lotus

Okay, I know this might get me disliked by some people. Which is fine, I don’t really care if you’re gonna disagree about this.

I mentioned before how the Emo Rap movement that we had in the 2010’s really aided in some newer influence, to bring things together in production and out stepping genre boxes. However, that goes both ways. There are so many artists within that scene, or even those who’ve transitioned from musician to producer, who came from Pop Punk influence. You’ll be surprised with how many Sad Boi Pop Punk era songs have been sampled. Even Lil Peep songs, if you want me to go there.

The point? Influence isn’t a one way street, and while Lil Lotus is commonly more associated with emo rap, he isn’t remotely a simply artist like that. His latest album, ‘Errør Bøy’, is honestly more fitting with bands like Magnolia Park than rap – while still so distinctively being both. Actually, Lil Lotus is touring with Magnolia Park as an open for him, so there you go. That sounded aggressive, but I guess I’m tired of the genre box. ‘Romantic Disaster’ off the album actually features Chrissy Costanza, from Against The Current if you remember them from what I said before.

Change is on it’s way, it’s been meaning to happen, and I really think now is the time to stop thinking you can only listen to one thing to really be a fan. Lil Lotus isn’t just a Rap type artist, he isn’t so simply placed like that. I think if you’re really into keeping up with the way the scene is growing, you need to acknowledge that genres can influence each other. That artists are going to influence each other, and that’s a great thing, not something to hate on.

I Wanna Live Inside Your Mind Next To Your Favourite Songs – Ranking Waterpark’s Albums

I would like to say that I have a pretty open and vast music taste. For me it really is just about the music, or well, art anyway. I don’t like to sit there and critique something based on what someone else thinks is “real music”, especially when all they mean by that is organic sounds. It’s just a silly argument to me, as if sound and music isn’t just pretty little air waves that we all hear differently as living beings. Not to mention it’s just self expression, it’s just creation like everything else in the world is. I think you must live a pretty boring life to only be open to one thing – I could never imagine only watching trashy rom-coms just because something else is entirely different. That’s the point, right?

Now, I promise you this has a reason, I’m not just ranting.

Waterparks are a three piece band from Houston, Texas, and when they were younger very much so inspired by “pop punk” music. As most of us who found bands at a young age can be. When signed to their first label, the whole “pop punk” box was something Waterparks fell into because of this. The issue? They’re so much more than that.

As the years have progressed there has been plenty of talk from Awsten Knight – vocalist, intense creative mind – about the genre in correspondent to the band:

Q: “What do you take from pop punk music and work into your own art?”

A: “The thing is we have all the ingredients for a pop punk band, but it’s the last thing I want to be.”

Q: “Why?”

A: “Because I just – I feel like pop punk hit where it was gonna hit…and at the same time it’s such a limiting genre because you can only do so many things with it. And that’s – that’s another reason I’m so into like -“

Q: “Genre belnding?”

A: “Yeah, and it’s like – and it’s no disrespect like I’m not just trying to shit on like pop punk stuff, but it’s like I just like so much more, you know what I mean? Like besides and also another thing that sucks is when you’re put in that category it’s so hard to get out of it. And when people see you as a “pop punk band” it’s just associated with like being a teenager at warped tour or whatever and it’s like that’s just not what I want.”

Awsten Knight, Zach Sang – The Zach Sang Show, 2019

I only bring this up because often the most negative criticism of Waterparks is the fact that they’re “not pop punk.” It’s not hard to find macho midwest dudes who dislike them just for not making pop punk music, all because the band themself would be around/tour with bands that were. Which I find hilarious.

“Fans of rock think there’s so much better than fans of other things because they’re like ‘oh but this is like meaningful’… most of the time it’s just like vague negative bull, like they’re not even saying anything it’s just like – just like vague struggle fluff for the sake of like being relatable…”

Awsten Knight, 2019

Again, I only bring this up because you can’t justify your opinion on something that they’re not and I think it’s incredibly important to only go into their music with this information. You can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting pop punk – in fact you can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting anything.

Waterparks have four albums – minus their Fandom: Live In The UK – three EPs and, depending on who you ask if they consider it, the “unreleased non-official G album” demos on soundcloud that Awsten had to release because of a tweet. For the purposes of this blog post I’ll just be focusing on albums, but who knows in the future I might follow up with my opinions on everything else.

Fourth Place – Entertaiment

I feel like I might get some hate for this one, which is fine but I have my reasons. I have been listening to Waterparks since the EP days and have watched them steadily grow since and with the release of Entertainment brought in a number of new fans. This isn’t bad, I think this was an era where things started to happen within fans and it was honestly a moment. That being said, this is my least favourite album out of anything they’ve produced. It just doesn’t feel right for me, not at all. That doesn’t mean I hate it, for I enjoy a lot of the songs from Entertainment. But I think that’s just the point, it feels like some songs, not an album, not a piece of art. Maybe there’s something missing for me, maybe I just never connected to it the way I did with every other album? It just feels adolescent to me as well, I don’t know how to explain it.

It’s not a bad album, not really. I know a lot of people who adore it, the vibes of it. That’s just not me though.

Third Place – Greatest Hit’s

Here is where things get difficult. I love – and by god I mean love – this album. Waterparks have some of my favourite artistry out there in the music game right now for me. The contextual elements. The max amount of detail – like how Track 1: Greatest Hits has audio from the streets when their Fandom album was on a billboard in times square. Insane, I love it so much. Greatest Hits is amazing, it’s a piece of art.That being said, as much as this gets played nearly daily for me, I adore the other two albums even more. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but I do.

Second Place – Double Dare

For the longest time Double Dare was my favourite album – one of my favourite’s of all time actually. And it still very much is, but I think most of my love for it comes from my emotional connection to it and what it ‘means’ to me rather than think it’s their best collective piece of music. Of course it keep’s second place though. This album came out exactly when I needed it in 2016, it brought so much joy into my life and it still does every time I listen to it. It’s nostalgic in the best way, while still completely holding up in being good music. Nothing enacts the same feeling as when I hear the opening to Track 8: Powerless.

First Place – Fandom

For a while I sat here not knowing if Fandom or Double Dare would get first place and it took me a long time to decide. If that doesn’t prove just how top notch both of them are then well, I don’t know I just felt like saying that. Fandom was always second to me, for so long, but after thinking it out I actually listen to Fandom more. It only came out in 2019, yet I still listen to it – the songs separately and as a whole – so often that there is always one song in my top tracks. Like Greatest Hits, Fandom has so much contextual depth and artistry. It was the first record away from their first label and you could notice the shift in how they produced their art. It was a moment of growth, change and it was so authentically themself. I love it, I’m attached to it, and I really recommend you listen to it at least once in your life. 

“I have a theory that we could do almost any – where we can do close to anything sonically, not anything but like most things genre wise and as long as what I’m saying is very authentic and very, very real and you can tell I feel like we’ll be aright cuz like Turbulent sounds nothing like any of the older stuff but it’s like what I wanted to make…I like dark music, I like pop music, I fast, I was like that’s all of those things…I just, I like so many things and I just think it’s stupid that – alright I think it’d be dumb to only show like one dimension of yourself especially like today…”

Awsten Knight, 2019

My World Is Broken Down Into One Simple Principle: I Believe I’m Powerful, Therefore I Am – A Get To Know Me

I didn’t have a book review or anything really to post as I normally would have, and so because of that I thought I would just write about me. I put a lot of myself on this blog, when it comes to my University work for my degree or just things I want to showcase – like my reviews of books, music and my art. I wanted there to be some place where I could actually tell you about myself, besides my quick about me you can find here. Afterall, this is my blog, with my passions and work why shouldn’t you get to know who is behind all of it?

To be honest, I find the whole “get to know me” ice breakers, short descriptions, kind of situations really difficult. Like how am I supposed to make you know anything meaningful about myself by telling you if I have siblings or if I like chocolate? I can’t and you can’t gauge anything about me by knowing such basic information that only really makes up the shell to my inner character.

But to be kind, I will give you that really brief description and you can determine for yourself if you want to continue. That was a trick, to see if you were paying attention, because you can’t determine anything from that information.

Anyway, my name is Taylorlani, and yes I like chocolate despite being lactose intolerant.

THING’S ACTUALLY ABOUT ME

“Yeah, I grew up on the South Coast of Australia.” Boring, that says nothing about me. I did grow up on the south coast, in many different places because we moved around a lot. This also means I went to a couple of different schools, which was really unsettling and annoying as a kid if I’m being honest. Now, I lived in many different places not because we could afford too but the opposite. I was homeless for a minute as a kid too, living in friends of family’s houses because things did get like that. I never came from much either, but, honestly, that’s okay.

I don’t acknowledge this part of my life for you to feel sorry for me though, I do because I’m proud of myself. I, if it’s not too narcissistic to say, have a strong work ethic, large life goals and drive because of it. One of my main life goals is to drag myself out of poverty. In year six, I was like eleven, I sat my mother down and said I was going to University for Media/Writing. I don’t think any of my family or teachers thought I would stick with it, they’d just say okay about it. Yet, here I am at nineteen in my fourth semester, second year of exactly that. I worked for that goal since the start of highschool, I did extra work/programs to up myself all the way into my senior year.

I do have siblings, but the thing with that is it’s not just a simple statement. None of my siblings and I have the same father, and there is some age gaps and different ethnicities within that mix. I have an older brother, a whole ten years older actually, and as a kid that meant we were never really close but I’m happy to say that changed since I too am now an adult. I have a younger sister, five years between us, and she is very much following my footsteps with anime and hair dye. Both my siblings are white, however I am a biracial Māori and proudly so.

THING’S I LIKE – HOBBIES EDITTION

If it was not obvious from my book reviews, I like to read a lot. I own a lot of books too despite my bank account crying out against it. My favourite book/series isn’t anything magnificent, it’s not some deep piece of literature as you might expect from someone majoring in writing in a degree of Communications and Media. Actually, if I hadn’t picked it up at age ten from my primary school library because there was a wolf on the cover – I was a wolf girl 😐 – then I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be. However, I did pick up that series and as a lonely kid and proceeded to read it during lunch. Never in my life has anything changed it so much as that book. That book was Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and I read that over twenty-two times within one year, along with the following two other books. Out of all three in the trilogy the second, Linger, would specifically have to be my favourite. A monumental moment in my life, never had I ever read a book front to back before and it really changed me. As stated before I’m majoring in writing at University, I’m sending myself into debt all because this one trilogy took such a deep rooted hold onto my soul and showed me a form of escapism I needed. I have never gone back either, I still read all the time, I write a lot though I don’t share that as much. It’s really not a light statement when I say those book’s changed my life.

I’m an artist, though I really take a lot of time to ever produce anything because nothing is simple and it takes me forever to actually finish something of quality. It doesn’t really matter to me how much or how little someone likes my art, because I never started creating on the basis of other people. Authenticity is a key quality in any kind of creative exploration and, not so surprisingly, people can tell when it is fake. This is why I never force myself to constantly create because I don’t do it just for an audience at all, there is so many unfinished, failed anatomy or just for fun pieces in my sketchbook that I don’t share openly that are just for me – an extentsion of myself.

I like cooking. I wouldn’t say I am amazing at it or that I can really make things with no guidelines, but I enjoy it. Which is kind of funny since I am such a picky eater and hate eating around people if I’m not insanely comfortable around you. Actually, I did VET Tafe Hospitality in highschool and I believe I’m one module away from having my Cert Two in Hospitality which I could easily go and finish anytime. Sadly, I hate working in hospitality, I used to help out family friends with their small business. But cooking for my own enjoyment – stunning, we love her.

Some quick round off’s – I like shoes a little too much, makeup is not me being insecure but another way of expressing myself artisitcly, I hord stuff animals (it’s an issue), I adore being out and doing things so please invite me to adventure.

MORE ABOUT ME – OBVIOUSLY

A major thing about me that is impossible to miss if you follow me on any platform is that I am, and grew up a part of, the music scene. I put that broad label on it because I cannot for the life of me really tell you where I fit, because I am a part of many different subcultures. I was raised on metal and many different things as well. In fact when I was a kid my dad would put on Fall Out Boy’s live dvd because I enjoyed it so much, which was truly a reason I ended up being a scene kid in my early, preteen years. I also stole many of his CD’s as a young kid, including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and My Chemical Romance. I ended up taking his books too, and this is why I owned an old battered copy of Motley Crue’s The Dirt.

My childhood was very much impacted and surrounded by music, which lead to me doing so on my own. I was massively a part of the 2011 and onward emo scene. I started going to shows at thirteen/fourteen and being active within subcultures from that moment forward. It’s a very big thing in my life, a massive trait of mine, and something I would adore to include in my career somehow as I do with my University work. Actually, here’s a review of The Maine’s new album I recently wrote.

I am really into learning and teaching myself things and because of this I am wholeheartedly into astrology. Yeah, I know, you can laugh now if you wish. Some books that really have helped do so are: The Complete Guide To Astrology, Understanding Yourself, Your Signs, and Your Birth Chart – by Louise Edingtom, The Signs – by Carolyne Faulkner, Astrology For The Soul – by Jan Spiller, The Secret Language Of Birthdays – by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers, and really anything by Gary Goldschneider.

If you were interested to know my chart, I’ll only give you my “big three” only unless your my friend. Pisces Sun, Capricorn Moon, and Libra Rising. It’s ah – it’s something.

THING’S I DON’T LIKE

I am not going to waste my time talking about anything I don’t like, I just felt like you would expect it to be here.

SOME OF MY FAVOURITE QUOTES

I kind of don’t really know how to end this off. This could be because I don’t see myself ending, or having an end at all. How are you supposed to stop “getting to know me” when I don’t stop existing? I will forever be advancing, changing, moving within myself and my own identity, and I love that. Thus, instead, I will leave you with a collection of my favourite quotes to possibly exist within you as well as me. Or not, I don’t mind, but I love them and so they’re here.

“My world is broken down into one simple principle: I believe I’m powerful, therefore I am.” – Kingdom of the Wicked, by Kerri Maniscalco.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” – The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.

“I closed my eyes and let self-loathing gently sing a siren song to me.” Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater.

“History, huh? Bet we could make some.” Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston.

“And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.” By Langston Hughes.

“Die with memories not dreams.” – Unknown.

“The key, Gansey found, was that you had to believe that they existed; you had to realise they were a part of something bigger. Some secrets only gave themselves up to theose who’d proven themselves worthy.” – The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.

So Tell Me Where Do You Go When The Hope Runs Out For A Little While – The Maine “XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time” Album Review

Today, Friday the 9th of July 2021, the power pop/pop punk band, The Maine, released their latest album in their already extensive discography titled “XOXO: From Love & Anxiety in Real Time”. The album consists of ten tracks, four of which were singles, paired with bright colours and solid block shapes which really come through when you listen to it. 

Now, personally, I adore The Maine even though the more power pop/neon side of pop punk isn’t exactly my kind of thing. Yeah, yeah you can attack me for not liking All Time Low much here if you want. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, or that I don’t like it, I just favour it a lot less than other styles within the genre. That being said, The Maine is one of my favourite bands. They’re just so authentically themselves with their artistry and I’m pleased to say XOXO was no different.

TRACK BY TRACK

Sticky (single, heard before today) – I’m not sure if this was the first single the band released beforehand, to be honest I don’t remember the order they were released in at all. However, I have been listening to them for a long time, and Sticky is by far my favourite from the four singles. It’s catchy and upbeat, really set the tone for the album even though I think it really stands out on it’s own compared to the rest of the songs. I don’t have a lot to say, not because it isn’t one of my favourites but because I do not remember my first reaction at all.

Lips (single, heard before today) – When I first heard Lips just as a single I love, love, loved it. That hasn’t changed at all, but when listening to the album as a collective piece I found I paid attention to it the least. Maybe that’s because everything else following was so new and I’ll be so interested to see how my opinion grows.

Love In Real Time – I took notes as I heard the album for the first time and in them I have written “omg, the fade in was immaculate, the vibe, the flow, the length.” Something XOXO does so well is the transitions and fade outs and Love In Real Time is the first moment I was like OH MY, because really it was lovely. The length is under 2 minutes, however it matches the song perfectly.

High Forever – The transition into this was also notable, as well as the difference that kind of sent me back to other power pop type vibes, that sets it apart from the songs before. Lyrically, there was something to be said about all the repetition, along with the constant empthis of falling in contrast to being high.

April 7th (single, heard before today) – Personally, this was not a song I loved. I like it a lot, I understand it’s place and I wouldn’t take it away at all. April 7th I think is just a song I can’t connect with at this point, but it’s lovey tone makes me want to someday. I will say the change from High Forever to April 7th was somewhat jarring of a difference, though that could exactly be the point. I would have loved a longer fade out, but maybe that’s me being picky.

If Your Light Goes Out – From notes: “oo it’s pretty, the drums are nice, oh wait is that an acoustic guitar??? Oh damn the acoustic, bass and production combo!!” If Your Light Goes Out is notably one of my favourites from this album. It’s a really hopeful song which fits it’s delicate pretty tone so nicely. I loved the way the song fades off to just the acoustic. 

Pretender (single, heard before today) – In this we’re back with the delicate, fairy like tonality, something I find very fitting for their brand and the band. It kinda contrasts the lyrical context, I really like the content, kinda has that authentic og era of pop punk this band came from, along with being really catchy.

Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful – The opening, I like the voicemail type. The vocals are super cool, the harmonies add so much, the textured layering is stunning, like there’s a lot going on but also not at the same time. It does follow a similar format as the other songs, the fairy-ness of their production which makes sense if you listen to it ahhh. The fuzzy at the end reminds me of something by Waterparks actually. I think this was also a notable favourite.

Anxiety In Real Time – The transition was nice here too, the vocals are a forefront aspect compared to some of the other songs. In my notes I wrote that it reminds me of the 1975 somewhat, but still The Maine. Lyrically its relatable as someone with an anxiety diagnosis, though it is broad. The tone of the guitar is a nice change from the others. It feels very long, but I think that’s kind of a point and the static was great.

Face Towards The Sun – This, this is probably one of my tops from this whole album. The intro, again, was stunning and then suddenly oh the drums! “So upbeat damn, very pop punk esc.” This really feels like summer to me, where the rest of the album, to me, encapsulates spring. It feels like spring fading into summer finally as this is the last track. I again made another note on the drums apparently. Hopeful again which is nice to leave off with. Reminds me of the beach at sunset in a true moment of happiness. The soft fade out for the ending of the album is nice. 

MY THOUGHTS

XOXO: From Love & Anxiety in Real Time as a whole is just spring to me. The format flowed through the whole thing with small moments of “ohh that change’, so it is very cohesive. It feels like something you would listen to all at once and together like it was actually written to be a piece of art rather than some songs put together in one place. I think opening with Sticky was great because I had been listening to it for months already and so the album felt knowable. However, I don’t think another single (Lips) should have been track two. It kind of made me want it to hurry up, also I think Lips would fit somewhere else, maybe between Anxiety In Real Time and Face Towards The Sun. That was the only song that felt misplaced to me. The colour scheme was very fitting. The Maine has always been a warm toned band but never I would say as bright, and for some of the production you could say the same. I’m not that knowledgeable about producing so I really can’t critique it that well, but I loved the layering that just overlayed everything. The Maine is one of those neon/power pop era bands that truly is not doing it like anyone else and have always been “them” compared to a lot of others in that style of this genre. The Album really goes to show that too, I would never mistake them for All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, or State Champs. I love that they never fell under that intense wave and era of “Sad Boi, Tumblr” pop punk and started to become another The Story so Far or Neck Deep as many other bands did.

Honestly, it is a lovely album, by a band I love, even if I don’t favour this style/branch of pop punk as much. I really think I’ll listen to this so much in spring and summer. It just makes me want to drive on the coastline with the windows rolled down and the wind in my hair. It feels yellow and orange and red.

Overall, XOXO would be an 8/10 for me. The two points off just because this isn’t my go to style, for myself personally, and more exciting textures and intense ups and downs are something I look for in music. Don’t take that as me saying the flow or the cohesiveness is bad at all because I did like it!! A lot!! Just not a personal preference. 8/10 is not at all a bad rating for me either, in fact that’s still incredibly high. I enjoyed this album a lot, it was exactly what I pictured in a good way, and it makes me feel warm and comfortable 🙂