What We Were Promised: #bookreview

cover131228-medium

 

What We Were Promised looked so promising sitting on the NetGalley shelf. It’s a very well-written book.

All of the characters were seriously lacking in their interactions with each other. There wasn’t much tension between husband and wife, mother and daughter or boss and employee.

I think there was supposed to be tension between the brothers, and Lina and Qiang. Lina and Qiang were going to run off together 20 years ago but they didn’t. No one else knows their secret – not even Lina’s husband, Wei, who is also Qiang’s brother.

Qiang disappeared 20 years ago and has had no contact with his family since then. Lina wants to know what happened between them. I think she was hoping that he would come back for her.

Everything was set up for fireworks or a fight. There was hardly even a cross word. It’s great to have a civil discussion in real life but in a book, politeness doesn’t work out quite as well.

I wanted to like this book but it was a little bit boring. I guess I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. It was not as entertaining as I had hoped it would be.

 

What We Were Promised on Amazon

  • I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for doing a review. All opinions are mine. Obviously.

The Best Bad Things: #bookreview

37941735

 

If you were going to be a cross-dressing spy, do you think that you could be successful in hiding your true identity?

In The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco, it’s 1887 and Alma Rosales has been dismissed as a Pinkerton Detective. Her former boss, Delphine, is the leader of a drug smuggling ring. Delphine hires Alma to find out who is stealing the drugs from her business.

Alma decides to use the alias of Jack Camp and dress like a man to infiltrate the local drug organization. The only other person that knows that she is a woman is Mr. Wheeler, the boss of the local dock workers.

Apparently, she is just as convincing dressing as a man or as a woman. If it were me, I would be worried that I would get drunk and tell everyone all of my secrets. I’d spill all of the tea.

It must have been hard for Alma to trust anyone, even Delphine. She’s in love with Delphine but doesn’t always like her plans. I think Alma also has a crush on Wheeler and vice versa. She likes to dress as a man but I’m not sure if she wants to be a man.

I can’t tell you how it ends but you won’t guess. I love it when I don’t guess the ending. It’s probably not going to end the way you think it would.

 

  • I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for doing a review. All opinions are my own. Obviously.

 

 

The Best Bad Things on Amazon

Katrina Carrasco’s website

Sleep Deprived Music Review: Lunar Femmes

Stargazers EP Cover, Lunar Femmes

 

Once in a blue moon, I stumble upon music that doesn’t have words but is still enjoyable. If you need music to relax or help you focus on something besides finding a time machine to fix all of your mistakes, then I would suggest Lunar Femmes.

Lunar Femmes will be releasing a second EP, Stargazers, in October. It’s definitely ambient pop but not boring. I think that I could do a million blog posts, meditate or take a nap. Versatile music is new to me.

Lunar Femmes on Spotify

Lunar Femmes on YouTube

 

 

 

Interview with . . . Blackbriar

When I was little, one of my favorite fairytales was Snow White and Briar Rose (Rose-Red). It’s not a common story so I haven’t heard it in a long time.

While looking for more Celebrity Ghost Stories or New Years Day, I came across a video of Blackbriar, an alternative/gothic metal band from the Netherlands. Their name reminded me of the Briar Rose fairy tale. It’s like Blackbriar combines music with fairy tales and ghost stories.

I wanted to know more about Blackbriar. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can ask questions. Blackbriar is a band that you definitely should get to know.

 

 

Do you like real fairy tales or the sugar-coated stories?

Real fairy tales definitely! Also, Zora gets a lot of her inspiration from the ‘original’ fairy tale stories.

What have you been doing during your downtime?

In general, we usually don’t take a lot of downtime haha. Sometimes you won’t hear from us on social media for weeks but that doesn’t mean we are taking time off, or not doing anything at all. We are continuously working on new stuff and many of these things don’t get shared with our fans on our social-media because we are trying to stay as focused as possible during that period of time. We (Blackbriar) did take a short vacation in August. Even then we still worked on the production of our new CD and our crowdfunding campaign, which is still live!

Do you prefer to be an independent band?

Yes, at the moment we do. We have received many offers from interesting labels but at the moment we prefer to stay in control and head in a direction we feel is best for Blackbriar.

Will you be doing a tour in the United States?

We definitely will someday! At the moment, there’s nothing planned yet. It is actually one of our biggest dreams as a band and on top of our to-do list!

If you could put together a dream tour, who would you invite?

I think as a band we would probably invite all the artists that have inspired us to write our own music and help us become the band that we are today! Just to name a few: Kate Bush, In This Moment, Periphery, Halestorm, Epica, Lana del Rey, Nightwish, It’s gonna be a weird but legendary tour for sure!

Do you guys celebrate Halloween?

We love Halloween!!! Usually, we make sure we have a show during Halloween so we can wear costumes and make-up haha. However, we are most likely to skip this year but probably still going to a Halloween party somewhere 🙂

Why do you think people are fascinated with witches?

Because they are empowered female figures, close to nature and well… magic is awesome! 🙂

Would you ever cast a love spell?

NEVER!!

What do you want people to know about Blackbriar?

We would like everyone to know that you should check out our new EP called ‘We’d Rather Burn.” Please leave us a message on Social Media with your thoughts! Also, we would like to thank you for this lovely interview. Love, Blackbriar!

 

Blackbriar website

Sleep Deprived Music Review: Houses

houses-drugstore_heaven_ep-lores

The second that I started playing this album by Houses, I knew that I would love it. It’s not a feeling that I get with every album.

The songs are all appealing in their own way. “Fast Talk” will have you hooked from the start.

“That song is meant to be a memorial for a group of friends I had back in my late teens,” explains Dexter Tortoriello, adding, “Thematically it’s almost like a ballet where you keep driving around the same blocks, and people start disappearing from the car because they’re going to jail or dying.”

Personally, I like “Pink Heaven.” It’s catchy and haunting at the same time – sort of like ghost stories. They scare us but we want to hear more.

Drugstore Heaven will be out for everyone to hear on September 28.

Houses’ website

How to Love a Jamaican: #bookreview

51o0xanbgul-_sy346_

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs is a collection of short stories with characters from Jamaica. None of the stories intersect at all. On the surface, no one has much of anything in common, except that they are from Jamaica.

The characters are gay, straight, educated, uneducated, poor, rich and so on. Some of the stories are hilarious, while others are tragic.

I think that the commonalities of many of the stories are food and family. Most of the characters talk about their love of Jamaican food. They also discuss their relationships with family members, especially their mothers and siblings.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite story. There was so much variety that I don’t think anyone would get bored with this book.

I did like the story about Shirley, the pop star. There are some similarities to Rihanna, except that Rihanna is not from Jamaica. She’s from Barbados. FYI: Jamaica is about 1228 miles from Barbados. Did you know that Jamaica is only 238 miles from Cuba? Now we all know.

 

If you would like to know more about this book or the author, Alexia Arthurs, visit the following links.

 

How to Love a Jamaican on Amazon

Alexia Arthurs website

 

  • I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for doing a review. All opinions are mine. Obviously.

NetGalley

Sleep Deprived Music Review: Bayli

40477316_1845609982154890_7907564189604904960_n

Summer is technically over but it’s never too late to listen to Bayli’s album, Summer Mixtape. 

 

Bayli makes what she does seem so easy and effortless. So what does she do? She’s a talented singer and songwriter. Her lyrics and videos are inclusive of everybody. I think if she met you on the street, she would be super cool unless you’re a jerk.

I really like the song “Out for Love.” Most people can relate to finding love being their priority. Bayli’s music is easy to relate to, plus she’s funny. She’s like the BFF you’ve always wanted to have. She is summertime personified.

I highly recommend listening to this album. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year.

 

This quote was on her website. It’s pretty accurate.

“I’m all about liberating the fans, and being with my community, I wrote a song called “With my people”, it’s about becoming empowered through togetherness; which is pretty much the anthem of my soul.”

– B A Y L I

 

 

 

Summertime Mixtape on Spotify

Bayli’s website

116 Days of Summer Guests: Public Policy

A few years ago, I interviewed Providence, RI’s sax-fronted postrock band A Troop of Echoes for The Huffington Post (read it here!).  We discussed their 2015 release “The Longest Year on Record,” a delightful DIY symphony featuring dozens of friend and neighbors supplementing the core quartet with a choir of strings, horns, voices, and drums.  I wanted to catch up with the Troop, so I’ve invited drummer Dan Moriarty to write a guest blog about his five favorite songs from his musical career.  Dan is currently a lunar geologist working at NASA, and his new band Public Policy (also featuring Nick Cooper from A Troop of Echoes) has recently released their second EP, “Human Resource,” a relentlessly churning post-punk offering.   

 

danmor1

Dan Moriarty plays with A Troop of Echoes at the release show for “The Longest Year on Record.”  Photo credit: Freddie Ross

 

A Troop of Echoes – “Kerosene”

Bandcamp Spotify

As a drummer, it’s fitting that the first song I’ve picked doesn’t have any drums whatsoever.  In a lot of bands, drummers aren’t expected to contribute much to the songwriting process. Sit back, keep time, and keep out of the way.  Fortunately, my experience with A Troop of Echoes isn’t like that at all. Even though my bandmates are extremely well-educated musicians and composers, they’re really open-minded and actually encouraged me (the uneducated drummer) to bring little nuggets and song parts to the table.  “Kerosene” emerged from one of these nuggets.

Back in the early 2010’s, I was doing an ill-advised project where I was trying to write a song about each of my 700+ Facebook friends. Yeah, even the ones I met at a bus stop once and never heard from again.  Most of these “songs” were completely terrible MIDI-keyboard odysseys, but a few actually turned out kind of promising. “Kerosene” started off as a vibraphone and bass duet that I recorded late one night in the warehouse we were living in.  I think it was about a friend that had suffered a horrible keg-related injury and then went to live on a houseboat or something. The exact reason for this might be lost to time, but the title of the original recording was “Kerosene: Theme from ‘Dude, Where’s My Face.’”  

Anyway, I shared the original recording with the other guys in Troop, and they really dug it!  Nick got to work composing the incredibly beautiful and moving string and horn parts that completed the song.  It was like an alley-oop in basketball: I tossed up a pass and Nick slammed it home, spectacularly. Everything came together perfectly, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished.  In fact, my (now) wife suggested that I walk down the aisle to “Kerosene” at our recent wedding! That was definitely a proud moment for me, if not somewhat self-indulgent…but I have no regrets about it!

As a final note, this is the most nervous I’ve ever been about recording a song.  I’m pretty comfortable behind a drumset, but had never recorded vibraphone professionally before – especially not using the 4-mallet technique!  I ended up drilling my parts for hours and hours, and ended up nailing it on the first or second take. Thanks, practice!

 

A Troop of Echoes – “Small Fires”

BandcampSpotify

“Small Fires” is another song that started as a nugget I brought in that was then fleshed out by the rest of the band.  As we were writing the collection of songs that would become “The Longest Year on Record,” we were really happy with the cinematic, melodic, spacious, and atmospheric nature of the songs we were writing.  However, we felt that the album was lacking something punchy and catchy – a “single,” if such a thing can exist for a sax-fronted postrock band.

Around this time, I took a trip to my uncle’s lake house in Maine with my family.  Since everyone went to bed at like 9:45 every night, I would go down to the lake with my baritone guitar and mess around on my uncle’s dock for a few hours.  It was pretty peaceful, and the fish (and mosquitos) were a great audience. One of these nights, I came up with the guitar and bass parts that would eventually morph into “Small Fires.”  They sounded catchy and nostalgic, and definitely hit the sweet spot for what we were looking for to cap off the album. Nick, Pete, and Harry ingested, re-interpreted, and built upon the parts I brought in, and “Small Fires” was born.  

 

Public Policy – “Alluvial Cuts”

BandcampSpotify

My experience in Public Policy was a little different from Troop, in that I didn’t bring in many parts to write songs around.  However, our songwriting process was still really collaborative – we’d bounce ideas around collectively for pacing, transitions, song flow, etcetera.  The way things fit together was a little different as well. If Troop songs come together as gears expertly meshing in your transmission, Public Policy songs are more like barreling through the tundra in your 18-wheeler, crushing everything in your path.  

“Alluvial Cuts” is one of the catchier Public Policy songs, and I think it captures everything we’re going for.  The guitars are complex and melodic, the vocals are introspective and anthemic, and the bass and drums pummel, grind, and syncopate.  Everyone is bringing the heat. Gotta give a huge shoutout to Daryl Rabidoux and Mike Viele for the production on this EP – everything sounds ridiculous, raw, and huge.  

 

A Troop of Echoes – “Golden Gears”

BandcampSpotify

This is the oldest song on the list.  We started writing it my second or third year of college, when I was still living in dorms at UMass.  The other guys would come up to Amherst to practice once in a while, and we’d have to migrate from dorm room to lounge to basement to stairwell as we kept getting kicked out of different practice spots for making too much of a racket.  We wrote “Golden Gears” on one these scattershot weekends, and I think the sonics of it really reflect that. The rim clicks, guitar harmonics, and “bass-played-with-a-drumstick” give the song a really plucky, frenetic vibe.

I was a little hesitant to include this song, for a few reasons.  Our songwriting chops weren’t quite developed yet, our performance is a little sloppy in places, and the production on this record didn’t turn out the way we had envisioned (even though this was by far the most money we’ve ever spent on a recording).  However, I think “Golden Gears” is one of our most singular, unique songs. It’s a really different sound from a lot of other stuff out there, and it’s one of the more creative and unusual songs we’ve written, while still being super catchy. It has blemishes, but I think belongs on Troop’s Mt. Rushmore.  

 

Public Policy – “Insulin”

BandcampSpotify

I’m gonna round out the list with “Insulin,” another recent track from Public Policy.  This song is a wild ride through a bunch of tight, sinewy passages, until the end explodes into some soaring, lush guitar harmonies.  That end section always pumped me up so much that I started wordlessly yelling along with the guitar parts at our shows. It became “a thing,” to the point that the other guys decided I should try recording that vocal part when we went into the studio.  It ended up sounding pretty good, so I guess I can add “backing vocals” to my resume of professionally-recorded parts. Nice.

When we were recording the demo for this song, I ended up in the hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis.  Turns out I had developed type-1 diabetes at 29 years old, and nearly died. Whoops. We named the song “Insulin,” partially inspired by that sequence of events.  

A Spotify playlist featuring these songs is available here.  

Sleep Deprived Music Review: Subways on the Sun

38284490_10156768888164551_5927498607321153536_n

When the first song on the new Subways on the Sun album started, I was not convinced that I would like this album. By the end of the song, I was prepared to stay for the rest of the album. It doesn’t always go like that – not everyone wins over the audience.

Capsize will be out tomorrow and available for everyone to listen to or put on a playlist. My prediction is that people will like the album. The people that like this album will probably also like Weezer and beards.

I’m intrigued by the song “Hope You Like Getting Old.” Can we play it on the radio and dedicate it to my ex? That would be cool and a little bit mean. We don’t have to point out the gray hairs in his beard or ask him when he’s going to shave that shit off. Ugh. Beards are not for everyone, especially if you don’t take the time to trim it. You can be a man and manscape at the same time.

For the love of Erick, Nick and Lars take the time to listen to this album and do some self-care.

Subways on the Sune linktree

Cool dudes that send me cool music: http://www.earshotmedia.com/