Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: (Pre-)Countdown / Introduction

In years past, I would get easily irritated reading or watching “Best Album Countdown” lists on your typical mainstream publication or TV show, knowing there was better music out there, “better than that garbage, right?”. It would get me so heated that I would feel compelled to create my own compilation and publish it. But not having kept proper track throughout the year, I was at a loss of what to list and how to list it. What if I forgot something, or didn’t listen to a record as much as I should have before garnering my opinion? Well this year it’s all different; I’ve been documenting my favorite albums since the beginning of the year and I’m proud of my 12-album list I’ve been painstakingly keeping tracking of for months.

Since the inception of the list, I decided to list my favorite albums by release date order – not in order of my personal preference – because that’s what this is for!:

Since the year has nearly come to a close, I will now break down this list, one-by-one, ranked lowest to highest on the albums 2014 birthed to us, that I believe are worth mentioning, and most definitely worth listening to and sharing with others.

More soon_

-Roe

Taylor, What-What-What Are You Doing?

Taylor Swift has one foot in Country, the other in Pop – Okay, maybe both feet in Pop and is in the midst of closing the door on Country. Betraying your roots: First mistake. Although I have to say, I’ve never personally held that against her. Just seems like a natural progression of things once you’ve been in Top40 for awhile. It’s where the money is. And trust me, Taylor Swift is definitely getting a big piece of the pie. When an artist is in Country or Pop (or in her case both), you don’t really need to worry about where the money’s coming from. Your tours will sell out, people will buy your album on iTunes and/or CD, people buy merch, etc. You’ll probably recoup all, if not most of your costs. Why Taylor Swift pulled all of her material from Spotify is beyond me (especially when it was recently announced she would have earned 6 million dollars in a year based on Spotify streams alone?!). Plenty of bands out there touring year-round, making little to nothing have their music on Spotify. Why you gotta be so narrow-minded?

I can’t help but feel I’ve been marginalized by an pretentious, elite 1% prevented to listening and absorbing music through my favorite and most convenient/economical method of doing so – Second mistake. You’ll lose fans and followers that way. She’s pretty much lost me and been a huge fan for about 4 years.

Coincidentally, I actually had planned to listen to 1989 the day she pulled everything. And here I am saying, “she”. Ha! I bet this was all headed up and encouraged by her label, big business, etc. Now I have no plans to listen to it. Guess I’ll never know what it sounds like, Taylor. And I’m not gonna hunt for it on YouTube. What am I, 10?

For such a wonderful young woman, singer-songwriter, musician, and lyricist she sure seems to have the ideals of a white-haired old man (Dare I say, outdated record executive?).

I’m a huge proponent of music subscription streaming sites. I think they’re a great thing that really curbed a lot of illegal downloading and ended up turning a profit for artists who were originally seeing nothing, and brought profits up for artists whose income was on a steady decline. I used to download music illegally – because it was TOO EASY. How could you not? Especially in your teen years when every musical realm was just opening themselves up to you. Boot up Frostwire, Limewire and voila! How else would I have discovered The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Saves The Day, 2Pac, Biggie, etc? I heard a song, liked it, and went to find more. I hunted to complete album tracklistings. I’m a broke teenager. I can’t just buy all the albums that I want to check out. I needed to test the waters first, which is exactly what I can do on Spotify now, legally; I’m sure there’re hundreds of teenagers who are just like my teenage self – searching for more, hungry for another tune to strum on their heartstrings. And Spotify (maybe Pandora and YouTube too) is how they find it.

Let me breakdown two ways where music subscription streaming sites can be beneficial for artists (even if users aren’t paying a cent). These are things I have experienced and wholeheartedly believe:

  1. New discovery can happen within seconds – I was listening to a Spotify curated playlist and ended up listening to this track by DJ named Wax Tailor. I immediately fell in love with it, prompting me to check out his entire discography – which I thoroughly enjoyed. 
  2. Discovery does not have to be restricted to to the Spotify realm, but can result in Facebook likes, Twitter follows, concert attendance, and the eventual purchase of the physical album – This summer I fell in love with an album by band called Weatherbox (a discovery prompted by chatter via other blogs I follow). The record had such a profound impact on me that I bought a ticket to see them live AND THEN bought the vinyl record at the show. 

So maybe it in the future I’ll look for some Weatherbox merch when I have some money to spend. Or maybe if Wax Tailor comes to the States, I’ll be more likely to buy a ticket. This is how to business works now. If the music doesn’t grab me (the consumer), I move on. Why should I commit and invest in a body of work when I don’t even know if I’ll like it? Time and money are more precious now more than ever.

When I like the music or the artist and overwhelming amount, then I will buy the physical copy. If it doesn’t move me, I’ll stream it from time to time, wash my hands, and that’s that.

And Taylor, Spotify is not like stealing a piece of art! Get over yourself! Spotify is like being able to view a work of art that is in a museum, on the Internet. You can still see the painting or the sculpture without having to leave your house or spend a dime, but to experience it – well, you have to go the museum, pay the ticket price, get out of your house. Maybe if it moves you enough, you’ll buy a replica of the piece.

If I were to go to the Met Museum, I would be smart to maybe glance at a few exhibits online and make plans with the intentions to go to that exhibit – because it would be insane for me to peruse the entire museum, hoping something will grab me. There’s too many things there! Like Spotify! Too many artists, too many tracks, not enough time.

Taylor Swift may think she can be an exception because of her elite, A-list status but she just made the worst career move of her life, especially when taking into account her young fanbase. Spotify is the way. iTunes will eventually become near to obsolete and everyone (young and old) is gravitating towards these sites.

Here’s the thing Taylor: I’m not gonna buy your album. And I have 0 plans of seeing you on tour any time soon. When you remove all your music from Spotify like a grump, that’s a turn off. How greedy and self-centered are you? You have enough money as it is. Also, Spotify is not some “grand experiment”; It is a revolutionary tool that is on the road to compensating artists appropriately. The proper wages aren’t there yet. That much is clear. But the more subscribers, the more profit potential there will be in the future. The old model is dead. Stop pretending like it still exists just because you said so.


USA Today: Spotify CEO to Taylor Swift: Isn’t $6 million enough? –http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/11/11/spotify-ceo-to-taylor-swift-is-6-million-enough/18854607/

Stereogum: Taylor Swift Discusses Spotify Stance, Swiftamine Sketch –http://www.stereogum.com/1717177/taylor-swift-discusses-spotify-stance-swiftamine-sketch/news/

You Better Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Top40 Music Is Bad For Your Health

I try to be a good person.

The Red Cross kept calling my house asking me to donate blood – again and again and again. To the point where I was like: you knowwhat do I have to lose? I’m O+. Why not donate and save a life? I hadn’t donated since high school.

So I made an appointment online – for today. Easy.

I was really excited about it too; I wrote it on the family calendar, kept bringing it up in conversation: “You know, I’m donating blood this month”.

My dad comes home from work and I ask if he could take me earlier (my appointment was scheduled for 7…and I didn’t want to miss Allison Weiss’ StageIt show).

I didn’t drink any caffeine today (I am now btw). I drank nothing but water, ate 2 pork cutlets and had a nice slice of vegan pumpkin pie for lunch (for iron), and got a good night’s sleep.

So we get to the Red Cross, go through registration and now the “nurse” starts to take my vitals. He’s very disgruntled and mumbly. I can’t understand a word he’s saying, but I can see he’s ticked he can’t just scan my donor card. Turns out it’s not working because I haven’t given blood in over 5 years.

He looks at my license and quickly inputs all my information, confirming it in his mumbly voice. He’s making me very uncomfortable. Meanwhile, there’s Top40 playing in the background, and if anyone has listened to the radio in the past 7 years, you know the tempo has been getting faster and faster, beats becoming more and more emphatic.

He takes my temp, a blood sample for iron, then takes my pulse. He’s says it’s too high. Takes it again. Still too high. I tell him maybe I’m a little nervous. I haven’t given blood in awhile. Takes my blood pressure. He claims it’s 140/80. WHAT?! My blood pressure is never that high. It’s always 120/something. “It’s the music,” I say. He looks at my like I’m high as a kite. I said, “I’m serious”. The room is thumping with Top40 radio as background noise. Plus, there’s been studies done that when you listen to music your heart rate synchronizes to the beat and the rhythm. You even think rhythmically.

He looked at me like I was insane.

He ignores my comment and says, “Are you on any medication?” “No,” I answered. “Are you suuuuuure? Birth control?” he stresses. “No,” I admit. He has another guy take my pulse. He says it’s 102 and it needs to be under 100 to give. Try again. Goodbye. Game over. I’m done.

Guys, I was so pissed. I just wanted to save a life, wanted to give back to the community! And I’m telling you, had they been playing spa music, Beatles, Enya even – My pulse would have been fine! How am I supposed to keep a low heart rate to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Maroon 5’s Animal, or other Top40 garBAGE? (Taylor Swift is actually okay. Just not the tempo for this point in time)

I guess the next time I make an appointment, I’ll be sure to do a thorough peace and serenity mediation before I leave the house.

September Snapshot

My mom’s started going back to school to get her certification in Spanish Translation. I give her so much credit. She’s the strongest, most determined woman I know. I’m listening to her now doing her homework. She has to listen to these audio passages (some in English, some in Spanish) and then translate them and discern their meanings. They’re legal passages; I suppose examples of courtroom/law scenarios. She keeps repeating how hard it is. I can only imagine – and even that feels like an understatement.

I’m watching the 49ers game on mute while she does this, as to not disturb her. Also, I only have Vernon Davis and Phil Dawson in this game (on my fantasy team) and I’ve already won my matchup. I’ve been really getting into football, and can’t really figure out as to why. I think about it a lot. Like, “Why football? Why now?” Without sounding too cliche or pathetic, maybe it gives me something to believe in. Something to understand and formulate ideas and opinions on, without having it be so serious.

I’m also listening to Nonna in the next room. She gets these belching/indigestion attacks sometimes. She can’t stop and she becomes really uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s caused by antibiotics (which she’s on right now), so it’s probably that because she didn’t really eat anything crazy today that would’ve caused it. I hope she sleeps well tonight. My mom too. Both of them had difficulty falling asleep last night, whereas I went out like a light and slept a good 8 hours. I had a busy day yesterday.

My brother is in marching band. He plays trombone. It’s his first year. Hard work, but he loves it a lot. The team had a breakfast at the high school, and I told him I’d come out to support him. The cafeteria was freezing. I didn’t end up eating anything, as I try to stay away from gluten and dairy on the regular, so I just had some tea. The band had a really awesome performance. They have a really great sound and when you watch them, you can tell they’re all really into it – which I think is great. They were supposed to perform outside, but there was construction and it looked like rain. So they ended up playing in the auditorium – which was also freezing. I brought a hoodie but felt bad for my dad because he didn’t have anything. He ended up putting his arms in his shirt the whole time. I thought it was hilarious.

But anyway, we didn’t get to see the band’s steps, but they did perform on the stage with the drum majors switching every now and then. Even though I couldn’t see my brother (he was in the back with the other trombones), I almost cried a few times. Some of those chords got me right in the feels. Aside from the performance, I was really glad I went because I was able to talk to an old history teacher. He’s definitely one of my top 3 favorite high school teachers, and I was lucky enough to have him for two years – freshman and senior year. He’s the principal now, and it was cool to just kick it with him for a few and chat and laugh about things. It made me feel good about life for awhile.

And I suppose that’s what it’s all about.

I just glanced back at the TV: Chicago scored a touchdown. Niners are up by 10. The game’s a little less than half over. Kaepernick just got a first down. I was expecting Vernon Davis to at least get a touchdown or something. But I guess there’s still time. They’re in the redzone now.

Nonna turned in early. My mom helped put her to bed, despite my insisting that I do it since she has to do her homework. I’m alway railing on her, making sure she’s focusing and not on Facebook – funny how tables turn. Ha! It’s not easy is it?!

I hope the Niners win. I hope I get a call from one of the three companies I interviewed with last week. I hope things work out with a minimum of casualties and unnecessary pain and suffering. Not just in my life, but in other lives. I want to be able to look back on my choices with a smile and someone to hold close at the end of the night.

To close my eyes and feel okay.

Because that’s peace.

And peace opens you up.

I want to be open and accept the good – and the bad.

Because OM.

There you are.

5 Days of Gratitude Challenge – Day 5

Last day! Hooray!

  1. My orthotics and the ability to walk. This morning I had an interview in the DUMBO part of Brooklyn (lots of walking and train taking) and honestly, every time I’m out and about I’m so thankful for having orthotics and legs to carry myself with. About a year ago, I had tremendous pain in my ankles. I could barely stand, nevermind walk. I was very worried about it. I went to physical therapy for months and though my condition improved, the problem didn’t go away. My chiropractor recommended I see a podiatrist and it was he who discovered (after an x-ray) that I have something called an Osteochondral Lesion in both my ankles. This basically means that I have two small fractures (about 8 mm long, each) in the cartilage of both my ankles. I immediately thought I would need surgery, but luckily we were able to fix the problem by my podiatrist making me custom orthotics that now properly support my foot and ankle. I’m not supposed to walk barefoot often and must always wear shoes with proper support (even sandals. No flip-flops!). But it’s a small price to pay to be pain free and walk with ease 🙂
  2. I’m also very grateful for all the friends I have these days. Though the numbers may have dwindled over the years, I now find myself more confident and at ease with the people I now stay in touch with because I know they truly care about me, and I care about them too – very much. There are 5 I can immediately call to mind who are wonderful people to have conversation with, have a coffee or a drink with, and laugh and be silly with but still trust enough to confide in each other. I treasure them immensely.
  3. Lastly, I am grateful and appreciative of my ability to write music and play guitar. There are many days where words are not enough, and music has to come in and do the talking. I’ve always been indebted to my rich musical upbringing since I was a kid because it has taught me so much over time. Not only is it cathartic, but it can be so much fun sometimes. Some days I feel as though I’d be nothing without it.