Best Reads of 2016

Best Reads of 2016

Winter is coming! Actually it’s already here, and there is really no better time to curl up by the fire and plow through some great books. Not all of these books were released this year but they have all been incredibly well received, with a winner of the Man Booker Prize, a National Book Award for Nonfiction, and two National Book Award Finalists among them. It’s a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, comedy and drama, historical and present-day. If you’re inclined to read these books, please purchase via my links below (yay, Amazon affiliate income). Get reading!   A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara “…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.” This was the most engrossing piece of fiction I read all year. 720 pages deep, it’s no quick read, but the depth and complexity of Yanagihara’s characters is simply breathtaking. It’s a heavy novel, filled with abuse, suffering, and pain, and without any real sense of redemption. However, the glimmers of beauty and sustenance seen in the friendships throughout the novel provide a compelling reminder that the company we choose is perhaps our best hope for salvation.   The Sellout by Paul Beatty “Sometimes I wish Darth Vader had been my father. I’d have been better off. I wouldn’t have a right hand, but I definitely wouldn’t have the burden of being black and constantly having to decide when and if I gave a shit about it. Plus, I’m left-handed.” If A Little Life was the most...
America the Great

America the Great

The 2016 presidential election has shaken me to my very core. To begin to express the magnitude of my personal grief, the last time I have felt an even remotely comparable range of shock reverberate throughout every fiber of my being was upon the discovery of my best friend’s homicide. The initial feeling was of utter denial. A complete inability to process the finality and reality of a horrific situation. Then followed a seemingly bottomless, gut-wrenching despair – sadness and grief. A heart so heavy and full of sorrow that it felt it could never be mended; returned to its original wholeness. This grief was soon transformed to anger – a fury so singular it could hope for nothing less than a complete karmic retribution for the cruelty and utter lack of empathy, humanity, and compassion of one senseless decision. Finally, the cycle resolved itself with an unwavering personal commitment to fight for a life filled with meaning, intention, and discovery. Before I get into the basis of my disbelief, sorrow, anger (however you may wish to categorize the collective grief) over the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, I feel obligated to explain how my personal belief system aligns with the current American political system. For starters, one of my favorite lines to explain away my experience growing up is “I had an unconventional childhood.” It has proved to be quite simply the easiest way to dismiss the reality of being the highly unlikely ‘successful’ offspring of a schizophrenic, absentee father and a borderline mother. I have no origin...
New Music Monday: October 2016 Playlist

New Music Monday: October 2016 Playlist

The month of September marked the release of some of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. Bon Iver dropped his first album in five years, marking a dramatically experimental shift in his original sound. Gone are the folksy, ethereal overtones of his first two albums, replaced instead by juxtapositions of electronics and altered instrumentals. The emotional weight of Vernon’s voice remains, allowing 22, A Million to serve as a beautiful, reinvented expression of the everlasting talent of Bon Iver. Banks’ sophomoric release, The Altar, is easily one of my favorite albums of the year. With a noticeable shift to a more upbeat, sundry tone, her powerful voice and lyrics remain the focal point. Finally, one of my all-time favorite songstresses, Regina Spektor dropped a wonderful gem of a new album, Remember Us To Life. In her whimsical, conversational, poetic manner, she continues to explore the sometimes painful beauty of human existence, calling forth the fleeting joys of youth and the impermanence of our time here. Get listening to some of the best new music of the year!     1) Mood Ring (Blue Motel Tropical Remix)- Cannons, Blue Motel 2) Take It Slow (feat. JcK & Grace Kelly)- Smiles Davis 3) Stockholm- Conner Youngblood 4) Best to You- Blood Orange 5) Operator (DJ Koze’s Disco Edit)- Låpsley 6) Crazy Conscious- Compass: Mexican Institute of Sound 7) 33 “GOD”- Bon Iver 8) High and Low- Empire of the Sun 9) Underwater- Goldroom 10) She’s a Lady- LION BABE 11) Drowning (feat. BADBADNOTGOOD)- Mick Jenkins 12) Trainwreck- Banks 13) So Good- Warpaint 14) The Trapper and the Furrier- Regina...
New Music Monday: August 2016 Playlist

New Music Monday: August 2016 Playlist

This month’s playlist is filled with singles from some of my favorite artists – Glass Animals, Banks, Warpaint, and Father John Misty to name a few. Banks’ releases have lent to much anticipation for her sure to be spectacular album, scheduled to debut on September 30th. Father John Misty on the other hand, is not planning for an album release any time soon. He appears to have simply taken a brief stint from satirizing popular culture to drop this dreamy single, “Real Love Baby.” By far, the best full-length album to drop in recent weeks has been GENERATIONWHY by ZHU. The LA-local and USC grad, ZHU chose to remain anonymous while releasing his critically-acclaimed electronic, dance tracks until mid-2014. With gorgeous underlying lyrics highlighting the resilience of the human spirit, this debut album of ZHU is filled with sultry, smooth beats and is the perfect soundtrack to a warm, summer night.     1) Past Lives- Local Natives 2) It’s Strange- Louis the Child, K.Flay 3) Life Itself- Glass Animals 4) Waves(s)- Lewis del Mar 5) Fuck With Myself- Banks 6) Hope (feat. BR/\VE) – Tim Legend 7) Augustine – Blood Orange 8) Sunday Love- Bat for Lashes 9) Wish I Knew You- The Revivalists 10) Real Love Baby- Father John Misty 11) New Song- Warpaint 12) Waking Up- Mr. Little Jeans 13) Echo of Tomorrow- Jake Meadows, Daniel Johns 14) Cold Blooded- ZHU   Follow me on Spotify!...
New Music Monday: June 2016 Playlist

New Music Monday: June 2016 Playlist

Summer is all about the music. Warm nights at the Hollywood Bowl, backyard barbecues, laid-back music festivals, and an endless collection of beach days and bike rides. It’s a season of anticipation, followed by a stripping away of all that fails to contribute to a single-pointed focus of leisure. Summer is a time of pure authenticity- a quest to fill your precious, sun-soaked days with the utmost pleasure. The best tracks of summer are drenched in warmth, the lyrics are unabashedly unapologetic, and not a single second is put to waste. Classixx was among the latest addition to LA’s very own music festival, FYF Fest. The LA-based DJ duo recently released a very summer-friendly album, Faraway Reach, loaded with guest collaborators, including T-Pain, Passion Pit, and De Lux. However, Nice as Fuck single-handedly takes the cake for my favorite new album. Jenny Lewis fronts this new band which surprise released their debut album just two days ago. The album is lean, mean, and quite simply put- nice as fuck. Get listening!     1) Flowers – Yeek 2) Hey Lion- Sofi Tukker 3) Wow – Beck 4) Do It, Try It – M83 5) Chasing Shadows- Santigold 6) Time Moves Slow (feat. Sam Herring) – BadBadNotGood 7) Fire- Barns Courtney 8) Whatever I Want- Classixx, T.Pain 9) Door- Nice as Fuck 10) Phua Kao- Khun Narin 11) I’m in Control- AlunaGeorge, Popcaan 12) Homerun- Nice as Fuck Follow me on...