Graffiti Radio Listeners’ Favorite Albums of 2011 Countdown Submission!

Hi!

For the past 8 years, the one album that has accompanied me during finals week is Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (best studying music ever). Anyway, finals are done now and Mike Nigro over at Graffiti Radio asked listeners to submit their favorite new albums from 2011 and I realized that this year I unfortunately haven’t been listening to much new music >.< Anyway, this is what I came up with, listed in no particular order. Head over to Graffiti Radio’s site to submit your own list!

  • Vice Verses – Switchfoot
  • Bon Iver – Bon Iver
  • Your Favorite Weapon: Deluxe Edition – Brand New
  • The King Is Dead – The Decemberists
  • Best of Gloucester County – Danielson
  • All Eternals Deck – The Mountain Goats
  • Sleep With One Eye Open – Chris Thile and Michael Daves
  • Oh Fortune – Dan Mangan
  • Ghosts Upon the Earth – Gungor
  • Hello Sadness – Los Campesinos!
Don’t judge me ^_^

re-creation

I wrote this post last week but didn’t want to finish it until after my trip updates were posted ^_^

Something my pastor mentioned in passing last Sunday (while wearing my Canada trucker hat during the sermon) is that recreational time is “re-creational.” We need time off to be created new. Time to be refreshed, but also reborn. This road trip was just that for me. It gave me time to focus and de-stress and learn and grow and think and write and pray, away from the distractions of my very small world.

I recently changed the strings on my guitar. For someone playing every single day like I do, this should probably happen once a month, but I do it closer to every 6 or 7 weeks. Anyway, this seems like a simple or menial or annoying task to most people… When I open a pack of strings, I think about the engineer who designed the strings, the metals, the machine to mass produce them. I think about how differently these new strings will sound from my last set, which I lamentably have to toss in the garbage. I think about acoustics and sound waves and bridges and soundboards and the minute changes in tone and timbre these new strings will have and how they will sound the first time I get them in tune; how they will sing with me the next time I take the stage. The guitar is re-created with a new medium for voicing notes and chords. Metal is a good friend. That’s all.

road-trip! (or, a 6-day beer tour)

I recently completed a 6-day voyage across/around/up/down the area known as New England. I don’t really know what was so bad about the old England that they had to make this New England, but she is very beautiful, so I will accept it for what it is. We went in with no real plans, but had so much fun. Things Cara and I learned:

  • no weigh station in north america is open.
  • hidden driveways are always visible.
  • shouting “green means go!” every time the ez-pass light or red light changes to green will never cease to amuse me.
  • hiding under a towel to block reflections on your laptop screen is very effective.
  • Quebec has close to nothing in English.
  • Quebec-type Canadians don’t say “Eh.”
  • Quebec-type Asian-Canadians speak French!
  • driving like you’re from Jersey is fun.
  • Bronx pizza is amazing.
  • Canadian accents > Boston accents > Bronx accents
  • home is nice.
  • beds are nice.

Stories.

Nomnom. Left Newark Monday morning and headed to Connecticut to meet our friend Elizabeth and go to a grocery store. What?

Yes, we were tourists in a grocery store. Stew Leonard‘s is the largest dairy store in the world (arguably). They had lots of animatronics and the whole store was a continuous maze instead of separate aisles. They had delicious free samples everywhere and an incredible variety of any food you could want in the buffet at the end. So exciting ^_^ Got to tour Elizabeth’s beautiful house and meet her parents, then headed northesternly towards the coast. Arrived in Boston, reserved a spot at the open mic at the Cantab Lounge, found a hotel, and headed back to play the open mic. So much fun.

Tuesday we toured the Sam Adams brewery (which was incredible) and ate delicious Irish food and walked wherever we wanted downtown. Then we couched it in Cara’s roommate’s brother Brian’s house next to Boston College yay.

We babysat their son Wednesday morning so that Brian could get some research done and then we headed through Salem (witch hunting) towards Portland, Maine. We set up camp and it looked windy and threateningly rainy, but we headed into town anyway. Played at the Dogfish Bar and Grill open mic (extremely well run and recorded and only one homeless man bothered us) and looked around the city some. Our campsite was on a lake so it was amazing and we cooked s’mores and nommed and there was no rain.

From there we trecked northwest through New Hampshire and Vermont. All the road signs were bilingual, so we expected the transition into French Canada to go smoothly – as soon as we crossed the border, everything was foreign. Completely French. I do not speak or read or care to understand French. Cara knows enough, so we found a bank and converted money and asked Ben to text us a campsite to set up at and we journeyed towards it with a Garmin that pronounces French words about as well as a three year-old Eskimo. Anyway, the deskgirl hostess was really cute and spoke English and we got a campsite, set up, cooked American hot dogs on the fire, and drove into Montreal. I managed to locate the most expensive parking lot in the city, but we didn’t know any better. Walked around the historic areas, through some college campuses, trying to find some Asians speaking French. Success! Then I tried to creepily make us follow college agers so that we could find somewhere to hang out, but they were boring. Most of the bars were fancy and upscale, so we located a sportsbar microbrewery place that looked safe. The hostess said something in French and I said “can we sit at the bar?” Stupid Americans. She understood though and the bartender gave us menus in English ^_^ Their grapefruity seasonal brew was delicious. Cooked more s’mores at camp and slept on Canadian ground.

Friday we packed up and headed towards New York – we crossed at an extremely small border town and got detained, searched, and questioned! That sounds more exciting than it was, but supposedly it was just a normal random inspection. I told them we had no weapons and then the camp hatchet was the first thing they saw in the trunk lols. Anyway, we drove into Vermont eventually, toured Magic Hat (nomnom), and found our friend Kelsey‘s museum. I had neglected to research what this Shelburne Museum was, so I was expecting boring old paintings in a single building. This place was incredible. She got us through the gates with fancy employee guest passes and then she showed us around – there are many many acres of 39 historic buildings, 25 of which had been brought there from far away places. There was a 220-foot steamship chilling in a valley nowhere near water. There was a fully operational printing press, and circus poster exhibits, and old fancy guns, and 3D paper art, and historic merry-go-round horses with original paint…it was amazing. I wish we had had more time there to look around. Kelsey got off work and we drove the scenic route to her apartment in downtown Burlington and unloaded and got changed and walked to Bueno y Sano, which had incredible quesadillas. Then we went to the Champlain Valley Expo and saw The Avett Brothers (the John Oates band opened up). They were so good. I was really happy. Kelsey was much happier. Cara was happy too but not feeling well. Anyway, it was impressive and the Asian cellist was fiddling and it was a ton of fun. Traffic leaving the show wasn’t bad, but I still wish we had a hovercraft. Slept on couches and air mattresses yay.

We woke up and went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market for breakfast and watched the babies play in the fountain and walked around all the vendors. Got some delicious maple “creemies” (soft serve ice cream) and walked down to Lake Champlain (which you can see from Kelsey’s house yay). Fun times. Got on the road by noon and met Denise in the Bronx around 6 for pizza dinner then drove back to Delaware to drop off Cara and then drop off Michael. So much epicness. So much driving. So much memories. So much food. So much awesome.

Beer.

We aren’t alcoholics, but we did want to tour lots of breweries and taste everything yay

 

Sam Adams!
Monday, Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA
Sam Adams Summer Ales
Tuesday, Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, MA (their tour was an hour of amazingness)
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Samuel Adams Wee Heavy
Wednesday, Dogfish Bar and Grill in Portland, ME
Smutty Nose Shoals Pale Ales
Thursday, Les 3 Brasseurs in Montreal, QC, CA
Les 3 Brasseurs Summer Ale
Les 3 Brasseurs Amber Passion
Friday, Magic Hat in Burlington, VT
Magic Hat Wacko Summer Ale
Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale
Magic Hat Circus Boy Hefeweizen
Saturday
12 hours of driving back to Newark, DE to enjoy my favorite Yuengeling Lager

It was such a fun trip.

Thiles
The real reason that I went to Boston – to pick up one of these very limited edition three color 7″ “Man in the Middle” singles that Chris Thile and Michael Daves released a few days beforehand ^_^

Me and Cara!
Me and Cara with Canada hats!

 

We saw the Avett Brothers in Vermont – they were absolutely amazing. This is during one of the last songs where it was just the two brothers screaming <3

 

“lilac valley”

So. I have about three draft posts of stories from our awesome New England road trip. But I had to write this song first because Amanda said something that I couldn’t get out of my head (the line at the end).

Let me know what you think ^_^

Michael Natrin – “Lilac Valley”

Lilac Valley

I want to travel the world, sail around this Earth
I will break out of this boom town, these old grounds
Never call it home again
I want to sing and run and dance swim in new waters
Shout words no one has heard on virgin lands
Smell the wild flowers even though I haven’t showered in three days
We ran through lilac fields in a valley
In a country our parents still don’t know exists

And this was the best day that’s the only way to explain
And I need you in the worst way these songs are my gift to you

So we ran, ran down
Played around and made a raucous sound forbidden in our youth
So we ran, ran down
Sprinted away from occupations and presuppositions and not so amiable neighbors

It was like a surprise party and proposal and winning the
Pennsylvania lottery all wrapped into one
Needless to say we had a lot of fun
And as you ran into the waves your foot sliced open on a sharp black rock
and you screamed “I hope it scars because we didn’t buy any souvenirs!”