Current Playlist, Part Three

Hi friends!

How are you? Is your August going well? Mine has been nothing but lovely so far, allowing for time with family and friends, many a wonderful performance, and, of course, good books galore. I move back to Brown in just two short weeks, so I’m trying to soak up all the summertime that I can before the school year starts.

Looking over my summer, it’s been marked by excellent reads, but so too has it been marked by great music. I love crafting monthly playlists with new-to-me artists, so, as I’ve done before, I wanted to share a few of the albums I’ve been listening to as of late! Do you have any music recommendations to share?

HadestownTo start, it should come as no surprise that cast albums regularly top my playlists. A recent favorite? The live recording of Hadestown, the acclaimed musical adaptation of Orpheus and Eurydice. Pitched as a folk opera, it originates from artist Anais Mitchell’s equally inventive 2010 concept album of the same name. Both are well worth a listen (or two!).

favorite tracks: Way Down Hadestown, Chant

WetIf alternative music is more to your liking, let me recommend to you Wet, an indie duo whose dreamy blend of R+B and pop has created many a fan, myself included! In their sophomore album, Still Run, artists Kelly Zutrau and Joe Valle have crafted a record of melancholy, romance, and honesty through soft vocals and catchy beats. In short: I like.

favorite tracks: Still Run, Love is Not Enough

Natalie PrassIn a recent interview, singer-songwriter Natalie Prass noted that she wants her music “to be for everybody.” She’s already well on her way with her latest release, a punchy but powerful album titled The Future and the Past. Her songs are a response to and an anthem for the current political environment, demonstrating the strength found in standing together. I could listen for days.

favorite tracks: Hot for the Mountain, Sisters

I See RiversUK-based trio I See Rivers popped up in my Spotify Discover tab just under a year ago, and it took only that first listen to make me an avid fan. The group describes their work as “float folk,” a fitting name for music that flits between different genres with ease. And while the vocal harmonies of the three singers are reminiscent of another favorite of mine, The Staves, their warm, gentle sound is distinctly their own.

favorite tracks: Play It Cool, I Don’t Know

Ólafur ArnaldsWhen I came across the music of Icelandic musician Ólafur Arnalds, I was instantly taken with his experimental instrumentals. As a fan of Broadchurch, I shouldn’t have been surprised I so quickly fell in love, as he composed the show’s elegant and immersive score. I’ve used his album, Island Songs, as writing music throughout the summer, and I suspect I’ll listen to it just as much once the semester kicks off.

favorite tracks: 1995, Raddir

US GirlsLike Natalie Prass, artist Meg Remy has turned to music as a source of catharsis. I’m all for her disco-pop sound and pointed storytelling, and if the reviews are any indication, I’m not the only one. At Pitchforkher latest album is said to speak “to a unified vision, one of spit, fury, and chuckling to keep from crying.” Isn’t that what we all need?

favorite tracks: Rage of Plastics, M.A.H.

Dirty BirdDirty Bird may have formed in 2016, but the harmonies on their debut album, Still to Be Ours, sound as if they’ve been singing together for decades. As seems to be the pattern of my playlists, I’m easily won over by folk groups with a sense of intimacy, and Dirty Bird delivers: their songs are well-written gems that are perfect for lazy summer afternoons. I’m already hoping for a record number two!

favorite tracks: Portrait, Lulu

Moses SumneyFinally, Moses Sumney’s Aromanticism came out last September, but it is a record so strong, it deserves yet another round of recognition. Combining soul, R+B, and pop, Sumney offers a thoughtful mediation on vulnerability and isolation. Between the lush arrangements and his soothing voice, I myself can’t seem to get enough (fortunately for me, his latest set of singles are just as good).

favorite tracks: Plastic, Don’t Make Out in My Car

Have a terrific Thursday!
B

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Current Playlist, Part Two

Hi all!

How are you? How has your week been? Mine has been relatively quiet, save for rehearsal, but that changes today as I kick off the new semester. I can’t say I’m ready for the onslaught of assignments, but I am excited about my course options and, of course, the chance to reconnect with friends.

As I enter into “school mode,” I have my playlists at the ready. Like so many, I love to work and write to music – especially when the artist is new to me! I shared a few of my favorite albums back in the summer and had such a fun time writing the post that I wanted to do a second round. That in mind, here’s a sample of what I’ve been listening to as of late. Any recommendations of your own?

Jade BirdFirst, have you heard of British singer Jade Bird? I can’t get enough of her recent EP, Something American, and I’m clearly not the only one. NPR writes that it’s a “heartfelt blend of intimate songs;” at Pitchfork, the songs “could be plucked straight from the American heartland.” She’s been labeled a country singer, but I think that’s a disservice to the blend of blues, Americana, and folk that she so effortlessly delivers. Do check her out.

favorite tracks: Good Woman, Cathedral (Acoustic)

The Wild ReedsIn a similar vein is indie folk group The Wild Reeds. Relatively new to the music scene, they released their second album, The World We Built, just last year. I only stumbled upon their music earlier in the fall semester, but I’ve had it playing non-stop ever since. Their harmonies are something to admire. (Related: watch their NPR Tiny Desk Concert for a mid-week pick-me-up!).

favorite tracks: Fall To Sleep, Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)

Earl St ClairI’m convinced I could listen to R&B artist Earl St. Clair – with his distinctive raspy voice – for days. He combines that signature wail with an infectious old-school energy on his debut album, My Name is Earl. The seven tracks have been my go-to workout music as of late, but it could easily transition to early morning playlists. One listen, and I’m sure you’ll draw the same conclusion: he’s an artist to watch.

favorite tracks: Criminal, Feeling Alive

Greta IssacLike so many of the artists I’ve enjoyed over the past year, Welsh singer Greta Issac is an emerging voice. She has only a few singles, but each and every one is constructed with care. Don’t be thrown by the genre of electronic pop; her work is refreshing (and incredibly catchy). All that said, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of a full-length album, but in the meantime, you can find me playing “You” on repeat.

favorite tracks: You, Tied

ALA.NIListening to ALA.NI’s EP, You & I, is like a trip back in time. It’s an album that asks you to pause, listen, and give it your undivided attention. Why this is exactly is hard to pinpoint. Is her trademark 1930s microphone that she uses while recording and on tour? Is it the parallels between her work and that of classic icons like Billie Holiday and Judy Holiday? Whatever the reason, all I can say is that I’m a huge fan.

favorite tracks: Woo Woo, Roses & Wine

Pale HoneyI’ll admit: I first looked into Pale Honey because of the duo’s name (What can I say? I was curious!). After listening to their two albums, however, it became clear that their music was right up my alley. Devotion, which came out earlier this fall, is true to the Swedish band’s “minimalist rock” style. It’s not only compelling, it’s packed with punches of raw emotion, thanks to singer Tuva Lodmark’s stand-out voice. I dig it.

favorite tracks: Get These Things Out of My Head, Real Thing

IbeyiIf an Adele endorsement isn’t enough to grab your attention, it will only take a  listen to the first minute of Ibeyi’s single, “Deathless,” before you too are a fan of twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz. They’re a talented pair: blending Yoruba, French, and Afro-Cuban styles, they’ve created a sound that is wholly unique (and mesmerizing to listen to). I can’t wait to see what they make next.

favorite tracks: Deathless, No Man is Big Enough for My Arms

The Band's VisitIt wouldn’t be a Ciao Bella music post without a bit of Broadway! My current favorite is The Band’s Visit, a musical inspired by the film of the same name. While I would love to one day see the production, for now, I’ve settled for listening to the cast album while I bake or get ready in the morning. Star Katrina Lenk has a voice like no other, and composer David Yazbek should be praised for his beautiful music and lyrics. Excellent stuff.

favorite tracks: Welcome to Nowhere, Papi Hears the Ocean

Aldous HardingHow does one sum up the music of New Zealand singer Aldous Harding? Melancholic, dreamy, and stunning, Harding’s sophomore album is a well-drawn story; she finds sadness in celebration and growth in heartbreak. One reporter even writes that her songs will “put a spell on you.” (They’re right). To be short? I absolutely adore her songs, and I think (hope!) you will too.

favorite tracks: Party, Imagining My Man

Harry StylesFinally, Harry Styles’ solo album is old news at this point, but given how many times I play it throughout the week (i.e. a LOT), I figure it’s worth a shout-out. I was never a One Direction superfan, but give me Styles’ rock-pop mix, lovestruck lyrics, and stylistic croon, and I’m all ears. As seems to be the theme of this post, if you haven’t listened to it, it could be worth a try by the end of the week.

favorite tracks: Woman, From the Dining Table

Have a lovely Wednesday!
B

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Do Tell / Dorm Tour

Hello!Do TellHow are you? How are things? I myself have had my eyes glued to the news as of late. The recent string of hurricanes have been devastating to watch, and I’ve kept all affected by these consequences of climate change in my thoughts. It’s easy to feel helpless in situations like these, but articles like this one remind me that my best course of action is to offer support and donations as much as I can.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 3In other news, I’m so excited to be posting again — Ciao Bella has been too quiet recently for my liking, but I thank you for your patience and understanding as I settle into my college routine and begin my first semester (!!). It’s been a roller coaster of emotions so far — I’d be lying if I said homesickness didn’t hit me hard — but I’m grateful for the number of friendly faces on campus and for the classes I’m taking, everything from Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology to Stephen Sondheim and the American Musical. I don’t think I could ask for a better schedule.

Another thing I love? My dorm room! It’s a single, in a wonderful location, and truly starting to feel like a second home; it’s a warm and cozy place to return to after long days spent on and around campus. I had my sister Lulu (who I miss dearly) snap a few photos of it after moving in, so I thought I’d pop in today to share a dorm tour. It’s a bit cliché of a post, I realize, but I have really enjoyed reading them across other blogs (and found them helpful while planning my own!) and wanted to do the same here.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 2I did my best to link to the stores and companies where I purchased my supplies and decorations, should any items catch your eye and you’d like them for yourself. With that said, I recognize how fortunate I am to have parents willing to help pay for some items, as well as a steady summer job and July birthday that provided funds for additional purchases. I think the best dorm rooms and small spaces are ones that show personality and cohesiveness, and thankfully, that can be done at any cost :)

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 6{Other sources: Pink Skies Up Ahead is sadly out of stock, Wire Letter BDo More of What Makes You Happy, Color Palette}

To start, one of my favorite parts of my room is my art wall. I made it a priority when dorm shopping to plan space for prints and posters galore, and I’m so happy with how it came out! Setting up a gallery wall can be costly, so I did my best to include magazine cutouts, calendar artwork, and free printables alongside the posters I bought throughout the summer. A few examples? Teen Vogue’s new and taller format makes for excellent wall decoration; Design Love Fest did a collaboration with artist Maddy Nye last year to produce color-in posters, which can be blown up and printed out at a cheap cost; and old calendars from Rifle Paper Company and Kate Spade make easy pretty art.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 5For personal touches, I taped up polaroids of me and my friends, in addition to a record signed by the cast of the musical I stage-managed over the summer and a “Be Kind” banner sewn by my sister. I’m so happy I brought them, as they are nice, thoughtful mementos of home.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 1With so much colorful artwork lining my walls, I decided to keep my bedding fairly neutral; this duvet was the perfect fit for the black-and-white color palette I had in mind. Of course, a firm dorm bed needs a few pillows for comfort, so I brought a number of bright, well-designed numbers: a larger than life pencil, a daisy, a typography-themed one made by my sister, and an embroidered face from the artists at Aelfie.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 4On the opposite wall are my fridge and desk. If you’re a stationery fan like myself, you’ll notice my poster of pencil shavings from NYC based CW Pencil Enterprise. Cataloguing various types of pencils, it brings my school supply loving self much joy, and I think it fits in the room well! In the basket atop my fridge, I’ve been keeping a few necessary staples: granola, graham crackers, and bags of popcorn, all for late afternoon snacks.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 8{Other sources: Lamp, Read Books Bookends are a PBTeen item from years ago}

On my desk, I have numerous pens and pencils lined up next to my box of “love notes:” cards from friends, letters from my sister, compliment sheets from past shows, and other small items that remind me of home. Additionally, you’ll find my felt letter board. They may be a splurge, but I personally can’t get enough of mine.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 7Finally, my dorm wouldn’t be complete without a few novels from home! I’m lucky enough to live fairly close to Brown, so packing a few boxes of books wasn’t an issue when moving in (I even brought along three novels from my local library!). Among my favorites shelf, I have the complete collection of Morgan Matson books, the entire The Mother Daughter Book Club series, and all four Rookie yearbooks. You know you’re a bookworm when a shelf of novels can make you feel at home.

If you moved in for the first time, how’s college life going? It’s a transition, that’s for sure! For everyone else, is your September off to a good start? Do you have any other suggestions for relief for families and individuals affected by Hurricane Irma?

With lots of love, B