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

Do Tell / Current Playlist

Hello!

Do TellHow are things, friends? Are you enjoying the summer? I know I am! While I look to finish my current read {The Tsar of Love and Techno, as excellent as promised} and prepare for work and rehearsal, I thought I’d also pop in to post this month’s Do Tell: a look at the music I’ve been listening to as of late! I don’t share these albums because the artists are unknown, but because, such is the case with books, it’s all the more fun when you have fellow fans of the same bands to share the love with :) What music has made up your summer playlist?

Bea Miller Chapter Two RedFirst up is Bea Miller, who some may recognize from the second season of The X-Factor. I myself did not, instead reading about her most recent songs across social media. Curiosity got the best of me, and I’m thankful it did, for Chapter Two: Red {and its predecessor, Chapter One: Blue} are lyrical, emotional, and make my Spotify listening sessions all the better. Word on the street is that Chapter Three: Yellow will be out next month — and you can bet my playlist is ready.

favorite track(s): Like That

Valerie June The Order of TimeMy friends all well know my dislike of contemporary country music, but mention a folk album and I’m all ears. It’s my interest in the genre that led me to Valerie June’s The Order of Time, which I believe is, in agreement with Rolling Stone, “near-perfect front to back. It’s the best album to have playing while I brainstorm before bed, not in the least because I find her trademark banjo and distinctive voice so soothing.

favorite track(s): If And, With You

The Wild Party Original Cast RecordingA summer day rarely goes by without listening to a musical of some sort, be it the whimsical tracks from Amélie or the soaring ballads of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. My current favorite, however, hails from 1999: Andrew Lippa’s off-Broadway gem The Wild Party, based after the poem of the same name. It’s a little funky, a little jazzy, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but I happen to love it {and I now want to track down a production of the show!}.

favorite track(s): Queenie Was a Blonde, The Juggernaut

San Cisco The WaterJust as I often pick up a book for its cover alone, I first listened to The Water, one of the band San Cisco’s many albums, based on the colorful artwork gracing the cover of the album. Fortunately, the ten tracks on the LP are just as fun and upbeat as the illustration suggests, creating a dreamy, retro-inspired soundtrack for the summer months. Evocative of beach days and nights on the dance floor, I could listen to it all week long.

favorite track(s): SloMo, Make Me Electrify

Lorde MelodramaAt some level, Lorde needs no further explanation; who hasn’t already heard the pop queen’s masterful sophomore album? Nevertheless, I would be remiss not to include Melodrama, for I don’t think I’ve listened to an album as frequently as I have hers this summer. The wait between LPs was long, but entirely worth it for a concept album that is just as thought-provoking as it is ethereal. Simply put: I’m a Lorde fan, through and through.

favorite track(s): Writer in the Dark, The Louvre

Middle KidsIf you too are a fan of HAIM {isn’t their newest album a delight?}, let me recommend to you Middle Kids, an Australian-based indie group whose six songs remind me of my favorite California sisters. With vocalist Hannah Joy at the helm and an indie-rock formula that serves them well, their EP is brimming with potential for a full-length album. I consider them a hidden gem, a band that I can only hope gets more attention in the future.

favorite track(s): Fire in Your Eyes, Doing It Right

Bleachers Gone NowGiven my Lorde love, it’s little surprise that I enjoy the music of her producer Jack Antonoff as well. A talented and well-established artist in his own right, his album Gone Now has grown into a full-fledged favorite of mine, the 90’s inspired hits often blasting while I bake in the kitchen. It hasn’t been a critical hit, but I personally dig the nostalgia and loneliness that define the album.

favorite track(s): Foreign Girls, Everybody Lost Somebody

Oh Wonder UltralifeFinally, I can credit Aneeqah with my current obsession with the British pop duo Oh Wonder. After seeing her tweet about the two singers, I was quick to look them up and even quicker to fall in love with their debut album and the singles from their upcoming LP, Ultralife. The pair isn’t afraid to acknowledge their own quirkiness, which is perhaps why I’ve fallen in love with their sound: electropop at its finest.

favorite track(s): High on Humans, Ultralife

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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