Top 11 Summer Albums, 2011 Edition

24 Jul

It’s more than halfway through 2011, so it’s time for another annual rundown of my favorite albums so far this year. My top 12 summer albums of 2010 has been one of my blog’s most popular posts. While Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj all grace my iTunes library, I have a strong proclivity for indie rock. So please note that this does not intend to be a definitive list of any kind–there are plenty of lists from PitchforkNPR, and other music sites–it simply represents albums released this year that I think are great and may be under the mainstream radar.

The Fool, Warpaint

I saw Warpaint at Coachella this year and their set absolutely blew me away. Reminiscent of the xx, Warpaint is an all-female indie band from LA whose sound is hypnotic, post-punk and ethereal. Their live set was the epitome of confident cool. Absolutely love this album.

Burst Apart, The Antlers

Part of the Brooklyn indie rock scene, the sound of which can all start to blend together after a while, I find myself listening to The Antlers’ Burst Apart again and again. It’s sad, lonely, and nocturnal (to steal one of Pitchfork’s descriptions), but also romantic and low-key. “Putting the Dog To Sleep” is a particular favorite.

Zonoscope, Cut Copy

I am grateful for my brother for introducing me to this Australian dance-rock band that’s a bit more rock than Hot Chip and a bit less ethereal Radiohead, though reminiscent of both. I’m so sad that I missed Cut Copy at both Coachella and Pitchfork this year. Coachella had one of those horrible scheduling issues where I had to choose between them and The Black Keys. “Take Me Over” is a great throwback to the 80s, which I always appreciate. Fun and upbeat. One day I’ll see them live.

Rome, Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi

What do you get when you combine a progressive music producer (Danger Mouse = Jay-Z’s The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley, The Shins), an Italian composer (Luppi), Norah Jones’s haunting voice and Jack White’s demanding presence? A movie soundtrack without a movie—a musical labor of love, five years in the making, inspired by 1960s spaghetti western films. An awesome album that makes any road trip eerie, any situation intimate, any mainstream album sound shallow.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

I had avoided Bon Iver’s first album. The idea of a broken hearted guy retreating to a cabin in Wisconsin to record music alone seemed way too depressing to broach. After hearing Bon Iver, Justin Vernon’s absolutely gorgeous sophomore effort, I understand how and why he was so inspired by the remoteness of his home state. Pitchfork calls it “experimental rustic chamber pop”. Sadness, loneliness, intimacy and emotional agony never sounded so awesome. I would like to meet a guy who’s this in touch with his feelings (deep, but not cheesy).

Belong, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

I also missed Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Coachella this year. WTF is wrong with me? This album is 90s alternative rock brought to the 21st indie century.

James Blake, James Blake

I don’t love dubstep, but I sure love James Blake’s interpretation of it. I listened to the CMYK EP before his self-titled debut and found myself dancing around my apartment (which I’m not shy about since I know everyone does it…right)? At times slow and romantic, at times upbeat with R&B influences, Blake is a welcome addition from across the pond. He proves club music doesn’t have to be annoying.

Kaputt, Destroyer

I’m a sucker for a good sax riff. (That’s sax…). Destroyer’s Kaputt is a smooth jazz, lite rock hybrid that’s actually cool. They make late 1970s/early 1980s sound new again.

Jet Set Siempre 1°, Clive Tanaka Y Su Orquestra

I heard about Clive Tanaka on Sound Opinion’s awesome podcast. Originally available through his website only on cassette tape, which is now totally cool since the medium is defunct, those people in-the-know loved it so much they made the album digitally available. I’m partial to Side A “For Dance” more than Side B “For Romance,” especially because of the 70s disco and 80s synth pop references. But I appreciate the compartmentalization of moods, especially from a dance underground album.

21, Adele

This is the most mainstream album on my list. I absolutely adore Adele (and alliteration). I love her big girl-ness, her big neo-soul voice, her making vengeance on ex-boyfriends fun. Unlike other female pop artists today, who seem to create music based on what they think people want, Adele stays true to her strengths. That said, 21 was more overproduced than 19, which overall I liked better. She’s a true woman in a sea of girls.

Yuck, Yuck

Yuck is a last minute addition since I just listened to their album a few days before composing this blog post. The London-based group’s name is ironically enticing. From top to bottom, this album is a total throwback to the 1990s. More guitar-heavy than Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Yuck distinctly reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins.

What are your thoughts on my choices? Any recommendations for music I should check out? Let me know!

What Typos Mean to Book Publishing –

19 Jul

What Typos Mean to Book Publishing –

I’m a spelling fiend.

I absoltely agre that speling errors undermine credibility. Srsly, with so many auto correct toools out there, how can anyone with half a brain allow themselfes to get away with sppeling erors?

What do u think?

#flightvsbike: Social Media Takes on JetBlue for Carmageddon

19 Jul

In case you were hiding under a rock over the last several weeks, July 16-17 was Carmageddon weekend in Los Angeles. Ten miles of the 405 freeway, from the 10 to the 101, were to be shut down for 53 consecutive hours while contractors demolished and rebuilt the Mullholland Bridge. Thankfully the contractors completed the project 17 hours in advance — go contractors!

As a fun publicity campaign, JetBlue–known for online innovations–offered a limited number $4 flights, including taxes and fees, from Burbank to Long Beach over the weekend. The idea of taking a 15 minute flight across town is a customary LA daydream.

On Thursday before the pending doomed weekend, Slate journalist Tom Vanderbilt casually asked on Twitter:

This tweet sparked a fast and furious revolution amongst cyclists and Vanderbilt, who together concocted a challenge: Wolfpack Hustle, a non-professional yet avid group of cyclists, would race two friends from the same Hollywood residence to Long Beach on Saturday, starting at 10:55 am. The cyclists had to adhere to all rules of the road–no offroading, running lights, or knocking over pedestrians–while the two friends would go to the Burbank airport and fly JetBlue to Long Beach. Whoever reached the Long Beach aquarium first wins.

SPOILER ALERT: The cyclists won. By a lot. They already reached Long Beach before the JetBlue flight took off. There are great details of the contest on Slate and the cyclists highlighted key minute-by-minute tweets on Storify and LA Streets Blog.

Besides this being a totally fun exercise, #flightvsbike, which became a trending Twitter topic, is a great example of how individuals can use social media to engage directly with mega brands. From a brand’s perspective, #flightvsbike shows how publicity campaigns create and extend conversations via social media. I’m sure JetBlue spent a good deal of money on this marketing campaign, not even including the extra flight costs. But did JetBlue really care if — or honestly think they could — beat the cyclists? Probably not. Regardless, the friendly contest gave JetBlue’s campaign extra press coverage, surely adding to their social media ROI.

Personally, I think every day in LA is Carmageddon. According my unscientific survey of Google Maps, as well as screenshots that friends are posting of the freeways on Facebook, it seemed like traffic over Carmaggedon weekend was at an all time low.

Congrats to @wolfpackhustle! Thanks for making Carmaggedon fun to watch on Twitter!

Tumbling to Tumblr

25 Mar

In deciding what to do with my blog, which I’ve been quite delinquent about updating, I’ve decided that Tumblr is going to be a better platform for me to share my eclectic thoughts. As opposed to lengthy blog posts, for which WordPress is fantastic, I think that Tumblr will better suit my goal of sharing brief tidbits of what I’m reading and thinking about. As a microblogging platform that can be easily updated via text and email, Tumblr is easier to customize. It has awesome user-friendliness for sharing audio and video files, which will be instrumental for how I envision the future of my blog. It’s going to be a hybrid of personal musings, a record of things I simply want to keep track of, and hopefully will morph into something fun and informational that people will like.

So please tumble with me and check out I hope you like it.

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Advertising ME: I’m For Hire

26 Jan

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To Whom It May Concern:

I rarely watch commercials anymore. But now that I’m pushing full-throttle on my job search, I would like to unshamelessly sell myself, much like these candidates here:

I am interested in pursuing full-time digital marketing, social media and brand strategy opportunities either in Los Angeles or (my hometown) Chicago. My professional background is rooted in media and marketing. My public profile and resume are available on LinkedIn.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards,

Julie E.

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Sex through Social Media – Yay or Nay?

25 Jan

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I read about two new studies examining how social media — particularly Facebook — impacts sex and relationships.

On the one hand, a survey says that social networking leads to sex faster. Reuters reports that nearly four out of five women and three out of five men claim that texting, Facebook and other social networking tools make couples jump into bed faster.

Faster communication = faster possibilities for sex. Seems reasonable.

But another survey shows that Facebook destroys marriages. Over 80 percent of US divorce lawyers cite social media evidence in divorce cases as reasons for ending marriages, with one in five lawyers specifically pointing to Facebook.

Public communication = faster possibilities for private demise. Also seems reasonable.

Perhaps these surveys point to the fact that it’s good for some things to stay private. Sure, having (or changing) a relationship status on Facebook has become common. But is it necessary — or even positive — to display private or intimate details for the world to see? Personally, if I need to talk about relationship issues, the people in my life who I trust will know about it. But that’s it.

Has anyone had an interesting relationship story that played out over Facebook or social media?

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Blog Resurrection!

21 Jan

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It’s true! I’m resurrecting my blog. After a six month hiatus, where I finished a master’s degree and helped develop an iPhone app, I decided to use my downtime from full-time job-hunting to blog. Stay tuned for more.

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