N20

Encompassing everything from personal triumphs & tribulations, to the beauty and music scenes that continue to dominate my world, Neighborhood Twenty is a look into the life of your run-of-the-mill twenty-something doing her best to make it out alive, one word at a time.

VOTD – The O’Jays // “Time To Get Down”

If there’s one genre of music that I am unabashedly a fan of, it’s Disco. 

Now that may not win me any cool points with some of you Rock heads out there, but if there’s one genre of music I heard as much as Rock growing up (if not more than) it was Disco.

Let me give you a little background as to why.

I’m a rare breed of millennial in that I can say that my parents met at a Disco. Not a bar. Not a club. A full on, Adam and Eve themed “discotheque” in the heart of New York City at the height of the disco craze.

So, naturally, with parents that met “shakin’ their groove thangs,” I was bound to have some affinity for the genre. But it goes much deeper than that. I love it.

You’d be hard pressed to find a day that I’ll turn off a BeeGees, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire or Hues Corporation track willingly. 

Something that I find remarkable about the R&B/Funk/Disco of the 70’s and 80’s is that not only was it great music for the time, it inspired many of the artists and songs that came in later decades.

Everyone remembers Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It,” which became a hit thanks in part to its infectious beat. But that beat is nothing more than a reworking of the Sister Sledge hit “He’s The Greatest Dancer.

And Will’s not the first (or last) person to successfully rework and sample one of these classic hits.

Biggie Smalls did it in “Mo Money Mo Problems” with Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.” Janet Jackson did it in “All For You” with Change’s “Glow of Love.” George Michael did it in “Fastlove” with Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots.” And most recently, Drake did it in “Hotline Bling” with Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together?

So why the history lesson? Well, I’m just trying to erase the stigma that has unfairly been attributed to Disco and Funk.

Many view this kind of music as “corny” or “wack,” but why? Take a look at the music topping the charts today – it’s practically all dance (EDM) music. Without the music of this era, especially that of the pioneering DJ Giorgio Moroder, we wouldn’t have half the hits we do today.

All I’m really asking for, even if this isn’t usually your vibe, is for you to give this music a chance before you negate it because it’s clear that this music permeates – we’re still dancing to it for a reason.

With that said, I wanted to share one of my favorite Disco/R&B tracks from what is easily one of the best groups (in my humble opinion) to come out of the era – The O’Jays.

Sure they had bigger hits (see: Love Train) but if there’s ever a moment where I just need to bring a little sunshine and happiness to my day, I put this track on and dance my troubles away.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and The O’Jays “Time To Get Down.”

Where You Been Keepin’ Yourself My Friend?

Hello, everyone!

Long time no chat! How are you? Doing well? Is that a new haircut?

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog but I’m back and BOY has a lot happened in the last couple of months.

I’ve graduated college, traveled, began my job search, crossed another concert off of my bucket list – basically, I’ve had some major life experiences that I can’t wait to share with you all (and don’t worry, those stories ARE coming!)

I’m also excited to get back to my VOTD (Vibe of the Day) posts both here and on my Instagram stories, so let’s get started, cause we have A LOT to catch up on!

 

 

VOTD – Mumford & Sons // “The Wolf”

The sun came out in Jersey today and it felt like the first day of summer.

Like most people, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has specific music they listen to at certain times of the year. When fall comes around I start bringing out my Fleetwood Mac and Jose Gonzalez, winter I devote to the Ratpack and summer, well summer’s when I like to dance and I like to rock.

I have a lot of albums that I associate with summer: Kings of Leon’s Come Around Sundown (as well as Mechanical Bull), Foster the People’s Torches, Marina & the Diamonds’ Electra Heart, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals The Lion, The Beast, The Beat, I mean I could be here for days.

But if there’s one album that signals summer’s fast approaching for me, it’s Mumford & Sons Wilder Mind.

For Wilder Mind, M&S decided to put down the banjos and just rock. Contrary to popular opinion, I really liked when M&S went back to their roots and plugged in. With a little help from another one of my favorites, Aaron Dessner from The National, they put out one of the greatest (and underappreciated) rock records of the last five years—yeah, I said it. 

The genius of this records lies with the fact that although the overall sound and musical structure went in a different direction, the things that make M&S so great—their lyricism and sentiment—didn’t.

So as the sun beat down on my face today, I whipped out my copy of Wilder Mind, put on track number three, rolled down the windows and rocked on cause damn it, summer’s almost here.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and Mumford & Sons “The Wolf.”

VOTD – Tor Miller // “Carter & Cash”

Today I found myself looking through old ticket stubs, reminiscing about some of my favorite concerts.

Anyone who knows me knows that if you really want to make my day, you’ll take me to a good concert. I’m sure it’s not too much of a surprise given that you are reading a blog about my favorite songs, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

Now, I’m lucky because I’ve been to a lot of great concerts, especially in the last few years. I’ve seen big acts like Coldplay and Mumford & Sons, smaller acts Hippie Sabotage and Marina & The Diamonds and legends like Paul McCartney and Fleetwood Mac. But one of my favorite concerts I think I’ll ever go to I went to in September 2016—Tor Miller.

Tor Miller is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter based in the Greater NYC area and boy is he good. I saw his show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and he brought the place down. Not only that, his opening acts—Sean McVerry and Paperwhite—were sick, and how many times can you genuinely say you enjoyed both opening acts at a show?

The best part about the whole thing, besides the company I kept and the fact that I was able to to get his album two weeks early on vinyl, was the fact that we were front-row/leaning on the stage/staring Tor directly in the face the entire show. Granted, the venue is pretty intimate to begin with, but still. 

I’ve been a fan of his for a while, but the song that first introduced me to his music was this one. I had been browsing through iTunes one day when I came across it and as a huge Johnny Cash fan I was immediately drawn in by the title, but it was the song that made me stay. His voice, his instrumentation, his lyricism, his style— it’s all dripping with his obvious influences (a lá Bowie/Springsteen) but it still has this magical element that is all original and all Tor.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and Tor Miller’s “Carter & Cash.”

VOTD – Ludovico Einaudi // “DNA”

I had a lot of writing to do today.

When I’m tasked with a lot of writing in one day, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed or worse—procrastinate.

Unfortunately, due to the workload I’m currently under, alongside the fact that it’s almost the end of my college semester and I’m graduating in less than a month, my “senioritis” has begun rearing its ugly head and all its pitfalls are attacking me at once, especially procrastination.

Fortunately, when I do procrastinate, I still like to be productive so I found myself organizing my bookshelf for the first time in years. In the midst of this, I came across a folder from my “Writing in the [English] Major” course a couple semesters back and decided to take a look through some old papers to see if something in there could drive up some motivation within me to write.

This was a class that I really enjoyed with a professor I’ve taken four times in my college career, so it definitely wasn’t a cringeworthy experience to be looking back on this work. I wrote many papers that I’m still proud of in this class, but there was one in particular that I completely forgot about aptly titled, “My Personal Writing Process.”

This was the first paper we were assigned and one meant to be a short, introspective and reflective piece on what writing meant to us as well as how we approached it. Now writing processes change with time, but after rereading that paper for the first time in two years, I decided to repeat my process from back then to a T.

I cleared off my desk, made a cup of tea, opened a new Word doc, brainstormed for 20 minutes, stretched for 20 minutes and once I felt like I was ready to write, I incorporated the last step—I put on Ludovico Einaudi’s album Una Mattina.

This is an album I used to always put on when I wrote but after some time, it became something I stopped doing. I also forgot how great it actually works for me.

Whenever I needed to focus when writing, I put this on and I can’t for the life of my remember why I ever stopped because once I did today, words flowed out of me like water from a fountain.

It. Was. Amazing.

This gem, in particular, was always my go-to song on the album, so I figured since most people suffer from writer’s block from time to time, and most aren’t familiar with Ludovico’s work, I’d kill two birds with one stone by introducing you to a great musician as well as a possible cure for your writer’s block.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and Ludovico Einaudi’s “DNA.”

 

VOTD – Mat Kearney // “Ships in the Night”

Rain always puts me in a funny mood.

Like many people, I find that the weather affects my day in more ways than one, especially when it comes to how I’m feeling that day. When it’s on the rainy-er side. I find I’m either drowning myself in the melancholy of The National or reveling in the optimism of Mat Kearney—today was the latter.

I’ve loved Mat Kearney before I even really knew who he was thanks to his 2006 hit, Nothing Left to Lose, which is a song that everyone will recognize even if they don’t recognize Mat’s name.

When I really got into his music was after the release of Young Love in 2012. This album is one that I consistently turn to when I need something to relax me and remind me that everything will work out in the end. The lyrics to most of the songs on the album are filled with introspective thoughts and stories about love, relationships, family, and life, making it perfect mood music for a rainy day—and “Ships in the Night” is no exception.

The song focuses on a relationship that’s struggling but throughout it all—the problems, the baggage, the hectic schedules, the missed flights—is determined to come out on the other side in one piece. It also has a killer chorus that is sure to be stuck in your head for days, along with a beat you’ll never want to forget.

And when you think about it, good music for a rainy day from a sixth-generation Oregonian sounds right, no?

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and Mat Kearney’s “Ships in the Night.”

VOTD – Alexz Johnson // “That Girl”

Today’s “Vibe of the Day” is going to be a little bit different than the rest because this one is really personal to me and my musical journey.

Today I’m going to share with you the song that first made me want to pick up a guitar.

I know some of you were expecting this story to revolve around a Beatles song or something, but alas, you’re mistaken. It wasn’t a song from one of the greatest bands of all time that made me want to pick up a guitar, it was a song from a Canadian teen drama that aired circa 2004.

Life’s weird, isn’t it?

The show was Instant Star, the channel was The N and the artist was the star/actress/singer/songwriter/badass of the show, Alexz Johnson.

Instant Star revolved around a 16-year-old girl who wins a singing competition (novel idea, right?) and the aftermath of her win—recording her first album, life as a teenage musician and a budding romance with her slightly older producer. Ya know, your typical teenage drama stuff, NBD.

While I’ll admit that the show does have a degree of cringe factor watching it back in 2017 through my 21-year-old eyes (most episodes can be found on YouTube in case you’re wondering), this show was everything to me when I was younger and so was its soundtrack. I even remember dragging my mom down to our local CD Warehouse (throooooowback) so we could special order the soundtrack from the first season. Getting the phone call a week later that they had gotten it in was the best day of my young life.

The dedication was real ya’ll.

I played that CD to death, but there was just something about this one particular song (and this one) that I kept coming back to and still do to this day. I love this song now just as much as I did back then. The words still make me feel “some type of way,” Alexz’s voice still sends shivers down my spine (such an underrated vocalist) and every time I hear the guitar breakdowns, I get the same rush I did Christmas morning 2005 when I unboxed my cherry red Ibanez electric guitar for the first time after begging for it for months.

Yeah, it’s melodramatic angsty teenage love-rock goodness from 2004, but it’s what put Sally (that’s my guitar’s name—I was 10 sue me) in my hands and my butt in guitar lessons. Without my guitar, I wouldn’t have discovered half of the music I did over the next decade and, as corny as it sounds, I honestly wouldn’t be who I am today—and I have this song (and Alexz Johnson) to thank . . . or blame, you decide.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with 10-year-old me and Alexz Johnson’s “That Girl.”

VOTD – U2 // “Vertigo”

If there’s one song that I love with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, it’s this one.

When U2’s How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out in 2004, I was obsessed. With this being the lead single, I naturally gravitated towards/ferociously consumed this song like my CD would be taken away from me at any minute.

I mean, just listen to this song and try not to dance—I dare you. 

It’s virtually impossible not to dance to that iconic guitar groove. Add the video to the mix and it’ll be mere seconds before you find yourself up and at it, doing your best Bono impression while stumbling around the fake collapsing desert of your imagination.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and U2’s “Vertigo.”

VOTD – The Rolling Stones // “Hey Negrita”

I know, I know – I’m a little late, but it’s with good reason.

Last week was a bit insane. However, Thursday was a particularly good day and I knew from the get-go it was going to be because I woke up with this song in my head.

Like most of last week, Thursday itself was a busy day for me. I had a final for one class, work, and a speech to deliver that night, so when I woke up with this song in my head I took it as a good sign—whenever that happens I tend to have a good day because, and there’s no other way to say this, this is my jam.

Look, I could talk about this song all day.

I could talk about Ron Wood’s killer bluesy-reggae guitar lick that makes this song the magic it is and shows why he was such a fantastic addition to The Stones.

I could talk about the semi-problematic title, which, I promise you, is not a racial slur—it’s an antiquated term of endearment to call a South American woman Negrita and I’m 99% Jagger was referring to his Colombian wife at the time, Bianca, “con amor” for lack of better words. Also see: 1976. 

I could even talk about the amazing music video which features prime 70’s Mick doing his best Carmen Miranda impression while gyrating around with legendary keyboardist Billy Preston.

But it might be better if I just let you watch for yourself with that last one.

So grab your headphones, plug ’em in and vibe with me and The Rolling Stones “Hey Negrita.”

“Someone has to succeed. There’s no reason why it why shouldn’t it be me.”

A couple weeks ago, I found myself hanging out with one of my closest friends, having a conversation that I’ve been having a lot of lately. We talked for a while, but eventually, it came down to success in life and worthiness.

She began to explain to me how she was worried about a job application she was working on which, as a soon-to-be college graduate, is a feeling I know all too well. She explained how it was something she wanted bad— like real bad. So bad, in fact, she expressed that she felt this need for it in her bones (another feeling I could relate to.)

Being anxious about things like job applications and interviews is just a fact of life, but I could tell that she needed a little positive encouragement before hitting that submit button. So, I shared with her my favorite affirmation for this kind of situation and she ended up finding it really helpful.

And I wanted to share it with all of you.

When all else fails and I’m deep in the trenches of doubt, I always turn to a quote from actress Janet McTeer:

“Someone has to succeed. There’s no reason why it why shouldn’t it be me.”

It’s a simple notion but one that we forget too easily in our day to day lives. We’re so quick to compare ourselves to others and discredit our worth that we forget our value.

After I reminded my friend of this, I immediately saw a glimmer in her eye as she remembered just how amazing (and legitimately qualified) she is. And I can honestly say, I’ve never seen someone hit a submit button so confidently before.

So remember, it’s human to doubt yourself, but it’s inhumane to live in that perpetual state of doubt. As Jen Sincero taught us, you are a badass, so don’t you forget it.

And as for my friend, she got the job this past Tuesday.