June Playlist

Hello!

Now I know it’s the first day of July, but since I added another week into my regular schedule, I thought posting the monthly playlist now would work out perfectly for me!

Since the death of George Floyd and the beginning of Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the world, a lot of musicians have been taking out their emotions into their music. For the most part, I have actually fallen in love with quite a bit lately. There were two specific tracks that were released earlier in the month. The first being “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch. They remixed it for the BLM movement and what I really enjoyed about it was the fact that music wasn’t too loud, so you were forced to hear the lyrics from start to end. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of this but I thought it was just perfect!

The next song is “Love Is Gone” by G-Eazy. This one was a little bit more political forward compared to the other, but like with “ROCKSTAR” the music itself wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked on any other day. Gerald is speaking a lot of truths–actually every single song I listened to, had a lot of truths about our past and present, and whether we in fact deserve peace. I didn’t think he could sing, until about a month ago! When I say, it surprised me, it did. If you listen to his brand new album “Something’s Strange Here” you’ll find out that he has a pretty good singing voice. For those of you who have listened to it, please list your favorites in the comments.

Anyways, those are the only songs I have liked since everything began and I’m sure by the time this post goes live, there will be even more coming out and you know I’ve been adding them into my Spotify playlist.

Here are my Top 20 songs I enjoyed in the month of June!

Take Care Of You by Ella Henderson
Footprints On The Moon by Gabby Barrett
Dust and Bone by Syd Duran
I Love You’s by Hailee Steinfeld
OMG by Camila Cabello featuring Quavo
Martyr Of The Free World by Epica
Sleepwalking by DIAMANTE
Secrets by Written By Wolves
Burning Bridges by Delain
Not That Beautiful by Papa Roach
X by Jonas Brothers featuring KAROL G
Ballad of Terrasen by Victoria Carbol
You Should See Me In A Crown by Halocene
Cut The Cord by Shinedown
Like You’ll Never See Me Again by Alicia Keys
I Take What I Want by Unions
Have You Ever Brandy
I See Fire by Feuerschwanz
Show Stopper by Danity Kane
Revangels by Akoma

Towards the middle of the month, I had a strong urge to get back into one of my favorite genres ever: symphonic metal. The Dutch band Epica are working on their eighth record, and they have been posting short studio vlogs on YouTube. One afternoon I was so bored that I literally watched all five videos and ended up finding a full recording of a concert they did back in 2015, which is after they had released “The Quantum Enigma” and I have to say, it is such a spectacular album and one of my all-time favorite albums. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping up with the band itself so when I saw they were on album #8, I was a bit shocked but excited at the same time!

After spending an hour and half listening to nothing but Epica, I made another playlist on Spotify for my favorite songs in the genre itself. I included a lot of albums I’ve listened in the past and picked out some tracks from other bands that I loved but didn’t really care for the whole album too! I’m pretty sure the playlist is over 200 songs by now! I’m not sharing it publicly though – it’s my own personal stash of music to enjoy by myself.

Before I go, I want to include Monday’s review of “Petals” by PHARVOS, in case anyone missed it the first round! Here is also the main monthly playlist as well. Hope you enjoy both links!

What were your listening to in June?

snowflake

EP Review: “Petals” by Phavors

Hello! 🙂

It has been an awful long time since I’ve done an album/EP review; even longer time since I’ve been asked to do it as well!

Back in mid-May, I was sent a message on my Instagram page from a duo called Phavors. At the time, they were just about to release an EP called “Petals” and wondered if I could write a review of it on my blog. They are my first group to be based in the U.S. to ask for my services, and even though I feel more comfortable talking about international music, I thought it would be fun for not only me, but for my audience too!

So, when the band sent me their pitch and link to the tracks included on the EP. They also included that they sound like Bon Iver but have elements of Billie Eilish, which is what sold me. I’m not a huge fan of folk music, even though I love singer-songwriters Dido, Celtic Woman, Sarah McLachlan, and The Civil Wars; I’m still pretty picky when it comes to the genre as a whole. However, I chose to look beyond that and focus my attention to Philip and Kayla’s work. I hadn’t listened to anything before I went to write this review, it’s just what I like to do for things such as this, that way I’m not overthinking my words as the music flowing in and out of my mini speaker.

The EP itself only comes with four songs, and the first happens to be the title track “Petals.”  My first thought was how beautiful it was, the light sound of the acoustic guitar with Kayla’s soft vocals, were really nice. It reminded me of waking up early and wanting something soft and mellow to begin the day on the right foot. It’s a soothing song that suddenly made me really calm inside. It’s the perfect way to begin a short musical journey. And then we move onto, “Waste Time” and I’m not going to lie, I wanted to use the title as a pun, but I didn’t. I was good, but boy! It would’ve been perfect. One thing I liked about this, was we were finally able to hear Philip’s voice. He is definitely quieter than Kayla. I really liked the slight boop of bass in the beginning, it made me think the general sound would be a little different compared to the first and it is different. I had the same vibes I experienced in the previous, but the tempo is more upbeat and happier.

Third is “Water Is Still” and I was actually looking forward to this one. I had hoped it would sound calm; almost like you should expect to hear it at a spa. In a way, it was exactly how I hoped it would be, but thanks to the addition of electric guitars to the airy beat in the background it gave it a nice little change. It was the perfect instrumental for me. I was so happy to hear something like this, where there’s no vocals at all. It’s just a nice collection of soothing sounds together. Lastly, we have “Home” and to hear Kayla and Philip’s soft words come into focus and together was wonderful, but towards the end of it, everything grows louder and I really liked it.

I was genuinely surprised by this. There were moments when I thought of them sounding like artist Banks and British band London Grammar in a way, like the second track gave me a strong Banks vibe with Kayla’s cool voice, but the whole thing had a London Grammar type of flare. I find it a bit odd that I was half expecting everything to sound a bit like Dido, but they ended up sounding more modern, almost new age type of music that I am learning to fall in love with in the last few years. After I finished listening, I started searching on my Spotify playlists for more comforting type of music like Phavors. After what’s been going on with the world lately, I needed to escape my reality a little longer.

Have you heard of Phavors yet? If you have, do you have a favorite song? What were your thoughts on their new EP too?

snowflake

 

Book Review: “The Broken Circle” by Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller

Hello!

I am known to scroll through Amazon’s Prime Reading catalog for a good hour and a half, just seeing what’s available and basically take inventory of what I could be interested in after I finish my current book. Everytime I do this, I would always see this book listed in the memoirs section, but I would talk myself out of it because I knew it would pull at my heart strings but one day I told myself to get it because I wasn’t doing very well with the other book.

For some biographies and memoirs, I don’t like to read the synopsis given to you beforehand. I think the description can play with your mind and although I just skimmed at what the book was about, the title alone told me what to expect and you can’t blame me especially when the tagline says “a memoir of escaping Afghanistan”. I didn’t have to know anything too critical to understand that this would be a rough one but I got it anyways!


42945699._SY475_An emotional and sweeping memoir of love and survival—and of a committed and desperate family uprooted and divided by the violent, changing landscape of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.

Before the Soviet invasion of 1980, Enjeela Ahmadi remembers her home—Kabul, Afghanistan—as peaceful, prosperous, and filled with people from all walks of life. But after her mother, unsettled by growing political unrest, leaves for medical treatment in India, the civil war intensifies, changing young Enjeela’s life forever. Amid the rumble of invading Soviet tanks, Enjeela and her family are thrust into chaos and fear when it becomes clear that her mother will not be coming home.

Thus begins an epic, reckless, and terrifying five-year journey of escape for Enjeela, her siblings, and their father to reconnect with her mother. In navigating the dangers ahead of them, and in looking back at the wilderness of her homeland, Enjeela discovers the spiritual and physical strength to find hope in the most desperate of circumstances.

A heart-stopping memoir of a girl shaken by the brutalities of war and empowered by the will to survive, The Broken Circle brilliantly illustrates that family is not defined by the borders of a country but by the bonds of the heart.

taken from Goodreads.

I want to point out that, Enjeela’s story starts in the late 1970’s and into the early 80’s, so I wasn’t alive during this time. I kind of remember watching various documentaries that were filmed at this time so I remember hearing things about the war going on in Afghanistan but I didn’t know who it was with until everything was mentioned in this story; I thought it was an interesting way to understand the early conflicts there.

At the beginning of the book, it was nice to learn about the beauty of Enjeela’s home in Kabul. The lush earth and ways of modernizes going on in the community. This was another part of history I did know about too. I saw on Twitter years ago of two women in Pakistan wearing skirts and they had their hair down and it was flowing in the wind. They looked happy to have their pictures taken, but the next photograph was of a group of women covered in head to toe with black burkas. I thought it was very sad to see how big of a shift had happened throughout recent history.

As much as I enjoyed learning about her early memories of her elder sister getting married and how their house was furnished in both American and Italian styles of the day. We quickly make our way to some of the new changes of her beloved country. It was somewhat slow of a build up, but once her mother and sisters left, everything really takes things into another tempo. One moment we are told how Enjeela and crumbling family have moved into a smaller house to meeting Masood and officially making their way out of her beloved, but war-torn country.

I thought of a documentary I watched on PBS last year called “For Sama” and it was a documented account of a Syrian journalist living with her husband who was running an open hospital while they were getting bombed from every angle and their baby girl Sama was born in the mix. I saw the humanity side of this war going on, and although it was small it was as frightening to watch, but I knew it was 10x worse for those who lived in it every day and night for a long period of time. To read about a six year old having to walk with her siblings without their parents and on top of that, with a strange man who you would automatically think of the worst possible outcome for all of them. In a span of six months they lived in little villages and were treated like a loved one with everyone they came across, but on the other side of that, those same people were burying their loved ones because they were being killed fighting for their right to live there in their homes.

Everything about it was heartbreaking but they never seem to give up on not just themselves, but the promise her whole family being together again soon. It was a beautiful story, I just wish we were given more information about what happened to the rest of her family at the end. It is my only bad note about the story itself, yes, she told us about what happened to her later on in life but we weren’t given anything about her siblings. They were as present in the book as she was, but we never get told anything more about them.

Have you read this book yet? Are you a fan of memoirs? Do you, by any chance, have a favorite one you’ve read either this year or in the past? Let me know below!

snowflake

Book Review: “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han

Hello!

It’s time!

Originally, I wanted to finish before the film came out on Netflix so I could watch and be apart of the discussion on Twitter, but then I received a tablet for my birthday and all of my physical books were basically left in the dust. Several months later, my mom told me about the possibility of bringing my tablet outside to our new deck so whenever the cats were done with me, I could stay out there to read.

Honestly, I laughed at her but once she brought out this foot stool (we call it a bench!) we have so I could take pictures of the cats. After about five minutes, the cats ran away and I was left on our porch without anything to do, but then I quickly remembered I had this book inside the hollow space of the stool and immediately took it out to start reading it.  By the end of the month I was wanting to read more than take pictures of the cats!


42945699._sy475_-1Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

taken from Goodreads.

 


By the time I wrote this post, I still hadn’t seen the film. I wasn’t a big fan to the first one so I really wondered if doing one without the other would be better for me? I really started to think this when I wasn’t reading the book at all and I just wanted to know what was coming next! Edit: I have watched the beginning but have decided not to finish or watch the rest of the films.

I thought the beginning really had the same lovey-dovey feelings I felt while reading the first book, but once the author brings in the drama of the video and this new character, another one of Lara Jean’s former loves into the picture, at first I thought uh oh, this isn’t going to end well! I was really surprised on how slowly I went from being Team Peter to Team John Ambrose. As much as I loved Peter in the first book, you could see he was conflicted between his feelings toward Genevieve, somebody he’s been with for so long to Lara Jean, a girl who’s love letters were sent out by mistake. You didn’t really know which direction these two characters should go, and for once in her young life Lara Jean had two guys fighting for her affections and I’m still not convinced she made the right choice in the end.

Besides of the romance, I loved the inclusion of the residents of the nursing home. Stormy sounds like a hoot to be around, and I should know because there were times I was reading and it made me miss being around my nana. I have also volunteered at nursing homes and I love being around the ladies there. They are really fun but you do have to be careful because they can be very mischievous! I haven’t been told I’d be perfect for one of their grandsons like Lara Jean, but still I have been around them while playing bingo! They’re competitive women let me tell you!

I feel like if I continue with this, I’ll just ruin the whole thing for you and I don’t want to do that to anyone! I already feel bad for the spoilers I’ve said in this post, so I apologize for doing that! I have purchased the final book in the trilogy, and I’m very excited to get into that but I may wait and make it my twentieth book of my Goodreads Challenge for the year.

Have you read “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han yet? For those of you that just read the book and skipped the film, do you regret your decision on it? What were your thoughts on the events that happened in the story?

snowflake

Music Monday | Scott Storch

Hello!

For this week, the next music producer is going to be Scott Storch. Scott has always been at the top of my list of best composers and definitely the inspiration for this series. Dr. Dre, Rick Rubin, Timbaland, Scott and Joost van der Breok were the five I originally wanted to discuss for the entire summer but I didn’t think I would have enough material so I made a last minute decision to add a few more people to the list and that was the end of it.

Despite my love of him being a producer, I fell in love with his way to create a killer beat. A lot of people tend to forget that a producer are also the ones making the actual music too! Back when the network VH1 use to air those episodes of The Lives of Rich and Famous. Scott was selected to be featured in one of them and he gave everyone a sneak peak into the way he came up with three of the biggest songs in 2003-04. He would play snippets of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” and “Just A Little Bit” and Fat Joe’s “Lean Back”. I always found it hilarious that while both of these rappers were feuding with each other, they were working with the same person who was helping them their music! Anyways, once I figured out how these songs were made, I was floored! I knew both “Candy Shop” and “Just A Little Bit” sounded similar, but I didn’t know how to explain what I was hearing; everybody would have thought I was overly obsessed because at that time I was a huge fun of 50 Cent.

Unfortunately, Scott sort of disappeared from the music world for a while. I think he finally came back out of the shadows in 2014 or sometime after that. I know he had produced songs for Fat Joe in the last year and recently released a brand new song helping carry out the reggaetĂłn flavor, that I definitely enjoy hearing, in the summertime. The track is called “Fuego Del Calor” and it features Ozuna and Tyga. I honestly thought I wouldn’t really enjoy it, because when I want to listen to that type of music, I’d rather have someone who knows that genre in and out, and can make it sound completely different than the others on the radio. So, it was a surprise that I actually enjoyed the whole thing!

Do you know any Scott Storch albums he’s worked on in the past? What are your favorite songs ever?

snowflake