Album Review: “Sign” by RAIGN

40393523_10158372717632837_5296621834853154816_nBack in January, British singer-songwriter RAIGN released her extended play “Born Again” and I put out a review of it on here about a month later. Now I’m back to talk about her debut album that came out in mid-September. It is called “Sign” and even though I kept seeing a couple of singles pop up on the new music tab on Spotify, I did not expect this at all! Despite only really listening to one single before working on this, I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was open to new sounds and some of the familiar stuff that made me fall in love with her music in the first place.

The album itself consists of 12 songs, which is standard for any musician but also with that amount, means you can hear a wider range of her style. I am hoping for an eclectic mix as I continue down the list of tracks. So, let’s start!

We begin with an introduction, “Sign” and it’s an instrumental start to the album. It has a dreamy quality to it as it’s soft but haunting too. I really like hearing the orchestra build up and sound like the second song “Out Of Time”. This song has a completely different tone, as it has a pop-rock sound which wasn’t something that I expected but I actually liked it! It’s something we haven’t heard from her yet and I thought it was perfect to break that barrier so early in the album. Next we have “Who Are You” and it has that familiar mysterious vibe playing throughout it. It’s very powerful but in a way gentle too!

We move on to “God Only Knows” and what I really like about this one was the fact that it started off in this soft way, with only her echo-y but deep voice and a light epic drumming in the background. It was so beautiful to only have those elements, before adding the orchestra back in too. The fourth track “Into Heaven Alone” has a melancholy sound but it does have a rock-y vibe on top of that cinematic beat, it’s not an overwhelming. I liked the uniqueness it gave the song! I feel the next song “Inside Of Me” has this motivational statement to make, as it gave you the strength to get through whatever is bothering you at that moment. The beat itself was strong in terms of matching the emotions and lyrics to the song, but it was also really light too. It was a nice balance.

When we first started the album, we had a nice epic intro with “Sign” but for the sixth track, it is the vocal version of the actual song. It still has this gentleness about it, but now that we are hearing the words along with the ominous ballad of violins, bells and of course Raign’s deep voice. It will take you away into a magical place whenever you listen to it, at least that’s what it did for me. I felt like I was walking in a snow-y, forest wonderland, I love it when music can do that in a matter of three minutes! Next, there’s “Calling” and this has another interesting quality. At first, I thought it was going to continue what we heard in the last song. I’m hearing more pop-y notes in the beat, it still has that cinematic sound in it, but it is very mild so you can hear them both at the same time. It is a cool song.

We are on the last four songs. “Hold On To The Sky” is kind of tame, almost dreamy in a way. One way to explain it, is if you were in a deep amount of water. Your body is weightless so dancing inside is a breeze. If this was a song, this would be it. I’m sorry for the weird metaphor, but that’s what I instantly thought of when it started playing! Next there’s “Find My Own Way” and this has a sexy beat behind it. It keeps you on your toes because it’s a somewhat simple song, but there’s that underling feeling you could be surprised soon. It was a pleasing track and probably one of my favorites out of the whole thing.

I was really curious about the eleventh song and final track because the titles seem so easy to figure out, I just hoped I wouldn’t get disappointed in the end. However, “Sunrise” starts with this very loud bass boom and then her voice gets echo-y and the beat itself builds into the monstrous beast. As it continues, Raign basically stays the same as far as tempo goes, but I’m glad she’s like that because the dynamic between these two makes it that much better. It has an edge, a jaggered edge that makes it powerful! Finally, we end with “Evergreen” and after the previous one, I was a little worried but thankfully it was at the same vibe, but I think I fell in love with the lyrics a lot faster than I did with “Sunrise”, plus it has a happier beat. It had a motivated outlook on it, but everything about it was inviting to me, and it made me like I could do anything so I was thinking of good things rather than the negative and that’s what I like the most about it.

One of my favorite things to do now whenever I watch a movie or television show, is that I keep an eye out for the music being played on a certain scene. When The Vampire Diaries started playing Raign’s music throughout the last four or five seasons, I did not expect to still crave her music but I do! I think she has a gorgeous voice and the beats she uses to showcase it, make me extremely happy! Raign was at the forefront of my taste for cinematic music, and I deeply encourage you to check out some of her songs! This album gave me feeling after feeling, and although I tend to listen to her music whenever I’m sad, I was happy listening to all the way through and for that to happen rarely works anymore.

Have you heard of RAIGN’s new album “SIGN” yet? If I wasn’t the one to introduce you to her music, how did you find her? What is your favorite song(s)?

snowflake

Album Review: “Speak Your Mind” by Anne-Marie

31369538_1658698627511837_4508032018632455547_nEverybody knows (or should) by now that I love internationally based music. A lot of the music I listen to does come from Australia, The Netherlands, and Sweden so it shouldn’t come to no surprise that I’m going to be talking about a Swedish pop singer today!

Anne-Marie is an artist that you might’ve heard before as she’s been featured on two songs: “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit with Sean Paul, it came out March 2017, and was a big summer hit for all three acts. And recently, “Friends” is her collaboration with the mysterious DJ, Marshmello, released a few weeks before this record came out. It’s already become a fun-loving jam to everybody stuck in the friend zone.

We start off this album with “Cry” and I liked the quirky introduction. One of the things that I really like about Anne-Marie’s voice, is that it has this cool, exotic tone to it. The more I was listening to this song, I kind of thought back to my original thought and maybe I was being influenced by the beat itself, but I can’t deny it. A lot of British singers have a knack of having very exotic accents, but it just depends on the way they use it. Anywho, I really like this beat, it does have this smooth, tropical vibe, but I really love the usage of real drums on a pop track, like thank you! I love synthic drum beats, but this was a nice change! Afterwards, there’s her second single and it was released in early 2017, “Ciao Adios” which if you don’t know what this means, it’s “Hello, Goodbye” in Italian and Spanish. This is a lot milder than I kind of expected it to be, and funnily enough, I hadn’t heard of it before doing this review.

Third is “Alarm” and I do have to admit again, I’ve only heard the remix version of this song. I heard Marshmello’s remix and that was it for me! I’ve been very curious to hear the original way, so I like the melody is still relatively the same. She still sounds a total badass! This way isn’t that bad, it’s still dance-y, but I still like other way better! “Trigger” is next and this one sounds sweetly, beat wise! The first thing that popped into my mind was walking around a dense forest, seeing all of the new plants and bugs. It just has that kind of vibe to it, very relaxing but fun with the lyrics and sound. It’s a good song all the way around! And then we dive into a slower song called, “Then” and I really loved the air-y, dreamscape environment it brings to the listener; it’s light but still upbeat enough where you can still dance to it. It’s really good too!

The sixth track is “Perfect” and at first, you get this bluesy, soulful kind of sound. I really like the gentle piano, you can hear throughout the song itself. I don’t really pay too much attention to the lyrics, but since this is so mellow, I can actually hear the words very well and I liked the fact that both sides work really well together! I think it could be a favorite, the more I listen to it. And finally we get to talk about of my favorites, “Friends” and I like the fact we still have that same soft, beat in the beginning that has become a thing for this album as a whole. It’s become her quintessential sound now, but I also like what Marshmello was able to do it, without shifting the vibe too much. It has some pop, nostalgic elements to it that I really like about it.

When I first saw this title, I’m not going to lie, I thought she was covering Theory Of A Deadman’s track “Bad Girlfriend” and a part of me was kind of wanting to hear it. I think more pop artists should experiment with covering more rock songs. Anyways, I think this has the same dark tone to it, but it does switch to a urban flow. I think some of the lyrics are absolutely hilarious! I actually had to listen to it twice while working on this post because I liked it so much! Next there’s “Heavy” and again, we have this beach-y sound going on, but it’s a fun and sweet love song, compared to the song before it! Weird how that worked out, huh?

And this one was the single that she put out a week before her album came out, which confused the crap out of me! The song is “2002” and I find it a little strange to title songs like this, because I can’t remember much unless something very significant happened. I think this song is very interesting, especially the beginning lines of the choruses, there are SIX familiar songs in those first two lines, and I didn’t know it until I had to go look it up! I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for it, because isn’t that a copyright issue? We’re almost done, we have “Can I Get Your Number?” and I like the soft beat again, what is with me lately? I’m liking these slow, love songs a lot! We’re approaching summer, so I might as well embrace it. I like it, but it’s a bit boring too. At least I can dance to it. Last song of the standard edition is “Machine” and I instantly had this ominous, but trippy vibe while listening to it. Every once in a while, I can get into this sober, but out-of-this-world state of mind that tends to scare me the most of all, because I actually try to put myself there on my own. Anyways, I like this, it’s gentle and meaningful at the same time.

I was really impressed with this album. As much as the whole Caribbean type of sound was used on it, surprisingly it wasn’t too annoying. It wasn’t over used like some artists tend to do for late spring, early summer releases. You probably think I’m just trying to pull your chain, but I’m not. It really happens! A bit of a sidenote to everybody reading this, Spotify has the deluxe version but I rarely talk about those types of albums, so here are five extra songs included, if you’d like to continue down the A.M. train, starting with “Breathing Fire,” “Some People,” “Use To Love You,” “Peak,” and finally “Rockabye”.

Have you listened to Anne-Marie’s debut album “Speak Your Mind” yet? If you have, what are some of your favorite tracks so far? What were some of your thoughts you had about it the first time you listened to it?

snowflake

What I Love About Afternoon Tea!

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Hello!

Last October, when I stayed at my mom’s work while she recovered from her second surgery, my nana and I got to have a lot of fun together and one of the things we both got to enjoy was a theme dinner there at the nursing home.

Gail who works in the activities department explained to us that they try to have four different themes in a year. She and the other girls decorate the different dining rooms and they plan with the chefs of a meal that would go with that particular theme. The one I got to enjoy was “Serenade At The Seven Seas” or something like that. I liked it. I also loved trying the different courses, but the other ladies were a bit mixed though!

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The theme was called “My Fair Lady” and I guess the ladies in the activities department decorated the dinning rooms and made feathered hats or “bonnets” for the female residents! She took pictures and even wrote out the menu of what they served to the residents! I was going to use the one she made, but it had some spelling mistakes so I just redid it – later I realized I could have spelling mistakes on mine! Funny how they works!

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They also had a little tea party too!

According to Gail, in the film a couple of characters host a party and they decided to recreate that with the residents, so they decorated the large activity room with very pretty and colorful table clothes and had these beautiful centerpieces in the middle of them. They looked very vintage but yet modern too! They also made the ladies hats with feathers and ribbons in crafts. My nana really loved that, but as you can see apparently so did Alex!

28535342_1768924659838523_1707063689_nIn 2016, I actually wanted to have an afternoon tea themed birthday party. I had so many ideas that I wanted to do. I wanted to decorate my grandparent’s kitchen table with different fabrics, and since my birthday is like the day after Halloween, I knew my nana had a large black table liner and I thought if we put that on the table itself and laid out a red runner in the middle that way it wouldn’t look too dark and gloomy for the party!

Over the course of the last two years, I’ve actually wondered what I’d serve to this tea party if I ever had one! Since I read so many of my fellow blogger friends going to afternoon tea at different hotels or just plainly at home with their family members and/or close friends., I’ve been able to figure out what all is served, and I’ve grown to love the three teared stand of food that is laid out on the table. The first thing they give you is your tea. However, I’m like the 1% that doesn’t like coffee or tea, so I’m more interested in finding a good lemonade recipe. My mom actually made a homemade strawberry lemonade last year, where she let the strawberries sit out in the juice overnight to allow the flavors to marinate together. I’m kind of partial to anything raspberry, so whenever I see a “raspberry lemonade” on a menu at a restaurant, I instantly order it! So I’d rather have a raspberry lemonade instead.

As much as I’ve gathered, you usually start with the sandwiches, they are usually placed on the bottom and bigger tear. The traditional flavors are egg salad, smoked salmon and cumber all cut in small bites so they look more dainty, and they always have the crusts cut off! Now I look on Pinterest for other ideas to make this a little bit more casual, so I am curious about creating a sandwich or two as some kind of wrap or pinwheel–using the traditional plain tortilla or having a variation of spinach or whole wheat!

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On the second tear you had the scones, which apparently in the states we say the word completely wrong! I’d explain on how it’s really pronounced but I don’t even know how to describe it, so I apologize there.

I have actually seen quite a few of my favorite chefs make scones on their television programs, so I already know of some different kinds I’d like to try out. I also know that when you’re making them for the first time, they’re suppose to be crumbly, so there’s nothing wrong with them, that’s just how they’re meant to be! Ree Drummond created the Maple Oat Nut Scones after not being able to visit a Starbucks where she lives; they look really good! The way she described them on her show The Pioneer Woman they taste like a biscuit type of pancake, because it has a strong taste of maple syrup! However, I think I would have to keep the coffee out of it! And then there’s a Cheddar and Dill Scone recipe from Ina Garten, she’s made this with both cheddar and a Stilton, which is like a stronger blue cheese! She’s very inspired by French food and had a gourmet food store back in the day, so she’s figured out different ways to make a good savory scone!

28536475_1768924629838526_1468751189_nNow the real question is what would I do about the clotted cream and jam that they serve alongside the scones itself? I know we don’t have the traditional clotted cream or nobody makes it to that level as the British, so the next best choice to have would either be mascarpone or cream cheese! Personally, I’ve never been in jam or perseveres, so I wouldn’t necessarily put it out as an option if it was only me, but if I had a group of people, I’d probably get a small jar of strawberry or blueberry jam, but for those who want to be really adventurous they can try out the marmalade. You know, I love the smell of that stuff because it’s like oranges, but I have never tried it before and if it was put out there on the table, I probably would like to try a small dab of it.

As far as the top layer of the stand, my thoughts have differed, sometimes I think a very casual take on decorative cupcakes would work out very nicely! You could make minis so they’d fit on the tear better. However if you wanted to add a fun twist to them, like stuffing them, it wouldn’t necessarily work on the tiny ones. I’ve noticed I keep looking into French pastries. You’d think I’ve been watching too much Ina Garten lately! So the possibility of having macrons, which is something that is on my food bucket list (yes, I do have one those! I actually need to work on that soon!) and there’s the tarts or tarlets you can make, like the Mini Raspberry Tarts that Julia Baker made on her TV show! These were so cute and seemed really easy to make! If you’re a chocoholic, in which I sort of am, you need a couple of good chocolate desserts too! Truffles would be a good idea, as you can just eat it in one bite! You could dip strawberries in chocolate or make little pote de creme (puddings!) in mason jars too.

There doesn’t seem like there’s a right or wrong way to create your own afternoon tea! If you’re interested in learning and seeing what is actually served at the teas in the United Kingdom, I have compiled a list of favorite blog posts for you! I hope you have enjoyed this post!

A Candy Shop Afternoon Tea at Conrad St. James – Lux Life | Love Is In The Air at Langham London’s Valentine’s Afternoon Tea – Fresh And Fearless | Afternoon Tea at Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour – Little Miss Katy | Afternoon Tea at Rockcliffe Hall – This Northern Gal | Sweet Treats: Glam Rock Afternoon Tea at K West Hotel & Spa – AbsolutelyLucy

Have you ever attended an afternoon tea before? If you have, what was it about it that you loved the most? For those of you who haven’t, have you ever been tempted to create one yourself? Let me know in the comments!

snowflake

REVIEW | Lair

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Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve actually reviewed anything besides albums or EPs, but today is different. As the rest of the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving!) I thought I should probably have an easy going post for today. I actually had this figured out but I just needed a day to get it up and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do it!

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Beware!

Liar is a series that premiered in the United Kingdom first, as it is set there in the first place. Here in the United States, we ended up getting the first episode two or three weeks after they did, because it came on before the start of October. I actually never saw the promos for it, all I kept seeing was everybody on Twitter talking about it and I just figured that I’d never be able to watch it, because I follow a lot more UKers than Americans on my social media accounts. And then one day I was searching on my guide and found it on the Sundance Channel and I became a happy camper after that!

The story is about a woman, by the name of Laura Nielsen, played by Joanne Froggatt, she is newly single and a teacher at a school somewhere in England. Laura meets one of her students’ dad, Andrew Earlham, played by Ioan Gruffold. He is a doctor that works at the same hospital as her sister Katy. Laura and Andrew go out on a date and when they get back to her flat or apartment things apparently go array.  She wakes up, feeling strange, after she thinks that Andrew has raped her. The show is about what Laura and Andrew do in their lives while the allegations linger over them.

There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about this show.

I loved not really knowing if Laura is telling the truth in the beginning, they don’t really show you how that night really unfolds until episode four, they mostly show you flashbacks of how the date went and then they show you how he was able to do it and get away with it. Andrew drugged her with GHB, which is a clear liquid that can be poured into someone’s drink undetected and they can feel really drowsy as it takes effect on the body.

Laura is such a strong character in the show. She tries her best to do everything in her power to make sure he does not do this to another woman. However, a man of her past reappears and wants to make sure that her case doesn’t go through. When lawyers hear of this man’s testimony, the case against Andrew doesn’t go to trail. And then the female detective Harmon, goes to Andrew’s house to personally tell him that piece of news and Andrew boldly tries to ask her out, but that’s when red lights flash in her mind (they did in mine too!) and she declines his offer but not without giving him a warning. The next day, she goes home and she’s in the early stages of pregnancy and apparently a lesbian, she has a different juice drink for everyday of the week and she falls asleep. She goes to the bathroom after getting up and she goes to stand up and she notices there’s quite a bit of blood below. So she suspects something happened right away.

This isn’t the only thing that is going on with story line. Laura’s sister Katy is having or had an affair with Laura’s now ex-boyfriend Tom. They both are interested in helping Laura capture Andrew doing something wrong, but then this secret comes out and it’s really sad for both Laura and Katy, as they seemed to be there for each other and after that, the trust isn’t there and to top it all off, Katy’s husband Liam basically kicks her out of their family home with him and their children. So it’s sad all around.

I think the first, fourth and sixth episodes were my favorites. We start to see the things coming together after the fourth episode, things make more sense and then Laura gets Andrew’s phone. She goes over to the old lady’s house and is inside that shed looking inside that gym bag, that whole scene was so uneasy for me because Mia was on the phone trying to call Andrew and I kept imagining him driving over there to come get her, but he never shows up. Laura turns in the case of SD cards of the recordings of the rapes, and the baggy of GHB bottles to the police.

And then the biggest bomb drops, as the end of the last episode shows Andrew Earlham in the middle of the marshes with what looks like a slash around his throat. So the question is who the hell killed him?!?! My money is on his kid honestly! I think the pressure was too much for him. I feel a child can deny an allegation one time, so when the detective pressed charges, I think that was his breaking point. The last scene we have of Luke’s life three months later and you see the screen of what kids that he went to school with were saying about the two of them kind of gives you an insight into the pain that Luke has been feeling lately; plus he looked like pure shit too.

I honestly can’t wait for season two now!

What did you think of Liar? And who do you think honestly killed Andrew at the end?

snowflake

Tune Tuesday | Ireland 2016

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Howdy!

We’re back in Ireland this week! I’m so glad to be talking about Irish music again!

I remembered whenever I was going through the archives of my brain of different artists I could talk about for both USA and Australia! Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon Lesley Roy. Her music was a part of my teenage years. I want to say maybe 2006 or 2007! So long ago! While I was busy trying to find whatever happened to her I found out that she stopped singing and went back to songwriting for other artists! I was a little sad when I read that because she has such a real, deep, raspy voice that I felt was the Stevie Nicks of my generation despite the fact that she was in her mid-20s when she released her album Unbeautiful and as I was busy trying to look up videos to use, I also found nothing on her VEVO channel. So I had to result for fan made videos for this post!

Do you know of any other Irish musicians that I need to hear? Please send them to me!

Song Review: “Coming Home” by Sigma featuring Rita Ora

I heard this song a few days ago, I honestly heard it on an electronic dance music station on my TV. They host a countdown during the weekdays and this song started playing. At first, I didn’t like it. Everybody knows me by now that I’m really hard to impress. However, I heard it again that day after the first time and I kept thinking about it later that night.

Sigma is a duo from the UK and they actually have quite a few good tracks out. I really like the track “Higher” with Labrinth a lot! Now they have this one with another UK singer, Miss Rita Ora! This is another artist that I’m sad to say that I’ve had the toughest time getting into because I love her voice, it’s really gorgeous! It’s really hard to explain, I just have my issues as you can tell. This song though is beautiful. I’m definitely addicted to it and I just added it to my Starred playlist on Spotify like seven days ago.

This song is called “Coming Home” and something that I’ve always been really aggravated at different dance tracks, is that in some of the content of their lyrics, there’s no soul. It’s just the beat and I’ll be the first to say that it works in some cases. I like the focus on the music, but to be able to relatable for somebody to sing out loud makes it that much better. Thankfully, this song has a very equal playing field. You can hear Rita’s beautiful vocals and this awesome beat. Nobody’s overstepping the boundaries, it’s leveled perfectly together. Do I think it has a soul though? Eh, it’s too early to tell honestly. I haven’t learned the lyrics yet so when I’m ready to take that step, I might give you an update on this post.

What do you think of Sigma’s new track with Rita Ora?

Christmas Advent Calendar 2015!

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Hey guys!

So now that it’s officially December, I can finally discuss anything and everything Christmas-y! I have to say this year everybody has kept their mouths shut about seeing the early Christmas advertisements. I honestly haven’t seen a lot of stuff on TV about it. Anyways, I’ve been thinking of what to share with you this year. You seen my other post that went up on the first, it is a gift guide for bloggers! Click here if you want to check that out!

Last year, my nana got something in the mail from one of the charities that she sends money to every once in a while. She loves basically everything Native American, so she sends money to an Indian school and they sent her an advent calendar. If you don’t know what an advent calendar is, it’s a countdown to Christmas. It’s mainly popular overseas, I know a LOT of bloggers that do it with their families and there are a bunch of varieties of them, some have candles, nail polishes, and even chocolate candies! She has a simple one, they give you a plain Christmas tree and a separate sheet of little stickers to stick onto the tree as time gets closer to Christmas. We had so much fun doing it last year, even though we were behind on some days, she kind of got a kick of me putting each sticker on the tree.

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Two weeks ago, I was looking up different ones on Amazon in case we didn’t get one in the mail. We couldn’t think who sent it to her the last time so I went and looked up ones like it. I found two that were sticker calendars: a nativity scene and Santa’s workshop. They are so cute and fun to do! I think the most festive thing that us Americans have is the Elf On A Shelf thing. Families get a little red Elf and from what I’ve heard is that parents say the elf is there to watch over the little children to keep an eyes on them for Santa. They get moved to different places everyday and that’s all it is basically. We never had one in our house. I wish we had these when I was younger, counting down would be kind of fun I think. At least that’s what I’m saying now and I’m in my twenties.. I’m pretty sure nothing was going to make that count down easier as a kid.

How do you count down to Christmas? To all my friends overseas, what is your favorite advent calendar(s)?

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