2010: Year in Music

Like I've done in the past, I'm listing 50 songs that caught my attention this year. Unlike previous posts, I am not linking each song. If you would like to download a zip file of these tracks in a playlist then click HERE for Part 1, and HERE for Part 2. Enjoy!

The Afters Light Up the Sky "Light Up the Sky"

Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele "Creep (Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin)"

Anberlin Dark is the Way, Light is A Place "You Belong Here"

Apparatjik We Are Here "Antlers"

Band of Horses Infinite Arms "Way Back Home"

Blood Red Shoes Fire Like This "Don't Ask"

Brandon Flowers Flamingo "Crossfire" (the rest of the album blows)

Christina Perri "Jar of Hearts"

Circa Survive Blue Sky Noise "I Felt Free"

Cloud Cult Light Chasers "The Guessing Game (Journey to the Center)"

Coldplay "Christmas Lights" (yes, it's a Christmas song, but I loved it enough to put it on this list)

Delphic Acolyte "Doubt"

Eminem Recovery "Not Afraid" (one of my guilty pleasures)

Evaline Patterned EP "Hours"

Faded Paper Figures New Medium "New Medium" (my favorite track of the year)

Fortune Staring at the Ice Melt "Gimme"

Fran Healy Wreckorder "Buttercups" (solo album from lead singer of Travis)

Freelance Whales Weathervanes "Starring"

Future of Forestry Travel III EP "Did You Lose Yourself?"

Gorillaz Plastic Beach "Empire Ants"

Hawthorne Heights Skeletons "Bring You Back"

Hellogoodbye Would it Kill You? "Finding Something to Do"

Hot Chip One Life Stand "I Feel Better"

Ingrid Michaelson "Parachute"

Interpol Interpol "Lights"

Jimmy Eat World Invented "Littlething"

Jónsi Go "Kolnidur"

The Joy Formidable A Balloon Called Moaning "Cradle"

Ke$ha Animal "Your Love is My Drug" (another guilty pleasure)

Keane Night Train "Stop for a Minute (feat. K'naan)"

Kele The Boxer "Walk Tall" (disappointing album from the lead singer of Bloc Party, but this song is interesting)

Kyte Dead Waves "ihnfsa"

Linkin Park A Thousand Suns "Burning in the Skies"

Mumford and Sons Sigh No More "After the Storm"

Murder By Death Good Morning, Magpie "On the Dark Streets Below"

MUSE The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Soundtrack"Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever)"

Neon Trees Habits "Animal"

The New Loud Measures Melt "Get Lost"

OK Go Of the Blue Colour of the Sky "This Too Shall Pass"

Paper Tongues Paper Tongues "Trinity"

Pineapple Thief Someone Here is Missing "The State We're In"

Ra Ra Riot Orchard "Boy"

Rihanna Loud "Only Girl (In the World)" (it's too catchy for me to not put on this list)

Rogue Wave Permalight "Right With You"

Stars The Five Ghosts "We Don't Want Your Body"

Steel Train Steel Train "You Are Dangerous"

The Futureheads The Chaos "Heartbeat Song" (totally out of alphabetical order, sorry)

Thriving Ivory Through Yourself and Back Again "Where We Belong"

We Are Scientists Barbara "Rules Don't Stop Me"

Wolf Parade Expo 86 "In the Direction of the Moon"

**I don't always catch everything right away, so here are 5 songs that definitely would have made my top 50 of 2009 if I had heard them in time!

Deas Vail Birds & Cages "Birds"

fun. Aim and Ignite "Be Calm"

Paper Route Absence "Are We All Forgotten"

The Temper Trap Conditions "Love Lost"

The xx The xx "Islands"


Top 10 Albums of 2010

10. Hot Chip - One Life Stand

9. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise

8. Anberlin - Dark is the Way, Light is the Place

7. Fortune - Staring at the Ice Melt

6. Hellogoodbye - Would it Kill You?

5. Steel Train - Steel Train

4. Faded Paper Figures - New Medium (this is my favorite track of the year)

3. Evaline - Patterned EP

2. The Futureheads - The Chaos

1. Paper Tongues - Paper Tongues

Honorable mentions:

Cloud Cult - Light Chasers

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

Jonsi - Go

Most disappointing album of the year: Brandon Flowers - Flamingo

Albums that I missed in 2009 that definitely would have my my top 10:

Deas Vail - Birds and Cages

fun. - Aim and Ignite

Paper Route - Are We All Forgotten


Love the Earth

This evening I let my mom's dog outside like I normally do, but instead of just holding the front door open, I decided to take him out back and sit on the picnic table. In the minute that I was outside, the fresh sweet-smelling air invigorated me and brought up an intense desire to connect with the Earth. I couldn't explain it, I just wanted more than anything to be in the woods away from the city lights. So without much thought, I put my shoes on, grabbed my car keys and drove to Retzer Nature Center.

I threw on a hat and gloves and rolled the windows down so I could really breathe in the air. When I got to Retzer, I put my iPod in my back pocket, pulled my emergency flashlight out of the glove box and ventured out into the night. I stepped onto the path and immediately felt my heart expand - it was like I could feel the spirits of the trees with me and they were just as excited as I was to be alive in that moment. I got to the top of the open hill, found a comfortable piece of ground and sprawled out on my back. It's nearly a new moon so the dark orange globe was fully visible with a small sliver of white cupping the bottom. The stars seemed somehow muted, yet closer. I took a deep breath, put in my ear buds and proceeded to play my favorite symphony.

During that 13 minutes of aural bliss I felt a number of things. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks over the sheer beauty of my surroundings and the appreciation for this planet and the miracle of life. I felt myself melt into the ground and become one with the grass and soil. I felt the pulse of the heart of the Earth as if it were my own. I felt calm and peaceful, and above all I felt loved. For every ounce of love that I was pouring into the Earth, she was pouring that much (and more!) right back into me.

The symphony finished and I shut off my iPod. I let the buzzing of the energy flow between my hands and the ground and silently thanked the Earth for sharing with me. I sat up and said a little prayer. As I walked back through the woods to my car, I felt compelled to touch each tree I passed and let it know that I loved it. I slowly made my way back without the light and took the time to appreciate the trees around me. I even stopped to hug one (I know that totally opens me up to jokes but I don't care).

As I got back in my car to drive home I felt completely at peace. I wanted to share this feeling of love and joy with everyone. Then I realized that all of my favorite things that bring me this sense of peace and joy are completely free and come from nature herself: the stunning sights, entrancing sounds and luscious smells. So often I neglect the things I truly love for something I think is more important or pressing. But really, nothing I do in this world can have much of a positive impact on others unless I am filled with love and appreciation, and for me the fastest way to replenish that emotion is to connect with Gaia.

The other thing I was thinking about on my ride home was how amazing it would be if everyone took time out to put a little love back into the planet. Feeling this connected and rejuvenated inspires me to be kinder and more loving to those around me. Imagine if every person that read this took the time out to appreciate and love the planet for just a few minutes (in whatever way felt right to them) and then passed on the message to someone else - there would be far fewer sour moods and a whole lot more smiles.

If you feel silly hugging a tree or talking to the stars, start somewhere else like noticing the new grass pushing up out of the ground or the buds that will be popping out on the trees any day now. Don't even tell anyone what you're doing if you feel embarrassed or ashamed. We are all alive in this moment solely because this beautiful planet sustains and nourishes us. There's no shame in loving it back.


Love Your Beautiful Self

I was just having a conversation with a friend of mine and we were swapping stories of how we struggle with body image and weight. I remembered when I first started college 10 years ago how the topic that got me fired up more than any other was how young women and their body image were effected by the media. I did many papers on how we (I included myself in the focus group) were heavily burdened by airbrushed images and groomed to believe we were nothing unless we were as thin and beautiful as the covers of the magazines. I know that these falsified images don't singularly influence young women. Men are just as susceptible to that perfectly sculpted ideal being blasted out on billboards and television. It seems that only the thin and beautiful have a chance at becoming successful.

Think about it. Who of you has never seen a commercial and thought "if only I looked like him/her..." or something of the sort? I'd bet that we all have been there or are there at the moment - constantly comparing ourselves to the images around us - and not just images, but other real people.

I'm here to tell you it's all an illusion.
Each and every one of us is so unique and so different that there can't possibly be an "ideal." Let that soak in.
It's time we stopped comparing what we have to what we don't have and accept the miraculous bodies we have been given as uniquely ours.
We need to start nurturing and loving ourselves exactly the way we are, and then give that support and love to everyone around us.
Let's remind each other that the faces we see in the movies, magazines and on tv are just faces and not a demand to replicate.
Real beauty is on the inside, and that permeates our surroundings when we embrace and accept our own inner beauty.
You ARE beautiful, just the way you are.
You ARE loved.
You already have everything you need.

Make a commitment to truth.
Start treating yourself in the most loving way possible. Treat your body with reverence. Feed it healthy, nourishing foods and get the exercise and sleep it desires. The more we love ourselves, the more love comes our way. Abundant love is the goal, for then we no longer need the illusion...

I believe you are beautiful and there is nothing you need to change except your perception in order for you to believe you are beautiful as well.

All my love.

The only time I can remember being complimented on how my body looked was when I was so ill I could barely leave the house. I had dropped 30 pounds in a month. I was unwell. But because I was thin, I was receiving positive feedback regarding my shape.
It makes me sad that others only seem to recognize beauty when it comes packaged in the way they are conditioned to believe it should.
From now on, I am going to make a point to compliment my friends (and strangers!) for their uniqueness and beauty - whether it's "conventional" or not. Be prepared to say thank you :)