Live from France: A country in quarantine.

Live from France: A country in quarantine.

I remember reading a news article about the Coronavirus to my roommate on January 4th.

“So apparently, they found this pretty deadly new disease in China, and now there’s a confirmed case in France…But I’m sure it’s fine?”

Now, on day two of total confinement, we look at each other from across the room.

“When you read that article to me, I never thought it would turn into something like this.”

Me neither.

I never imagined I would be taking part in a nationwide quarantine. If you had asked me last month (heck, even last week) if I thought my life would change so suddenly, I would’ve laughed.

But it’s true. Our lives here in France changed in the blink of an eye.

When Real Life Feels Like a Movie… But not in a good way.

Thursday, my roommate and I watched as Macron announced that all schools will be closing for an undetermined amount of time.

Friday, I walked to work and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. Everyone was on edge. Work conversation was solely centered around what would happen as the virus progressed.

Saturday, I was out in the city with friends when we got the text saying the country passed into stage 3 of the epidemic. Just like that, all the bustling bars and restaurants were indefinitely shut down by midnight, and the streets were deserted.

Monday, Macron announced a total quarantine/lockdown throughout the country, following in the footsteps of Italy.

Today, I walked into the grocery store with our government mandated papers, a mask and protective gloves to do grocery shopping for the elderly. I was terrified I might touch something that could infect them.

The atmosphere of our town has completely changed.

It’s eerie hearing the church bells ring when no one is around. It’s comforting seeing the older woman in the apartment across from us reading her book on her balcony. It’s weird thinking how we will be stuck in this apartment for at least another two weeks.

I don’t say this to scare anyone, but I can’t help but notice many of my American friends who believe it’s a simple cold/flu and will pass easily. I’m not a medical professional, nor can I pretend to know the ins and outs of the virus, but it seems to be quite a bit more dangerous than a common cold or flu.

From Me to You… Whoever You Are

To those who are currently unaffected by the pandemic,

To those who don’t believe it’s “that bad,”

To those who aren’t sure what to think or do because of previous work or family or life commitments,

Please, stay at home. If you are at all able to work from home without it severely harming your financial/life situation, do so.

Some of you aren’t so lucky. Some of you are on the front lines, fighting the virus. Some of you have simply lost your work altogether. And I am genuinely heartbroken for all those who are losing their jobs and livelihood with this pandemic. But it is not too late for the United States.

It is too late for Italy.

It is too late for Spain.

It is (almost) too late for France.

It is not too late for you, America. Do not take this lightly.

Flatten the curve.


If you have any questions pertaining to my experience here during this time, or if you are interested in statistics/data/other informative news articles, please comment below. I would be more than happy to give out as much information as I can.

Music Moment: Harry Styles (Pt. II)

Music Moment: Harry Styles (Pt. II)

In June 2017, I reviewed Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album. And while anyone who knows me knows that I am slightly obsessed with him, I tried to write as unbiased as possible (but hey, this is my personal blog. Let me live a little).

And yesterday, Friday the 13th, Styles released his sophomore album. Fine Line. So, here we go again. Let me preface this review by saying: I am a tried and true Harry Styles fan. So obviously I’m not going to hate the album.


What year is it? Style’s latest album reflects Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd and more.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Styles admits that much of his inspiration came from “the greats” throughout music history. Music writer Rob Sheffield recounts his interview with Styles. “In the studio, while making the album, Harry kept watching a vintage Bowie clip on his phone… For Harry, this was an inspiring pep talk — a reminder not to play it safe. As Bowie says, “If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you are capable of being in.”

The album cover speaks for the musical style of the album. Styles kept the pink color scheme of his debut album while opting for a more bizarre photo affect.

I really didn’t think Fine Line would be as good. I just assumed he couldn’t make an album as good as his debut. Or that he would be a sellout to mainstream music. I was right and I was wrong. But overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I immediately noticed that compared to Styles’ first album, Fine Line has a more cohesive style. If I had to describe this album, I would pin it as a groovy 1970s psychedelic rock inspired one.

Harry Styles: Rock star, pop star or neither? There’s an argument to be made.

Rolling Stone was very quick to name Styles as an up and coming rock star, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Harry is not making rock music (at least, not modern rock). He is most certainly, however, paying hommage to the classic rock styles of Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane. But that does not make him a rock star. Sorry.

The Overview

From the feel-good opening track of “Golden” to the existential ballad “Falling,” Harry Styles bares his soul to the world in Fine Line. The lyrics were surprisingly succinct and direct, sometimes seemingly without any creativity involved. “Cherry” even includes a voice memo of his ex-girlfriend, Camille Rowe and “Treat People With Kindness” reminds me of the The 5th Dimension. “Fine Line,” however, does a wonderful job of closing out the album with a synth-filled, moody tune.

Favorite song: She

Least favorite song: Canyon Moon

It’s been five years since One Direction broke up, and Styles is still soaring. His musical style and public image is continuously being shaped, but people can’t get enough. As Sheffield said, “[Harry Styles is] a curious kid who can’t decide whether to be the world’s most ardently adored pop star, or a freaky artiste. So he decides to be both.”

It will be interesting to see how this career continues, being that is still in the beginning stages. Styles has a lot of potential but even more pressure on this road ahead of him. Good luck, Harry.

P.S. If you’re interested in checking out more reviews, read this Pitchfork album review. And maybe comment below your thoughts on the album. Happy listening!

A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

I don’t like ranting online. Mainly because my words are stuck here forever, and if I say something stupid, it will most likely come back to haunt me. But here goes nothing.

I’m seeing a lot recently about news media and news outlets not “letting us know” about things that perhaps should be talked about more.

Example: this morning, I got on Twitter and saw where a police officer from my hometown reached a plea agreement in admitting to raping three women who were in his custody. Disgusting, horrible, etc. BUT the person who tweeted the story said, “Why am I just now hearing about this?!”

That’s a great question. Why are you just now hearing about it? I heard about it last year when the investigation started. I read articles about it, even on Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the media has a great responsibility and power to choose the stories that get covered in the news. It is crucial that journalists are precise and balanced in their coverage of topics. It does matter.

However, I’m in the school of thought that we each have a personal responsibility to seek out knowledge and information, even when it may not be convenient or “available.” Because let’s face it: in the Information Age we live in, we have so much stuff at our fingertips. Save for classified government documents (and even those sometimes get leaked), you can research pretty much anything and find it. Public records are available all across the internet. We can even diagnose ourselves with some life-altering disease on WebMD in minutes. (Okay, that last part was a joke. But we all know some of us do that).

People just don’t look for information partially because we are lazy and partially because it is so overwhelming to sift through all of that.

Hence, journalists. We come in, find the information and sift through it, find the holes and where things don’t line up, and attempt to reconcile all of that into one cohesive story. We are not perfect. We don’t always get it right. But we don’t sit around trying to cover up certain “types” of stories. It’s more so a matter of determining how often to cover stories/investigations and where they are placed in the newspaper (and online).

In short, I guess my point is this: don’t blame journalism/reporters/news media for your complacency in seeking out information.

Music Moment: Paper Kites

Music Moment: Paper Kites

It’s after midnight, and you’re driving down the highway. The windows are down and your hair is almost (but not quite) blocking your view. The wind is warm and sticky, and you know summer is coming. You could drive for hours and let your mind wander because these are the days you’ll miss the most when they’re gone.

Can you tell I’m ready for summer? Not to mention I’ve already found the perfect album to accompany it. Today’s music moment is about On The Corner Where You Live by The Paper Kites.

On The Corner Where You Live album cover. Photo courtesy of The Paper Kites.

I found this album by accident one day, and I was shocked to find out it was by the Paper Kites. I had only ever heard their single “Bloom,” which was very very indie folk. But unbeknownst to me, they had released two entire albums in 2018. The first album is titled On The Train Ride Home and was released on April 18, 2018. Just five months later, the band released On The Corner Where You Live.

On The Train Ride Home is a good album, but On The Corner Where You Live really got me. It is infused with lo-fi and synth sounds, pays homage to the Blue Nile (where are my ’80s indie pop fans?!), and epitomizes heartbreak in the 21st century.

The album opens with “A Gathering on 57th,” an instrumental track that combines city sounds and a saxophone. It smoothly follows up with tracks that detail two lovers hopelessly striving for the perfect relationship in a postmodern society. Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy switch out lead vocals throughout the album to make it feel like a sort of dialogue.

Though it is stylistically different than their other albums, The Paper Kites made sure to keep a folk track in there with “Midtown Waitress.” They also included “Does It Ever Cross Your Mind” as a nice, introspective piano ballad. The album ends with the soothing yet emotionally charged “Don’t Keep Driving,” leaving the listener unsettled and longing for more as Bentley’s and Lacy’s voices trail off singing

Don’t push me, push me away (Don’t leave me).

Music journalist Thomas Hocknell describes it as “the sort of album you’d marry were it a person, although it would probably break your heart just to improve its context. It’s a delicate, yet muscular beauty of an album.”

The entire album just ebbs and flows in a way that is perfectly intricate. A cascade of emotions hits me every time I listen to it. The main critique I have is that it doesn’t seem to have a climactic song. However, the album flows so well that you get lost in the songs and don’t even realize when it’s over.

Favorite track: Deep Burn Blue or Does It Ever Cross Your Mind

Least favorite track: Red Light or On The Corner Where You Live

Overall, I give this album a 9/10. I simply adore the nostalgic sound mixed with the modern dilemmas. It feels so raw and real and true to life. And I love it.

Music Moment: Mumford & Sons

Music Moment: Mumford & Sons

Happysad. One word. A weird conglomeration of liberating joy and nostalgic gloom. The feeling that inspires you to travel the world but also isolates you to the cold depths of your heart. That’s the only way I know how to describe Delta, Mumford & Sons’ newest release.

After a three year hiatus, Mumford & Sons returned with Delta on Nov. 16, 2018. It’s no secret that this album is quite different than their previous ones. The folk aspect of Mumford & Sons is now embedded in heavy drums and electronic beats as though it’s begging to get on the Top 40 charts. 

While many critics said that the album was their worst one yet, I truly think it may be one of their most progressive. After switching producers, the band incorporated more indie sounds into the album to give it a modern vibe.

I love how Pitchfork’s Larry Fitzmaurice described it: “Delta is also the strongest collection of songs Mumford & Sons have released to date; the cool-handed atmospherics and dreamy melodies here simply suit them better than any other sonic guise they’ve worn.”

The album begins with “42”–a tribute to their 42nd single–and continues with a journey through the mind of Marcus Mumford. The climax of the album is revealed in the transition from “Picture You” to “Darkness Visible.” With an extremely smooth ride from bittersweet love to a contorted poetic reading from Milton’s Paradise Lost, the instruments crescendo until your heart feels as though it’s going to burst. 

While there are some amazing songs on this album, there are definitely a few weak points. Parts of the album lull, putting you off to the next song. I found myself skipping quite a few songs after listening to it a few times.

Favorite song: 42 or Forever

Least favorite song: Slip Away

Overall I give this album a 9/10. This is a super high rating, I know, but something about this album really spoke to me. Ultimately, I don’t think this album is a sell-out. Sure, the band has continued to blend into the mainstream. But it’s clear that Marcus Mumford is using this album to reflect on some very deep and troubling issues in his life, simultaneously causing me to do the same. (Thanks for the existential crisis, y’all.)

Check out Delta by Mumford & Sons on Spotify. 

A Small Reminder (to Myself Mainly) as Winter Approaches.

A Small Reminder (to Myself Mainly) as Winter Approaches.

One of my favorite songs right now is Seasons by Hillsong. I just love hearing it. I love singing it in church.

And it’s exactly where I am right now. If we’re being honest, it’s what I’ve been trying to run away from for so long. I don’t want to use the Christian clichés of “being in a valley” or “the winter of my life,” but it’s so true.

I’m convinced God created seasons to remind us of the ever-changing facets of our own lives. And with every passing season, He is always faithful to reveal to me what I need to learn and how I need to grow.

My favorite line in the song is the following.

Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness

It may be freezing in my heart, but the blinding light of Christ reminds me of His warmth. May I never lose that gaze.

Music Moment: Arctic Monkeys

Music Moment: Arctic Monkeys

A concept: a retro, Kubrick style hotel. A red silk dress glistening at the bar. Gold earrings reflecting in the dim light. Arctic Monkeys’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino playing softly in the background.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I think this album is pretty dreamy. Released on May 11, the Arctic Monkeys ended their five year hiatus with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Compared to their other records, this one takes a whole new face. The groovy guitar riffs transport me to space. Turner’s melodic, humming voice accompanies me as I gaze at the stars around me.

This album has been received with very mixed reviews, and I’m just going to add my thoughts into the mix with my very own Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino review.

I’ll admit I was hesitant upon first listen. This album hardly sounds like their previous grungy rock albums, such as AM or Favourite Worst Nightmare. But after listening to it three times through (my rule of thumb), I fell in love with it.

Pitchfork says the album is “a song suite documenting a futuristic moon colony and the exodus that spawned it, told by an assortment of unreliable narrators who can sometimes barely string a sentence together.” Rolling Stone describes the new album as “a lounge-pop concept record set in a casino piano bar on the moon.” What does all that even mean? It seems just as existential as it sounds. While some critics view those descriptions as a pretentious or lazy excuse for a crappy album, I think it’s more than that. Turner knew what he was doing with this album. It has a pretty political undertone and lyrics that can’t be ignored.

Star Treatment kicks off the album with a commentary on celebrity culture and its influence in the world. The album quickly flows through a series of songs highlighting dystopian future, monster trucks, taquerias, and even Donald Trump. Four Stars Out of Five calls the taqueria the Information-Action Ratio, pointing out the juxtaposition of having the world at our fingertips and not knowing what to do with it all.

The album itself is a giant paradox. It’s full of subtle and witty politicized lyrics soaked in a nostalgia that reeks of the 1970s. It’s grungy and gross while also extremely sleek and modern.

Favorite Song: Batphone

Least Favorite Song: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (ironically enough)

 

Overall, I give this album a 8/10. This album is a shimmering work of art, and it really can’t be compared with their other albums. While stylistically it’s certainly not my favorite album of theirs, I really appreciate what they did with it. Despite all the negativity, I think it’s an interesting commentary on modern society (and what better way to do it than with some space lounge music?).

P.S. 8/10 is actually 4/5… See what I did there?