New Music Friday:Red Bull & Hennessy by Jenny Lewis

On Wednesday Jenny Lewis dropped the first single off her forthcoming album due out on March 22, “Red Bull & Hennessy”. It will be her first album since 2014’s Voyager, which by the way still contains my favorite Jenny Lewis song ever, “She’s Not Me”.

I’m not sure I’m into the reverb fade out at the end, but other than that I love it. It’s a very Jenny Lewis sounding song with a little Kate Bush “Running Up that Hill” vibe in the bridge. I’m here for it. I’m very much looking forward to the full album. Also a new album should bring a new tour, which hopefully means I will finally get to see her live outside of the Newport Folk Festival. I adore Newport, but I also like getting to see people do their own thing without the constraints a festival puts on them. That is something that has so far eluded me with Jenny Lewis for various reasons.


New Music Friday: Maggie Rogers

Ever since the release date for Maggie Rogers’ album Heard It In a Past Life was announced I knew it was going to occupy this space. I was trying to decide which song from it I wanted to talk about in my New Music Friday post, but then I figured why limit myself to a single song when I can just link to the whole album in Spotify. You should really listen to the whole thing because it is wonderful from start to finish. “Light On”, which was my favorite song of 2018, is still my favorite but I really do love everything on it. It’s only January and there’s already a ridiculous amount of new music out there, but it’s entirely possible that Heard It In a Past Life might wind up being my favorite album of 2019. I’m not the only one because she has been getting mad press over this album. It’s seems like I’ve seen interviews with her everywhere.

I always have mixed feelings about artists I love getting so much attention because the more other people love them the more I run into stuff like I talk about below. I obviously love promoting new music and artists I love, but a little piece of me also wants to hold them close and make them mine. The better part of me who wants great things for them and also wants others to experience the joy they create always wins out, but I won’t lie and say I’m not a little pained by how much attention Maggie Rogers is getting right now because I know it means it’s going to be impossible to get tickets to see her concert (it already is) and she’s going to stop playing the small venues I love and start playing the large venues that I don’t. I will only feel marginally bad for feeling this way since based on everything she’s said in interviews and the actual songs on this album I’m pretty sure Maggie Rogers herself has some real mixed feelings about her fame.

I’m really never going to stop kicking myself for not buying tickets to see her at the 9:30 Club in March. It’s in DC and on a Monday and Tuesday night so I talked myself out of it and now I regret it greatly. I have never, ever resold concert tickets for more than I paid for them, so I hate to feed the greedy people and scalpers by buying ridiculously priced resale tickets. I was aghast when I first looked at resale tickets and saw they were going for double face value at $75. Turns out I should have jumped on that because currently the cheapest ones are $175. Apparently I’m not the only one who is obsessed with Maggie Rogers. It’s one thing if I were paying that much money for a concert and the artist is getting at least some tiny portion of it after everybody gets their cut, but I refuse to pay that much and let some greedy person get 10 times more money than anyone actually involved in putting on the show is getting. So I’ll just be over here crying in my pillow that I apparently won’t be seeing Maggie Rogers live again any time soon. I will just console myself with this amazing album.


New Music Friday: Doylestown Girl by Ryan Adams

This morning’s new music Friday features a song so new that it almost really doesn’t even exist yet. Ryan Adams has a new song called “Doylestown Girl” that is off what is apparently the first of three albums he plans to release in 2019. I LOVE Ryan Adams, but even I think that’s a bit much. He’s always been a prolific songwriter, but perhaps we don’t actually need to hear every song that comes out of his head. But I’ve also seen the list of people he’s collaborated on for the first two albums and I’m kind of excited.

On Wednesday Ryan Adams premiered the song on WXPN, the NPR music radio station out of the University of Pennsylvania. We get it here in Baltimore part of the time on some weird radio station that is sometimes a high school radio station, sometimes simulcasting WXPN, and sometimes some third thing that plays real old timey music which I’ve never quite figured out.  I love WXPN though and I stream it pretty much all day at work. I figured by now the song would actually have dropped for real and not still just be a WXPN exclusive, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. But WXPN shared on their blog this Soundcloud file someone in Argentina made of the premiere of the song being played on the station. I don’t know how long it will be up before it gets pulled, but here you go. Presumably the song will officially be out in the world sometime soon.

Lake Street Dive at Rams Head Live

Ok all other bands I’m going to see in concert in 2019, Lake Street Dive has thrown down the gauntlet. You all have a high bar to cross to be as enjoyable as they were.

But allow me to digress for minute because while Lake Street Dive was amazing not everything about the night was, namely the really annoying woman standing in front of me. Apparently Lake Street Dive has a big following among Baby Boomers because there were a lot of older people in the crowd including the couple in front of me who were probably in their mid to late 60s. The woman was already annoying me during the opening act when she kept talking to her husband and taking photos and videos and constantly wooing very loudly. I got to hear about her dream the night before and a running commentary on how many people had liked and commented on her Facebook post. Then she got even more annoying during the set change when she had to talk to every single person standing anywhere near her. If I didn’t know better I would think the Charm City Bluegrass Festival was paying her to promote them because she insisted on telling everyone about it and they needed to go. That is of course in addition to so many other things. I know more about this woman than I know about some of my family members. I know her name, what neighborhood she lives in, that she’s lived in Baltimore City her entire life, that she’s won tickets to the Charm City Bluegrass Festival three years in a row, what she did for New Year’s, that these concert tickets were a Christmas gift from her husband and the drama that went on with him trying to stop her from buying her own tickets and then finally having to tell her he bought them already, that she has a 35 year old daughter and what band played at her wedding, that her daughter is taking her to see Fleetwood Mac and taking her husband to some other concert that I have now since forgotten. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting, but geez lady that is way too much information for me to know about you just because I stood next to you at a concert. She also kept knocking into me all night. I got super excited about halfway through Lake Street Dive’s set when her husband came back with drinks and she said we should leave after we finish these since you have to work in the morning. I was like drink up lady. They did finally start to leave. She was putting her coat on and then Lake Street Dive said we’re going to cover a song by Paul McCartney and I was like NOOOOO, Paul McCartney is like cat nip for Baby Boomers and sure enough she stopped putting on her coat and they stayed for a couple more songs. Then they did finally leave and I got to enjoy the last half hour of the show in peace.

Now on with the show. The opening act was Mikaela Davis. The name didn’t register with me when I looked up who was opening, but once she was out on stage I realized I had seen her before. The harp was a dead giveaway. I don’t know anyone else who plays a harp. The first time I saw her she was opening for Sara Watkins at Rams Head on Stage and she was a solo artist playing the harp. At the time I said she had written some good songs, but that the harp did nothing for me. I guess she decided in order to continue her career as a harpist that did not involve her playing weddings, hotel lobbies, or wherever else harpists actually play music that she was going to need to get an actual band. So this time she did have a backing band. It did help, but for the most part her music is not my thing. At least watching someone play a harp on stage is novel.

Despite the annoying woman and the lackluster opener I still had a great time because Lake Street Dive was fantastic. This was the first time I had seen them headline their own show. I had seen them previously at the Newport Folk Festival and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as part of the BSO Pulse series. I really enjoyed those shows, but you never get a full sense of a band’s performance when they are squeezed between a million other acts playing 45-60 minutes at a festival. It was nice to finally get to see what they could do under their own auspices.

They are such a fun band. Rachael Price, the lead singer, has this amazing deep, smooth voice and is really dynamic performer. I love their music with its jazz, rock, country, and soul influences. Watching them groove out to it on stage was really enjoyable and of course the whole audience was dancing along as well. They played a good mix of songs from their albums. In addition to the aforementioned Paul McCartney song they also played a couple of other cover songs, which is something I always enjoy at live shows. They added keyboardist Akie Bermiss to the band in 2017, and he sang a very groovy 70’s funk version of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One”. It took me forever to figure out what song it was because of the different genre take on it. I was standing there singing along with the lyrics and think what song is this? It finally came to me. I was wondering what song they were going to end the show with since they had already sang all their big hits by the time their encore came around. It turns out it was with a cover of the song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I cannot think of a more perfect song for them to cover nor a more perfect band to cover that song. It’s like they were made for each other. It was such a super fun way to end the evening with everyone dancing and singing along. It was a banner way to kick off my 2019 concert season. I hope every show I go to this year is as much fun.

New(ish) Music Friday: Shame, Shame, Shame by Lake Street Dive

I still don’t really have any brand new music to talk about with the year having just started and all, but I wanted to get things off on the right foot and still have a post the first Friday in 2019. Last night I saw Lake Street Dive in concert and won’t have time to put together a full post about that until some time this weekend, so I thought I would choose one of the songs off their newest album to talk about as sort of a sneak preview of my concert post.

I listen to about 90% of my music while I’m working which means it’s generally in the background and I can’t pay attention to the lyrics. Even when I am in a place where I can be more attentive I still don’t often fully pick up on lyrics because I am a visual and not an auditory learner and I just have a hard time processing them. This is why when I used to have time and also actually had physical CDs that came with lyric booklets and liner notes I would sit down with the new music I acquired and listen to it while looking at the lyrics. I will occasionally pull up lyrics to a song online to listen along, but I definitely do that for a small fraction of the music I listen to.

Anyway, I’ve heard “Shame, Shame, Shame” off of Lake Street Dive’s new album Free Yourself Up any number of times and never parsed what the song was about. At the concert last night Rachel Price intro’ed the song by saying it’s about what happens when things are happening the world that horrify you but that you feel powerless to stop. I identify with that. I felt kind of dumb once I started listening to the lyrics as she was singing last night because it was then very obvious what (and who) it’s about. Now I like it even more.

My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2018

Once again it’s time for my annual post on the pop culture that was most memorable to me over the past year. It doesn’t have to be something created in 2018. It just has to be something I consumed over the past year. And as always I emphasize that these are the things that meant the most to me, not necessarily the things that I think are the best thing made in any given category.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I actually went to the movies quite a bit this past year and saw some really good movies. I appreciated that there were a couple of romantic comedies in the actual theater and not just Netflix. I really enjoyed Love, Simon and that scene at the end of Crazy Rich Asians when he gets on the plane with the ring still makes me smile when I think about it. I’m always hoping for more romantic comedies to grace the screen. There was also A Star is Born, which was not really a rom-com, but did have elements of romance. Hopefully these movies will be the harbinger for more.

As for superhero films, the one I enjoyed the most this year actually goes to the late entry of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. I only went to this one because my husband wanted to go, but I wound up really loving it. It’s funny and smart and beautifully animated in the fashion of actual comic books. It was fantastic.

I think two of the best movies I saw this year though were documentaries. I was very much looking forward to the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor because I liked Mr. Rogers as a kid and I loved the creators’ previous documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. It did not disappoint. It felt so lovely during a time when the world seems so terrible. I also really enjoyed Charm City, which is a documentary about Baltimore. It touched all my feelings. I laughed. I cried. My heart broke for this city that has such great potential, but can’t get out from under hundreds of years of racial discrimination that have left it in the terrible state it’s in today.

Movie I Watched at Home

I think almost every other year I’ve written one of these posts I’ve said something about not watching many movies at home or not remembering them. This year I actually kept a list so that I had something to refer to. It does make me wonder if I’ve watched more movies in the past than I thought, but just didn’t remember them because I actually watched quite a few over the course of this year.

Again a documentary was one of my favorites. RBG, which is about Ruth Bader Ginsberg was fantastic. I don’t care what your politics are and whether you agree with her judicial decisions or not. This film shows what an incredible woman she is and how much she has accomplished.

Also in continuing my late entries with animated superhero movies, we recently watched Teen Titans Go to the Movies and it was a delight. I’ve never watched the cartoon, so I don’t have any reference point to compare it to but this movie was really funny and had a lot of references aimed at 80s kids of which I am one that hit me right in the sweet spot.

Probably the best movie I saw though was Paddington 2. I kept hearing people talk about this movie last year and how great it was. I remained super skeptical about why everyone was so gaga over a kids’ movie. They really were not wrong though. It was such a sweet and wonderful movie.

Fiction Book

Usually I have no problem narrowing my book categories down to one choice, but I apparently read a lot of really great books this. I was just looking through my ratings on Goodreads and there were a number of things I gave 5 stars to and I don’t know how to choose between them, so I’m going to list everything I gave the top rating to, and link to my full reviews on book review blog.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Ohio by Stephen Markley

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Non-Fiction Book

Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry that Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll by Ian S. Port

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz

My Own Devices: Essays from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love by Dessa

Educated by Tara Westover

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

Coming of Age in the Other America by Stephanie DeLuca, Susan Clampet-Lambert, and Kathryn Edin

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

TV Show

There is 100% only one tv show that deserves to go in this category for me in 2018 even though it started long before this year and that’s Grey’s Anatomy. I started binge watching this show for the first time back in mid-August and four short months later I was caught up on all 14 and half seasons. I haven’t been that obsessed with watching a show in a long time. I feel like good character driven shows are few and far between these days. Grey’s certainly isn’t what it was in the beginning, but I’m still enjoying it enough now that I’m caught up to real time that I will probably see it through to its end.

There were a number of other shows that I enjoyed watching this year though. Staying on the Sandra Oh train, Killing Eve is a fantastic show starring Oh as a detective caught in a cat and mouse game with a female assassin played by Jamie Comer. It’s smart, funny, dramatic, and very intense. The second season is getting ready to start in January, so if you haven’t watched the first season yet I highly recommend doing so and then getting on board when the second season starts.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Cobra Kai, which is the YouTube sequel to the movie The Karate Kid. This show was way better than it had any right to be. I love the movie and this show was a great follow-up to it.

There were a couple of other shows that I really liked this year. Netflix’s Atypical is a great family drama about a teenage kid with autism and the impact that has had on his family. I don’t feel like I ever hear anyone talk about this show, but everyone should really watch it because it’s very good. I’m happy there is going to be a third season because I was worried Netflix was going to cancel it since I don’t think it’s very highly rated.

Life Sentence was a great goofy little show on the CW that got canceled after one season about a girl who marries a guy she just met when she thinks she’s about to die from cancer but then finds out she is going to live. Now she and her family have to learn how to live with her being healthy rather than on the brink of death as she was for most of her life. It’s the kind of show that I wish there was more of on tv, but alas apparently I’m the only once since no one watched this one.

Pose, Ryan Murphy’s show about drag queens in the 1980s was also a really great show that I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to more of. So far it hasn’t fallen prey to all the foibles that seem to eventually plague Ryan Murphy shows. Hopefully that will stay true in future seasons.

TV Episode

The final season of The Americans was not perfect by a long shot. I mean what was the deal with the whole Mischa storyline? Why bother bringing in Phillip’s long lost son if he was never even going to know that Mischa was around? The final episode of the show was great though. That scene with train pulling away and Phillip and Elizabeth seeing Paige standing on the platform set to U2’s “With or Without You” was just perfect. I always like it when a show manages to stick the landing and The Americans certainly did.


2018 was a banner year for new music. There are any number of albums that could be slotted in here that I think would earn this spot. Dawes, Amanda Shires, and Florence + the Machine put out great new albums. Natalie Prass’s debut album was wonderful. I adored Leon Bridges’ latest album and will always have fond memories of bopping around a used book store in Richmond listening to it. But there is no way that this category could go to anything other than Brandi Carlile’s by the way I forgive you.

It is by far the album I’ve spent the most time with this year. That of course is in part because it came out in January, which meant I had the whole year to live with it but that’s not really what I mean. I have definitely listened to it more than any other album not to mention seeing Brandi in concert 5 times over the course of the year. She played the entire album at 4 out of 5 of the shows.

I’m so happy for the well-deserved success that this album has garnered for Brandi and her fellow bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth. It showed up on pretty much every music best of list for 2018 that I saw. The album and songs from it have also been nominated for 6 Grammy’s including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. I’m guessing it won’t actually win any of them, but it totally should because in my opinion it really is the best album of the year.


For a long time I thought Hozier’s song “Nina Cried Power” featuring Mavis Staples would be my song of the year. It’s a beautiful, powerful song that certainly speaks to me right now.

But then it got bumped out the top spot by Maggie Rogers’ “Light On” I adore this song so much. She wrote it in response to the quick rise to fame she had after a video of Pharrell reacting to her song “Alaska” went viral. She talks about how of course everyone thinks she should be so happy with all her success, but of course there are a lot of not so great things that come along with that. She has such a great voice and I love the beat and music of this song. It’s by far the song that has brought me the most joy this year.


If you gave me a list of the concerts I was going to go to in 2018 on paper I would have said hands down my favorite show of the year was going to be Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell co-headlining a show in Canandaigua, New York. If it was just based on the Brandi half of the concert it probably would have been. I saw her five times this year and this is the one show where the set list departed greatly from the others. It was just her and the twins up there acoustic and it was wonderful. Unfortunately I don’t know what was up with the sound mix during Jason Isbell’s set, but it was too loud and the rhythm was drowning out everything else. That put this concert out of the running as my favorite.

It’s hard to pick a favorite show of there because there were a lot of concerts I really enjoyed. The Lone Bellow at The Barns at Wolf Trap was definitely a highlight. It was the best I’ve seen them play in a long time. I also adored seeing Sugarland at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I missed them a lot during their hiatus and it was great to have them back. I do ultimately have to go with one of the Brandi Carlile shows for this category though. I saw her two nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York at the beginning of her tour. I had always heard that the Beacon was a wonderful place to see a show, but this was the first time I had ever gone to anything there. It really is a fantastic venue. I also had first row center seats for that show. Brandi is always such a dynamic performer and it was great to be so close and surrounded by other super fans.

Broadway Theatre Production

Boys in the Band was probably not my favorite show that I saw on Broadway this year, although I really liked it, but it was absolutely my favorite Broadway experience of the year. The revival of this show starred a ton of really great actors including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and most importantly Matt Bomer. Matt Bomer has long been a tv crush of mine and my friends Jenny and Sarah so as soon as we heard he was going to be in this play we made plans to go up to NYC together to see it. Matt Bomer spends a lot of time practically naked during the first half of this show. It was worth seeing just for that. We also got to get autographs and pictures with him at the stage door after the show. Definitely my Broadway highlight of the year.



Baltimore Theatre Production

I’m torn about which show to put in this category. I loved Skeleton Crew from Center Stage’s 2017-2018, which focused the closing of an auto plant in Detroit. The most recent show from this season, A Wonder in My Soul was also wonderful. It was rewritten to focus on Baltimore instead of Chicago and is about racism, the dying of a neighborhood, gentrification, and family. It was poignant, funny, sad, and very moving. I also have to give a shout out to Sweat at the Everyman Theatre. I had wanted to see this play when it was on Broadway, but I could never arrange to get up to New York when it was playing. I think Everyman did a fine job with their production and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything seeing them perform it rather than the Broadway cast.


I still listen to more podcasts than I actually have time to listen to even after dropping a few. This year like last year though my favorite podcast is still Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood of Marketplace. It is still the one podcast I prioritize above all others in my feed. I love their dynamic, and I always do feel smart after listening to it. I learn so much about economics and technology and how they relate to my life and have so much fun while doing it.

I also really enjoyed The Impact put out by Vox. It’s hosted by Sarah Kliff and focuses on the impact laws and policies have on our every day lives. They’ve had two seasons so far. The most recent one from this year focused on specific interesting local policies being tried in various states and cities that their listeners alerted them to. One of the episodes was about a Baltimore program whereby people from certain low-income neighborhoods who are eligible for public housing can request it outside the city. It was something I’m already familiar with, but it was interesting to listen to the episode and think about how while it may be a good policy in helping individual people what about the city and the people left behind if all the people with the most resources and motivation leave?

Podcast Episode

Of course one of my favorite podcast episodes from the year would be from Make Me Smart and involved an interview with Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. That episode was pretty much right up my alley.

I also really enjoyed the episode of Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs in which they ranked the songs on the Footloose soundtrack. Every 10 episodes they do an album ranking, and I had suggested to them that they should rank this soundtrack. I don’t know if my recommendation was the reason they did it, but I was happy they did regardless. I adore the movie Footloose. I may possibly have seen it more times than any other movie in my life. It’s at least in the running. I equally love the soundtrack. It brought me great joy to listen to them talk about it and rank the songs even if they didn’t necessarily rank them in the order I would have put them.

New(ish) Music Friday: Happier by Marshmello ft. Bastille

It’s been a few week since I’ve posted something for New Music Friday because this time of year there really is a dearth of new music. I don’t really have anything exactly new this week either, but I thought I would write about song I’ve been loving recently. I don’t tend to write a lot about pop music here because it’s not where the songs that hit me on a deep emotional level tend to be. I enjoy myself some pop music, but it’s essentially car music for me. I listen to it when I hear it on the radio when I’m driving. In general it’s not the music I’m buying nor the artists I go to see in concert. There may be one or two pop songs a year that I fall in love with and seek out when I’m not driving and when I am desperately hope I come across them on the radio.

“Happier” by Marshmello featuring Bastille is one of those songs. I love nothing more than a jaunty sounding song with sad lyrics except maybe a melancholy Christmas song, which I guess is really just the reverse. I love the bittersweetness of this song of being in a relationship you know isn’t working out but where you still really care for the person and don’t know how to let go even though you know it’s for the best for both of you. This is most likely my last New Music Friday post of 2018. I’ll be back at some point before the end of the year with my annual post on the pop culture that’s meant the most to me over the past year. Until then, enjoy yourself some happy sounding sad pop music.