Category Archives: Review

Things I’m Digging: The Weeknd

On my radar for a while but having not yet really jumped in, I finally gave an in-depth listen to The Weeknd this week–and haven’t been able to stop. Much like my perfect mix, this is music.lights.blankets. music. But also so much more.

The Weeknd is this Canadian dude, Abel Tesfaye, who was not even alive in the 80s. Seriously. Born in 1990. Which still seems so odd to me and is just another sign that I must be getting old . . . back on task. While an album has not yet been released, there have been two mixtapes released this year and a third on the way. You can download them for free on the website.

First of all, dude states he was directly influenced by R. Kelly’s “Down Low” to become a musician. This speaks to me on so many levels. Mostly I can relate as I myself am a member of a prominent R. Kelly cover band, Our Kelly, but on a broader level there is really no denying the talent of (pre-Trapped in the Closet) R. Kelly.

The music. The very first track on House of Balloons, “High for This,” pulled me in with its melancholy, not quite surreal, 808 beats much like Kanye did with “808s and Heartbreak.” (That album just means so much to me. Deal with it.) Then you add the vocals, vocals of a type you don’t really encounter being delivered so effectively and deliberately these days. A dream-like, R&B melody built upon beats from the state half between sleep and waking; half between wanting and needing. It’s this feeling I may not be able to put perfectly in words, but that I can perfectly feel. Dark, beautiful music, that almost sparkles. Music you almost don’t want to share with anyone.

I have a love for cheesy pop and hip-hop that I am not afraid to own up to. The Weeknd is not cheesy, but the lyrics echo of the same elements that bring my love for that cheesy pop and hip-hop to fruition. Talk of knocking your boots off, little ladies, bitches, and getting faded make me nod my head rather than chuckle. I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel everything!

It’s like this: I’m trapped somewhere with very little light and it’s not cold but certainly not warm. The walls are stone and the only sounds are these faraway beats and haunting voice bouncing off the walls. And instead of feeling cold and empty, I feel almost okay with the darkness. Oh yeah–and there is no ceiling and I can see a pitch black sky with the brightest stars.

While writing reviews may not be my forte (so what if I describe albums what type of place it makes me think of?!), my convictions are strong with this one. If this post at least makes you think, “hmmm maybe that’s worth a listen” then I have done something right. If you still need convincing, check out Justin’s review of House of Balloons. He’s better at this stuff than me. Maybe some day I’ll be able to sync up this device with my brain and pull out the essence of the feeling this band gives me, but today is not the day. Hopefully these words will do those feelings at least half the justice they deserve.

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It came to my attention today that my friend Cass does a “Things I’m Digging” feature on her blog.¬† Guess¬† I must have been influenced by the afternoon I spent reading her blog! Check her stuff out for a great take on wellness, creativity, and self-awareness.

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“The Sea” by John Banville

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”
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I just finished this book last night and must say I really enjoyed it.

I learned of this book through a list of “books you must read before you die” and then blindly selected it from the library simply through being part of that list. When I first started it, I thought it would be a chore to get through. And for the first hundred pages, it was. The book is written as the narrator–a recently widowed man who has returned to the site of his childhood holidays–thinks. But it is in this sea of commas and em-dashes that the brilliance of this book is found.

It truly is written as the narrator thinks and perfectly conveys the thought processes that we all go through when remembering the past. One story may digress into another, or be left out completely. The distant past becomes interrupted by a memory from the not-so-distant past, and then the present comes nagging into view.

This book makes you feel lonely and useless to time, just as the narrator feels. There is a great deal of description in every little thing–from the way someone sits, to someone’s smell, to the way one’s armpits look. But really: don’t we sometimes think of these small details and hold them in our memories? Senseless details they are not. They are keys to the narrator’s memories, no matter how foul they may seem to the reader.

If you are looking for a book with an action-packed plot, or even a book where something happens, this is not the book for you. But if you are seeking something that will make you think–make you stop and meditate about the past and age and time–this book is for you.