Old School Cans

I have weird ears. 

Not only did the right one launch a vengeful attack against me by getting an infection just before I was set to fly, essentially deafening me for my entire vacation and MFA graduation, but the insides are too small for most earbud headphones.  Those iPhone ones?  Torture.  I had an emergency headphone situation at Christmas where I was flying cross-country to see my parents, and forgot my headphones at home.  I had to buy some Skullcandy Chops In-Ear headphones from the airport shop.  Frankly, they annoy the heck out of me every time I have to wear them.  Unfortunately, certain situations (like working out at the gym, etc.) require these low-profile headphones, so I wear them with the mantra that “it could be worse.”

However, for at-home use, I had a massive craving for some old-school can headphones (aka full-size headphones or “circumaural” headphones).  However, my budget isn’t up for my dream Sennheisers.  I’m enough of a music nerd to really care about sound quality.  My father raised me to care about such things–how else would I know about Sennheiser and Harmon/Kardon?  Research was required to find a decent pair of cans.

I went to my favorite nerdy techy review site–CNET.  I read a bunch of articles on headphones, but the one that helped me make my decision was part of their “best of 2014″ series talking about the best over-the-ear headphones.  The article pointed me toward the Panasonic RP-HTX-K1 Monitor Stereo Headphones.  The price is affordable at just under $60 (and if you do a little searching on the internet, even lower–just sayin’), and offer comfort, sound quality, and “retro styling”.  

I must admit, the “retro styling” really sold it for me.  I have a weakness for such things, and I didn’t want just a plain black pair, which is generally the color choice for the less expensive headphones.  I liked that the Panasonics came in a variety of colors.  I chose the green pair.

Cans

If I went back in time, this would be the jacket photo for my 1970’s folk music LP.
 
I’ve been really happy with the Panasonics, even though they can get a little sweaty on hot summer days.  Overall, they’re everything they’re purported to be: great sound, comfortable, retro, a good choice for those on a budget.  My weird ears are pretty happy.

 

Music Monday: Kings of Leon

Over the weekend I finally found time and inclination to watch Talihina Sky, the documentary about the Kings of Leon. Those boys remind me so much of a lot of people I know. Ultra-religious upbringing, and they move on to reject just about everything that they’ve ever been raised to believe, but still have close ties with their families and want to please their mothers. Even without the backwoods environment, the story is familiar. Their open use of drugs and alcohol and some bare-assed nekkidness make it eye-opening indeed. (I was kind of shocked and slightly impressed by the ingenuity in the scene where Matthew Followill smokes a joint in an airplane bathroom.)

Most of all, though, it reminded me how much I love the music of the Kings of Leon. Like Caleb says at one point, you have to have to put up with all the crap on the radio to hear really good music (of course, talking about their own songs). They cancelled their tour this summer because of Caleb’s reported alcohol abuse, but I hope they are able to come back and record another great album. Until then, this Music Monday is all Kings of Leon, all the time.

Revelry

Closer

Sex on Fire

Use Somebody

Music Monday: So You Think You Can Dance

I am addicted to So You Think You Can Dance. It’s one of those rare shows where the talent is actually very talented, and people take the vote very seriously. It’s not so much about popularity as about ability. However, my favorite thing about it is the music. The dances are so carefully choreographed to some incredible music. It just makes the dances that much more powerful. So I thought I would feature some of my favorite dances from this season set to great music.

Melanie & Marko–Contemporary–to Turn to Stone by Ingrid Michaelson

Caitlynn & Mitchell–Contemporary– to Turning Tables by Adele

Iveta & Nick–Quickstep–to Ballroom Blitz by Sweet

Ricky & Allison–Jazz– to Precious Things by Tori Amos

Jess & Katherine–Contemporary–to The Lonely by Christina Perri

Hopefully this will inspire you to watch So You Think You Can Dance. Or maybe just to dance around your own living room.

Music Monday: The Classics

Last week for Music Monday I shared some instrumental music that I listen to in my classroom with my students. I also like to give them new experiences. Most of them have never listened to classical music, and it’s SO AMAZING. Here are some of my kids’ favorites.
Carmina Burana: O Fortuna Composed by Carl Orff

Hungarian Dance No. 5 Composed by Johannes Brahms

Nocturne No. 19, Opus 72, No. 1 Composed by Frédéric Chopin

Do you listen to classical? Any favorites?

Music Monday: Instrumental

Happy Monday! Well, we’ll pretend it’s happy…

My students know that every Friday, we write. They all have journals and they are free to write about any topic. Part of this process is me putting music on to inspire them. I learned quickly that music with lyrics in English are distracting; I play instrumental, classical, or world music instead. And I love it, because it exposes them to music that they would never have heard otherwise. For Music Monday, here are some of my favorite instrumental pieces that I play for my students.

Explosions in the Sky First Breath After Coma

DJ Shadow Organ Donor

Braveheart Sons of Scotland

That’s what we’re listening to! Any favorite instrumental albums? I’m always looking for new stuff.

Music Monday is BACK! We’re FOLKED!

After too long of a departure over the holidays, in where I missed out on the opportunity to tell you about my favorite Christmas music (I guess that will be December 2011’s Music Monday. [Hint: Pink Martini!]), it’s time for the first Music Monday of the new year!  And I decided to pay homage to some indie/folk bands.  Today I was scrolling through my iPod and I didn’t know what to listen to.  I feel like everything is stale; that I’ve listened to everything a million times.  My finger landed on Mumford & Sons, and I knew that was the ticket.  I know Heyyybrother (aka Danielle) loves Mumford & Sons, and I wanted to say I GET IT. Finally.

Mumford & Sons

The Cave

I wanted to play this song ten times today. I love the way the music rises and falls, and the pace increases as the chorus. Just amazing.

Arcade Fire

My Body is a Cage

This is certainly a rip-your-heart-out song. The slow, melancholy style of this song has made me cry more than once. The lyrics, “My body is a cage…but my mind holds the key” give me goosebumps.

Iron & Wine

Naked as We Came

YES, I discovered Iron & Wine through the Twilight soundtrack. Whatever you might think about the Twilight series of movies, they have some great music. I resisted putting the song Flightless Bird, American Mouth here and went with another amazing song instead, but I’ll admit that every time I hear that song, it transports me to a time in my life filled with a lot of emotion. It’s evocative.

Like these? Any other Folk bands on your playlist?

Music Monday: Covers

I’m excited about this Music Monday! Music has been a passion of mine all my life, and I have a wide variety of music that I listen to. So I love to hear when a band reinvents a hit song and makes it their own. Today is dedicated to some of the very best cover songs!

The Rescues Teenage Dream

Katy Perry, the originator of this song, showed up on my “Guilty Pleasures” Music Monday, but I don’t really like her version of this song. It seems silly and…well…teenage. But this slower, more mellow version showcases the lyrics so well. It seems wistful, instead of boastful.

The Bird and the Bee I Can’t Go For That

Hall and Oates is kind of classically kitschy and cheesy at this point. The immaculately blown-dry hair, the mustaches, the catchy tunes with a hint of electronic instrument in the background. Not my favorite. Love this cover, though, as the sweetness of the female voice make the kitschy endearing.

Bat for Lashes Use Somebody

I love me some Kings of Leon. I think I can whiff the testosterone on the MP3’s, that’s how strong it is. I rely on KOL for sexy, hard-driving rock songs. This Bat for Lashes cover is stripped down, without the rich harmonies and driving guitar of KOL. But it works.

Vampire Weekend Everywhere

I think this is my favorite of the bunch! Who would imagine that Vampire Weekend would be covering Fleetwood Mac? I love the bounce of it, I love the voices on it. I even love the masturbatory drum solo at the beginning. (You know what I mean–they do it just because it feels good.)

I need more great covers! Any suggestions?

Music Monday: Animal Sounds

Lula is my official music guru. She sends the best mixes. I’ve been listening to her mix Wow the Crowd lately, and here are some faves from that mix.

Metric Stadium Love

I love the beat of this song, and the images of it. Also, the lead singer is a kick-ass performer.

Rilo Kiley Portions for Foxes

The upbeat sound of the song stands in contrast to the lyrics, describing relationships that don’t work and are rushed. And also, TAXIDERMY in the video! Fun! And it always reminds me of the installation Fox Games by Sandy Skoglund at the Denver Art Museum, one of my favorite pieces of modern art.

Broken Social Scene Forced to Love

Okay, I couldn’t think of another song with an animal theme. But this is another song with broken relationships and a great beat!

What are you listening to?

Music Monday: Guilty Pleasures (and Updates!)

I’m shamed.

I have a handful of songs that are stand-alones.  I don’t own the whole album, in other words.  And basically, I don’t own the whole album because I’m kind of embarrassed over the songs to begin with.  But they’re just so darn catchy!

California Gurls by Katy Perry

This song will forever say summer 2010 to me. It was the perfect song for hot summer days, visits to California, and being free from work.

Evacuate the Dancefloor by Cascada

Okay, this is an awesome dance song. Ignore the German chatter at the beginning, because the unplugged version is actually kind of amazing.

Tik Tok by Ke$ha

I’m really ashamed now, after seeing this video. It’s a catchy tune, but this highlights everything that is cringe-worthy about Ke$ha–her hair looks like a rat’s nest, she has no breath control, her butt cheeks are showing, and she looks drunk. But I love a hot mess.

UPDATES!
LiLi sent me these to get through Monday.

I love her.

Got a pedicure tonight with my brand-new, straight-outta-the-box MAC polish, Sly as a Fox. First of all, the dude who did my toes thinned the polish without asking. SACRILEGE! Second, the verdict is…uncertain. I was hoping for it to be a little more red and a little less brown. I didn’t love it in the nail salon. However, in less light, I like it a little more. We’ll see over the course of a few days.

Guilty pleasures? Updates? Share them (I almost typed “shame them”) in the comments!