Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 in Music: My Favorite Albums of the Year

And we're back with another frenetic update from Erinland, aka my annual favorite albums list. Which I have, full disclosure, quietly been dreading posting about. (Guilty.) Normally I get so excited about writing my favorite albums list that I nearly levitate off the ground, but in 2020, music was something else. 

It's not like it was a bad year for music - it wasn't.

But my brain is having trouble believing that certain albums I enjoyed were actually released earlier this year, pre-pandemic. As in, a literal nine or ten months ago. And then, once COVID hit, I found myself listening to non-2020 records from artists (The Hotelier; Pierce the Veil; Metro Station) or just listening to one-off catchy songs on repeat. So, some albums that were released this year that I fully intended to Pay Attention To got lost in the shuffle. Literally.

NEVERTHELESS....the list persisted.

Um, so here it is. The records listed are not necessarily in order, but they're also not *not* necessarily in order.

Aesthetic: Galactic glitter dance party; Bowie-meets-Elton John-meets outer space; dizzying carousel ride 

Why this album: If you haven't listened to Declan McKenna, then you need to do yourself a favor and GO LISTEN TO DECLAN MCKENNA. I loved his first record, I loved his second record, and I am bound to love any record he produces here forward until the end of measurable time. I will not apologize for this.

Song to listen to: "The Key to Life on Earth" aka my favorite song of 2020 besides "Mood" by 24kGoldn because that is a freaking BOP, my people.

Aesthetic: Neon-tinged nostalgia; friendly fever dream; the soundtrack to either your next workout or absolutely crushing everyone in Mario Kart 64

Why this album: The amount of times I listened to this record this year was borderline problematic. The whole album is so catchy that you'll have trouble picking a favorite song. This is something lighthearted to turn on when you can't *go there* with the new Phoebe Bridgers album. (I said what I said.)

Song to listen to: "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" is my fave track off this album, hands down, but the version of "Tangerine" feat. Arlo Parks is also a contender.


Aesthetic: Hushed tones and whispered promises; someone scratching a letter down on parchment paper; solitary walks on lush plains

Why this album: Ah! Do you hear that? It's my conflicted feelings. (They're screaming.) I am a secret Taylor Swift fan, which a good 25% of my core being detests, but I'M ONLY HUMAN, folks. And my heart did the flippy-floppy thing when I heard that we were getting not one but two surprise records this year from Ms. Swift. I've wanted her to pivot back to her country roots for a while, because she is a better songwriter than some of the stuff she's churned out after Red, but then! BUT THEN. She went alt. Folklore I loved, but it
took me a little longer to warm up to Evermore. After several listens, though, it grew on me. (Like a weed.) I dig the return to quality lyrics and interesting storytelling. That was always Swift's strength.

Song to listen to: "Cardigan" and "Betty" off of Folklore; "Willow" and "Marjorie"(!!) from Evermore.

Aesthetic: Standing alone in the snow waiting for someone who never arrives; sticking your head out the window of a moving car; staring out at a dark lake at night

Why this album: Phoebe Bridgers' music is like a wound. I mean it in a good way. But you have to be in the mood for it. Her lyrics are so potent and painful that I can't let myself listen to her records all that often. It cuts too deep. But she's one of the real ones, and I can't leave this record off of the list because, OUCH. You know it's good music when the artist makes their heartache palpable. Good stuff!

Song to listen to: "Moon Song." Read the lyrics, whoa.

Aesthetic: Driving fast and far away; black jeans with the knees ripped out; soundtrack to the solo mosh pit in your kitchen

Why this album: Sometimes you just need to listen to something a little erratic with crazy lyrics. Dance Gavin Dance fits that bill. Plus, lead singer Tilian Pearson is a Clearwater, FL native and has the Most Amazing Voice Your Homegirl Has Ever Heard. This record is fun, ridiculous, upbeat, and begging to be played live.

Song to listen to: "Lyrics Lie" for the sheer reason that Tilian scream-sings a little bit in the chorus. Secondarily, for the lyric "entrepreneurs rule...yeah!"

Aesthetic: Rainy day trapped indoors; missing someone you know you can never have; walking down the street with headphones in, kicking a rock along the pavement 

Why this album: This album is sweet, and it's sad. It's the kind of record that has a wholesomeness you can't put your finger on, with a bit of whimsy to boot. It's peaceful and wistful and aching all at once. Cute, but also going to make you mist up if you listen to the lyrics. Might encourage Melancholic Human Feelings. 

Song to listen to: "Feb. 14" and "Empty Bed."

Aesthetic: Circling your eyes in dark makeup; listening to records in a smoky club; 80s rock nostalgia

Why this album: This album was released later in 2020, but it still made an impression on me. I flat-out love Miley Cyrus's voice. It's husky and low and old school, and whenever I see videos of her performing, she gives it her all. I love this record not for its lyrics like a lot of the previous albums on my list, but because it's a stylistic homage to the artists that influenced Cyrus and she pulled it off flawlessly. And dang! The girl has pipes.

Song to listen to: "Hate Me" and the "Edge of Midnight" remix feat. Stevie Nicks(!!)


    Well, there you go!

    It took me a ridiculous amount of time to compile this list, and I'm still not sure I got everything. But overall, for a pretty crazy year, music still rocked. And no lie, these albums and more got me through a lot of rough parts of 2020. So yay for that! If you have any recommendations or wanna share your favorites, leave me a comment below.

    Entrepreneurs rule (yeah!),

    Saturday, September 5, 2020


    It's that time again, folks....

    My 26th year, to say the least, has been insane. Obviously COVID has been raging for a large portion of it, which has made things #complicated, but even without that, 26 has been the year of insanity.

    During my 26th year, I....

    - Got out of a relationship
    - Started dating someone new
    - Quit my job
    - Started working at an epic new job
    - Moved out of my childhood home
    - Moved into a cute cottage with my sister
    - Finished writing a novel I'd been working on for years
    - Started serving at church
    - Went to therapy (which I can't recommend highly enough)
    - Pierced my ears
    - Pierced my nose
    - Got health insurance
    - Saw one of my favorite bands live (pre-COVID, lol)

    Some of these are just fun things, but others have been Major Life Changes. During COVID. Send help.

    Like, I'm not going to lie, some parts of 26 were really dark and difficult (read: March 2020). There have also been light spots (buying a PlayStation 4, friend dinners, meeting a cool human). But ultimately, this year has been the year of change. Maybe that's why I've tended to be more nostalgic lately. But! God is good. Even though I've had to get out of my comfort zone this year, I've grown a lot and it's rewarding to see how God used circumstances to grow me closer to Him. Heck yes!

    This year for my birthday I just wanted to get off the grid a little, so my family and I hightailed it up to Ye Olde Writing Cabin to spend time in nature.

    And eat cheesecake. That as well. I know the world isn't back to normal yet, and maybe things will be different for a while, but I feel strangely hopeful as I begin Day One of Year 27. And it's just nice to be with my family in a place of peace for a couple of days.

    I can't believe I've been blogging long enough to have this many archived birthday posts, but if you want to peruse old ones, here they are: 2122232425, 26.

    I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! I haven't blogged in a hot minute because of all of the aforementioned life changes, but I still love this space and hope all of you are doing well.

    I'll try to write soon, maybe. If there's anything you want me to write about, let me know. And tell me how you are doing in the comments!

    Is this the real life or is this just fantasy,

    Sunday, May 24, 2020

    The One in Which Erin Finally Finishes Her Novel

    So. It finally happened.

    Yes, I, Erin Marie, of the smol book people, on the gorgeous day of May 2, 2020, finally Finished My Novel.

    *Tosses confetti into the air and starts a dance party in the comments*

    As lighthearted as I'm being, finishing writing my book is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far.

    This ridiculous novel planted itself as a tiny idea in my teenage brain back in the tender old days of 2008 (a simpler time). Back then, I still had an iPod nano, an affinity for Aeropostale, and was worried about starting high school. Over time, as I grew as a person, so did my book. It morphed and changed over many drafts over many years.

    After working on this book off and on for over a decade (largely due to procrastination, unnecessary rewrites, and my stubborn refusal to let it go), I could feel that it was time to finally finish it.

    And now I have! Praise God. I seriously cannot describe what a mental weight off me this is. Maya Angelou really said it best: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." For so long, that was me.

    Image credit.
    Kindreds: A Blurb

    I'm not great at creating a book summary, but I shall give it a go. In short, my novel follows a family that travels back to their hometown after ten years of living somewhere else. It's about their adventures in the small town over the course of one summer. There's romance, friendship, familial love, grief, and an overweight flat-face tabby cat. Yup.

    The Pinterest board is here if you want to see more visual inspo I used for the book.

    Select character mood boards are also up on my Pinterest. I don't know if it's just me, but I work really well when I have Pinterest boards and visuals. That's just the way my mind works.

    My Facebook Status After Finishing My Book:

    I finally finished my novel last night! 🥰 If you know me well, you've probably heard me mention it once vaguely and then immediately change the subject. This book has been a story I've been working on for so long, and procrastinating writing for even longer. I never thought that it would take a global pandemic to push me to finish it, but I'm so glad that it is now out of my frantic writer's brain and onto the page. (They grow up so fast!) Next up: Editing and rewriting this first draft til it's logical and coherent. Send music recommendations. And coffee. 😁💜

    It was very emotional to complete that last chapter.

    I may have misted up. The characters in this novel have been a part of me for so long, and it's a bittersweet feeling to let go of them and finish their story. But it was necessary.

    Image credit.
    Right now, I am slowly working on editing my book, a process that I anticipate will take some time.

    I wrote the majority of the book during quarantine(!!), and was working on it for hours each day, so it's safe to say that it was an all-consuming project. Part of me wants to power through the edits right away, but I also think there's value in stepping away from the story and revisiting it with brand new eyes (kudos to you if you caught my Paramore reference).

    The only other novel-sized manuscript I wrote was in the seventh grade.

    It was a story about a middle school superhero and was roughly one fifth the size of Kindreds. That is my only other experience with writing a full-length thingamabob, so editing this book is going to be a massive undertaking.

    Which brings me to you, dear blog friends!

    What advice do you have for me, O Wise Ones of the Word? I have limited experience with what happens after finishing a first draft - my #1 goal was always just to write the whole thing. What's your process for novel editing? Send help??

    Feel free to leave any suggestions or ideas you might have below in the comments! (Please?) Sending back hugs and chocolate cake.

    Don't dream it's over,