Long time followers of the blog know that music is my gateway drug to creativity. In the past, I’ve posted a top ten list of favorite soundtracks for video games that were released during the year. Since I’ve been out of touch with a lot of the soundtracks released this year, I decided that instead, I will just list my ten favorite songs that I discovered this year and why. These songs may not have been released this year. Discovering music is something I love and there is so much of it out there to be found and loved.
How do you find so many kinds of new genres, artists, and songs, you ask? Having a Spotify Premium account gives me access to the Discover Weekly playlist, which brings up a list of thirty or so songs that the algorithms have deemed I might enjoy. I have found SO many of my favorite songs from this. Several of the songs featured on my list this year were also uncovered this way.
Let’s dive in!
10: Heartbeats by The Knife
So, I feel super dumb about this one because the song was originally released in 2002. I had actually heard the song before as a cover by Jose Gonzalez but never realized it was a cover. The original song came up on my Discover Weekly playlist this year and I immediately recognized the lead singer’s voice as Karin Dreijer, otherwise known as Fever Ray. I’ve been listening to Fever Ray for a while. Dreijer’s voice is so distinctive and pairing it with a synth-pop beat really made me fall in love with this song.
The 30 Day Challenge wants me to put my music on shuffle and post the first ten songs. It seems pretty short to just post ten songs and then be done with the blog post. So, I thought it might be a bit more interesting if I include something that ties me to each song, if there’s much of a connection. A memory, a thought, an idea… Something.
Alright. Let’s do the shuffle!
1.) Polyhymnia: Scout McMillan: This song is one that I found while playing Saints Row 4. It plays when you find the dubstep gun (one of my favorite weapons in the game). I remember liking it so much that I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find out who created it and where I could find it for download. While I haven’t used it for any writing projects as of yet, it’s definitely a favorite on my electronica playlist.
Here we are at Day 1 of my 30 day writing challenge. I’m doing this in the hopes that I’ll get back into writing on this blog regularly through these short posts. My first entry is a pretty fun one; ten things that make me happy. In no particular order, here we go…
There’s something to be said for the love of a cat. Cats are independent, sometimes enjoying your affection and at others, preferring to be on their own. Maybe I find my own disposition toward other people to be the same. Sometimes, I really like to be near people and at others, I really enjoy my alone time. My cat, Lemon Jelly, knows when I’m upset, can enjoy a good cuddle on the couch on the blanket next to me, or behind my head. He sleeps next to me on the bed when he can (and still tries to when he can’t). Hearing that satisfied purr sometimes is one of the most comforting things in the world. Yes, he may kill some plants, puke in strange places, and attempt brain surgery on me while I sleep, but at the end of the day, he’s still my best friend.
I’ve been introduced to so much wonderful music in the last few months, particularly things in the ska genre, which I had largely been disinterested in before. Not sure why. But I wholeheartedly regret that now. There are so, so many great bands in that genre that have been inspirations for the seeds of stories I’d like to work on. Several of these ideas have come from the works of Streetlight Manifesto and consequently, Toh Kay (the band’s lead singer) who has done acoustic covers of many of the songs. While I’d love to do an Inspiration Through Music post for just Toh Kay’s acoustic covers, you can’t really focus on him without also talking about Streetlight Manifesto. So, today’s Inspiration Through Music will be a bit of a split between the two of them.
Tomas Kalnoky AKA Toh Kay, is a Czech born American musician. While his music with Streetlight Manifesto has a much more upbeat, harder, and motivated feel to it, his solo albums are much smoother and often times, reveal a sadder tone to them. It’s amazing how one can listen to the original Streetlight Manifesto version of a song and then the Toh Kay version and feel as though they’ve listened to two completely different songs. But I love this. And I love that certain songs can be interpreted in both lights. I have a couple of songs from Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto that are on a playlist for my latest project (both versions of the same songs) and I’ve found that both work incredibly well for different parts of the story.
My latest project takes place in a fictional beach-side resort town where a vampire (name hasn’t been decided yet) is caught in the moral implications of his lifestyle and the jobs he’s often paid to do, the innocent people that are affected by it, and the dissolution of his own humanity the longer he does it. Toh Kay’s music speaks more to this character’s inner struggles, while Streetlight Manifesto’s songs are a bit more on point with action scenes integral to the plot. Because while I’ve described what this book is about in a deep and kind of nebulous way, it really is supposed to be more of a horror comedy and the playlist for it is chock full of other ska classics. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its serious moments though and I can get inside my main character’s head more when I’m listening to those pieces by Toh Kay.
So, today, I’m going to share with you a few of the Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto songs that I have added to my playlist along with a couple of generic scenes to illustrate what I’m thinking when I listen to them. Enjoy!
If you’ve been following the Monstrum Chronicles blog for some time now, you’ll know that I love discovering new music and writing alongside said music. Recently, my boyfriend introduced me to a musician whose style can only be described as part Ray LaMontagne, part phenomenal guitar, and part…sunshine and coffee. Have you ever listened to someone sing and been able to practically see them smile through their voice? Peter Mulvey is this musician.
I was lucky enough to meet him at a recent performance in Hallowell at the beginning of June. He’s one of those people with a charming personable presence, the kind who can entertain with word and song and that you can never grow tired of listening to. He’s become my go to for car rides, down time in the house, and yes, even for certain story ideas. As I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a sequel for Night Time, Dotted Line (my dramedy), I’ve found that Mulvey’s voice resonates with both of the main characters, Calleigh and Spencer, well; particularly with Calleigh though.
Today, I’m going to share a few of Peter Mulvey’s songs with you along with some of the images that his songs conjure in my mind. This is a fun little exercise that you can do in your own spare time. Just take a pencil and paper, play to the songs below, and see what comes to mind when you listen. Enjoy!
This week, I had the pleasure of listening to the ultra-talented Ben Webb, a performer whom I’d never heard of before, but whose music instantly reminded me of several other artists. Webb’s music is dynamic, multi-faceted, and speaks of people’s many transitions through life.
And just like that it’s the end of 2016. I realize I wasn’t as active as I’d purported I’d be at the beginning of the year. I owe that to moving into a new house though. The transition has eaten up a lot of my valuable time. Not only that but I’ve spent much of my autumn beginning a new book and when I do that, I tend to dig in deep and not come up for air. That being said, I’d like to change the topic back to what this blog post is really all about: my top ten picks for video game soundtracks this year!
Several of you readers know I’m a sucker for video game soundtracks. I’ve always been a fan of film scores and in the past few years have developed a love for these equally arresting and inspiring albums. I didn’t want to break with tradition so here I am at midnight on the 30th/31st of December to share with you the soundtracks writers who love music should buy. But why you ask? Keep reading and you’ll see…
#10: Dead Secret Soundtrack by Ben Prunty
Why: The Dead Secret soundtrack begins with jazz-inspired flavors and some Asian influences to fit into the storyline. Because it’s a murder mystery, there’s an air of suspicion and curiosity in each piece, growing darker and darker as the game progresses. However, it’s the tracks that are most ambient that stood out most to me. In particular, WOODCUTTER (the theme of the antagonist) is one of the most bone-chilling on the soundtrack and inspires fear from its minimalist drumming. Another is “Permanently Altered” which I listened to several times while working on my latest novel. I recommend this to anyone working on crime or noir fiction, or perhaps something historical in the 1920-1950’s. Track picks: WOODCUTTER, Kwaidan, Permanently Altered, What were you up to?
(I wrote this back when the Oscars were happening… yeah.)
I have always, and will always be a fan of music composed by Thomas Newman. I own a number of his impressive film scores, several of them Oscar nominated or winning and all of them gorgeous in their own right. Little Women, Phenomenon, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Finding Nemo, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help, Skyfall…(and let’s not forget TV show Six Feet Under and Miniseries Angels in America)! And now, the dramatic and emotional score for the Oscar nominated film, Bridge of Spies.
When I grew up, I was one of the Trekkies. I loved anything and everything Star Trek but I had a respect for Star Wars and the world and characters that George Lucas had created. This year brought the series back to life with the latest (and greatest) in the Star Wars story, The Force Awakens. Having not watched The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, I was missing pieces of the story and worried I wouldn’t be able to follow it. Thankfully, The Force Awakens was easy to follow, had a collection of fantastic characters and locations, and a plot that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. Most of all, I was impressed by John Williams new score. There were many times while watching where I was actually drawn to listen closer to his compositions and found them stunning and beautiful.
HAPPY NEW YEAR (a bit late) and welcome to the Monstrum Chronicles blog! Here’s hoping you all had a fun and festive holiday season and a wonderful start to the new year. 2016 promises to be an exciting year! I’m looking forward to making a few changes in my writing career as well as here at the blog and in my personal life as well.
First off, I would honestly like to be able to attend a few more shows this year in lieu of the fact that they are the best way to get my books into reader’s hands. 2nd, I’d like to focus on trying to market my books to a few more brick and mortar businesses here in Maine. I’ve been a salesperson for several years and yet it’s always so much harder when you are trying to sell something you’ve created yourself. This fear has made it difficult for me to take those steps forward. Not this year though. I’m going to give it my all here.
Read on to find out what 2016 has in store for the Monstrum Chronicles blog!