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My Sweet Sixteen: March Music Madness

March 18, 2012

As we are now entering into the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s  NCAA March Madness tournament (and oh, what a tournament it has been), I am excited to share with you my own sweet sixteen, the top songs I have been listening to throughout the past month. I invite you to please comment or fill out the poll below telling me YOUR favorites in this selection. Let’s see who can make it to the championship!

My 2012 NCAA tourney bracket Note: Big Mizzu Bust, not completely updated due to St. Patty's Day Shenanigans.

Despite the upsets, here are the tunes that have been a constant in my life right now, making Sweet 16 on my playlist this month!

Sweet Sixteen

16. Little Talks-Of Monsters and Men (Into the Woods-EP, 2011)

15. Sail- AWOLNATION (Megalithic Symphony, 2011)

14. Come Home- CHAPPO (Plastique Universe, 2010)

13. Comeback Kid-Sleigh Bells (Reign of Terror, 2012)

12. The King and All of his Men- Wolf Gang (Suego Faults, 2011)

11. Anna Sun-Walk The Moon (Anna Sun-EP, 2012)

10.  Tongue Tied-Grouplove (Never Trust a Happy Song, 2011)

9. How’d You Like That-The Kooks (Junk of the Heart, 2012)

8. Shake Me Down-Cage The Elephant (Thank You, Happy Birthday, 2011)

7. Love Interruption (Live, SNL)- Jack White (Single released in January, 2012)

6. Apartment-Young The Giant (Young The Giant, 2011)

5. Trojans-Atlas Genius (Single released in May, 2011)

4. Eyes Wide Open-Gotye (Making Mirrors, 2011)

3.  We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)- Fun (Some Nights, 2011)

2. Disparate Youth-Santigold (Single released in February, 2011)

1. Gold On The Ceiling-The Black Keys

At number one is “Gold On The Ceiling” from The Black Keys’ album, El Camino, which was released in December, 2011. This one’s for you, OHIO (the Black Keys are from Akron). Let’s bring 4 teams to the Sweet Sixteen Showdown!!!

Phew, that’s a lot of music madness. Guess it’s time to watch some basketball!



Tribute to St. Patrick, Guinness, & Irish Folk Ballads

March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patty’s Day weekend! Also, Happy 50th B&BC post!!!

Tomorrow, many of you will be stumbling into the local pub at 8AM for coffee with Baileys’, “green beer,” Guinness and Irish Car Bombs. I hope you will prepare yourselves well with not only the right attire (anything green or you’ll get pinched!) but also what I like to call the “Irish state of mind.”

What is the “Irish state of mind” you ask? Well, it’s some of what you think it is. Imagine yourself alone in a bar on a Sunday afternoon when a jolly, over-sized, red-bearded man falls into the seat next to you and slams his over-sized mug into yours while saying, “Hey you, Bonnie Lad.” Yes, it’s definitely some of this, but it’s also a little bit more.

This past summer, I backpacked through Western Europe with a great group of friends. Our first stop on the trip was Dublin, Ireland where we were able to experience the calm, kind nature of all that is Irish-not simply in the people themselves, but in their countryside and the legacy they leave in its cliffs.

The best way to demonstrate this is to include an excerpt from my journal I kept throughout the journey:

“…We proceeded to walk the streets [of Dublin] following our little tourist maps. It took us only a few blocks to lose ourselves in the colorful, narrow streets that were filled to the brim with street performers, angry, competitive taxi men, stone monuments, and tiny cottages with brilliantly colored doors. We made our way to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle where the vibrant Celtic tradition and history shone through grand organ pipes standing amid walls of Cherubs.”

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland

After numerous failed attempts to make buses to various Irish villages scattered throughout western Ireland (we were sooooo jet-lagged, and yes, a bit hung over from the Publin experience), we settled for taking the Dart to its furthest northern and southern points.

“..In Howth, we grabbed fish & chips and smiled at a sea-lion swimming in the harbor (we saw two!) We decided to hike the cliffs and proceeded from the yummy seafood and ice cream shops up around the magnificent cottages lining the blue sea. Soon we were in thorny brush & rocks climbing higher and steeper still until we towered over the miniature sailboats below. The wind was very chilly but the sky was not too overcast. It was the kind of Ireland you picture in your dreams.”

It would be silly not to mention the pubs, (sigh, the pubs) in Dublin’s “Temple Brau” district. On our first night off the plane from the U.S. we were invited to go on a Pub Crawl. Though we were exhausted, we decided to start our trip off on the right foot by exploring “PUBLIN.” It was an experience I’m sure none of us will ever forget, and as I start off this St. Patty’s Day weekend, I only hope I can relive some part of it.

So, to honor St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, as well as my heritage (my grandmother’s maiden name is McCaslin, my ancestors from Belfast) I have decided to post some of my very favorite   traditional Irish/Celtic music. What I find  so unique about the Celtic artists are the ways in which they stick to their roots yet manage to bring a touch of modernism and variety to their performances.

Our crew standing in front of the Guinness Brewery. "My goodness, My Guinness!"

Here we go:

1. The Chieftans

This is probably the most famous of traditional Irish groups, and for a very good reason. This band was started in 1962 and since has won six Grammy awards, nominated a whopping 18 times!!!  The have performed with numerous big names including The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, Art Garfunkel, Sting, Willie Nelson, Nickel Creek, Allison Krauss, Natalie Merchant and Sinead O’Connor (many others). Listen up!!!

2. Cherish The Ladies

This group of talented Irish-American women who took their name from that of a traditional Irish jig earn a spot at number two on my list. “The Girls Won’t Leave the Boys Alone,” which came out in 2001, is by far their most celebrated album as it includes guest performances from Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin, Pete Seger, and Luka Bloom. It is an album of filled with Riverdance-worthy jigs sure to put you in that “Irish State of Mind.”

Here are  clips from some of their performances.

3. The Dubliners

The Dubliners, like the Cheiftans, were founded in 1962 and first made their name by playing in local Dublin pubs. They are best known as pioneers for Irish folk music in Europe.

4. Gaelic Storm

I have to include Gaelic Storm because they have been instrumental in bridging the gap between the classic and contemporary Irish folk ballads. Though their sound is similar in quality to that of the Chieftans and Dubliners, they break away from the mold by creating their very own original pieces that maintain a traditional style. Here are three of my very favorites!!

5. Flogging Molly

I was introduced to Flogging Molly  by my brother back in high school. They sound somewhat like Gaelic Storm but with a major twist, think PUNK, yes I said it. They are about as hardcore as Celtic gets, most well-known for their album, Drunken Lullabies, released in 2002. I remember running at track meet at John Glenn High School’s track (which was shared with Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio) and I will never forget the start of my 800 meter race when I heard “Rebels of the Sacred Heart” blasting from a house full of fraternity men just over the hill, cans of natty light spilling over the lawn.  If you are planning on doing a lot of Irish Car Bombs for St. Patty’s Day, well, this might just be your soundtrack.

Other notable Celtic artists:

6. The Pogues

7. The Saw Doctors

8. Altan

9. The Bothy Band

10. Planxty


Stay safe and enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!


Lo Ashley

Walking out of Step, Singing out of Signature.

March 15, 2012

This morning I awoke to rain puddles that had filled the sporadic divots in my alleyway. I looked out my window as the people walking by were forced to find creative ways to dodge them. It was like watching a terribly choreographed Cabaret attempted on a small stage in a karaoke dive bar, one skip and hop over an irregular patch of water followed by a quick maneuver right, then left to miss another, eyes glued to feet, mud stains on legs signifying previously failed attempts. The walkers I had seen for so many dry, sunny days, those who had sandered forth, eyes glazed and unfocused, were now walking with an angry zest, thinking about every movement and utilizing their bodies’ natural micro-sensors and mechanisms of motor skills to the very fullest.

And all the while I could not help but think of this:


My laughter was proceeded by the thought of all of the times I have walked without the remotest inkling of thought about it, “zombie-walking” with my mind on some thought I could never recall now, for it no longer has meaning. Perhaps it never did for it was engulfed in the trance of a solemn step and shed upon mundane pavement.

Which then made me think of this…


And everything always leads to the thought of music and how sometimes when I run I find myself falling into a pace with some musical beat. And there I am all comfortably running and suddenly the song changes to something with the strangest time signature that completely throws me off rhythm, and I must instead to do a below par individualized cadence of my own.

But these songs, they love being different and we love them for it. They stray away from the conditioned 4/4 and force us to alter ourselves to our own rhythm.

Here are some songs with weird time signatures.

1. 15 Step- Radiohead

Why it’s weird: This song boasts a 5/4 time signature

Why it’s great: The actual title of the song may relate to the time signature. When dancing to a 5/4 time signature, one must do a 15 step dance to stay in time.

2. Bastard- Ben Folds

Why it’s weird: It sports not one weird time signature, but a combination of  3/2, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, and 7/4.

Why it’s great: It says, “Hey kid. Stop climbing the rope because that’s boring and pointless. Swing on the rope because, even though you may not get to the top as quickly, you’ll enjoy the process a whole lot more, and you will not be like everyone else. Also ***k you, kid.”

3. Hey Ya! -Outkast

Why it’s weird:  It is so weird-> think three 4/4 measures, a 2/4 measure, and two 4/4 measures–or just average it to 11/4 (much much easier to wrap your head around)

Why it’s great: This song is in my top 5 greatest songs of the 2000 decade. When it plays anywhere, everyone breaks out in dance, and the crazier and more different the dance from everything else on the floor, the more celebrated. Oh, but how lyrically tragic.

4. 5/4- Gorillaz

Why it’s weird: Bet you can’t guess the time signature (don’t cheat)…5/4

Why it’s even weirder: It’s named after the time signature and boasts the lyrics, “She turned my dad on.”

5. Money- Pink Floyd

Why it’s weird: Time signature is 7/4.

Why it’s great: Sax and guitar solos…sigh

6. I Say A Little Prayer-Dionne Warwick (1967) /Songwriters: Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Why it’s weird: The verses are written in 2 successive measures of 4/4, a measure of 10/4 (using 4/4 + 2/4 + 4/4), and 2 final measures of 4/4. The chorus is in 11/4 (using 4/4 + 3/4 + 4/4).

Why it’s great: This song was ahead of its time in experimentation with changing signatures. Dionne Warwick is also a goddess and a diva.

Happiness is a Warm Gun- The Beatles

Why it’s weird: So many changes–> “The final part introduces the title phrase over the conventional doo-wop chord sequence (I-vi-IV-V) and a number of changes between 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures. The song’s complexity led to The Beatles spending 15 hours and recording 95 takes before being satisfied.” Source

Why it’s great: This is one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs. The White Album has always been my very favorite Beatles album because it does so much experimentation with sound. This is one of those very pieces which illuminates the scope of musical genius in the minds of John and Paul.  Other songs with funky beats include: Strawberry Field Forever(shifting meters)  & Here Comes the Sun (bridge has 11/8 + 4/4 + 7/8).

So to you zombie-walkers you, listen to these songs and remind yourself to walk out of step, to embrace time signatures by perhaps making a signature of your own.

And jump into those puddles. It’s so much more fun anyway.




October 13, 2011

Currently listening to:
Don Henley-“Dirty Laundry”
Theophilus London-“I Stand Alone.”
Aloe Blacc-“I Need a Dollar.”
Weird Al Yankovic-Laundry Day

Never would I have believed even one year ago that the laundromat would become for me a place of profound escape from the fast-pace troubles of everyday life. When imagining the laundromat, I have always conjured up the image of a workman’s struggled reality. I think of the dreadful act of dragging a large, heavy basket down my back stairwell, heaving it into the back seat of my car, and driving down the street to a place distinctly identifiable only by its half-lit, dingy fluorescent sign hanging on the corner of a dilapidated brick building, a building whose aesthetic properties had not been updated since its construction in the 1970’s, decadent rainbow stripes circling its walls, bright orange plastic curving benches surrounding the room, paint chipping from the washers and dryers, ancient change machines for the quarters you never seem to have come laundry time.

I remember being 9 or 10 when our washer and dryer broke. For two weeks, our family of four allowed the laundry to build up on our already-cluttered basement floor. Finally, the time came when the socks and underwear were depleted and all sweatshirts had been worn inside out with stretched collars and dirt-tinted sleeves. It is six AM and my father wakes me: “Get your stuff together. Help sort the baskets. It’s time to clean some clothes”.
It was the first time I had ever stepped foot inside a laundromat. I remember wondering why we had to go so early just to wash our clothes, yet I never said a word. In about 15 minutes, we had the entire family car loaded. My brother and I squeezed between multiple trash bags and stacked the laundry baskets on our laps. My father sat in the driver’s seat in his pressed suit with noticeable sweat dripping from his brow. He looked worn, like the clothes wrinkled and jammed in the baskets behind him. Five minutes later we were there and, after lugging our entire car worth of clothing into the small room with 8 washers and dryers, we filled up each and every one.

Then we waited…

All of us sat on the cold plastic benches in the back of the room, mom concentrating on her cross-word puzzles, Dylan playing his Gameboy, Dad leaning back on the cold metal lockers and closing his eyes. For a moment, I stare out the windows into the fog of an early Fall morning. It is but a small event in my young life, a moment of adventure and confusion, where I was given the true definition of metaphor. My Dad opens his eyes and I see him smile, turning his head toward me and telling me “It’s not so bad, the laundromat.” I would never understand until I was 20 why we had gone so early. I would never understand how my father felt in his pressed suit before work, carrying 10 baskets of laundry and filling up every space in the only mat in town. One week later, our basement held a new, shiny, deluxe washer and dryer. We never went to the laundromat again.

Tallahassee, Florida: I don’t have a car so I walk down the street with my big basket. I step inside and an old man greets me. He is thin and tall and blind in one eye. His skin is the color and texture of thick dark leather and he smiles at something but I’m not sure it’s me. The laundromat is packed today. I find one machine open and settle my clothes inside before squeezing into a spot on the plastic bench. All laundromats have plastic benches it seems. They want you to be comfortable but not too comfortable. You can’t want to stay past when your laundry is done. The blind man comes over and asks me if I would like some detergent or to make change for my machine. I realize I have forgotten to turn the washer on; though the man is blind, he is able to see with clarity how much of a novice I am in this estranged world of soap suds and brief, meaningless conversations.

But as I sat yesterday watching the soapy water devour my clothes, the machine spinning them first to the left, then the right, speeding up and slowing back down with the rhythm of my life at 22-years-old, I could not help but feel welcomed in a place where the 57-year old bearded man, a 21-year old jersey-sporting man on my left, and a plump old women in the corner will come to sit together for even just a little while, the four of us with books in hand, plans to escape from the laundromat. But really, even the tacky rainbow stripes and the soap operas on TV are a kind enough escape from our individually monotonous working lives. Even a hello, how are you doing, good, you, good, is enough to relax us as we listen to the hum of our lives getting “cleaned,” “washed,” “stain-removed.” Here we are forced to realize that for 1 hour and 30 minutes, give or take, we can do nothing but sit and wait for the moment when we can fold our fresh-scented clothes into neat little stacks and enter into the world…”tidy” once again for all to see.


Songs for Travelers

June 26, 2011

Songs for Travelers. This includes, but it not limited to, vacationers, hikers, wanderers, vagabonds, gypsies, hitchhikers, vampires, extraterrestrials, or time-travelers.

In two days, I will be “leaving on a jet plane” (thanks John Denver but Peter, Paul & Mary definitely did it better). Here is a map of my route:

Eurotrip Route

To express my anticipation in a blog post would be both absurd and utterly impossible. It is difficult to even conjure up in my own mind the reality of what is to come. As a graduate in the field of English, I have read endless European works and have sat for hours imagining the enchanting world in which they take place. Now, I am given the opportunity to walk their streets, climb their mountains, and swim in their oceans. I will stand in awe at the beauty of their architecture, dance until my heart’s content in their late-night pubs, and be silenced by their most breath-taking sunsets. All the while, I will be accompanied by some of the best friends I have ever known. And as long as I’m with them, I am sure the experience will be more than I ever imagined.

I have compiled some of the songs that always inspire me to travel in the first place, whether it means hopping into my jeep for a country drive and some ice cream, a road trip with friends across the state lines, or boarding a plane to fly half-way across the world. Sometimes, I listen to them when not traveling at all, but simply laying alone in my room imagining myself venturing the world by foot. I wish those of you on adventures this summer the very best and hope you will enjoy these songs. But for those of you who are staying at home, I encourage you to explore your very own backyards. Find the hidden beauty in your hometown. Do not underestimate the places where you live. They may surprise you. (For such a long time, I never knew there was a waterfall only 10 minutes away from my college dorm. I also only learned of a wetland trail only 15 minutes from my childhood home when I was near graduation from high school. And I will never forget the excitement of “train-tracking,” following railroads from town to town and crawling in rail-cars.) The adventures are endless.

In the end, wanderers love their homes the most. The best places to travel is in one’s own mind.

Just The Best: A 60’s Special

June 21, 2011

Some of my favorites from the 1960’s period

Wilson Pickett

A shout out goes to Jeremy Studer. We used to listen to Wilson Pickett and when he died in 2006, we held a moment of silence on our way to high school.

I was first exposed to the 1960’s era through my mother’s caravan rides. We would tune into Oldies 92.5 FM broadcasting from Canton, OH (it’s now Q92.5 and I’m not as much of a fan.) One thing about this time period is that it grows and moves with you as you mature and adapt to the various stages of your life.

It never gets old. Why? Because it’s timeless. Enjoy.

Begin Summer

June 21, 2011

Photograph of Lauren by Sydney Cologie