Icelandic Rock Band Kaleo Has More To Offer Than Hit Single “Way Down We Go”

As of late, I’ve been fangirl-ing pretty hard about the Icelandic rock band Kaleo. It all started with the songs “No Good” and “Broken Bones” off their most recent album A/B. Most radio listeners probably know this band because of their song “Way Down We Go”, but since I very rarely drive my car anymore, I also don’t listen to the radio and had no idea this song was so popular.

Regardless, “No Good” and “Broken Bones” are much better songs than “Way Down We Go”, and their album as a collective whole is even better than any of these songs on their own. This is important because A/B is an amazing album, and that is often very hard to come by. It has everything you could possibly want: a song that everyone knows and is played on the radio, so you skip over it unless you’re play through the album in its entirety; songs that are powerful and I dare even say, “headbangers”, or at the very least capable of raising body temperature; songs of the balladic type, and there’s even a song with lyrics in a different language.

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The fact that Kaleo has a song in Icelandic on the same album as the hit single “Way Down We Go” is super exciting to me because there’s a greater chance that more people will pick it up. I think it’s important to be exposed to all kinds of music, and not understanding the lyrics shouldn’t deter anyone from doing so. Also, I just think it’s very cool they included the track on the album. It shows their culture and language is important to them and that they want their audience to know where they’re coming from. I also think it brings pride and joy to Icelandians having a band from they’re country see success.

This past weekend I’ve given A/B a deeper listen, and after air drumming to “No Good” and “Broken Bones” the past couple of weeks, I’ve been paying more attention to the slower songs like “All The Pretty Girls”, “Automobile”, and “Save Yourself”, which have become my new favorites. All in all, A/B is a great listen and I’m super excited for finding an album I can listen to all the way through as a work of art. Hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.

I Had Fun At A Club

As many of my friends could testify, I am not the clubbing type. In fact, I’m the totally lame stay at home and read a book or grab food with a friend when I have the time to type. However, I’ve had friendships where their prime past time was jumping around or grinding about at clubs, and therefore I have been to my fair share of them.

And you may have guessed correctly…I’ve always hated it. Maybe I wasn’t as drunk as everyone there or maybe everyone could sense that I didn’t belong, but it has always been uncomfortable and awkward, not to mention equally as annoying being felt around by some dude probably 20 years older than me. Gross exaggeration, but also probably not.

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The thing is I love to dance too. I’m not very good at it, and often my friends will tell me after, “you were a little too into it back there” or “what was that”, which probably paints a pretty good picture of how great I look out there. Regardless, I really do enjoy dancing, although often weirdly and eccentric, and yet the club has never been a place I felt good at.

This weekend, however, a large sum of my friends made a trip down to U of I where we danced and sang more in one weekend than I have this entire school year. It was truly one of the funnest weekends I’ve had in a really long time, and a lot of it was spent at a club. The music felt like it was remixed all to the same beat and the song selection in general could have been a whole lot better, but that didn’t seem to stop us from laying it all out on the dance floor.

This had everything to do with the people I was with, which were some of the goofiest most fun-loving people I know, and I accredit such an excellent weekend all to them. They even made a sticky, loud, and hot-mess of a bar a great success. And so, I conclude, that almost anything can be made positive or negative by the people you surround yourself with and your attitude. This has been your Motivational Monday. See you at the clubs.

Stepping Into Hip-Hop

I’m still struggling to make my blog about something. I love music as equally as the next blogger, but there’s already so many blogs dedicated to that and they’re much better at talking about the topic of music than I ever will be. I like science and random factoids and knowledge bits that you can either apply to your life or just feel enriched by. But that doesn’t seem like a good fit for UIC Radio. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll find my special radio voice, but for now I’ll follow on the same trend of sharing bits and pieces of my life…

Tonight I did something new. Tonight I went to a hip-hop class lead by one of my friends. It’s something that I don’t think I would have ever done, regardless of knowing the person who was teaching. I’d be too embarrassed of looking foolish or messing up or questioning why I was there at all because I’d probably think I look like garbage. But for awhile now I’ve been harboring the strange desire to dance, any kind of dance. Maybe it’s because I’ve missed skating and feeling that creative connection with my body, but it’s also been the desire to be more confident in myself.

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For some time now, it’s becoming more and more apparent how reserved and timid I am, and how unwilling I am to make a mistake in fear of looking poorly in front of others. That hasn’t gone away, and it won’t after one hip-hop class, but I’m glad that this desire has become strong enough for me to do something about it. I’m already thinking about finding classes on my own and trying different styles. There’s so much that I feel I’ve kept hidden and it’s about time that it surfaced.

I’m so thankful for my friend Ziba and how enthusiastic and inviting she is of others. She’s got a talent of making people feel comfortable and to just be themselves. I’m looking forward to this next month of hip-hop, and what’s looking like a step in the right direction of getting myself out of the rut I’ve been in.

Spotify; A Not So Review

For Christmas I received a Spotify gift card for a premium membership from my brother, not because he didn’t know what to get me or that he lacks creativity in gift-giving, but because I asked for one (even though both are true). Although I want to do a quick review on my experience, I want to get a nuance out of the way beforehand; It’s been a month and I still haven’t used my gift card. This is because Spotify did a promotion for the new year, which lowered the cost of membership for three months to $1, and so instead of using the gift card my brother got me for $3o I’ll be saving it until the membership for a dollar runs out…which is stupid that he had to spend that money. But now I get to listen to new music with zero commercials for a total of six months! Sorry little brother.

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Now that you know not to subscribe to Spotify until after the holiday season, here are some general thoughts on my user experience:

 

The best thing about Spotify would probably be the playlists they make for various genres and in particular the new releases as well as the top charts playlists from different countries. It’s always great to hear what’s up and coming as well as what people are listening to on the other side of the globe. Another cool feature on Spotify is being able to click on an artist’s bio to not only read about them but also see where they’re getting their top plays from. Not incredibly necessary, but pretty neat nonetheless.

Things that sucks about Spotify premium are the things that really suck about Spotify. Although I get that you can only download music when you’ve got internet connection so you can listen when you’re offline, I hate that I’m only able to download full albums or playlists but not individual songs. I’m sure there’s a way around it, probably just by making your own playlist and downloading it, but it seems like Spotify could create an easier, less annoying, way to do this. Also, and I’m not sure if it’s because of my recently purchased iPhone 7 that I still may not know how to use properly, but when my phone is in my pocket and I make any abrupt movement, the song will change or skip over. Again, this may not be Spotify’s fault, but while I’m sitting here complaining I might as well let every frustration out.

And so, here’s to ranting and covering it up as a “review”. Cheers.

From Small Concert Halls To Sold Out Arenas; A Fan Girl No More

When I was in high school one of my favorite things to do was attend concerts. My best friend and I would go to a show what felt like once a month where we would have the time of our lives. I was the girl that people would look at and say, “What is this twelve year old doing here without her parents?” Although I wasn’t quite that young, I was of the very unripe age of fifteen and very much without parental supervision in the city of Chicago late into the night. Fortunately, nothing unlucky ever happened to us, and even though I’m thankful for this, it isn’t the point of this blog post. More so, it’s that I’m grateful for my parents trusting me and my friends enough to do something that gave me that much joy, which I unfortunately have lost somewhere on the rode to becoming a crisp, yet tender, but not at all flaky age of twenty-one.

Last Friday I took my mom out to see the Lumineers at Allstate Arena and while I thought it was a great show and had a good time, I wasn’t anywhere near feeling the joy I felt seeing a really terrible boyband at a cramped up venue with people who were probably twice my age. And you could say, “Well, Justina. You went with your mom”, and I’d tell you that my mom is way cooler than I imagine myself to be and, I’d even dare say, has more friends than I do. But I’d also tell you that I haven’t felt that certain sweaty fifteen-year-old concert attendee joy in a really long time, with or without my mom as my company.

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I, to this day, frequent the concert halls and bars of Chicago and its outskirts, but something about it is less exciting. Maybe it’s because my taste in music has changed. Maybe it’s because I’m older, and everything, since the overly hormonal prepubescent years, seems a lot duller. This is probably the winner, but I’ll go ahead and entertain a few more possibilities. Maybe it’s because the one friend I went to nearly every show with has become a lot less close to me. Maybe I’ve forgotten how to have fun. Or maybe it’s the combination of the first two because if I’m being honest, all I really want to do is end up at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and listen to jazz music since, as one of my friends puts it, I’m actually thirty-five years old inside.

It’s odd because suddenly it’s 10pm and I’m tired at a concert of a band I truly do enjoy, I kind of want to go home, and my back is starting to hurt from standing too long. My friend Rita would probably correct herself after reading this and say, “I take it back, you’re actually eighty-five inside”, which is exactly what she did say when I told her I wanted to learn how to knit not too long ago. The data is inconclusive and I have no idea what’s wrong with me. All I know is that I wouldn’t mind having the desire to scream the words to every We The Kings song like the fan girl I once was. But, those were simpler times. The music was terrible, and the presidency was okay.

Stepping Onto The Ice Again

It’s been a little over five years since I’ve ended my figure skating career, and about two full years since I’ve stepped onto the ice. Today I had the opportunity to lace my boots up, and take my little sister to the rink for the very first time.

I began skating when I was about five years old after my mom had signed me up for lessons at our local rink. I don’t remember how it happened, but at some point I acquired a coach and was training six days a week for the next eleven years of my life. Through many ups and downs and emotional turmoil, my skating career ended at sixteen when I became injured and my family and I decided it was time that I hung my skates up.

However, I’ve yet to be completely over my skating career coming to an end. No matter how difficult and emotionally trying, or how guilty I’d often feel from the financial burden my parents went through to support me; I miss it. I miss the flying feeling and the certain way I’d place my arms and shoulders when covering the bend of the rink. I miss the cold and refusing to wear gloves, and the power and the grace that I could harness both at once and ever only on the ice. I even miss competing and the failed attempts at shutting off my nervousness. I miss the red-lipped war paint, and the combination of the specific smell of skating tights and hairspray will forever be ingrained into my memory.

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When my little sister was born my coach had joked that there’ll be another skater in the family. The thought stayed with me through the hour as I watched my sister finding her weight on a pair of blades for the first time, and doing better than I would have anticipated. I can’t recall seeing anyone as fearless or as frustrated with not already knowing how to skate as fast as the other kids. As she refused my help, I stole some moments to feel the ice again. It’s hard to let go the love of your life, and as I’ve struggled to do so for the past five years, I don’t think I’m capable of it any longer. There’s just nothing that would serve as a good enough replacement.

As a competitor I had felt the pressure to excel and get an edge on my opponents. I was expected to be the best and there was always goals being placed on me that were far greater than I was capable of living up to. Not meeting these outlandish expectations has been viewed by me as failure and a sure sign that I’m simply not good enough. I had crumbled under the pressure and an injury was even more reason to call it quits. But medals and success and even the pride I’ve imagined feeling for representing my country at any sort of championship, are not good reasons to do anything at all. The power I feel, the grace, the beauty, and the sheer delight of gliding through the ice, that I swear can’t be likened to any other feeling of known existence, are much better reasons. Or when my mom can’t help but get emotional when she sees me skate and tells me that I look as I did five years ago.

It’s far too easy to become lost in the motions, the failures and the triumphs. It’s easy to make comparisons and to react to judgment as a truth, and sometimes, it’s so incredibly hard to remember why you started that you just want to quit. But if there’s anything to take away from my experiences — it’s that for anything we do it’s important to remember why we do it.

Doubt, Stress, And Genetic Professors

My original plan was to write about my experience abstaining from sugar this past week, which has also carried into this week, but I wasn’t able to do the research that I wanted to make it sound legitimate and knowledgeable in all the ways sugar is not so good for us. I didn’t have much time to do so because I spent all weekend trying to breathe life into a paper I’m writing about Hillary Clinton and her lack of situated ethos, or why people seem to really hate her.

This leads me to this Monday’s blog topic. HRC’s ethos and I wrestled all weekend, and well into this morning, which won me only four pages out of the ten I need to write. Basically I didn’t get much done and feel that I’ve wasted a ton of time that I could have spent studying for my other classes. That is rather beside the point here because what I really felt during my peer review in class today is that I’m not even capable of writing well, which is something I take some pride in. So if I can’t write, then what can I do?

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I’m a Neuroscience major, but I’ve fought my entire way through it. I’m not naturally good at math, nor do I excel in the sciences. But the brain, and especially the mind, fascinates me. From a more practical standpoint, I also felt secure studying a hard science. What I do well is be stubborn and work hard. I’ve accepted my inability to maneuver through coursework with ease, but I’ve also accepted the challenge. However, today was a day where I questioned my major, my capabilities, my aspirations, and of course, my existence because stress isn’t as much fun if you don’t over do it.genetic-ethics1Today I thought a lot about whether I had made the right decision or if I should have chosen something that was better suited to my strengths. I still don’t have a single clue what I’ll be doing once I graduate, but struggling in my science classes makes me feel that I’m not cut out for graduate school, or anything at all really.

I caught my breath and stalled my brain, and made sure I didn’t complain to my friends. I bought myself an almond latte and listened to Frank Ocean on repeat while I did my homework. I thought about the work, instead of if I could do it or not. Then, I turned on lecture capture for a class I had missed, and listened to my genetics professor talk about an experience he had in graduate school.

He told the class how, after an exam, his professor called him to his office and told him that he shouldn’t be in graduate school because he had confused transcription with translation. After looking over the exam, my professor acknowledged his mistake, but let him know that he was aware of the difference. And as he walked out of his office he told him that he most certainly belonged in graduate school. My professor finished his story by reminding us to never let anybody, especially a stranger, tell us what we can’t and cannot do. The class applauded, and I too applaud.

He also didn’t fail to mention that his professor died prematurely of lung cancer. So, ease the mind and collect yourself. Don’t let the bastards get you down, and don’t be one either.

Maximizing Productivity

On a consistent basis, I feel that I actively try to seek out ways, or new bits of information, to improve my current self. Since I am a student, with a goal of graduating with a Neuroscience degree and a Professional Writing minor, most of my efforts often center on ways to improve academically, or ways to make the life of a student a little smoother.

A commonality that most UIC students share is commuting. Whether it be from the suburbs or the most North-side neighborhood of Chicago, it can be (and often is) a grueling and tiresome, not to mention time consuming, activity. But commuting and course work isn’t the only thing that we do. A great majority of us have jobs and home responsibilities, organizations that we’re a part of, and not to mention all the other resume-building activities on our mind.

 

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Too often sleep is cut short, meals are skipped or on-the-go, and working out gets eliminated from the daily schedule somewhere along week 10 of the semester. And if you’re anything like me, you often become a bundle of stress around this time, and eventually your health begins to waver. There simply isn’t enough time for everything.

Instead of accepting defeat, I’m interested in how I can do things differently to fall back into rhythm. Although, I already feel that I try to maximize my productivity by doing things like studying on the train, or listening to recorded lectures as I walk to campus from Union Station, there are definitely things I can do to improve my work ethic. Recently I happened upon a Forbes article that listed ways in which “ultra-productive” people managed their day. Although, I typically cringe at anything with a title in close proximity to “15 ways how to…”, I felt that some items on this list could possibly be helpful to combat a ticking clock.

These are some of the few that I’ve picked out to try for myself, complete with my understanding of each:

  1. Focusing on minutes, not hours – squeezing in study time even if you’ve only got 15 minutes before your next class
  2. Using a notebook – carrying around a notebook to write down any floating thoughts that might be bogging you down, a helpful way to clear your mind (because honestly, being stressed takes up a lot of time)
  3. Processing email only a few times a day – productive people schedule time to look at their email, as opposed to checking it consistently throughout the day
  4. Touching things once – if you’re looking at your emails, respond right away instead of leaving the task for a later time
  5. Practicing a consistent morning routine – shower, yoga, smoothie, hug mom
  6. Saying “no” to almost everything – “If something isn’t a hell, YEAH! Then it’s a “no!” – James Alutcher

Check out the full list at the link above to generate some more creative ways you could fool yourself into a 25 hour day. Happy studying and rocking at life!