Friday, August 23, 2013

Big TV | White Lies

Big TV is the latest release from indie band White Lies, who I discovered a couple years ago with their lovely album Ritual. While White Lies haven't changed their sound between albums, they aren't boring. They still strike me with their ability to continually make good music, for while not every song on Big TV is a perfect diamond, each song has its own sparkle.

I was immediately excited when I first listened to this album; the first two songs are a couple of my favorites. The album opens with the title track, which begins with a faint (though ascending) string line as Harry McVeigh's lush voice cascades above it. Guitars enter during the chorus and catchy synths are added in the second verse. Throughout its entirety, "Big TV" is filled with interesting lyrics and keeps my attention. A great song in all aspects.

The following song, "There Goes Our Love Again," is the album's first single, and a great single choice at that. It's just completely irresistible! I don't see how anyone can not love it! It's upbeat and danceable, but still meaningful. Even though the chorus is really repetitive, it's just so addictive.

Big TV includes two instrumental interludes, "Space I" and "Space II," of which I preferred "Space II." Both are lullaby-like, and I can definitely understand why they're called "Space." The dreamy, pretty mystique amid the ambience of notes captures the concept very well, and the same can be said about "Change," perhaps even more so (musically). It's the album's ballad, telling a tale of broken love very openly; the lyrics don't try to hide anything. The piano part is just gorgeous, and the added synths and strings help make it all the more beautiful.

"Getting Even" is another relatively fabulous track. (Did I just say "relatively fabulous"?) This one instantly reminded me of Depeche Mode, and this certainly isn't the first time I've compared White Lies to them. It has such a cool intro with chugging guitars and a memorable string line. But what captured me most was the vocal line and lyrics of the verses.

Even though White Lies isn't exactly the world's bubbliest band, there were some opportunities for this album to get corny, particularly with the chorus of "First Time Caller." Ultimately, I found it cute lyrically, but it does have a serious edge (for example: "I want you to love me more than I love you"). And let's face it, it takes a some talent to create such awesome lyrics to a song titled "Be Your Man." Both songs were enjoyable.

But some of the other tracks on Big TV were very likeable, though not necessarily enough for me to get into as much as I did with the tracks I previously mentioned. Don't think they're no good or too generic, because they're not. (That's the beauty of White Lies; one can never say anything completely negative about them.) "Heaven Wait" is a prime example. It's a dark song, and it's technically pretty and brings some nostalgia, but it doesn't have much of a wow factor.

"Tricky to Love," a suave mid-tempo track, and (for now) "Goldmine," the final song on Big TV, also fall into this mediocre category. Still, I must say that "Goldmine" does a sufficient job at wrapping up the album's theme, and I think it will grow on me with time. But overall, the only song I don't care for much at all is "Mother Tongue."

So, Big TV turned out to be a decent album. Once again, I can't find too much to complain about; White Lies is a special band that makes music that can be universally enjoyed. I must say that this album had a bit more of a mediocre feel than Ritual, but as I continue to stress, it's hard to find anything wrong with White Lies' music. Hence, Big TV is a pleasant album. It can be subtle, not filled with masterpieces, but never anything wretched or even dull. There are moments that seem out of this world, but there are also some so down to Earth. Sometimes, a listener will find his/herself in both places at the same time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A to Z Bookish Survey

So, Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner created this cute bookish survey! I can't say no to a bookish survey!

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From:
P.C. Cast. I've been keeping up with her House of Night series (which is really really long) plus I read one of her earlier books. However, once I read the rest of the Sailor Moon manga, I will have read more by Naoko Takeuchi (if manga counts for this question).

Best Sequel Ever:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a magnificent second book.

Currently Reading:
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It's unlike anything I've ever read so far.

Drink of Choice While Reading:
E-reader or Physical Book?
I like physical books better. There's just something nice about being able to feel and smell the pages and putting the book on your shelf when you're done.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School:
Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green... :'( But yeah. Definitely my type.

Glad You Gave this Book a Chance:
White Cat by Holly Black.

Hidden Gem Book:
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:
Oddly, the most important moment in my reading life is giving in and watching the Harry Potter movies. This led me to the books, and a fandom I will always be proud of being part of. It led me to the utter happiness I felt when I got to run to the bookstore when a new Potter book came out, looking at the dictionary-sized reservation list (which my name was part of, of course) in awe.

Just Finished:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Romances like Fifty Shades of Grey. I just can't.

Longest Book You’ve Read:
Under the Dome by Stephen King, which was 1072 pages.

Major Book Hangover Because of:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Must. Reread.

Number of Bookcases You Own:
Right now, I really just use one.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause. I really loved this one. The prose was pretty, the story was bleak but also kind of hopeful... It was a paranormal novel that flowed like a contemporary. I love that!

Preferred Place to Read:
On the couch or outside. I probably look like an idiot, though, because I usually just grab one of those long folding chair thingies and soak up some sun rays in the middle of my driveway.

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You All the Feels From a Book You’ve Read:
To be honest, there are a lot of those... But this one is really special: "we accept the love we think we deserve" - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Reading Regret:
...Do I have any regrets? Well, I'm feeling a bit left out because I haven't read Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series yet OR The Infernal Devices. It all sounds really interesting, but there's just so much stuff to read. Oh! And I also haven't read Looking for Alaska by John Green. Ridiculous, I know, but I'm working on it.

Series You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in series):
I seriously need to read the last of Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth books. Like, right now.

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books:
THREE? WHAT? Umm... The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte... To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. DON'T JUDGE ME FOR SUCKING AT PICKING FAVORITES. Look at my Critica's Picks page; all the favorites are listed there.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Sailor Moon. Forever.

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others:
The two Sailor Moon Short Stories books! I know that one of them will include the story selected for the Hearts in Ice movie back in the day, which features Luna a lot. (I really love Luna; I named my own kitty after her.)

Worst Bookish Habit:
I know a lot of people are germaphobic like me, but I kind of wish I could get out of the habit of buying all the books I want and just go to the library more often. Less money flying from my pocket.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.

Your Latest Book Purchase:
I got Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte on sale! Yay!

ZZZ-snatcher Book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky... I was all like "Well, I'll just read a little bit... Nah, this book is little. It's already elven thirty, but I can read the whole thing pretty quickly."

Monday, August 5, 2013

Classics: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Initially, I didn't have much desire to read Wuthering Heights, simply because I'd heard some conflicting things about it that made me believe it wasn't for me. But when I fell in love with Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, I decided I must try to read everything by her and her sisters in hopes of finding more beloved favorites. Now, having finished the book, I'm recalling all those things about Wuthering Heights I kept hearing (mainly discussions of the character Heathcliff) before finally reading it. I don't know if I can agree with anything I've heard, except for the strangeness of Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship, how it created such mass chaos, and how both characters seemed so flawed.

In the beginning of the novel, I liked Heathcliff; I felt sorry for him, a gypsy orphan whose adopted family would never really love or care about him, except Catherine. That was where my internal conflict with this novel began - Cathy. I didn't like her. I found her spoiled and ridiculous, and I didn't understand fully why Heathcliff could love her. Cathy's general personality aside, it must be because she loved him even though her whole family seemed to truly loathe him. Of course, if the two were to marry, Cathy's family would never approve, causing her to break her own heart. Did she ever realize that by betraying herself, a miserable domino effect would take place upon those around her?

It was at that point that I had to take a break from reading this book. I couldn't pity Cathy for her self-destruction, and I couldn't pity Heathcliff for loving someone so irritating. I needed time to figure out how to empathize with these characters, for that was my only chance at seeing the tragedy at hand as a tragedy. While I still can't say I'm a fan of Catherine, I've come to accept her, to feel sorry for what happened to her and those around her. Her choices were a form of self-destruction, but her self-destruction was tragic. It was easier for me to see this as I continued to read about how wretched Heathcliff had become as well as how her daughter of the same name was affected later on.

I must say, I liked Catherine's daughter better than her even though I could certainly see how they were related. I can say the same about Heathcliff and his son. Still, I felt sorry for both sets of people all the same. This love story is a mess; it seems as if no one wins. The abused can become abusers, a refuge can become a prison, the dead can haunt someone's heart until the end. Only Catherine's daughter can find happiness in the end, when those who have shaped her life so profoundly are gone.

One element I ended up really enjoying in this novel include Mr. Lockwood's perspective, especially at the very end of the book. Having an outsider look at this story made it all the more haunting for me; I kept rereading the last two pages. But, another element, the paranormal additives, also helped enforce this. Emily Brontë really knew how to craft a gothic tale filled with drama and dread; it was inevitable that I'd come around.

But it's strange; I don't exactly know where Wuthering Heights stands with me. When I rated it on Goodreads, I wasn't sure to give it four stars or five, especially when at some point while I was reading, I thought I'd give it three. In the end, I gave it four, but the more I think about it, the more I want to give it five. I don't know if it's because I had issues with Cathy so much at some point, or if it's just simply because while I can't necessarily say it's a favorite of mine, I can't really say that it isn't either. But it is without a doubt a very special piece of fiction, and it has put an odd feeling in my heart... I'm not really sure what it is, but somehow, I think it's what Lockwood must've been feeling when he saw the gravestones.