Recommended

Hokey Cokey with the Opposite Sex

THE VIDEO FOR “FOUR OUT OF FIVE”

Like any Arctic Monkeys fan, the announcement of the band’s latest and freshest album couldn’t have come soon enough. It’s been five years since AM, the album that made them so popular that you couldn’t visit an Aritizia without hearing a song from it, and I was jonesing for something new. I didn't know what to expect--I knew I wanted something different from AM, which felt a little too much like pop--but I was so pleasantly amused by the title, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino that as soon as it popped up on my Spotify on the day of its release, I listened to it, despite the fact that I had been just about to go to sleep.

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino has been both a surprise and a comfort. Upon first listen, I didn’t feel the same excitement that I’ve felt for other long-awaited music releases, (like Lorde’s Melodrama) but I didn’t completely dismiss it either. And although I couldn’t say that I loved it just yet, I found myself constantly putting it on, curious to discover all the creases and pockets of it all. It wasn’t until I listened to it with headphones, actually listened to it, not just played it in the background, that I began to connect with it. I think what had kept me curious was that, especially lyrically, the music felt like a throwback to their early music. I feel like Alex Turner's penchant for slightly kooky yet smart lyrics that could easily fit into a short story collection was a major part of why I ever fell in love with the band in the first place. A bit of that kookiness was lost with AM, made a brief appearance on The Last Shadow Puppet's most recent album (I still love the lyric: "It's love like a tongue in the nostril"), and has exploded on Tranquility Base. I can’t help but think about the poignancy of lyrics like “I launch my fragrance called “Integrity”/I sell the fact that I can’t be bought” (Batphone) and “The leader of the free world/Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks” (Golden Trunks), or one of my favourites: "Love came in a bottle with a twist-off cap" (Star Treatment).

There's been a lot of chat about how much this album, more than any others, has a really strong narrative. Alex Turner told Zane Lowe that he sees it to be like a collection of short stories. And the world that's built throughout the record is very clear and defined, that I feel like I'm a part of it. But apart from it's narrative brilliance, this album also feels like a very poignant commentary on the state of our world today. While not overtly political, it's hard to miss the concern about the way the world has changed, and the way it continues to change. The futuristic theme of the album feels like a sort of warning--we can look to the future all we want but it doesn't really change anything that's going on right now. Listening to the songs on tis album, I can't help but think about consumerism and gentrification, what it means to sell-out, and what the future of our world actually looks like. It makes me think about what it would mean to throw away our smartphones, and if any of us actually want to do it or if it feels good and smart to say it. Just like it used to feel good and smart to say that we would never be sell-outs.

Tranquility Base is the kind of album that you can't help but think about all the time, the kind of album that you're constantly making discoveries about. It makes a mark, one that can’t be easily washed off. It this amazing combination of art and storytelling and social commentary. It's the perfect "comeback album", and despite my initial reservations, I can confidently say: I love it. 

February Faves

February was a sort of difficult for me--I felt really untethered and lost, and desperately wanted to drop everything in my life and lay in a bed made of pizza. In an effort to break through the fog, I focused on evaluating what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I had to reevaluate all the things I’ve come to accept as unchangeable. In addition to the conversations I had with myself, I also had a few conversations with people I trusted to be straight with me and who understood what I was going through. 

Here are some of the things that got me thinking this month, that intrigued me, and made me feel that I'm capable of creating my life.

Watch

Mary in Lonely Swim by Greta van der Star (ANYONEGIRL)

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise/Maya Angelou (Netflix)
It doesn't need to be said: Maya Angelou was a phenomenal force of nature. She's always been an inspiration to me, as a writer and as a black woman but there was so much about her I didn't know! This documentary shows how much she loved and was loved, her commitment to activisim and her bravery and resilience. I've been recommending it to everybody. 

Browse

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I'm always looking for book recommendations (even when I still have lots to finish) and Girls at the Library not only provides a cornucopia of book recs but they're also paired with great interviews with amazing women who discuss the importance of books in their lives.

Read

“Let me teach you what the world thinks about us, and let me teach you what we’ve seen the world do to girls who look like us. And let me teach you why they’re wrong.” 
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding #MeToo and from the think pieces to the opinion essays to the open letters, it can get overwhelming. This Guardian profile on Tarana Burke, the founder of Me Too, was one of the best things I’ve consumed on the topic. Burke gets back to the foundation of the movement, what she started it for and what she thinks is the benefit of it. She also recognizes the sensationalization of the movement and how that can divert from the purpose and importance of the movement.

 Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

"Sexual violence may not be eliminated by a more nuanced and open conversation around consent, power and pleasure, but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t critically important". 
The Conversation I Wish We’d Had After Aziz Ansari

 

Listen

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the New Yorker Festival

Oprah's Super Soul Conversations. This has easily become one of my favourite podcasts, not only for the openness of the guests but for their certainty and their optimism. The interviews with Paulo Coelho, Gretchen Rubin, and Maya Angelou are my favourites.  

My February playlist! I usually make a monthly playlist and listen to it (almost) every day. February was particularly moody with lots of Angel Olsen, Lana del Rey and a track from Mitski.

What I was reading, watching and listening to in January

 

January Favourites

READING

 Naomi Shimada is one of the most inspiring people I follow on Instagram and I was even more inspired after reading  this feature on Refinery29 UK , where she talks about her favourite books and her relationship with learning 

Naomi Shimada is one of the most inspiring people I follow on Instagram and I was even more inspired after reading this feature on Refinery29 UK, where she talks about her favourite books and her relationship with learning 

Each time I pull my turtleneck’s tight tube of fabric over my head, I’m reminded of its essential appeal: its ability to protect, both metaphorically and materially.
— Kelsey Mckinney

Kelsey Mckinney wrote about the history of turtlenecks, their association with power and creativity, and their comfort as security

Durga Chew Bose wrote beautifully and elegantly about Call Me By Your Name and I read the whole thing with a stupid grin on my face

I've always been a big fan of Nora Ephron, but after watching Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally for the first time this holiday season, my adoration grew. Her interview in 2012 with Believer just proves why her influence is everlasting. 

RookieMag's Editor's Letter: Utopia. IF YOU READ ANYTHING THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR, LET IT BE THIS. 

WATCHING

Mindhunter on Netflix. I'm not really a big fan of murder crime mystery kind of things, but I watched this (relatively) new show in about a week. It provides an intriguing look into how the FBI came to understand serial killers as we know them now, and profiles a few (dare I say) iconic serial killers of our time. Jonathan Groff is amazing in it and I can't wait for the second season.

grown-ish. I never did watch black-ish but I love Yara Shahidi and her Instagram always gives me a laugh, so I thought I would check grown-ish out. I love it. I anticipate every episode, which is the perfect blend of hilarious and relatable. Also there are SO MANY attractive men. Like so many. 

LISTENING

The New Yorker Radio Hour: “Deportation in America”. It's disappointing that immigrants constantly have to prove that they are worthy of living in the countries they immigrate to. Unfortunately that's the world we live in. This episode of TNYRH was a really powerful listen and demonstrates the resilience, the bravery and the power of the people that are often dehumanized. 

This is: Angel Olsen. I definitely associate Angel Olsen with being creative and so I've been playing her a lot, especially when I'm writing in my journal in the mornings.

WEARING: Le Labo’s Vanille 44

Vanille.jpg

I got this as a birthday gift when I was in Paris and I've worn it everyday since. The smell is the perfect blend of sweet vanilla and crushed black pepper, and it always reminds me of Paris. 

My Favourite Podcasts

Whenever I'm in need of comfort, I turn to a podcast. Whether I'm feeling panicky, exhausted or am just in need of some inspiration, my podcast app gets a pretty good workout. Even better, they're quite informative and therefore are the best party trick known to mankind. I couldn't tell you the number of conversations I've had that started with "I was listening to a podcast that was saying..." 

I feel like it was only a few years ago that podcasts were still a rarity. Even when Serial first came out and it seemed like everyone was listening to it, there weren't podcast networks and people didn’t bond over their favourite podcasts. But with the magic of the Internet and many desperately seeking fresh content, podcasts blew up in a major way. Now it's like everyone has them, from YouTube stars to big name fashion mags. With so many options, it's easy to get overwhelmed. It took me a while to accept the fact that I wasn't going to listen to every podcast someone deemed "interesting" or that had one good episode. Over time, I've really honed it down to a select few that I particularly enjoying listening to and that I get excited to download new episodes for. Here are a few that I enjoy. 

Thirst Aid Kit (Buzzfeed)

 Source:  Thirst Aid Kit

Hosted by: Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins
The pod I listen to when I need a good laugh. Hosts Bim and Nichole discuss lust, pop culture and the intersection between the two. From Zaddies to Basic Baes, there's a lust type for everyone. I've actually fallen in lust with various celebrities, including Keanu Reeves, just from listening to Bim and Nichole talk about them. My favourite segment of the show is when they share fanfic drabbles they've written because they're always wild, sexy, and hilarious. 

Girlboss Radio
Hosted by: Sophia Amoruso
On Girlboss Radio, Nasty Gal and Girlboss Media founder Sophia Amoruso talks to women from across many professional fields--sports, music, health--about how they got into their current careers, what they've learnt and what they're still learning. It's really inspiring to hear about these women's various paths and realize that there is no one formulation for success. 

The High Low

 Source:  Pandora Sykes

Hosted by: Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton
Inspired by former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown's term "high-low journalism", this podcast covers a range of topics from the latest viral short story to corporate egg-freezing in Australia. Dolly and Pandora are always insightful and listening to the podcast challenges me to think deeply about the news I'm consuming, even if it is just about the latest antics of a KarJenner. 

Shonda Rhime's on Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations (OWN)

Hosted by: Oprah
This is the only episode of SuperSoul Conversations that I've listened to but it was amazing, so I have to share. The things that Shonda Rhimes has achieved and her ability to create characters that we can't help but fall in love with, is so inspiring. Combined with Oprah's naturally motivational spirit, this episode is truly food for the soul. 

Fresh Air (NPR)
Hosted by: Terry Gross
Listening to Fresh Air is a bit nostalgic for me because growing up my dad refused to change the car radio from NPR. While it could be super annoying (I just wanted to listen to Top 40 goddamit!), I eventually came to fall in love with it and hearing Terry Gross' soothing voice will always remind me of driving in my dad's old car. Terry's interview style is inimitable and her excitement about every topic she's discussing gets me excited as well.