Edel Grace

Programmer, Developer, Enthusiast

Music

Learning the Guitar: Week 1

Feb 20, 2017 | Comments

I have been following Justin Guitar‘s lesson plans for learning the guitar.

This week I went through the first 15 beginner’s course lessons, BC-101 to BC-115. I learned the basics of choosing a guitar, posture, etc. In terms of actually playing, I learned the D chord, A chord, and E chord. The first two chords were incredibly “easy.” The chord that really stumped me was the E chord. I could not press down on the strings hard enough so that it didn’t sound muted. It got easier in the middle of the week because my fingers hurt less from pressing down on the strings so often.

The lesson I’m working on right now is trying to get the most chord changes in one minute. The idea is to aim for 30 changes in one minute. Speed is the main factor here and not so much how good it sounds.

Here are the results of my first two tries:

Chord Round 1 Round 2
D chord – A chord 17 changes 27 changes
D chord – E chord 21 changes 31 changes
E chord – A chord 26 changes 30 changes

The next couple of lessons will be more chords, I predict. I’m not quite sure. Hopefully I can stick to this for another week!

I Listened To: Electra Heart by Marina and the Diamonds

Jan 25, 2017 | Comments

Disclaimer: Lyrics relating to suicide is mentioned in this post.

Another disclaimer: I’m not good at writing reviews but I do like expressing my opinions. This is in no way a professional review but rather how I personally feel about this album.

I know Marina and the Diamonds’ album Electra Heart is one of her personally least favourite works but I like it a lot. Many people think Electra Heart represents an alter-ego but it’s rather a personality that Marina holds in disdain. I actually kinda love it. While some songs do resonate with my own personality, the overall theme of the corrupted American dream doesn’t coincide with my reality. But you have to admit that there are some catchy tunes on this album.

The album starts off with Bubblegum Bitch, which I was really apprehensive about at first. It turned out to be a really high energy song with a fun and catchy chorus. The guitar ripping througg the song really made it for me. It added a certain ironic feel that set the tone for the rest of the album.

The much loved Primadonna comes right after. It’s a little jarring to think about two different types of people as the topic one after the other (although, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive personalities). However, this was the song that got me sucked into Marina and the Diamonds. I hate to say it but Marina’s voice is perfect for capturing the entitled persona in this song and I fall all over it. Even though you know she doesn’t deserve anything good, you can’t help but give it to her.

Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of Lies. I like slower songs but I really hate that cheesy drum clap thing going on. It’s not you, Marina, it’s me.

Homewrecker is a favourite of mine. I love the image a stereotypical American woman casually destroying marriages. Okay, that sounded bad. I don’t condone that at all but I just find it amazing how well this song captures the stereotype. It’s so easy to picture this person in your head.

The next track on the album is another one of my favourites: Starring Role. While thinking about this song, I realized how self centered all the songs on the album are so far and this is no exception. This song speaks about being the number one in someone’s life and not willing to take second place. However, it’s not as selfish as it sounds and I can sympathize with it. I also can overlook the cheesy clapping because I get chills whenever Marina sings “The starring role.”

I will have to admit that I don’t have any strong feelings for The State of Dreaming. I like how it picks up during the chorus and they way Marina sings “My life is play” but in between those moments, it’s a little boring. Ultimately, it’s a song that I would skip sometimes.

Power and Control is true to its name and Marina’s voice just exudes the song’s theme. There’s something about that booming voice that portrays confidence that the song calls for; someone ambitious who wants to get as much as possible with as little work as possible.

A lot of people seem to like Teen Idle a lot but I think this is one of my least favourite tracks on the album. The teen angst is just too much for me. Much of this album is over the top and extravagant but I can’t seem to enjoy this. I find the song a little bit boring but I like the irony in how the line “feeling super, super, super (super!) suicidal” is executed in a cheery way. But this song doesn’t jive with me at all.

The slow songs continue with Valley of the Dolls. While this isn’t a super favourite, I don’t mind this song much. I like the chorus a lot and the lyrics are pretty relatable. In my opinion, this song speaks of donning multiple personalities but ultimately not knowing who you really are at the core. It’s a pretty dark and speaks of death. Death of another personality or the physical person, I’m not sure.

I understand that the album is essentially a concept album that is operatic and has a story arch in the fashion as Green Day’s American Idiot but it’s a little bit draining to have so many slow songs in a row. There are theories that this album’s second half indicated the dying of the Electra Heart persona. This is not to say that Hypocrates isn’t a good song but I prefer it when I’m not listening to the album as a whole. I really like the mellow guitar and and the twinkling strings and Marina’s voice taking a softer and less abrasive tone. This is another song that I don’t mind much but don’t like it enough to save it to my Spotify library.

The album finishes off with Fear and Loathing which marks the end of Electra Heart. I do not like this song much. However, I am impressed with Marina’s higher register even if I still prefer when she reaches those lower notes. Conceptually, it isn’t a bad way to end the album.

Overall, I drastically prefer the first half of the album. I like this album but it’s not one I’d go out of my way to buy but rather buy select songs off of it. The concept is interesting and Marina doesn’t play around when it comes to her lyrics. It’s pretty cohesive as a whole. I really admire Marina and I like how she is continually trying out different things. Let’s see where she goes next with her music!

Bought Some New Music!

Oct 9, 2016 | Comments

Lately I’ve been using Spotify a lot. I only ever use it when I’m at my computer. When I’m on the go, I turn to my trusty iPod classic. Since I use the free version of Spotify (now that I have a job, I can’t say that I’m a broke college student anymore but I can say that I’m still cheap), being able to choose what I listen to is a must and Spotify mobile doesn’t have that ability. The contrast between the songs on my iPod and Spotify is staggering.

On my iPod, I have a bunch of foreign artists, mainly Japanese and Korean with a side of Taiwanese. If you look at my Spotify, it’s mostly a bunch of really poppy Western mainstream music. I’ve discovered a lot of new artists through Spotify simply because the Japanese catalogues on Spotify is sparse and I value accurate tagging (English translations of song titles vs. the original Japanese characters on the back of a CD) too much to listen to some of the Japanese music that is on Spotify.

So it’s always a treat when I happen to get my hands on an iTunes gift card (remember, I said I’m cheap). Except it’s also hard trying to figure out what I want to buy with it because I can only choose the best. I only managed to squeeze out 9 songs from my $10 gift card but it’s like 35 minutes worth of music so $0.28 cents per minute? I actually have no idea if that’s a good amount or not.

On to what I bought!

  • E is For Estranged by Owen Pallett

    I didn’t discover Owen Pallett from Spotify (my ex introduced me to him) but I did discover this song on Spotify! Even though the storyline of the song doesn’t relate to me at all, I associate this song with myself as my name starts with E. There’s something incredibly nostalgic about this song with a dash of good old melancholy.

  • Icarus, Bint Elkhandaq, and Maghawir by Mashrou’ Leila

    When I used to be obsessed with TCGs, I was inspired for a couple of months to make a TCG of my own: an Asian music inspired TCG. Except I was determined to include Asian countries that weren’t just Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. On my search, I came across Lebanese based alternative band Mashrou’ Leila. They were more secular than I expected with songs covering topics such as homosexuality, clubbing, and politics but I mostly fell in love with their catchy tunes! Their latest album (which all three of these song are from) is a bit more on the poppy side but I honestly love the entire album so just picking a few songs to buy was difficult.

  • Let Me Go! feat. Sophie Hunger by Erik Truffaz 4tet

    I stumbled onto this song purely by chance, thanks to Mashrou’ Leila. The lead singer of Mashrou’ Leila performed a cover of this song from Erik Truffaz 4tet. I was enchanted by it and hurried to listen to the original. Hearing it being sung in English hit me hard. Sophie Hunger has a perfect voice for this song. It has a sense of longing to break free that she captures perfectly.

  • Paris is Burning and All My Stars Aligned by St. Vincent

    I had heard of St. Vincent before but wasn’t entirely sure what she was about. I think she came up on my Discover Weekly on Spotify one day and and according to my Last.fm, it was most likely Paris is Burning. The song was unbelievably quirky and I fell in love instantly. It took me a couple of months to listen to the rest of the Marry Me album and All My Stars Aligned was one of the songs that resonated with me. It was an obvious jab at people who turn to superstitions (astrology, palm reading, etc.) which I sometimes dabble in but I loved it so much. Also St. Vincent is an absolutely beautiful human being.

  • Human Sadness by Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

    This song I know for sure came up on my Discover Weekly on Spotify. I had been listening to some of Julian’s tracks from his solo album Phrazes for the Young for a bit up to that point. When I heard Human Sadness, it hit all the right buttons with me and I knew I had to know more about this Julian dude. Long 10 minute epic? Check. Grungy lo-fi vibe? Check. Cool guitar riffs? Check. Depressing song title? Check. Depressing song lyrics? Check. Although once I learned the lyrics, some of the impact the song had on me was a little reduced but there are some gems. “The moon’s a skull, I think it’s grinning” is one of them.

  • You Only live Once by The Strokes

    The original YOLO. Okay, when I found out Julian Casablancas was the lead singer of The Strokes, my mind was blown. I immediately dived in head first into their music after finding this out. Okay, I’m still on their first album and last EP but there is a lot to digest. I’m not going to lie, part of the reason why I love this song is because Julian is so damn beautiful in the music video. Something about this song makes me want to get up and dance, strangely enough. I also can’t resist singing along to this song. It’s so British rock that I would have totally thought they were British if I didn’t know any better.

Songs that I totally want to buy next time:

  • Cool by Gwen Stefani

    I went through a really weird and brief Gwen Stefani phase earlier in the year. I don’t know how it came about. I remember seeing this music video on Much Music and dismissing it as Gwen acting all sexy in a luxurious mansion but now what I get from it is that Gwen is gorgeous is a brunette. Okay, I did get more out of it. It’s actually quite a mature song when I think about it. It takes a lot to look back at a past relationship (that first love you thought that you would marry, at that) and fully accept that you’ve both moved on while still being close friends. I’m a bit of a romantic in that way, I guess.

  • Cruel by St. Vincent

    My love for this woman is neverending. The guitar solo isn’t long at all but it’s the highlight of the song, in my opinion. I love how St. Vincent tackles the subject of the unappreciated parental figure. Also, props to St. Vincent for using gender neutral language (she refers to this unappreciated person as “bodies” throughout the song).

  • Galaxy by LADIES’ CODE

    This song is sexy. I can’t say more about it, unfortunately, haha! This is a Korean girl group which I found on Spotify, which is a little rare for me. I like this song a lot.

  • Utada Hikaru’s new album!!!!!!!

    I was tempted to spend all $10 on this album but I decided against it as the songs I’ve listened to on the album I already own. I want a more concrete opinion of the album before I buy it. The teaser for the Shiina Ringo collaboration was so tempting. But I like making informed buying decisions. I know I won’t be disappointed since it’s Utada Hikaru, but still.

  • Unrequited Love by CAPSULE

    While on my latest trip to the Philippines, I listened to WAVE RUNNER multiple times on the plane there. A lot of people complain about how Western the album is. EDM and dubstep is horrible. Toshiko doesn’t sing much. Blah, blah, blah… I personally found the album to be pretty good. Honestly, I dismiss comments that complain of foreign music being “too Western.” In my mind it implies a weird exoticizing take on foreign music. Anyway, I really like this song, despite not being heavy into electronic music. Toshiko has great lines.

  • House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls by The Weekend

    The earlier works of The Weekend are intoxicating. Seriously, The Weekend’s super clean vocals mixed with the heavy beats make for songs that make you feel like you’re on a trip (is that how the kids say it nowadays). This song is just intoxicating in a seductive way.

  • Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds

    Marina is HOT. Her Electra Heart era reawakened my hidden feelings for Vanessa Hudgens (you can’t deny that Marina looks at least a little like Vanessa!). But yeah, there’s something really attractive about her Electra Heart persona. It’s a shame that she doesn’t view the era as a great period in her career because I love it. Primadonna is like a rich spoiled girl anthem and I can’t get enough of it.

  • Divers by Joanna Newsome

    ……………. I can’t believe I forgot about this song. Unfortunately, Joanna doesn’t have her music on Spotify so unless I’m on YouTube, I don’t listen to this song. Which is a great reason why I need this song! I think I’ve written about Divers before but I will reiterate once again that I am IN LOVE with Joanna. She’s extremely polarizing. You either kiss the earth she walks on or think her voice is like nails on chalkboard. This is a masterpiece and I love her. I totally regret not buying this now. Damn, how could I forget this song?

About

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My name is Edel Grace Altares. My programming interests include full stack development and back end development. My languages of choice are Python and Java. Outside of programming I enjoy crocheting, video games, cats, historical fiction, and reading.

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