10 albums that shaped me 

As an adolescent, when music truly started to come into my sphere of knowing, I was lucky to have young parents with excellent and profoundly varied music taste. Listening to music with them in the car or at home wasn’t just background noise or the radio, it was an experience. I made off with many of their cassette tapes and later CDs for my own private listening. Their music formed the foundation not only of what I would then seek out for myself, my openness to new sounds, but it also formed who I was.

Music has changed my life, has saved my life. It can turn a shitty day or shitty mood on a dime if you’re open to it. I got the idea for this post last year during the pandemic, when people were tagging each other to share one of their top 10 albums in a post each day for 10 days. I got distracted after day two or three and stopped posting, but I really like the idea of 10 albums that shaped you, ones that you’d choose without hesitation if you were stuck on a deserted island. 

Some of the albums I’ve included in my list have been in regular rotation since I was 14. Some are more recent discoveries. I was also that person who had the car sun visor CD holder until I sold my car in 2019. Some of these were fixtures there. Some are records that I’ve inherited. I’m not a record hoarder and I’ve moved around a lot, so the 50 or so LPs I have that are still around are solid to me. I love albums that are interesting, nuanced, tell stories, and are solid from top to bottom.

I’ve become such a playlist person, especially when I started using Spotify in 2011. I’m also huge on discovering B-sides and non-radio hits. They can totally change your opinion of a band, smash preconceived notions. As we move more and more into curated playlists, whether homespun, or served to you by algorithms or friends, the value of the album as an art form seems further and further in the rearview. My way of preserving a bit of that is by sharing my top 10 albums here, in order from newest to oldest. I hope you enjoy, and even more importantly, I hope you listen.

Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear (2019)

cult of luna, a dawn to fear, a dawn to fear album cover

I found out about this band when I was cruising Instagram. One of the publications I follow (maybe MetalSucks?) posted the Best Metal Albums of 2019 and there were tons of angry comments that this album wasn’t included on the list. So on my 90-minute commute to work one day, I listened to the entire 80 minutes and it fucked me up in such a good way. It was wintertime, so I blasted it on my bus ride home with my noise-cancelling headphones and remember watching the moon rise and having my heart wrenched out of my body by the lilting guitar and steady, driving, somber basslines. This is an album that takes its time and builds up, like any masterpiece should. It also changed how I listened to metal, and reintroduced me to the whole subgenre of post-metal.

I also was lucky enough to see Cult of Luna at Slim’s on March 9, 2020. It was one of the last shows at the venue before it closed for good and my last concert before San Francisco closed down completely for shelter-in-place.

Listen on: Spotify | YouTube
Listen for: Lights on the Hill, The Fall 

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

Kendrick Lamar, good kid Maad city album

Hip hop and rap music played a big part of my high school upbringing. But even more than any of the artists or albums I blasted in those days, I always come back to Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city as the best hip hop album of my generation. People who aren’t fans of hip hop often complain that rappers are always just bragging about cars, clothes, women, whatever. And sure, there’s a lot of that out there, but this album turns that notion on its head. I’m a sucker for a good coming of age story and this album delivers, it’s filled with stories of young love, gang violence and death, and salvation. All told with Kendrick’s poetic verses and fresh, interesting beats — he’s sampled Beach House, Bill Withers, Janet Jackson and more. good kid, m.A.A.d city won a flurry of awards when it came out, but it’s also worth noting that Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album DAMN. DAMN is right.

Listen on: Spotify | YouTube
Listen for: Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, Swimming Pools (Drank), Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst

Continue reading “10 albums that shaped me “

The Paper Route


There was a point when I was in elementary school that my mom was pretty much my best friend. When I first started school and she still had her paper route she would sometimes let me stay home sick so we could play hooky. We’d get McDonald’s for lunch and rent movies like Splash from Blockbuster. We’d laugh and joke. Probably make fun of things as we were wont to do. There’s a scene from the movie “Say Anything” when Diane Court’s father is trying to figure out what’s going on with her and he implores her, “You know you can say anything to me.” That’s how it was with my parents, I could say anything to them. 

I remember once I got old enough to start going out with friends and start making big girl mistakes they sat me down and told me: No matter what you do, what happens in your life whether you kill someone, get pregnant, rob a bank, anything. We will help you. I never forgot that.

Trailer Haven

When I was really little, before I started school, mom worked a paper route and many times I would go with her. She would wake me up at three in the morning, make us each a cherry Pop-Tart wrapped in a napkin and a little glass of milk for the road. We would drive out to a bank where all the paper deliverers met and rolled their papers for the morning. Then we would drive through the Trailer Haven trailer park while it was still pitch dark and mom would cruise through the lanes and whip the papers out the window of her Toyota while she played Fleetwood Mac. Continue reading “The Paper Route”

Savannah Record and ‘Zine Fair

Savannah, vinyl, record fair, 'zine, zine

I’m really excited about the 2010 Savannah Record and ‘Zine Fair on Saturday April 10. It will be held at River Club from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. I went to the one last October and had a blast. I met some really cool people and bought some awesome records for cheap. Here’s the article I wrote on the ‘Zine Fair:

Vinyl, Mustaches, and Sean Connery at the 2009 Savannah Record and ‘Zine Fair

By Sarah

SCAD students and Savannah residents flocked to the Savannah Record and ‘Zine Fair on Saturday October 24, 2009 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Oglethorpe House ballroom to browse the record and CD collections and to purchase ‘zines. The vendors at the fair included:

  • District
  • SCAD Radio
  • Loose Lucy’s
  • Cat’s Music and DVDs from Charleston
  • Jesse Lockman
  • Mustache Magazine
  • many other ‘zine self-publishers

Both doors to the ballroom were open and the cool, wet breeze was wafting through the ballroom. Filled with hipsters, sequential students, tattooed people, and average Joes, the room vibrated with the sounds of SCAD Radio broadcasting live.

Is vinyl really better?

“I love vinyl,” said Galen Hudson, district manager of Cat’s Music and DVDs. “I’ve always been a vinyl fanatic. I prefer vinyl to CDs and I definitely prefer it to mp3. The sound can’t be beat. The experience is better.”

Many vinyl enthusiasts maintain that the analog format of music is superior to digital because it provides a richer, warmer tone. Higher frequencies, such as vocals and cymbals, tend to sound thin and harsh on digital, while they sound more natural on vinyl.

Mustache Magazine

Olivia Accardo, a film major, and her roommate Genevieve Chasty, a photography major, are both first-year SCAD students from Hopatcong, N.J. They, along with Natalie Cutitta, a student at the University of New Jersey, self-publish Mustache Magazine, a zine devoted to underground music in New Jersey. They plan to focus the next edition of Mustache Magazine on the Savannah music scene.

Sean Connery’s out of T.P.

“The Everyday Sean Connery” is a zine published by Graham Abbott and Hannah Gregus, who are both fourth-year illustration majors. Abbott is from Buffalo, N.Y. and Gregus is from Charlotte, Mich. The first page of the zine shows Connery saying, “Wier aout of tchoilet peipa!” “He’s just one of us and, you know, he runs out of toilet paper too,” said Abbott.

Mustache Magazine
Genevieve Chasty (left) and Olivia Accardo (right) holding up editions of Mustache Magazine.

The Life: Spring Break 2010

After the extreme fun and excitement of deleting my Myspace account, I decided to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Florida weather. Although the days were warm, the nights were a bit chilly and I was kicking myself for only bringing a light sweater to protect me from the 58 degree frozen tundra.

My Spring break went a little something like this:

Thursday 3/11/10: Juarez $2 happy hour margaritas, dancing, writers’ party, Congress St., closed down the Jinx, and a warm shot of well whiskey that resulted in a quick puke. Off to a good start.

Frozen Margaritas, tequila, watermelon
Pay no mind to the watermelon.

Friday 3/12/10: Drive home to Melbourne, FL.

Sunday 3/14/10: Margaritas by the pool.

pool, Florida, palm tree, palm trees

Tuesday 3/16/10: Surf day. Oz and Dave decided to paddle out.

surf boards, surf, wax, sex wax, long board

surfing, surf, Melbourne Beach, Florida

I stayed behind to catch some sun. Unfortunately the clouds came out and the wind picked up, so I shivered for the entire hour. While I was shivering, a pelican landed about eight feet away from me.


So that was pretty cool.

Friday 3/19/10: Badfish concert, House of Blues in Orlando. Badfish is a Sublime tribute band. If you close your eyes while they’re playing, it almost sounds like Bradley Nowell is up on stage singing his heart out. What an awesome experience.

Near the end of the concert, the lead singer, Pat Downes, walked off the stage. Just when everyone was like what the fuck, Downes rolled on stage in this contraption:

I found out later that it’s called a Zorb. If you have $1300 lying around and would like to purchase me one, that would be fantastic.

Saturday 3/20/10: Oz, his cousin Terry and I headed to down Jupiter, FL (about an hour south of Melbourne) where Terry lives. For the next couple of days it was fish city.

puffer fish, Jupiter

First catch of the day: Oz caught a little puffer fish. It was cool because you could hear the fish make little sucking sounds while he puffed up to ward off the predators (us).

Red Snapper

Second catch: Terry and his beautiful red snapper.

sting ray

sting ray

Shortly after, Oz reeled in a little sting ray. The ray was pissed and was whipping that tail around left and right. [Insert Steve Irwin joke here.] To unhook him, we had to pin his barb down with a broom. He was happy to be back in the water after that ordeal.

The next day, I caught what the boys thought was a perch. I really have no idea what it was but it was fun to catch.

*     *     *

I hope you enjoyed my adventures. It’s sad to think that now that I’m graduating college I’ll never have another Spring break again!

What I’m listening to

As I was listening to my Simon and Garfunkel radio station on Pandora, I came across a song by Paul Simon called “Peace like a river,” and it struck a chord within me. The sad, conflicted, lilting guitar combined with the interesting lyrics are captivating.  It’s a sharp contrast to Paul’s normally happy, upbeat songs. I think that’s why I like it so much.

“Ah, peace like a river ran through the city
Long past the midnight curfew
We sat starry-eyed
Ooh, oh,we were satisfied
O-o-oh, And I remember
Misinformation followed us like a plague
Nobody knew from time to time
If the plans were changed
Oh, oh, oh, if the plans were changed.

You can beat us with wires
You can beat us with chains
You can run out your rules
But you know you can’t outrun the history train
I seen a glorious day, aiee——

Ah, four in the morning
I woke up from out of my dreams
Nowhere to go but back to sleep
But I’m reconciled
Oh, oh, oh, I’m going to be up for a while
Oh, oh, oh, I’m going to be up for a while

Oh, oh, oh, I’m going to be up for a while.”

If you’re in a music rut or just want to listen to something classic, I really recommend the Simon and Garfunkel radio station on Pandora. It features music from Paul Simon, James Taylor, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and many more.

What I’m listening to

I’ve been working on this painting of my aunt and her fiance Barry for about four months now. Their wedding is on November 1, and I need to have it done by at least mid-October for it to be dry enough to mail to Baltimore in time. So I’ve been painting here and there (photos to come) and what’s been helping me the most is this 65 song playlist that I’ve made on iTunes. It’s full of wonderful crooning and slow, repetitive, intense guitar. It makes me happy, so I’ve decided to share some of it with you:

Shadow on the sun – Audioslave

Overkill (Acoustic version) – Colin Hay

Colorblind – The Counting Crows

Summer’s almost gone – The Doors

Box of rain – The Grateful Dead

Hurt – Johnny Cash

Thirteen – Danzig

3 Libras – A Perfect Circle

Speak to me – Pink Floyd

To be alone with you – Sufjan Stevens

I love talking about music. Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re listening to.