Category Archives: Music

Throwback Thursday: Muse in Manchester

Usually, delicious food and breath-taking views are the main reasons I travel, but when I headed to the United Kingdom for the first time in the fall of 2010, it wasn’t either of those things that were calling my name. No, my first time setting foot in the northern city of Manchester was caused by my rampant, often obsessive love for the alternative rock band, Muse. Yes, I was that fangirl, the one who crossed an ocean to spend a single weekend in another country, only to pop back to America on Sunday to get home in time for the first class of the semester on Monday morning. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Muse in Manchester

Summer Sonic 2013 (Or, “The Top Reason I Hate Teenagers”)

It’s amazing how time has had the tendency to get away from me lately. Case in point: I meant to write this blogpost far earlier, considering its subject – the Summer Sonic music festival – occurred a month ago today. But for whatever reason, the days are flying by even more quickly than usual, and I can’t believe that it’s already well into September.

The reason for my August trip down to the tropics of Tokyo was Summer Sonic, an annual music festival that’s held dually in Tokyo (or technically, Chiba, a nearby city) and Osaka. I think of it as the Reading and Leeds of Japan, only much, much smaller. Basically the two-day festival trades lineups between the two cities. Whoever plays in Chiba on Saturday will play in Osaka on Sunday and vice versa. One of the reasons I’m really fond of Summer Sonic is because they tend to divide their artists pretty evenly according to style. Last year, for instance, one day’s lineup included Ke$ha, Rihanna, and a host of other pop acts. The following day boasted bands like Grouplove, The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand, Crystal Castles, and Sigur Rós. (Take a wild guess at which day I attended…) Continue reading Summer Sonic 2013 (Or, “The Top Reason I Hate Teenagers”)

On Loving Music I Can’t Understand

This post originally appeared here on March 28, 2013, as an editorial I wrote for Mind Equals Blown.


This year, May 20th and June 17th have been the biggest dates on my 2013 musical horizon. They’re the release dates for new albums from The National and Sigur Rós, respectively. Those two bands have the ability to evoke some pretty intense emotions from me. And they range from heartbreak (On one particularly gloomy Saturday morning, listening to “Runaway” from The National’s High Violet, caused me to break down into sobs for no particular reason while doing my dishes.) to total euphoria (To hell with the standard wedding march. If I ever get married, I will walk down the aisle to a Sigur Rós song. Nonnegotiable, future husband.). Here’s the big difference though: while The National’s lyrics really resonate with me, I can’t understand a word of a Sigur Rós song, because 99% of their discography isn’t sung in English. Continue reading On Loving Music I Can’t Understand

There’s No Such Thing as a Musical Guilty Pleasure

This post was originally written as an editorial for Mind Equals Blown. The original can be viewed here.

I will just come out and say it: I love Kelly Clarkson. Yes, the same Kelly Clarkson who was crowned the first winner of American Idol and has churned out radio-ready hits like “Since U Been Gone” and “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger).” Girl’s got an amazing set of pipes and the uncanny ability to write album after album of relatable kiss-offs that are a perfect blend of smug apathy and biting, pointed criticism. In the past, I’d have defended my obsession with Clarkson with an apologetic shrug and the following line: “She’s my guilty pleasure.” Continue reading There’s No Such Thing as a Musical Guilty Pleasure

8 Tips to Surviving Concerts in Japan

This post also appears over on Mind Equals Blown. When I posted the piece I wrote about music and relationships, I’d mentioned that I would hopefully get to write for MEB more in the future. I’m pretty stoked to announce that they asked me join their staff as a bi-weekly columnist, so that hope is now firmly grounded in reality.  Hurrah for that!


When I first moved to Japan, one of my major concerns, right after figuring out how to buy stamps at the post office and how to order extra pickled ginger with my sushi, was getting to shows. I am absolutely that kind of person who saves their concert tickets for years (and frames them too, for the favorites bands), gets rib bruises from hanging over the barrier, and coaxes setlists from the guys behind the soundboards. And I was worried that when I shipped off to rural northern Japan, those opportunities would disappear, that, for whatever reason, I wouldn’t be getting to any shows at all. Continue reading 8 Tips to Surviving Concerts in Japan

Music, Relationships, and Why I Hate Mixing the Two

Fair warning: this post has nothing to do with Japan, travelling, or my geek interests, and it definitely veers off into sentimental territory. That being said, it’s a piece of writing of which I am very, very proud. It also appears over at — I highly suggest you go over and check it out there, as the editor put together a graphic that pairs perfectly with the piece. Once upon a time, I used to write about music (actual reviews) quite frequently, and hopefully I’ll get to write for Mind Equals Blown more in the future.


For some people, they know that they’re in deep with another person when they want to give them a key to their apartment. Others know it when they’re ready to take home their significant other to their parents. For me, I know I’m falling for someone when I want to start sharing music. For me, the red flag is the melding of our music libraries.

I’m a big believer in the mixed tape/CD tradition as a medium of communication, even if it’s outdated. High Fidelity’s Rob had it right when he said, “To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again.” Continue reading Music, Relationships, and Why I Hate Mixing the Two

An American Fangirl in Tokyo (Or, I Am Still Crazy About Muse)

As happy as I was to gallivant around Tokyo for a few days, my entire reason for being there was simple: Muse. I’m not at all shy about my fanaticism for Muse. The first time I saw them was November 16, 2009 at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. The night before tickets went on sale, I had probably gone through practice runs on the German ticketing site a half dozen times. Tickets would go on sale at 9 a.m. local time, which meant I had to be wide-awake at 3 a.m. so I wouldn’t be relegated to the nosebleed section (or whatever the German equivalent was). At approximately 3:02 a.m., I was jumping around and dancing like a lunatic because I’d gotten fourth row seats. Continue reading An American Fangirl in Tokyo (Or, I Am Still Crazy About Muse)

“The 2nd Law,” Track-by-Track

For the past seven years, my musical universe has been largely dominated by one band: Muse. If you know me at all, you’re probably aware of this. The album artwork from Absolution is emblazoned in ink on my foot, I’ve sat hunched over a computer at three a.m. while waiting for tickets to go on sale, and I have flown and driven literally thousands of miles for them. Continue reading “The 2nd Law,” Track-by-Track