Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Days Difference, Ashlyne Huff, and Jordin Sparks in Dallas

Back in January, my friend Stephanie introduced me to a band called Days Difference. She had been tweeting about them for a while and I meant to ask her about them way back in probably September, but I never did. I’m glad that I finally started to listen to them when I did. I actually had tried to book them for an event that my sorority was having in April, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that booking never happened. I kept looking for tour dates near me that they were playing (Syracuse earlier this year, Dallas now) and finally saw that they were one of the opening bands for Jordin Sparks on her Battlefield Tour in Dallas, along with Ashlyne Huff. I had seen Ashlyne Huff on her last tour when she opened with Just Kait for Honor Society and was really excited to see her live again. I was never a huge fan of Jordin Sparks. Don’t get me wrong, she has an amazing voice and some great songs, but my interest for this concert was completely in Days Difference and Ashlyne Huff.


Days Difference is a four piece band from Virginia Beach, VA, made up of two sets of brothers. Jeremiah (guitar) and Micah (bass) Ricks and Jonathan (drums) and Jeremy (keyboard/vocals) Smith. They have been a band since 2004 and have opened for Selena Gomez, Paramore, Jack’s Mannequin and other bands since then. They opened their set with a lot of energy, with Radio Song. Although the crowd was small at the beginning of the show, they got everyone moving through the rest of their songs which included Speakers and Falling Into You as well as a few more songs. They seemed so happy up on stage and the only reason their set was lacking was because it ended so soon. I would have loved to see them play more songs and hold their comfort zone for a little while longer. They had great stage presence and energy and could only improve from last night’s show by working the stage just a little more. They worked the crowd very well and seemed to have a lot of fun. I spoke to some girls who were wearing Days Difference t shirts after the show. They told me that this was their first time hearing the band and that they were hooked. After Jordin Sparks’ set, they had a small meet and greet. They were very sweet, genuine guys who actually engaged in real conversation with you, which has been a change from some other meet and greets that I have recently attended. For their sakes, I hope that getting on the music and tour circuit does not change their demeanor as it has done to many other bands. Days Difference has released two albums: Numbers and Days Difference and released four singles since 2008. They just released their 5th single, Speakers, out to radio stations very recently.


For more Days Difference, check out their Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Channel.

Musiqtone will be interviewing Days Difference soon, so be sure to follow Musiqtone and Days Difference on their respective twitters to help suggest questions for the band and find out more updates straight from the band.





Ashlyne Huff, whose last tour that ended in May was with Just Kait and Honor Society sang a set that was close to her last set, but with a few fun extras. In addition to her single, Heart of Gold, she played other songs from her newly released album including Make It Rain and Trippin’ It Up. She sang an awesome cover of The Script’s Breakeven and slowed the set down just a little bit to sing which showcased her beautiful voice differently than her other songs. She also added more dancing to her set in general. I had seen some reviews of her shows from last tour that had called her out on not dancing enough since she had the background. She added dances to most of her songs and even did a cute routine in a fedora during one of her songs. Recently, Ashlyne held a YouTube countest where fans could send in videos of themselves doing the dance to Heart of Gold. Those in the audience who knew the dance started doing it along with her as she sang. She was just as bubbly and energetic as she was on the last tour, playing around on stage and getting into the music with her guitarist and bassist too. After Jordin’s set, Ashlyne also did a small meet and greet, where she also spoke to fans; she remembered me from when I met her on tour with Honor Society and was really sweet and genuine. We talked a little bit about what she had coming up (a tour with Camplified which goes to summer camps all over the US, which will be expanding even more in the next few summers). As I said before, it is always nice to talk to people who have not let their progress go to their head. I love that she is so grounded and down to earth, and that she is so comfortable with herself. All of that is reflected while she on stage, she always has fun, talks to the crowd and makes her whole show personable and a good time.


For more Ashlyne Huff, check out her Official Website, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Channel.





I had seen Jordin Sparks twice before; last year at two Jonas Brothers World Tour shows. I have always admired her for her attitude, spirit, and talent, and definitely respect her as an artist, but I never really got that into her. She has a phenomenal voice, and her songs showcase that in the best, most powerful way possible. She started her set off with Battlefield and then continued with other hits from her older and newer albums such as S.O.S (Let the Music Play), One Step At A Time, and Tattoo. She surprised us by doing a song from In The Heights, the Broadway show that she will be starring in from August until November. It was awesome to see her perform such a different type of song and still be just as strong as when she performs her own music. I really liked hearing songs of hers that I had not heard before. Her stage presence is crazy strong, and you can tell that she really feels her music and loves her fans. She closed the show with No Air and then introduced her band. Instead of just introducing them though, she let them showcase their awesome talents on their instruments. When she got to her back up singers, they all sang different renditions of No Air that showed off their absolutely amazing voices. Jordin closed that with her own special version of No Air in a funky reggae style which was awesome.


For more Jordin Sparks check out her Official Website, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Channel.





Both Ashlyne Huff and Days Difference will be touring again very soon after the Battlefield Tour, so be sure to keep an eye out for those dates. Jordin will be in New York on Broadway in the show The Heights, so be sure to check that out as well if you are in the area from August until November.


For more videos from this show and other shows, be sure to check out my youtube channel!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Music Mondays

So last week’s Music Monday post was pretty limited on releases and new things, but from this week on, I promise it will be fuller and more well rounded. I am also going to try to post CD previews or samples from youtube if I can find them, as well as places where you can buy the albums or singles if you would like to do that.


Here's Today's Smash Shuffle.

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Musiqtone has recently added a very in depth review of Boyce Avenue’s new album, All That We Have Left. They are on tour right now with Tamar Kaprelian, and from what I have heard, the show is phenomenal and not to be missed. Unfortunately I am missing it since I did not know they were playing in Dallas tomorrow night until after I bought tickets to another show (same venue) tomorrow night. I wish I could get into two shows for one ticket.

Their artist of the month is We Are The In Crowd (who released Guaranteed to Disagree last week). The band is currently touring with a ton of other awesome bands on Warped Tour. Check out Musiqtone’s You Gotta Know Interview with them here. Musiqtone has also recently blogged about a band called Jayme’s Reunion. Check it out here and see what this band is all about.

If you’ve got a moment, or want to see some of the newest music videos, head on over to The Count and vote for your favorite music video. Voting for June ends this Wednesday, June 30. If you’re an American Idol fan, Musiqtone’s artist of the month for August is all Idol. Be sure to head over to Musiqtone and vote for your favorite before voting ends.

Versa Emerge released their album Fixed at Zero last week.

You, Me, and Everyone We Know released their single, Some Things Don’t Wash Out.

Selena Gomez released Round and Round

Automatic Love Letter released Truth or Dare

Autotmorrow released their single, Martians (click on the title for a free download)

The Goodnight Fellows posted a new song, “Best In Me” on their Myspace

Anberlin posted a video for their song “We Owe This To Ourselves” (see twitter)



THIS WEEK

There for Tomorrow releases a music video for their song, Deathbed, Tuesday morning, 6AM EST on MTV2.

Justin Bieber and Usher release Somebody to Love (remix)

Iyaz releases his new EP, So Big

The Hives release their new EP, Tarred and Feathered

3OH!3 releases Streets of Gold. You can buy 4 more songs from the album on iTunes now and complete it at midnight.

A.R.E. Weapons release Darker Blue

Judy Collins releases Paradise

Delphic releases Alcolyte

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the Score will be released

Kenny G. releases Heart and Soul

Jimmy Webb releases Just Across the River

Andrei Rieu releases Forever Vienna

Lee Ritenour releases Lasting Theory

Diddy and Dirty Money release Last Train to Paris

Parkway Drive releases Deep Blue

My Chemical Romance releases The Midnight Curfew

The Morning Benders release Big Echo

Of Montreal releases The Past is a Grotesque Animal EP

Alejandro Escovedo releases Street Songs of Love

Dwele releases Wants World Women

Ernie Halter releases Franklin and Vermont

The Indigo Girls release Staring Down the Brilliant Dream (live)

Katzenjammer releases Le Pop

The Scissor Sisters release Night Work

Semi Precious Weapons releases You Love You

STS9 releases Axe the Cables

The Dream releases Love King

Three 6 Mafia release Laws of Power

Wolf Parade releases Epoque

On Tuesday, June 29, All Time Low will be on MTV’s Silent Library at 5PM EST. On Wednesday, June 30, Hey Monday and Stereo Skyline will be on MTV’s Silent Library at 5PM EST. Past episodes have featured We the Kings, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Justin Bieber. Upcoming episodes will feature Honor Society, Just Kait, Anarbor, and NeverShoutNever.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Martian Child




It is very uncommon for a person to always feel like they belong. The feeling of being alienated seems to be most common for pre teens and teenagers. Once a person hits college, they seem to find their fit, their friends, and their niche. Certain life events can magnify the feeling of alienation for anyone, old or young and in any life stage.

In Martian Child (Menno Meyjes, November 2007) starring John Cusack and Bobby Coleman, the story of intense alienation, rejection, and abandonment play out between a child and his adoptive father. Dennis (Bobby) is considered an outcast by everyone he meets; even those who worked at the orphanage that he lives at. He is stereotyped as the weird child as he has an aversion to the sun, plays in a box all day, and only wears long sleeved clothing. David (Cusack) is a single man, childless, and a science fiction writer-weird in his own right, but more acceptable in society. At first, David is hesitant to adopt Dennis, but sees some similarities between the two of them as children and ultimately decides upon adopting Dennis.

David and Dennis have a lot to adjust to as they get used to living with each other and becoming a family. At times, David feels like Dennis is too much of a responsibility to him which is compounded by Dennis's quirks and his belief that he is truly from a martian planet. Dennis has made up his own language, believes that he has special martian powers and takes things that will help him document his time on earth for when he goes "home". David has a hard time keeping Dennis in school and behaved due to these behaviors and practices that Dennis has developed in the past few years. There are very tense moments in this movie where Dennis's stubbornness brings David to a breaking point that begins to alienate Dennis even more. David begins to realize that Dennis's reasons behind acting in these ways is to help make up for his mother abandoning him when he was little. It is too difficult for Dennis to believe that his mother did not want him, so he led himself to believe that he was an alien dropped on this planet until his mother came back for him. David understood that to prove himself as a parent and a trustworthy figure to Dennis, he must support him, be patient with him, and stay with him. Dennis was deeply scarred by his past, so those moments that David becomes frustrated with him makes Dennis think that David too will leave him. David's journey in this movie is only possible with the help of Dennis. He develops into a father figure for Dennis as the two of them learn to work together and be a family. David grows attached to Dennis and vice versa, and this trust and love is what ultimately helps slowly pull Dennis out of his very intense thoughts about being from a martian planet. David accepts Dennis's free thinking and out of ordinary interests and supports those, which helps put Dennis into a comfort zone where eventually he will not need the comforting thoughts of being called back to his mother and planet.

This movie was so well done, so meaningful and so relatable. Every single person can remember at least one time where they felt alienated or out of the circle and like they did not belong. Maybe their experience was not as intense as Dennis's, but every one can relate to it. David's story is also relatable; a man who wants to be a father, but does not realize the tribulations that come with any child, biological or adoptive. It teaches patience, but also individuality. A person can find a group that they fit into who accepts them for their quirks and individuality; it takes time and different experiences, but that fit will come. If the acceptance is not there, it will either be developed or found somewhere else.

I really liked this movie. It was serious, but had lighter moments that did not detract from the flow and plot of the film. Cusack has never disappointed me in a film appearance yet and Coleman did a great job bringing his character of Dennis to life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nathan's Spicy Tilapia Recipe

A couple of months ago, I found this recipe on Dr. Oz's website (and also posted it on Becoming The You). I am always looking for fish recipes to try, so I decided to try this one. Mom and I are huge on spicy food and fish, so I sent this one to her so that we could try it while I was home on break during college. Instead of apple juice, we used cranberry juice, but left all of the other ingredients the same.


It didn't take too long to make and came out so well. It was delicious to eat the spinach with bites of the fish instead of eating them separately. If you don't like spicy, you can amp down the spices in this, and the dish will still taste just as good.



Nathan’s Spicy Tilapia Recipe


Ingredients

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

One or Two Frozen Tilapia Filets
Garlic Powder
Paprika
Ground Cayenne Pepper
Ground Black Pepper
Hot Sauce
Sliced Almonds
Apple Juice
Spinach
Lemon Slice


Directions
Thaw the filets in warm water and strain. Wash spinach and drain (or spin it out.) Warm a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and fish. Lightly dust the fish with garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Add a few dashes of the hot sauce to both fish and pan.

When the fish is cooked on one side (half way through the filet), flip it, add sliced almonds, and dust very lightly with powdered/ground spices again. Add enough apple juice to the pan (not fish) to get it simmering and reduce.

When fish is cooked though (flakey with fork), add it to a bed of fresh spinach and pour sauce over fish.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Mondays

Starting something new on here. Every Monday, I will post a random 5 song playlist called the "Smash Shuffle"...hopefully you will be able to find new songs, or new bands that you'd like to hear more of. I will also be linking some newly released albums and reviews and other news from MusiqTone. I hope yall enjoy this!

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If you are into American Idol, be sure to vote on MusiqTone's Artist of the Month poll (the month of August is the Battle of the Idols)

Lots of cool album reviews up in the Critic's Corner Section including Drake and Boyce Avenue.

Recent Album Releases:

We Are The In Crowd released Guaranteed to Disagree
Call The Cops released Call the Cops
Miley Cyrus released Can't Be Tamed
The Ready Set released I'm Alive I'm Dreaming
Eminem released Recovery
The Bright Life released Everybody Knows
Allstar Weekend released Suddenly
Struan Shields released Say It Soft, Say It Sweet

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Buffalo Grille




I am not much of a breakfast person at all-sweet breakfasts such as pancakes, crepes, waffles, or anything like that do nothing for me. I'm way too particular about eggs and cheese, and I won't touch bacon or sausages. The only place that I will go to for breakfast and actually eat breakfast is Buffalo Grille.

Buffalo Grille is a restaurant in Houston, Texas that has an amazing breakfast menu. Their dishes have a slight Mexican flair to them that makes these meals something that I will actually enjoy. Their eggs come out amazingly, and they have so much variety to choose from on the menu that anyone can find something that they enjoy. It is very rare that I will eat an omelette out, but I would not pass up their omelettes for anything.

Buffalo Grille is a favorite for many Houstonians for business breakfasts and brunches as well as casual meals with family and friends, and is also great for meals after church. Every time that I have gone, there has been a line out the door. You order your meal at a counter and have to pick it up; it's not a fancy sit down place, but it's such a great place to go. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food is great, the kitchen is quick, and the prices are reasonable.

Buffalo Grille is located at Buffalo Speedway & Bissonnet 3116 Bissonnet Houston, Texas 77005; reach this location at 713-661-FOOD(3663)...It is also located at Voss & Woodway 1301 S. Voss Road Houston, Texas 77057 and can be reached by calling 713-784-FOOD(3663)

Check them out online at their website. Whether you live in Houston or are just visiting, have a meal at Buffalo Grille-you won't be sorry!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beach House [Book Review]


I did not like the first book that I read by Jane Green, so when my mom handed me Beach House, I was a little bit skeptical about reading it. I actually put it off for a while before I decided to give the author another chance.

To my pleasant surprise, Beach House was a great book. It had a rich story with different twists and connections that built as the book went on. The story centers around Nan and her beach house. The characters in the book all begin as separate stories, but come together in interesting ways through out the story. The further that I got into the book, the harder it was to put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen and how everything related. The message was pretty clear though; being true to yourself is key.

The book was easy to read, and the characters were interesting, real, and relatable. I definitely recommend you pick this book up if you're looking for a relaxing but engaging vacation from reality.

Monday, June 14, 2010

London

The only thing that I wanted to do while i was in London was eat at this sushi restaurant that my parents had told me about. Sushi was served via conveyor belt and stickered according to price. Unfortunately, I never found out what this place was called until after we left London. I ate sushi at Harrods instead, but I still have yet to eat at Yo Sushi. London, I will be back.

My friends and I scheduled London and Paris for the same weekend at the end of our semester. Although we had a great time and got to see everything that we wanted to, this was not a good idea. Give yourself at least a weekend in each of these cities, just as you would for any other city.

For London, the best way to see everything is to ride one of those red tourbusses. Yes, you will look like a tourist, but it is the fastest and cheapest way to get everywhere that you want to get and see everything that you want to see. Be sure you go on the hop on hop off ones on the triangle line with speaking guides; no automated guides-they suck.

The tour bus will take you to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, as well as many other famous sites in London. You can also walk from place to place and find the busses at other stops as you explore. Harrods is awesome just to walk through; it's so crazy. It's a huge high end department store with a food court that looks like a real restaurant, a grocery store, and a gift shop. Definitely visit Harrods even if you cannot afford a thing inside of it.

Be sure to try fish and chips while you are there, and bangers and mash if you like that. Their pubs are fun, but going out at the Picadilly Circus can get expensive, especially if you want to go to the clubs.








Saturday, June 12, 2010

Exciting News!

I was approached by Jason from CSN Stores about doing reviews and/or giveaways on this blog. I said yes, and am very excited about this. I am not sure how many reviews and/or giveaways I will be doing, or how exactly to do more of them-get a hold of the companies, etc (so if anyone reading this does, help would be much appreciated). Anyway, I hope that yall are excited about this; I will still be doing my own reviews of things that I do, just like I have been doing already, but now there's some more fun added in with giveaways.

I would really appreciate it if when you read one of my blog entries, if you could click the retweet button that I added to my page on the top of the left side bar and help me spread the word about everything, especially if you liked what you read.

As for CSN Stores-they are hugely awesome. They sell almost everything and I had actually been checking them out for various things to decorate and furnish my apartment with. They literally have everything, including the bathroom sink. And shoes! They also sell shoes-literally everything though, so check them out if you're in need of..well..anything!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dying Hair really can be Nice n Easy

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Earlier this year, I finally got up the balls to dye my own hair, with dye out of a box. I wanted a change, and since I can't pierce anything else and am not planning on getting a visible tattoo. I figured that dying my hair was cheaper and if I screwed up, it was easily fixable. I asked some of my friends who had experience dying hair with the dye out of a box and my friend Kirstie suggested that I use Clairol's Nice n Easy.

My friend Kristen and I decided to make a night of it: a movie, some snacks, a little wine, and of course, dying my hair. Kristen had died her other friends' hair before, so she helped me dye mine. A few months later, following her visual instructions from watching her do my hair before (and the instructions that came in the box), I was able to dye my own hair, by myself without any problems.

I really liked that the dye was not as expensive as some other brands of hair dye. The dye was not too pungent and was very easy to mix. I also really loved that they included plastic gloves in the pack as well as a decent sized bottle of their after color conditioning treatment. I actually still use this once a week because it helps keep my color from fading too quickly. The color on the box was pretty true to the color that my hair ended up (I am a brunette, but I decided to go more auburn). Of course the dye will fade in the first week whether you use color safe shampoos and conditioners or not (I did), so my hair was a lot more red when I first died it to when the color finally settled. This dye seemed not to damage my hair as badly as I thought that dye would. My hair was just as soft and easily tamed as it always has been.

Coming from a first time self hair dyer, Clairol's Nice n Easy was definitely a great way to go.



Before

After

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wicked: a wickedly awesome look into Oz

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So many people are intimidated by books, especially thick books. I blame it on school; people got into the mentality that because we were told to read books for classes, that it wasn't cool to possibly enjoy those books, or to enjoy ready any books for that matter. It's really a shame because there are so many great books out there to read, long and short, thick or thin; it's all about the adventure.

I finally finished Wicked (by Gregory Maguire) a while ago, but am just now getting around to blogging about it. I absolutely loved this book. No, I have not seen the show, so I was able to set everything in my head the way that I wanted it. I loved the way that every instance that happened in The Wizard of Oz was substantiated, explained, and brought to life in another perspective.

In Wicked, we meet Elphaba (most commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West). We see her through childhood as a violent, mute child, only able to be calmed by a traveler named Turtle Heart. Although she is a made up character, she is easily related to as she has a sister (the Wicked Witch of the East) who we find out is their father's favorite, but is also missing her arms. The ruby slippers take on a whole new meaning once this is realized and they are presented. We see what really went on between Elphaba and Glinda; that they were friends first, and the falling out that occured between the two, and the rest of their friends after university.

There is so much more to the Wizard of Oz, and Wicked is a great prequel and extension to L. Frank Baum's books. Though Wicked came to be long after The Wizard of Oz was written, it provides an imaginative and captivating way to see more into the story and delve deeper into the characters that we only get a glimmer of in the movie. Reading L. Frank Baum's series and Wicked together can make for an awesome and more interesting look into the lives and land of Oz.