amo.says

my life in my words


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MFEO—Pt. 1 Made For Each Other

Maybe we were made, we were made for each other.
Ahh, is it possible for the world to look this way forever?

This past weekend was packed with lots of dancing, singing, and excitement! Months ago I got an e-mail from my one of favorite bands, Jack’s Mannequin, that listed tour dates for the fall/winter. When I saw that Seattle was on the list, I did a happy dance and set a reminder to buy my ticket the moment they went on sale. I had seen them down in San Antonio over the summer, but the new album hadn’t been released yet and I only got to hear a couple of songs off of it. Now I was going to get to hear MORE songs from the new Jack’s Mannequin album, PEOPLE AND THINGS, and I was beyond excited! Ever since I heard teaser clips and some pre-releases, it’s impressed me. It really reaches into a spot that few artists are willing to go—the more in-depth reality of love, relationships, and everyday life. So many songs on the top 40 charts are about puppy love, getting dumped by a cheating loser, or drinking shots of Patrón in da club. The lead singer, Andrew McMahon, along with a couple of other great writers, took a fresh approach and created an album that is full of honesty, poetry, and killer hooks. I listen to the entire album at least 2x every day, including the bonus tracks: TEN DAYS GONE, DANCING WITH A GUN, BROKEN BIRD, KEEP RISING, OUT OF IT, LOCKED DOORS, and (in my opinion, the sweetest of the bonus tracks) NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. The words that Andrew writes speak to me as I move through each day and the power jammin’ that the other band members, guitarist Bobby “Raw” Anderson,  bassist Mikey “The Kid” Wagner, and drummer Jay McMillan, add in makes my heart go pitter-pat. If you’re looking for a good track to start off with, I’d recommend RELEASE ME—it’s one of my favorites!

Thanks to an awesome opportunity from the Jack’s Mannequin promotion team, I was able to score an extra ticket to the show for hanging up posters all over the city!

With my extra ticket to the show, my friend Alyssa was able to join me for the evening. The cool thing was that her friend, Chloe, was going to the show too, but didn’t have anyone to go with. So we all met up early at the venue and hung out before dancing the night away in the second row. The show was nothing short of amazing! Even though it was 2 days before Halloween, both the opening act, Lady Danville, and Jack’s Mannequin came out in costume and the crowd went wild with each grand entrance.

Lady Danville at the Showbox SODO

Where's Lady Danville?

The opening act was Lady Danville, one of my recent faves after seeing them open for Jack’s in San Antonio earlier this summer. Their harmonies are impeccable and their onstage quips make you feel like they’re sitting in your living room hanging out and playing some great music! Each of the guys, Michael Garner, Daniel Chang, and Matt Frankel came onstage dressed as Waldo from the popular Where’s Waldo book series and they kept the fun rolling all through their set. One of the highlights from their set is when they all gather front and center for their fun, harmonica-infused, folk tune, I WANT YOU BACK:

These guys may still be considered “up-and-coming,” but they’re coming up quick and they’re coming up strong! Don’t believe me? Check out their EP and their cover of KIDS by MGMT!

Lenka at Showbox SODO

The next artist on the bill was Lenka. You should know that she was already facing some pretty intense scrutiny from the fans, since she was replacing The Academy Is… on the PEOPLE AND THINGS tour that night, but totally held her own despite it. A few weeks before the show at the Showbox SODO, The Academy Is… announced that they were breaking up. Having TAI… on the bill made this show any Jack’s fan’s dream come true. However, the breakup left a slot to be filled, and lucky for me, it was filled by an artist I know and love! I’ve loved her sound ever since I heard her songs, THE SHOW and TROUBLE IS A FRIEND. She’s indie-pop cuteness with a little bit of sass and brings such a fun attitude to the stage. It was really cool to see her dancing onstage, in wedges, 5 MONTHS PREGNANT! I mean, she seemed fearless and girl got down! It was a real treat to hear songs off of her new album, TWO, that I’d been hoping to hear: ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES and EVERYTHING’S OKAY. She brought the crowd together as we chanted, “I want my money back!” while waving our hands back and forth during her performance of THE SHOW. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about her set time was the ridiculous drunk guy in the 3rd row that kept shouting, “You’re hot!” at her. We just rolled our eyes and hoped he’d pipe down. I was waiting for her to say, “Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m 5 months pregnant!” but like a gem, she kept her cool and just ignored him as she churned out more happy-go-lucky tunes.

It was Lenka’s last night on the tour, and her performance was the perfect balance of springtime and sweet ballads—I am so glad I caught her before she flew back home to prep for the baby’s arrival.

Andrew and Bobby at the Showbox SODO

After what seemed like the longest set change in the history of live shows, Jack’s Mannequin finally came onstage, parading around in outrageously fun costumes! Andrew came out dressed as Mario from Super Mario Bros. Bobby came out dressed like Joey Ramone. Jay Mac came out dressed as this wolf with a super long cape, and Mikey came out dressed as a beach bum . . . in a speedo . . . with curly hair pieces glued all over his costume. I’m not gonna lie, it was hard for me to hold in the laughter every time I looked in Mikey’s general direction!

Andrew McMahon at Showbox SODO

They kicked off the show with their latest single, MY RACING THOUGHTS, and the crowd was ready to party and revel in the piano rock goodness happening onstage!

The show moved on and they played all of my favorites, and a bunch of the new tunes! That long set change was totally worth all the sing-alongs and dancing that ensued through the evening. Singing along to Amy, I was so surreal, since I’ve had the studio version stuck in my head since before PEOPLE AND THINGS was released. I was just as enthralled with the live version as I am the studio version and now when I listen to the studio version, all I picture is their performance from Saturday. One of my favorite things about the Jack’s Mannequin live show is the banter that goes on between Andrew and Bobby during the set. They have a perfect bromance and it shines through on stage. From Andrew leaving the piano area to dance next to Bobby while he plays a screaming guitar solo, to the inside jokes they bring out between songs, they make me smile and laugh so much.

The night was full of some sweet treats. Their performance of LAST STRAW was one of them:

Apparently someone on Facebook had requested it for a special reason and they decided to play it, which was really cool. Another treat was Andrew bringing Lady Danville back out onstage to sing backup on RESTLESS DREAM:

RESTLESS DREAM is by and far the most beautiful track off of PEOPLE AND THINGS. On the album, it’s set up with Andrew singing and Bobby singing backup and strumming away on an acoustic guitar. Hearing it on piano with Lady Danville’s beautiful harmonies in the background made for a sweet, intimate, and breathtaking song. I really appreciate Andrew’s habit of bringing the other acts on the tour out onstage with him during the Jack’s set. To me, it shows a confidence in your own music and its accessibility to others, as well as a camaraderie between artists.

Andrew McMahon playing RESTLESS DREAM at the Showbox SODO

I spent the after-show the same way I always do after a Jack’s show . . . hanging around back by their tour bus! Most Jack’s Mannequin fans know that the band doesn’t come out into the venue to sign. They do all of that outside, away from the hustle of packing up the show, away from the pushy security guards, where it’s chill and more personable. As I walked outside, I kept looking for Alyssa and Chloe, since we got separated when I went to go to the JM merch booth. As I looked around, she came into view and gave me one of the best surprises ever—Bobby’s set list from the show! Bobby is one of my all-time favorite guitarists and having his setlist from the night was so rad! I waited by the side of the Jack’s tour bus with my friends and their tour manager, Arvis, came out to give us the low down on the meet & greet process—form one line and group photos are encouraged. 😉 I got to talk to Andrew for a while, he gave me a hug 3 different times during our conversation, and then I got to take a pic with him!

Me and my hero, Andrew McMahon

Last Saturday night at the Showbox SODO was a perfect shade of DARK BLUE. 😉 I’ve said it a few times, but I’ll say it again—if you’ve never gotten to see Jack’s Mannequin in concert, GO! It’s a party and a half!


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Television

Have you ever seen something that was so horrific that you just needed to

1) take a cold shower,
2) hug a kitten,
3) watch a happy movie that restored your faith and hope in goodness?

Well, it happened for me with something I’m very passionate about: Graphic Design.

I recently received an e-mail with a graphic design piece and I was so disheartened by the ineffective and unimaginative waste of design potential. For me, it was the equivalent of watching a horror film and since what I had seen could not be unseen, my little designer heart set out on a search for hope in a “may-as-well-have-been-made-in-MS Paint” situation. I’m pretty sure God was watching over me because just as I embarked on my search, I saw that Jack’s Mannequin had posted another promo video for their upcoming album, PEOPLE AND THINGS, and my hope in quality graphic design was RESTORED!! I know that I talk about bands a lot, and I talk about design a lot, but there is just something wonderful about a band (and their label, creative directors, etc.) when they can get the design RIGHT!

Throughout the past month, Jack’s Mannequin has been releasing TRACK-BY-TRACK videos explaining the writing process and inspiration for the songs on PEOPLE AND THINGS and each video has featured artwork to illustrate the song. What I love about the design series is that it illustrates each song in such a clever, creative, and attention-grabbing way, all the while keeping things simple and attractive. That is what I feel that all design pieces should do: inspire, entice, promote creativity, and make the person who has to use it feel completely proud of the finished product. So to celebrate this beautiful discovery, I am featuring the artwork here. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, PEOPLE AND THINGS:

People and Things by Jack's Mannequin | This is the general album front cover. You'll notice the asterisk throughout the design series. The asterisk is a symbol that has been used in branding for Jack's Mannequin. As Andrew McMahon (the lead singer) has said, it is a representation of the "idea that everything passes through some central location. I love the asterisk in that sense, that it’s like the lines are reaching out everywhere, but they all pass through, you know, one nucleus."

PLATFORM FIRE | ♫ Stories stacked up so tall And you don’t talk me down You’ll talk me through ♫

AMY, I — ♫ Amy I, I never felt this kind of cold before... another long winter trying to fight this freeze ♫

CASTING LINES | ♫ And all the time that’s past held us together, and all the lines we cast will bring us home. ♫

TELEVISION | ♫ What if you could move the needle to a more forgiving song. What if it was never really broken all along. But for tonight, I’m sleeping with my television on. ♫

AMELIA JEAN | ♫ Drove 84 to the grave of Buddy Holly. Arm out the sunroof. hand full of Texas wind. ♫

PEOPLE, RUNNING | ♫ Yeah, we are just like oceans running aground in search of water. ♫

HEY HEY HEY (We're All Gonna Die) | ♫ And New England turned gray, found the old TLA, through the lens of my Polaroid camera. ♫

MY RACING THOUGHTS | ♫ She's a black cat hanging 'round my doorstep. ♫

RELEASE ME | ♫ My fuse is set, I'm pressing go. Your match is lit but it's burning slow. Release me. Take another piece of me and there won't be another left unless you let go. ♫

RESTLESS DREAM | ♫ I write you from this grounded aeroplane. I wonder how you’ve been and where you are. A letter for the one that got away. A letter for the things that never start. ♫

HOSTAGE | ♫ But I won’t hold you hostage, and I won’t set you free. I always leave the lights on and you return to me. Please don’t lose the keys, I won’t hold you hostage. ♫

I love that the artwork is very conceptual and it easily flows as one piece.
When you set them all up together, they form this beautiful array of vibrant whimsy:

And this, my friends, makes my little graphic designer heart SO happy! 


The artwork for TELEVISION and PLATFORM FIRE are my favorites.
Which ones do you like best?


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Sing

So much excitement is buzzing in my office today . . . literally! Our office windows are insulated with an extra layer of film to keep the cold out and apparently also to trap unwanted insects.

But seriously, if he gets out, I’m moving to a different office! :O

The other exciting thing buzzing around me today is the excitement of a new announcement from one of my all time favorite bands, JACK’S MANNEQUIN!

The lead singer of Jack’s (a common fan nickname for the band), Andrew McMahon is such an inspiration to me as a writer, as a lover of music, and as a human being in general. If you haven’t seen his documentary, DEAR JACK, I highly recommend it. But getting back to the news—they are going to be doing a headlining tour soon!! Also, Jack’s is going to be opening up for GUSTER at a show in Central Park in August!! Can you tell how BADLY I want to go?? I’m pretty sure tickets will sell out in the next couple of days, and I’m in no place to start thinking of flying out to that show, but man—it really makes me wish I had a teleporter. It’s just one more thing that makes me love NYC more!

Me & Andrew McMahon from Jack's Mannequin

I really hope they come to Seattle on their headlining tour. If they don’t, I may need to make another trip down to Cali to see them! I’m also obviously really excited for the new album! I’ve been watching videos of some of their new stuff floating around on YouTube (see below) and it just makes me fall even more in love with their music.

I will definitely be buzzing about this news for the rest of the year until I get to see them play! I just hope that bee finds its way back out (and NOT via my office) before then. 😉

One of the songs from Jack’s that I always catch myself singing is SWIM. It’s such an inspiration song and definitely an anthem for me. So I close this post with this beautiful music video for SWIM. 🙂