Advent Calendar

cmd+vent calendar | Day 11: Katie


Happy Day 11 of the cmd+vent calendar! Please excuse me for getting this out so friggin’ late: I’ve had my face in front of an over for a better part of the day. Cinnamon, sugar, and flour is likely going to be lodged under my fingernails for the next two days as I furiously scrub my hands raw to get clean.

Today’s cmd+vent letter is written by the very best baker I know if my life, Katie. As the Canadian Mary Berry, they can make a mean batch of pies that’d have Ina Garten shook. The origins of our friendship is actually rooted in pop music (aha! Surprise: we’re huge 1D geeks), so when I asked Katie to participate in the cmd+vent calendar, I’m happy to announce today’s letter fuses both themes.

You’re in luck if you’ve been tasked with bringing a dessert for any parties this week–Katie’s shared a handful of tasty recipes to reflect on how sweet 2017 has been in music. Give them a try and hit us back with how the recipes worked out for you.

For those who’re swearing off sweets starting January, may I remind you we still have one week left in December to enjoy a barrage of delectable confections. Treat yo’ self! Enjoy, and happy baking!


Hello! I’m Katie, a baking enthusiast in my professional and personal life, and a pop music fan. There’s nothing I love more than planning desserts and dishes. I love thinking about how a certain dish can evoke the same feelings a holiday, a person, or even a song does. The relationship between food and music is an important and intricate one. Since dessert is my speciality, here are five of my favourite songs from 2017, and a dessert you could serve with them.


“Despacito” (Remix) - Daddy Yankee & Luis Fonsi feat. Justin Bieber

"Despacito" was undoubtedly one of the biggest songs of 2017. It had even some of the most vocal Bieber haters getting their groove on. With both Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi hailing from beautiful Puerto Rico, naturally I had to choose a dessert that matched. I ended up picking maduros en almibar, which is ripe plantain slices fried in a brown sugar (and rum) sauce. Think of bananas foster. You can even serve it with ice cream! A fun and delicious dessert that’s also quick and easy to make, so you can get back to dancing to "Despacito" sooner rather than later.

“Green Light” - Lorde

I remember the first time I listened to this song, I immediately loved it. Her album ended up being one of my favourites of the year as well. I struggled a bit trying to think of a dessert that evoked a similar feeling this song gave me. After some deliberation, my mind went to the fact that Lorde is a Kiwi, and a kiwi is green, just like the song. I thought I had hit a dead end because I couldn’t think of a fitting dessert that had kiwi in it, but I remembered these fruity white sangria pops which have slices of kiwi frozen in them. These look beautiful, are delicious, and remind me of summer, just like this song does. Cheers!

“Slow Hands” - Niall Horan

This is sort of a given for anyone who knows me, but biases aside Slow Hands was a real bop! Even being a long term Niall Horan fan, Slow Hands surprised me with its sensuality. So what is a fitting dessert for this tune? I decided on this chocolate soufflé with salted caramel. Soufflés can be a bit tricky, but the payoff is a light and airy cake that is somehow rich and decadent at the same time. It’s kind of sexy, kind of fun, just like the song. Plus it has salted caramel in it which is one of my most favourite flavour combinations. For whatever reason, "Slow Hands" and caramel just makes sense to me.

“HUMBLE.” - Kendrick Lamar

What a tune! First time I heard this song the hook was stuck in my head for days. Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game, it’s no surprise he’s got seven well-deserved Grammy nominations. And what is more humble than apple pie? But this isn’t just any regular apple pie, it’s apple hand pies with cheddar baked into the crust! Cheddar and apples go surprisingly well together. The saltiness and richness of the cheddar and crisp sweetness of an apple just works. And, you can grate a little extra cheddar on top before baking because extra cheese never hurt anyone. So be humble, and enjoy some apple pie while you’re at it.

“Bodak Yellow” - Cardi B

Honestly, did any song have as much of a cultural impact as "Bodak Yellow?" This song was everywhere this year, and I’m still not tired of it. Seeing as Cardi B is only the second solo female rap artist to get a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, what dessert could possibly live up? I wanted to represent my favourite, and possibly most iconic song line ever, these expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes. However, I was finding it hard to find something that was truly red, and that properly represented the song to me. Finally I decided on these rosé champagne cupcakes (which would be easy enough to customize red) because they are beautiful and rich, just like our girl Cardi B.

You can feast your eyes on Katie’s creations (and very pretty kitty) via Instagram: morbidmagic

The 12th day of cmd+vent is out tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 9: Agnes


It’s day 9, and the thirstiest Thursday of the year thus far. I mean, I don't know about you, but I could use a stiff drink to chill the heck out. Of what? I'm undecided - but today's letter can help me corner an essence of the day.

Today's letter was written by my dear friend Agnes (yes, THE Agnes mentioned on Day 7 by Hope). My friendship with her is (approximately) less than a year old, but I feel we've already shared a lifetime of jokes. We're both Very Scorpio, and take a lot of pride in being Very Scorpio. This results in a mutual understanding of the importance of a quality industrial boot (but fashion, you know?), making very questionable pop cultural indulgences (see: Charlie Puth), and a melodramatic reaction to the magic of a gut-punching chorus. I field a significant chunk of songs I'm considering for the weekly letter with Agnes before settling on at least 5 fresh tunes, so I'm extremely honored to have (essentially) my second set of ears partake in the cmd+vent calendar.
For day 9, Agnes has provided her top ten favorite songs released this year to get drunk and cry to. Each tune also comes paired with a matching wine or spirit–ooh, la la!
We’ve much to celebrate and cry over having all lived through a rather horrific, worldwide emotional rollercoaster ride in 2017. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, it’s that you really need to unwind and let it all hang out every once in awhile.


Cry Yrself Clean

The first time I ever got obliterated, blackout drunk was at the tail end of my first semester at college. I was 18 and had just started taking antidepressants the year before and had no idea how quickly a cocktail of Four Loko and SSRIs would affect me. A group of friends and I were pre-gaming a local party in my dorm room and I suddenly found myself locked in the bathroom with my best friend at the time, absolutely bawling and sharing our most intimate traumas. I hadn't cried that hard in years, especially not in front of anybody else. I preferred keeping emotions that overwhelmed me locked safely away. This outburst was both a literal and figurative watershed moment for me. We never made it to that party, but I felt better than I had in a long time.

    Thus began the time honored and cathartic tradition of letting myself regularly have a contemplative drunk cry. Most of the time, this occurs on the subway, walking on the deserted sidewalk or, if I feel like really investing in my melancholy, a single person Uber/Lyft. There are people who may call this "dramatic," but some of us just have more cinematic coping mechanisms than others. The key to an effective "drunk cry home" is the soundtrack. God knows this past year has given us plenty of real reasons to cry on public transportation, but we've also gotten some pretty incredible music out of it. I've taken it upon myself to select from this cornucopia of sad jams the top ten BEST songs to listen to on repeat on your drunk walk home, and let that emotional dam break.

1. Liability - Lorde

2017 was a big year for Scorpios; Drake, SZA, Bjork, and unfortunately, Katy Perry, all released new music this year to varying degrees of success. There is however no denying that Lorde reigns supreme after dropping perhaps the most Scorpio album of all time, Melodrama.  A collection that is sure to go down in break-up album history, Melodrama is essentially a restructuring of the 5 stages of grief - Lorde denies, rages, bargains, cries, rages some more, and reluctantly accepts that the most important relationship of her life is with herself. "Liability" is for all of us who have been told we are too much or worried about taking up more space than we were allowed. Many a summer-night-sob was set to the dulcet tones of this self-love letter.

Cocktail: a chilled bottle of rose

2. Prom - SZA

While on the topic of Scorpios, I do not think that any album this year captured the feeling of transitioning from your destructive early 20s into the guilt ridden and uncertain latter half of that decade better than SZA's Ctrl. It was extremely difficult to choose just one track for this list, as the entire album felt like a millennial manifesto, covering everything from the often complicated emotional maze of casual relationships to the ennui of early adulthood in the internet era. With "Prom" though, SZA went for the fucking kill, writing what amounts to a monologue about her own fear of failure and receptivity to intimacy.  I dare you NOT burst into tears when those first few lines of "Prom" come on:

Fearin' not growin' up

Keepin' me up at night

Am I doin' enough?

Feel like I'm wastin' time

Cocktail: Tequila soda

3. Fake Happy - Paramore

Upon my first listen to After Laughter, I remember taking my headphones out and scoffing incredulously. In the year of our lord 2017, had Paramore released a perfect sad-pop album about living with mental illness? Abso-fucking-loutely. Not only did Paramore manage to reinvent their sound and go from second wave pop punk darlings to studio-shiny popstars, they had created a lyrically mature and personal meditation on depression, relationships, and growing up. "Fake Happy" starts off stripped down, with Williams slowly crooning over a plucking acoustic guitar about her impenetrable veneer of happiness , asserting that we all put on a face to hide our uglier, less pleasant emotions. A pulsing keyboard carries us through the rest of the song as it picks up and eventually explodes, with lyrics that feel like they were taken straight from a recurring fight between Williams and a significant other. Cathartic, and affirming, the track is perfect for a good self-righteous cry in your bedroom.

Cocktail: Mojito

4. You Used to Say (Holy Fuck) - The Front Bottoms

I will be the first to admit that I hadn't been a fan of The Front Bottoms before this year. By the time I found out about them in college, I felt like I had grown out of my DIY pop punk phase and only clung to certain bands out of nostalgia for my teenage years. Well, it turns out that there's something about a nasally voice soaring over simple guitar riffs and swirling synths that still grabs me by the heart and squeezes, no matter how old I am. Going Grey is full of upbeat and nostalgic ruminations on toxic friendships, healing relationships, and childhood memories, but I found myself coming back to the first track and its introspective look at the effects of burying our true feelings more than any other. A strong drumbeat carries you through the first verse, and then the chorus bursts through like a controlled panic attack:

Holy fuck, I'm about to die

Angry for no reason, twisted up inside

Cocktail: Pabst Blue Ribbon

5. (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano - Sampha

Look, Sampha has one of the richest and most recognizable voices in music, and this debut (HOW??) album will destroy you. I've been wrapping myself in his smooth vocals since his SBTRKT days back in 2011, so it's hard to believe this is the first solo work he's ever released. Written about losing his mother to cancer, the album is personal, honest, and rich with variety, bouncing between glitchy beats and classic instrumentation. This track is the most stripped down and feels like a confessional, just Sampha and the titular piano in his mother's home. Yes, I can see you're crying already...bitch, me too.

Cocktail: Prosecco

6. Sweet Creature - Harry Styles

If you had told me four years ago that I would be crying to a Harry Styles solo album on the street at 2 a.m. I would have slapped you across the face. That said, you would have been absolutely right. Although I came out of the 1D solo-work cyclone not quite loving anything the way I had loved them as a band, Harry's album managed to squeak out a few really special tracks. "Sweet Creature" remains my favorite on the album, soft and warm like an old photo from a family vacation. It's simple, just a voice and an acoustic guitar riff reminiscent of "Blackbird," but it's effective. The lyrics feel like a letter to your mom,  lamenting not speaking enough, and stubborn arguments that ultimately don't matter in the face of the comfort you bring each other. As a fairly recent college grad reckoning with independence, this song feels the way leaving my childhood home after the holidays always feels: bittersweet.

Cocktail: Hot Toddy

7.  Mystery of Love - Sufjan Stevens

We are truly blessed that one of our most effective sad-jam writers is also one of our most prolific. Sufjan has been making me cry since before puberty, so when I found out that he would be writing songs for the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack, I invested in tissues in bulk. The film is a gorgeous must-see, and the use of Sufjan’s music is heart-wrenching. This lovely track, featuring Sufjan's trademark tenderness and longing over twinkling chords, speaks of grasping for memories of a love that slipped through your fingers. It's one of those songs that describes such sweeping romance as many of us have never experienced, but Sufjan's earnest storytelling and atmospheric instrumentals will reliably have you gazing out of a cab window with silent tears rolling down your cheeks, mourning a love lost or never manifested.

Cocktail: Negroni

8. Only With You - Angel Olsen

Everything about the way Angel Olsen, the heir to Cat Power's throne, sings feels like old Kodachrome footage. When I listen to "Only With You," I feel instantly transported to a grainy video of a 1950s dance hall, couples slowly spinning around me on a gymnasium floor, full dresses brushing against my calves. On Olsen's album Phases, the melancholy comes from not just the lyrics, but her masterful creation of atmosphere. Each of her songs has a timelessness to it, all totally nostalgic while simultaneously being completely of the moment. Olsen's voice usually trembles with what feels like barely contained rage and it's lowered to a near whisper on this track, ebbing and flowing until its climaxes into a woeful mantra: You don't find it in me.

Cocktail: Old Fashioned

9. Hang On Me - St. Vincent

2017 also blessed us with a new, highly anticipated album from Annie Clark, three years after her last release, and it's her best work since Actor in my opinion, despite the backlash from the purists. It's much less experimental than her previous work, focusing more on personal relationships and roiling emotions, and it's deeply pop-centric. "Hang On Me" builds off of a nearly Swiftian beat, reminiscent of "Blank Space," but veers off into more classic St. Vincent territory with buzzing synths and a full string orchestra, bells chiming as though from a distance. The track swells to the edge of something, never quite culminating in the climax you're expecting, before pulling back and fading out. It's a mature lament, an acceptance of being othered as an adult instead of a teenager, and it doesn't come across as trite or melodramatic. Instead, it feels honest.

Cocktail: Cosmopolitan

10. Die Young - Sylvan Esso

As dense with sad-pop as 2017 was, there was a terrible lack of tracks reserved for crying in the club (Robyn, please call me...) Fortunately, Sylvan Esso had us covered with this siren song of suicidal ideation laid over vibrating synths and a pulsing drum machine. The track draws us in with undulating synthesizers and a metronome beat serving as the background to a rapid fire list of grand morbid plans, which then burst into a light humming chorus, a reluctant admittance that perhaps this Earth is worth staying on, if only to see this "you" exist. It's a romantic idea phrased as a sardonic tantrum: I was gonna die young, now I gotta wait for you. The sentiment feels very millennial, and the unique production makes it fresh and danceable. The walkable beat is ideal for trudging home alone from the bar and that triumphant hook means that these may ultimately be happy tears. Perhaps the "you" we are waiting to watch burn so bright is in fact yourself, and you can be your own reason to keep going.

Cocktail: G&T

Listen to Agnes’s ‘Cry Yrself Clean’ playlist here

You can find Agnes on the net via Twitter: @toothyhellbeast

Stay tuned for more cmd+vent dropping Saturday. A brand new cmd+f is out tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 8: Liz


Hanukkah is over, and we’re only days away from Christmas, y’all. Are we ready for 2018? Are we motivated to change–on a personal level?

This time of year is typically gassed up with promises, resolutions, and a general whelming sense of Becoming Anew lingering in the air. It’s exciting, but as we all know, many lose that grip not too far into the new year and, just, Remain Existing.

The letter today is written by my pal Liz, who also happens to be from Florida (every person I know from Florida is cool as hell; on the contrary, everything I’ve heard about Florida Man….), though we bonded shortly after (or around?) her relocating to Seattle a handful of years ago. Since then, our conversations are usually shared involving music and pop culture.

Today Liz has been kind enough to share a playlist of songs that motivated her to get out of a slump and into a meaningful career path. It’s so easy to slack on the effort for change, but Liz has shown not all hope is lost! Today, she has a kick ass job she takes much pleasure going to every day, and the secrets she learned from the power of a music playlist are remarkable.

Lucky for us, all of those secrets to success are revealed below.


How My Hopeful Playlist Landed Me a New Job (And Parachutes Got Me Out of a Bad Job)

[Before we begin, click here to put on the playlist to set the mood]

In setting out to write about music in 2017, I completely failed. Most of the songs on the playlist I'm about to share are from late 2015 at best. But when our dear cmd+f hostess with the mostess reached out to me about writing something, she phrased it as "how music helped you find some joy in 2017." Now that I had a definite answer for: music got me a new job in 2017.

The beginning of 2017 was maybe not the best time to take on a big new personal project. Everything felt fucking bleak. But the only thing that got me through the previously bleakest period, the end of 2016, was planning how I was going to get a new job in 2017. Not just a new job, but a new career path, all while trying not to zombify myself at my workplace I hated.

This is basically a millennial trope at this point, stumbling into jobs that paid bills without ever really meaning to be there, maybe advancing steadily but mostly because it's the next step in front of you rather than the direction you want. As such, we've all developed coping mechanisms: Instagram accounts with cute dogs, Pinterest boards filled with inspirational messages in happy loopy calligraphy, lifehack podcasts, Lin Manuel Miranda's life coaching via Twitter–which are all basically bite-sized updates to self-help books and posters with kittens telling you to "Hang in There."

But for me at least, it's too easy for bossy logic brain to read those tweets and get in my own way without a drop of inspiration. If you go to the replies, you already see people ready with all the reasons that It Just Doesn't Work. And they've all got points, but sometimes you've got to set aside reality, suspend the disbelief, and psych yourself up into believing you can and you will. So I had to find a way to circumvent logic and it turns out my singing is louder than my logic.

Affirmations that would have my eyes rolling back into my head any other time make me feel alive when sung, even when just in my head and even more so surrounded by a crowd all singing along. The idea for a specific playlist to turn to in dark moments was planted in my head in an online Life Skills class in high school that had us choose a theme song. Mine was “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” by Cake (okay, just because I didn't want to be trapped in the accounting department of a geriatric law firm doesn't mean I'm not intensely Type A). “Can't Hold Us” by Macklemore got me through the preparations for a cross-country move (to Seattle, so I have a defense for that choice).

My playlist I made at the beginning of 2017 became more than just a quick pick-me-up though; it was a daily routine. It got me through my walk to work every morning, where I would find the self belief to write another contact email (LinkedIn, man) or research another master's program, any way I could think of to invest in myself without leaving my job.

I give 100% of the credit of the creation of this iteration of this playlist to “Dreams Come True” by Brandon Flowers. The 80's aesthetic of the whole The Desired Effect album made me feel hopeful in a way only a John Hughes movie can, but the horns on this song are pure sunshine for me. Actually, you're going to notice horns on a lot of these; I have a type.

“Ain't Got Far to Go” by Jess Glynne is my personal training montage song. It's not a triumphant cry at the top of the mountain, but for right when you've turned the corner, you've set a goal and can see it, far in the distance but as a real physical thing. Even on the rainiest Seattle walk, I wanted to sing along. I didn't because: a) don't be that guy and b) have you heard Jess Glynne's range?

“So Close” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness was a song that came to me at just the right time. I was salivating for the new album that came out in February (look, a 2017 song!) after hearing “Fire Escape” live over the summer. At first, I was just latched to the crazy danceable synths of the chorus but the messaging over and over that Scared is Good, "there's no safety in desire" helped with each sending of an email or resume.

Honestly, if you need a positivity boost, just go to an Andrew McMahon show and be in his presence, which is easy enough when it feels like he's touring most of the year every friggin' year. He radiates good energy and has no fear. I mean, who runs into a crowd of strangers under a rainbow tent and let them carry him aloft an inflatable duck? Someone who kicked cancer's ass and lived to sing the tale, I guess.

I'm not going to list each song here but the themes remain the same, do the fucking thing (“Do It Anyway” - Ben Folds Five), don't live in the past (“Spotlight” - Patrick Stump), and keep pushing (well, “Pushing On” - Oliver $ & Jimi Jules). There's more downbeat songs, like “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdy, who was brought to my attention by cmd+f, but more on sadness in a bit. Also, I continued adding to it throughout 2017, because in this gig economy, one position isn't enough and never stop making connections, not if you're going to be the boss, The Man (The Killers), and the Woman (Kesha). And no judging my X-Factor and Eurovision additions, if you've gotten this far without judging the rest at least.

That was all great for the beginning of the day, all the possibilities still ahead of me. The walk home had a bit of a different process. I needed not just an influx of positive messaging but someone to help me affirm my dissatisfaction with my life, that I was right to be unhappy, that I wasn't this person in this cube wasting away. I didn't need a whole playlist for this, just one album: Parachutes from Frank Iero and the Patience.

These songs helped connect my teenage-like angst ("No one's ever been like me before") with where I was as an adult ("So tired of being old and feeling cold and numb"). I started feeling like myself again, and that not fitting in where I was wasn't the equivalent of being an overdramatic outcast. And it helped me accept all those positive messages too. Being a naysayer feels a lot less cool when singing "Let's all be difficult and never try too hard, Let's all be critical of those who show their heart" along with Frank's sarcastic sneer.

The biggest impact of some of these artists in 2017 for me was carrying it forward and seeing them live. Whatever you get from singing the song by yourself, in your head, it's amplified 1000% when hearing it from every direction, pressed against a bunch of strangers who it all meant as much to, each in their own way. It's a good thing my new job is flexible on work hours (even if it pays less, non-profit arts life, y'all!) because that is an addictive feeling that I've been chasing down all year. Hopefully, that's what will get me through 2018 too, or some miracle that makes things a little less bleak like a working government.

Otherwise, if I had to write about music specifically released in 2017, you would have gotten 5000 words about why Everything Now from Arcade Fire was unfairly trashed and is actually amazing.

... Maybe some opinions are best left to yourself.

“Songs for a new life” Playlist | click here to listen

  1. “Dreams Come True” - Brandon Flowers
  2. “Ain’t Got Far To Go” - Jess Glynne
  3. “So Close” - Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  4. “Do It Anyway” - Ben Folds Five
  5. “Anything” - Hedley
  6. “I Can Do Anything” - 3OH!3
  7. “Keep On Keeping On” (feat. Brendon Urie) - Travie McCoy
  8. “Spotlight (New Regrets)” - Patrick Stump
  9. “Whatever It Takes” - Imagine Dragons
  10. “Pushing On” - Oliver $ & Jimi Jules
  11. “On My Way” - Tiesto w/ Bright Sparks
  12. “Rise N Shine” - Eva Shaw, Poo Bear
  13. “No Matter What” - Little Monarch
  14. “Keeping Your Head Up” - Birdy
  15. “Don't Tread on Me” - Kai Straw
  16. “Rut” - The Killers
  17. “I Woke Up In A Car “- Something Corporate
  18. “Lines That Burn” - Tilian
  19. “Work This Body” - WALK THE MOON
  20. “The Man” - The Killers
  21. “Woman” - Kesha
  22. “Hurricane” - MisterWives
  23. “All the Way Up” - Reggie N Bollie, 2Face Idibia
  24. “Yodel It!” - Ilinca, Alex Florea
  25. “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” - Cake
  26. “We're Gonna Take On The World” - Mustard Plug 

You can find Liz swimming through the net on Twitter: @sportiefish

Raise a glass: day 9 of the cmd+vent calendar drops TOMORROW! Tell all your friends!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 7: Hope


We are a full week into the cmd+vent calendar, and the response has been nothing short of amazing. Thanks to all the fine comments and replies to this newsletter (which: did you know you could reply directly to this email and I will receive it in my inbox?). I’ve been passing along your high praises to the respective writers, and I assure you they’ve all been nothing but filled with gratitude for your kindness.

Today’s letter is brought to your by a beacon of light in my life named Hope. She lives in the land of sunshine and orange groves (and hurricanes and swamps), enjoys hockey, running, and pop music (this sounds like I’m writing out a dating profile. Jeez). Hope is shameless about the content she decides to devour, and I admire that greatly about her. She doesn’t half-ass her passion for anything–she dives headfirst, gives her undivided attention, and let me tell you, that energy is so great to have in a friendship.

For those looking to blow off some steam this week, Hope has kindly thrown together a playlist of jams to kick some literal and figurative ass to.


2017 was a year to be furious. It was a year to yell at the top of your lungs and dance your shoes down to nothing and donate all of your money and send passionate messages to your government representatives and get into screaming matches with anyone who didn’t see empathy as a priority. It was a year of rage, rage, rage, and a lot of long sleeps, and longer runs where you did nothing but listen to the same songs on a loop and try to send your head somewhere your feet couldn’t really take you.

If there’s anything my end of the year Spotify playlist tells me, it’s that I went on a lot of those runs--or, at least, spent a lot of mind-numbing, soul-cleansing time in the gym. There are so many days my body can feel like the haunted house I am trapped in. Training it to do just what I want is sometimes the only thing that keeps me breaking the windows and tearing the walls down, and packing myself off to whatever is left when we leave. And sometimes the most important motivation for getting up and lacing on my trainers and kicking my own ass is the perfect song. This list (of seven, not five--sorry!) is a peek into what 2017 had on offer to add to my list of favorite “if my country’s gonna burn so are my glutes and I’m gonna keep pushing until I’m jacked as hell and nothing can touch me” jams.


“Attention” - Charlie Puth | Not to be, like, really crude, but Charlie Puth seems like such a fun fuck. Like, wow, what a sensitive little bitch who lives for drama! Tell me what I’m up to in my freakum dress, Charles! Tell me you’re onto me, then sleep with me anyway and let me lick your eyebrow scar, you fuckin’ loser! I love it. I love this song. In the words of Agnes, “I love a walkable bassline!” And I do, too. And a walkable one is also one I can do push-ups to and silently agree with. Never get over me! Regret it forever! I’m the ONE, baby!

“I’m the One” - DJ Khaled | For the record: yes, I think I’m hilarious. This song, like the previous, also makes me think of Agnes: her revolving in the club at a resort or whatever, drink in one hand and the other waving freely to the beat. And this song, like Agnes, hypes me the hell up and makes me feel like I could do anything, you know? I’m your dream girl, I’ve got it all. It also makes me feel like I’m sipping a cocktail with an umbrella in it and have spent the perfect amount of time lounging in a hammock and my tan is fantastic, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

“Green Light” - Lorde | I could put the entire Melodrama album on this list. I could make this list Melodrama and nothing else, and it would still be absolutely accurate. Melodrama is, of course, my personal choice for album of the year, because I’m the most extra bitch alive, but also because it has this desperate energy that immediately makes me think: hungry. I love this song because, for me, it succeeds in calling up that yearning ache in your stomach when you want something so goddamn bad, and you’re just starting to see you might be able to get it, and you’re so overwhelmed by at it all you’re ready to dance yourself down the street with your headphones in, singing, and you’re not even drunk! You’re just in your own music video and life is impossible! There is absolutely nothing you need in your ears more when you’re hitting that 8 speed interval than Lorde singing I’M WAITING FOR IT, THAT GREEN LIGHT, I WANT IT.

“I Know a Place” - MUNA | I don’t think I really need to say anything about this, right? We’ve all listened to this? We’re all in love with MUNA? This song is a big mood. This song is healing. This song makes you feel like you could run for miles. This song makes me want to put on rollerskates. This song feels like a montage. This song kind of makes you feel like the music video for "Youth," by Troye Sivan, only we’re all a bit older and our idea of partying is us wearing fuzzy socks that speak to our personal style choices and scream-laughing at the game on television and playing trivia and drinking red wine instead of, like, doing ecstacy and making out in a ball pit, or whatever. Does that make sense? Not that we can’t do drugs and make out in a ball pit, if you wanna. We can fuckin’ do anything, because this song makes us feel we can.

“Bad 4 Us” - Superfruit | Superfruit is one of those groups I probably would’ve never listened to without them popping up on my Discover Weekly. They’re also one of those groups that turns out to be a delightful surprise. “Bad 4 Us” actually rolled around on my release radar a few months ago alongside a fabulous Kimbra track (INSERT ANNUAL KIMBRA IS SLEPT ON MESSAGE), and at first I wasn’t sure, but rather than skipping along to the next one I instantly hit replay. And I’ve been sliding through my house on my sock feet and dancing myself onto the porch ever since. Being bouncy, a little jazzy, with little goofy background asides, a cowbell?, and a line that sings put on some old school Britney, ‘cause baby you drive me crazy, this song makes me want to drink champagne and kiss people and makes me feel like I could probably, yeah, do another stupid rep, I guess. Good 4 Me. Ugh.

“Cave Me In” - Gallant | Gallant makes me feel all kinds of romantic and dreamy all of the time, but almost no song so much as “Cave Me In.” This is some slow-motion Airpod-commercial nonsense. And how deeply relatable is that feeling of wanting so badly not to have to say aloud what you want or what you need or what you mean, and wanting instead for someone to just know, to just reach into you and take it out? And this song is so smooth that the ache of it feels real good.

“Body Like A Back Road” - Sam Hunt | If this song doesn’t put you in an instant good mood, then I don’t really know what to tell you. It’s hilarious and cute and sexy and fun, and it’s insanely sing-a-long-able, and it makes me want to drink beer and push someone off a dock and join a drum circle. It’s maybe a little too relaxed for most people in the gym, but sometimes I just want to think about someone laying me out in the back of their dumb car and licking salt off of my newly carved abs, okay? I think I deserve that, especially when I’m very sweaty and my arms hurt.

You can work out your fury listening to all of Hope’s choice tunes in a single playlist right here

See the world through Hope’s eyes –which includes a bit of hockey commentary– via Twitter: @brdofthesmmr

Keep your ears open – day 8 of the cmd+vent calendar drops tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 6: Brittany

Happy Monday, everyone.

Today’s cmd+vent calendar letter lends on a more somber note than the previous letters we’ve tapped into so far. It’s deeply personal and an extremely special letter to be sharing with you folks, and I’m so grateful to introduce you to my friend Brittany.

Brittany and I met in college through a mutual friend, and instantly hit it off (likely having the same name helped) – though it was kept merely on a very cordial acquaintance level for a bit. After pleading for help to move into my apartment seemingly into the ether on my Tumblr, this kind soul who mostly knew me for posting archival Raf Simons and Tilda Swinton photos for the past year and a half on the internet, offered to help me move into my apartment in Seattle.

The rest of the year delved into discussing art, having very niche Jamie Bell film dates at her apartment, and sharing music recommendations. After I graduated college, I moved back home to LA. Around Thanksgiving of that year, Brittany made her big move to LA to stake her claim in Hollywood. I returned the favor and helped her move into a cramped apartment in Toluca Lake.

We have rather loud modifiers both B and I can associate each other with. I’m sure for me she’d name Raf Simons and Tom Ford’s A Single Man. For Brittany, I associate her with the Southwest desert and Tom Petty.

We’ve lost so many legends in music over the past couple years, and I know the sudden loss of Tom Petty hit Brittany hard.

I now leave with you her heartfelt reflections of Tom Petty’s impact on her life with his music.


Tom Petty’s album Full Moon Fever dropped in the spring of ’89 and so did I. About ten years later, I’d ask my mom about my initials – B.A.D.? Who signed off on that? – and she pulled out that album. It had been on repeat during her last weeks of pregnancy. She played “Yer So Bad” and explained that when Tom said “bad,” he meant the best. He meant beyond. And she sang to me, like she always did: “But not me, baby / I’ve got you to save me / Yeah, yer so bad / Best thing I ever had / In a world gone mad, yer so bad.”

In elementary school I had Full Moon Fever on cassette and a Playskool tape-deck stereo with a detachable microphone and that was all I needed. “The Apartment Song” was on Side 2. I’d listen to it over and over, just six Mississippis to rewind. Probably still to this day, if you asked my family for my favorite Tom track, they’d say “The Apartment Song”. In a way it probably is.

When an officer pulled me over for going nearly felony-miles- per-hour over the speed limit on a deserted stretch of Oregon highway at 2:00am, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” softly scored his writing me my first ever speeding ticket. I could have sworn he was smiling. Another important teenage first did not include Tom (in point of fact we were listening to Coldplay’s Parachutes album, or part of it), but I did listen to “Crawling Back to You” as I drove myself home, feeling both very lonely and very young.

In the summer of 2008, the girl who would become my best friend and I “met” at a Tom Petty show at the Gorge in Washington. We had lived in the same dorm freshman year, but had never hung out. We texted on our flip phones, agreeing to walk to the merch stand at the start of song five and say hello. The fifth song that night was a cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, and – to paraphrase the immortal words of J.K. Rowling – there are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and listening to Tom Petty go full fucking savage on a Van Morrison track is one of them. A few years later when Bri and I were roommates and of legal drinking age, we would get ready to go out, swaying around the pre-game to “Honey Bee” and “Cabin Down Below,” sultry, dirty rock tracks that – P.S. – still do the trick, if you’re in the market for that sort of thing.

Getting involved in a heady, tumultuous relationship with a guitar player in college is a 20/10 Do Recommend if you’re hoping to accumulate a very extravagant and chaotic emotional palate for later use as a television writer. My suggested method? Break up and get back together as often as you can, and be sure to define each step with Petty songs: “Breakdown” and “A Thing About You” and “You Wreck Me” when things are good; “Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” when you’re being sloppy little punks. Take the time to listen to the Wildflowers album together at least once a week. And whatever you do, don’t forget to move to L.A. several years in, return for a visit one Christmas, go to one of his shows, and hear him dedicate “The Wild One, Forever” just to you. After your week-long dissociative episode, you’ll have ascended to a higher plane of existence. Easy as pie.

On Monday, September 25th, 2017 a girlfriend of mine and I watched from the nosebleeds of the Hollywood Bowl as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed the final date of their 40th Anniversary Tour. I had snagged tickets just two days before, breaking my tenuous vow of frugality, knowing if the boys were in town and I didn’t see ‘em I’d regret it. And I would have. Everyone was in high spirits and top form. They played the hell out of dozens of songs – a few from deep, deep in the archives – living up to Tom’s greeting at the top of the show: “We’re thinking we just want to treat tonight like a big vinyl record and put the needle down wherever we want.” From the first beat through the final chord, the audience was thunderous and electric. We floated home. It was Tom Petty’s last show. He died seven days later.

I was at work in the writers’ room when rumors of his cardiac arrest began to spread. Despite the unconfirmed nature of the news, my phone – on vibrate in my purse – began to hum. It buzzed fitfully for the rest of the day. I placed a palm over it, willing it still. I held my emotion tightly in my throat. Over the next couple days, more than forty family members and friends reached out to me, sharing condolences or a song or a memory or just a “fuck, dude.” And though it felt (and feels?) inane and selfish to be mourning a man I never met, I was stunned and so grateful to hear from all these people I loved. Knowing the folks who know me best – who have witnessed my life – thought of me that day… it made me feel less inane, less selfish. A little less nuts for crying in my car that week to endless repetitions of “Alright for Now” (no Mississippis, just one button on my ergonomic steering wheel).

Bruce Springsteen distilled it, elegant in its simplicity, just the way you’d expect him to: “Good songs stay written. Good records stay made. [Petty] made a lot of great music, enough to carry people forward.” The overwhelming feeling I have now is gratitude. Grateful to be carried forward by “Into the Great Wide Open” and “Time to Move On” and “A Mind with a Heart of it’s Own”. And if this letter inspires you to listen to any one song, let it be “It’ll All Work Out”: “Now the wind is high and the rain is heavy / And the water’s rising in the levee / Still I think of her when the sun goes down / It never goes away, but it all works out

Rest easy, Thomas Earl Petty.

You can listen to every song mentioned in this letter in a single, convenient playlist right here

Follow Brittany on the net via Twitter and Instagram: @brittanydushame / brittanydushame

Stay tuned for Day 7 of the cmd+vent calendar dropping tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 5: Richard


It’s a not so lazy Sunday here at cmd+f HQ. For day 5 of the cmd+vent calendar, I’ve got a very special friend of mine to talk about one his most favoUrite artists that, in a roundabout way (I suppose), brought our friendship together.

The origins of my friendship with Richard are very unclear, but we possibly linked via a now defunct music (sharing) forum circa 2006/07. Facebook happened, then Twitter, and Tumblr followed closely after, and we were just those people who’d jump from new social media platforms and always follow back, but we’d always bond over the same kind of tunes. Being close in age, we were young, impressionable teens hungry for fucking cool music. While I was skirting around the Cobra Snake scene in LA, Richard was dancing his way through sticky-floored clubs in London.

Nowadays, Richard likes to remind me how American I am whilST I poke fun at how British he is, and typically debate over the best place to score a burger and CHIPS in the world. When I visited London this past October, we were both the oldest people in the crowd jamming out to Wolf Alice in a tiny club in Camden. Despite getting (and feeling) older (our knees ached after that gig), our concert going habits have hardly changed.


It was 2007, I’d been to the NME Indie Rave Tour- a sea of glowsticks in a London venue that’s now a gym- and was gradually filling my iPod with dancier music when I discovered this mix. I instantly fell in love with everything Ed Banger, but especially Justice. I started DJing, badly in my bedroom at first and eventually to other mostly appreciative people, making friends (one of whom is now genuinely successful) that I played with regularly. My early sets had some good ideas of my own, but large parts of them were either inspired by or just directly lifted from Justice sets.

The first time I saw Justice live was at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, in the town I was born in, in 2008. The set was a sort of mix of live & other people’s songs done on Ableton, they opened with the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme and as soon as the drums of Waters of Nazareth kicked in I lost my shit for the next half hour. I’ve seen, and met, them a lot of times since then but until this year it had been a little while. 

A very recent picture of me and Justice (it was 2008)

A very recent picture of me and Justice (it was 2008)

Then came Glastonbury. This was my 6th Glastonbury, it’s my favourite festival and I have always wanted to see my favourite band there, this year the time finally came. I’m old now, so I didn’t want to be too near the front- my girlfriend and I stood on a bench towards the side so we’d have a good view. From the moment of the first synth of Safe And Sound I was worried I was going to fall off because I was dancing so hard on this narrow piece of wood. The middle aged woman dancing next to us seemed slightly concerned for my wellbeing, we explained afterwards just how much I loved them. Despite being old, for an hour and a quarter of 2017 music made me feel like a teenager again.

Richard likes to crack jokes on Twitter a lot. Follow him here: @rchrdctswrth

More cmd+vent calendar drops tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 4: Kim


It may be the weekend, but the fun ain’t stopping just yet. We have a little over a week left until Christmas Day, I’m sending my best wishes to all of you out there still scrambling for last minute gifts or having to prepare not to grimace too obviously during your upcoming awkward office holiday party.

For those of you out hitting up the brick and mortar shops this weekend, my dear friend Kim has THE letter for you: she’s the proudest Texan I know (okay, there is maybe ONE other person I can speak for being as Texas as Kim), and the biggest Disney nerd I know (and actually nobody can compete for this title from Kim). No matter how much you love things, you’ve gotta make sacrifices to do what you love. Ol’ Kimmie packed her bags and moved to live inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disney World full time. Next time you’re in Orlando, you can easily spot Kim sporting mouse ears, eating Dole Whip, and singing tunes from the Hercules soundtrack.

Here's Kim in her own words:


Between not one, but two cross-country moves, my daily commute, and tourist traffic, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in my car this 2017. Anyone who has ever been in my passenger seat can tell you that I only have one rule when it comes to driving music, but it’s one that I follow religiously: N a ong llowe.

Let’s face it, we really went through it this year. No matter who you are, this has been a rocky one for all of us, and it’s so easy to use car time to wallow in everything that’s going wrong with the world. That stops now, my friend.

From now on, I urge you to use the time alone in your car for its intended purpose–singing very loudly and making the person next to you at the light wish they had put you on their Snapchat.

Here I present to you a selection of my favorite songs released this year that will be sure to get you grooving:

  1. “WORSHIP” (feat. MNEK)-–The Knocks

his easily one of my top-listened to songs this year. MNEK’s booming, soaring voice over The Knock’s expert production harkens back to the 90’s in a way that’s delicious and not at all gimmicky.

2. “One Foot”-–WALK THE MOON

early 3 years after their sophomore album, Walk the Moon came back with a vengeance with this song. This track has a decidedly more modern feeling than the 80’s Talking is Hard but they still managed to sound exactly like themselves. It’s weird, but it works.

3. “Bad Behavior”-–The Maine

he Maine’s ability to evolve their emo sound to soft-rock goodness never ceases to amaze me. I’ll admit that I spent most of the summer with my windows down and this song up loud. The relentless chorus feels both timeless and fresh and will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

4. “Frightening Lightning”–The New Respects

If there’s one thing I want to see more of in 2018, it’s lady rock bands. If the movie Baby Driver as exactly the same in every way except that the title character was a woman, I like to think that this would be her get-away song.

5. “Heartthrob”-–Superfruit

his song is 100% sugary sweet bubblegum pop but in absolutely the best way. The lyrics should sound cliche but somehow just serve to fully transport you back to the 90’s, and tbh I’m perfectly fine sticking around for awhile.

I put all of these songs and others that I love to drive to in a playlist that you can find here.

Happy driving!

You can find Kim on the net via Twitter: @thekimmiem

The fun don’t stop here: tune in for day five of the cmd+vent calendar tomorrow!

cmd+vent calendar | Day 2: Christina

Photo courtesy of Christina Ventura, 2017

Photo courtesy of Christina Ventura, 2017

It’s day two of the cmd+vent calendar.

While I swore I wouldn’t grind myself down to commit to choosing just one favorite song of the year, I managed to coax someone else into doing it. Who could be so brave? It’s Christina, of course.

Quick little backstory: Christina is the reason cmd+f is "a thing." In late 2015, the two of us started a newsletter called “What’s Poppin’?” in which we shared 5 songs each of us were really digging every few weeks (also there was a lot of pop culture slander folded into the mix).

Now Christina eat, sleeps, and breathes music full time with her day job, so we’ve scaled back on the music criticism (now it’s all about those Shadowhunters recaps, baby).

While Christina managed to settle on a single, definitive favorite tune for 2017, she also tucked in a handful of other artists to check out.


Hi, I'm Christina. I'm a digital marketer working in music in NYC.

This is a little intimidating. It feels like you can capture the essence of a person based on their playlists. I know I often judge people based on what music they do (or don't) listen to.

I was going to use Spotify's handy Wrapped function to choose my Song of The Year, but it turns out my most listened to song this year is one that came out last year. So, that's where I'm at emotionally.

I'm kind of going to cheat on this assignment and give you my "also-rans" before telling you definitively what my favorite song this year was. Full disclosure, 99% of the music I listen to is by British artists. There's a special place in my heart for baby UK bands that hustle and play tiny rooms when they come to America.

  • The Amazons are a rowdy bunch from Reading. If you like Sundara Karma and Circa Waves, you'll like these dudes. Their debut self-titled album came out this year.
  • Joy Room are a four-piece from London who have, I kid you not, only 3 songs you can listen to but I am absolutely charmed.
  • Zuzu is a 22 y.o. rocker from Liverpool who also has a handful of tracks you can listen to. There's a theme here. If you're British and have only 2 songs to your name, I am your champion.

Some more established artists I kept going back to include:

Ok, so here it is. My song of the year.

It’s... BIG FOR YOUR BOOTS by Stormzy.

If I die tomorrow, I am comfortable with this being part of my personal brand. "Did you hear about Christina? So sad. She really loved Stormzy."

I love Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo, Jr. like I gave birth to him myself. Controversial opinion: he's better than Skepta. I said it. Stormzy's words, music, and actions have a profound impact on his audience. 2017 doesn't allow for celebrities on the fence. Stormzy has always spoken out about inequality, whether it was trendy or not. His success in the UK is huge for Grime and people of color in music. I was at his first ever NYC show in a dingy but much-loved venue in Brooklyn called Market Hotel a few years ago. That was one of the most special nights. I'm heartbroken and disappointed that he hasn't made it over here after (outside of festival plays). "Big For Your Boots" is on Stormzy's debut album Gang Signs and Prayer which came out this year.

Check out Christina’s fantabulous adventures in the photo pit on Instagram: @hiventura

Stay tuned for a new edition of cmd+f dropping tomorrow! The next cmd+vent letter will go out Saturday, December 16.

cmd+vent calendar day 1: Ana


Welcome to the first letter of the cmd+f advent calendar–or should I say, the cmd+vent calendar?

You may be scratching your head thinking, "what? It isn't Friday now, is it?" (more likely in far simpler terms floating about your head). Fear not: it is indeed the middle of the week. Hanukkah has already kicked off, and we are only (approximately) 12 days until Christmas.

As a special thank you to all the faithful readers of cmd+f (and to avoid having to compose a very cliche list of my favorite songs released in the past 12 months), I've reached out to a handful of dear friends to write about how and what particular music has impacted their time living through 2017. Consider this project an extension of the bonus section that lingers at the bottom of the cmd+f letter each week.

For Day 1 of the cmd+vent calendar I'd like to introduce Ana. She currently resides in the southern Hemisphere and was likely sweating her ass off in front of a volcano writing this up. I'll leave her to the rest of this letter.


Hey, I’m Ana–a 20 year old community radio host in New Zealand.
No, I don’t know Lorde. Yes, like every other New Zealander, she is a friend of a friend of a friend. I thought this cmd+f advent calendar was such a cool idea from B, and when she said she wanted people to share how music helped them find joy in 2017, I knew exactly what to write about.
I’ve been trying to make my way into radio for a couple years now, but it wasn’t until this year I solidified myself a proper announcing job. Sure, it’s a small community radio station based inside a record store, but it’s a radio station nonetheless. Thanks to this job, I’ve grown a new passion for New Zealand music because one of our goals is to try enlarge the focus on local acts. From playing ‘70s Kiwi bands (Dragon) to the newest voices in soul (Ria Hall), we try to cover as many bases as possible.

In this letter, I thought I’d highlight some of the NZ artists and songs that have come to my attention in 2017, and maybe you’ll learn about someone new!

Matthew Young

I’m starting with Matthew Young because he’s the one who really got this ball rolling. A few months ago I was looking at what new music had been added to our rotation, and his song "Collect" popped up. I was immediately obsessed, and added it to my own Spotify playlist. A few weeks later he released "Hey," which (at the time of writing this), has now racked up almost a million streams! Both of these songs have a really cool, chilled out vibe, paired with relevant lyrics and his pleasing voice. He has some other songs available from a 2015 EP, but personally I’m waiting to see what his next project delivers us.


Listen to his voice. That’s all I really need to say. TEEKS (or, Te Karehana) came out with his debut EP ‘The Grapefruit Skies’ this year and it’s a 6 track mix of his deep and soulful voice alongside some emotive storytelling. He’s also not forgetting his roots, accepting his recent VNZMA Best Māori Artist award with a speech fully in te reo Māori. In a country where we are currently having debates on whether or not te reo should be compulsory in schools, I’m glad artists like TEEKS are keeping it in the forefront. "If Only" is one of his singles from the EP, detailing the perspective of a person who is apologising for not being in love with someone who is in love with them. I’d recommend checking out the music video while you’re there, to catch him in a very handsome orange turtleneck.

The Miltones

The Miltones are an Americana/blues group who released their self-titled debut album this year. They’ve taken on a genre which some people (e.g. my pop trash-loving self) will easily dismiss out of concern for it sounding dated and boring… but it’s anything but that. The quintet bring a lot of life and relevance to each song. My personal favourite is "Glory," which starts off a bit eerie, then ventures into the psychedelic realm. I’m gutted because they actually performed at a tiny intimate venue in my town this year–but it was a couple of weeks before their music had even been introduced to me! I won’t be missing it if they return, that’s for sure. 


Okay, honestly? I’m not even a fan of Montell’s music. He’s a trap/hip-hop producer who found his success through Soundcloud, which isn’t generally what I gravitate to. I’m still *so proud* of how far he’s gotten and am following his every step. Montell comes from a small town near me with a 4.6k population, so it’s really impressive that he’s managed to break away from those restrictions and end up with a 21 Savage collaboration; "Hunnid On The Drop." Fingers crossed he manages to connect with other big names in the music industry and 2018 brings him more success!


SACHI!!! These two guys have been at it for a couple years now, but they only came onto my radar in 2017 with their hit "Shelter." Looking at my Shazam, I can actually say I discovered that song on the 5th of June! It’s fair to say they’re the most successful out of the acts I’ve covered, but I still wanted to mention them because they’ve been releasing consistently quality tracks over the past few months, and it’s always a highlight when I check New Music Friday/Release Radar and I see they have a brand new song out.

(bonus playlist of these songs and MORE because I had a lot of fun curating this!)

- Ana

You can find Ana on the net via Twitter: @anadayviez

Stay tuned for Day 2 of the cmd+vent calendar dropping tomorrow!