DIY: Countdown to Becoming Grandparents Sign

I am of the slightly crafty kind. I appreciate the folks that have beautiful handwriting and work on large projects, but I’m just not there. I have great ideas, but they don’t always pan out to be what the intended project was.This project is an example of me going to the store with something different in mind but going with what I found. I’m still proud of it!

When Ben and I announced that we were pregnant to our families we thought that we were going to be having and raising (at least short-term) our baby in Fresno. The news then of course came that Ben was being transferred to CSU and we’d be closer to our families. This gift works both for near and far families and is a fun way to include grandparents-to-be on the countdown to your baby.

This project was very easy to accomplish and is still in the crafty DIY category. Go get ’em!

Magnetic Chalkboard Sign: Countdown to Becoming Grandparents

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 magnetic chalkboard with wooden framing (can find at JoAnns or Michaels)
  • 1 small roll of Washi tape with design of your choice
  • 1 medium thickness paper (print using your favorite font)
  • Baby focused scrapbook items of your choice
  • 1 roll of magnets that can be cut to a specific size
  • Scissors and/or cutting board

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  1. First, you’ll start by taking the Washi tape and applying it to the wooden border around the chalkboard. Cut and fold as necessary to make smooth lines.
    1.  2014-12-13 08.47.112014-12-13 08.47.18
  2. Then you’ll print off your words and numbers. I have attached the template that I used. Make sure you make at least two 1’s and two 2’s (and potentially two 3’s depending when you gift these to your parents) as I made this error first time through the project. I recommend practicing on regular printer/copier paper to make sure your sizing is right for your board and that there is appropriate space between items.
    1. 0  1  1  2   2  3  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
    2. weeks until we’re grandparents!
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  3. Then you’ll cut out each of the numbers and words. Make sure the ink has had time to dry.
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  4. Once you have these cut out you will measure the magnet roll tape to the back of each item and cut the roll so it covers the majority of the paper without sticking out over the edges. You will need to press down to ensure they stick together.
    1. 2014-12-18 16.35.18
  5. Put magnets on the back of your chosen scrapbook items (baby rattle, baby bottle, rocking horse, carriage, teddy bear, Boy or Girl, etc.)
  6. We did not provide a hanging attachment on the back of the frame as both of our parents have set it up without. If you know your parents will hang it up, you can add the appropriate fixture to the back and/or add ribbon for the hanging items.
  7. You’re done! Gift your item with pride and let the grandparents-to-be enjoy the countdown to your little bundle of joy!

Cheers, Nikki

Grandparent Countdown Word document template

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The Fall of Football

Ok, the title is misleading. I don’t figuratively mean that football is in a decline and I will not get political about all the issues currently surrounding the game. I literally mean that this post will cover an incredible Fall season of Football and one that I will not forget anytime soon. Working in sports has been a journey that has lead me to a lot of places.

Each time I look back to reflect on my career, “What would 12/15/18/22 year old Ben think?” pretty much determines whether I should keep plugging away or pack it in. Well, those different variations of Ben would have been pretty excited at the idea of going to 12 College Football games in 14 weeks. This post is the story and recap of that experience.

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High atop the Coliseum

Saturday, August 30th – Fresno State @ USC – Neither Nikki or I had every been to a game at The Coliseum and it was a sight to be seen. Thankfully our good friends Mike and Megan Miller (and Mike’s dad) were able to show us the ropes and get us into a pretty awesome USC VIP tailgate (fresh with some New Belgium Beer, which I took as a good sign…). Turns out that was a BAD sign as USC put a complete hurting on Fresno State 52-13 in a game that wasn’t even that close. Tradition, or Pageantry to those in the know, is always something played up in college football and being a part of a USC home game did not disappoint. The players marching through the crowd to the field to Traveler (the mascot) and the lighting of the Olympic torch made a hot day with bad seats and a blowout much more palpable.

Saturday, September 6th – BYE Week – oh wait, Fresno played Utah…or did they? I’ve since repressed. (note – did not attend)

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Nebraska Game

Saturday, September 13th – Fresno State vs. Nebraska – Another week, another blowout. What else was new the first couple weeks of the season? Answer: a visit from the Walters Family (sans Krista). Outside of the usual happy moments (kids, marriage, etc.) standing on the Nebraska sideline for part of the game probable ranks pretty high up there. Nebraska put the finishing touches on a 55-19 trouncing of the Bulldogs but spirits remained high and many light beers were drank.

Saturday, September 20th – Fresno State vs. Southern Utah – yawn…Fresno State won 56-16, but hey, we did get to see fireworks after the game. Can’t overlook the first win of the season.

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Yep…that’s a bed on a football field.

Friday, September 26th – Fresno State @ New Mexico – Lets go 1-0 this week Dogs! After a slow start to the game the Bulldogs came out swinging in the 2nd half and charged to a 35-24 victory. Highlights of the trip included a successful night with our clients at the Sandia Casino, some excellent/authentic New Mexican food, a little golf, seeing a bed on a football field and getting home on Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. Travelling with the team is fun for a lot of reasons but it generally puts a strain on your energy level (getting home at 2-3am). I can’t even begin to say how much more awesome Friday night games are than Saturday night games.

Friday, October 3rd – Fresno State vs. San Diego State – SDSU was on their third string QB and IMG_0098it showed. The Dogs eeked out a 24-13 victory to win their third straight game and push their record to 3-3 on the year. Optimism was returning to the valley! Games for me are a blur. Suite, field, seats, meeting clients, on-field promotions, suite, field, etc. Certain things stand out each game and my opportunity to run the Hero of the Game promotion at every game was one of those. Getting to know each of our Heroes (Servicemen or Women) each week was an honor but seeing the crowd reaction and the faces of our Heroes and their families was the true reward. We honored Bob McLaughlin at the SDSU game and our friend Derek Carr was nice enough to pay a special visit.IMG_0104

Friday, October 10th – Fresno State @ UNLV – we lost…that’s all I have to say about the game. Outside of the game we had a great time in Vegas with our clients. Meeting Jerry Tarkanian (former UNLV and Fresno State men’s basketball coach), a wayward cab ride and a little roulette all made the loss a little bit easier to stomach (and getting back Saturday morning).

Friday, October 17th – Fresno State @ Boise State – I get it…Fresno AND Boise are not States…moving on. Boise is a great city and college town wrapped into one. They have a great downtown, great trails, great beer culture and some excellent restaurants. Boise State won 37-27 but I was honored to bring Valley First Credit Union and the ValleyIMG_0148 First Flyaway contest winners. My guests had an excellent time and the whole experience created “wow” moments for everyone all weekend. Truly a trip to remember.

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Magical city of Fort Collins

Saturday, October 25th – Colorado State vs. Wyoming – our annual trip home for a Rams football game happened to work perfectly for 30-40 of our friends also and a memorable tailgate party was had by all. Fort Collins is a magical town that provide us with FREE beer tastings at Odell’s, fun and fellowship at Old Chicago’s (and my first legal beer with my sister) and a late-night chance meeting with Rashard ‘Hollywood’ Higgins. The Rams also dominated the poor little Cowboys so that was neat.

Saturday, November 1st – Fresno State vs. Wyoming – I can confirm that I was at this game and that it did, in fact, happen. After a 45-17 loss things can really only go up right?

Saturday, November 8th – Fresno State vs. San Jose State – Last year SJSU embarrassed us in San Jose and ruined our chances of a BCS bowl game and an undefeated season. Revenge is a dish best served cold and thrown in the other’s face with a 38-24 butt-kicking. Fresno moved to 4-6 and within a punchers chance of still winning the West Division and playing for a Mountain West Championship.

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Packed house in Reno

Saturday, November 22nd – Fresno State vs. Nevada – Road Trips always seem to mark something special and this one held the distinction of being Andrew Wieder’s first trip with the team and the first time I’ve ever been on a plane where the pilot missed his landing and had to pull a Top Gun style “touch and go” and lay on the throttle about 500 feet above ground. IT was awesome in a kind of “Holy crap, what is happening…” reaction in the moment and a pretty cool story to tell after the fact. Our colleagues at Wolf Pack Sports Properties hosted us and showed us a good time in Reno that night followed by a 40-20 beatdown of the Wolf Pack by our Dogs the next day. Just like that we are 5-6 and a win vs. Hawaii the next week would put us into the Mountain West Championship game.

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The calm before the storm

Saturday, November 29th – The Lucas family descended upon Fresno for our regular season finale against Hawaii. Somehow we were able to recover from the Thanksgiving coma and make it out of the house on Saturday. It was mom and dad’s first game at Bulldog Stadium and they got to experience some tailgating, our suite and the cold metal bleachers of section 26. One of my clients was the game sponsor so my game day experience was cut and pasted into a random but memorable collage…all in a days work.

12 Games in 14 weeks…I need a beer and a nap but there is no rest for the weary…Fresno State vs. Cal Poly men’s basketball game tips off at 7pm! See you there.

The State of Massachusetts – Part 1

Not only a popular Dropkick Murphy’s song but a pretty cool place. Boston, and Massachusetts as a whole, was the final leg of our East Coast Trip and one that we were really looking forward to. Nikki and I figured that we’d enjoy Boston for the history, the food, the walkability and the beer (who would have thought). We also knew that we could not wait to see my family for Patrick and Sarah’s wedding in Topsfield, MA. What we didn’t know was how much we would enjoy Newburyport as it turned out to be one of the major highlights of our trip (Wedding and Newburyport in Part 2).

We arrived in Boston on Thursday around noon after a long train ride from NYC. Hungry and thirsty we set off for our hotel a few blocks away. Immediately we found out the navigating our way through Boston might be difficult. The history of the city is great but maybe…maybe…figure out the road system (whoever the civic planner was DEFINITELY FAILED). After winding our way through a couple alleys and criss-crossing some streets we found our hotel and stayed for long enough to be insulted by the workers and drop our luggage…fun.

Our Boston experience could only go up after that so off we went to Faneuil Hall. We quickly found Cheers (fake Cheers, real Cheers is about 2 miles away) to get out of a brief rainstorm and grab some lunch. The bartender did not know our names but that did not stop him from being excellent and even giving me a nice 1/4 cup free refill on my beer. Lunch and the rain came and went so we were off to the next adventure, Fenway Park. Fenway was the only park we went to and without seeing a game. We stayed long enough for a Sam Adams and some awesome Center Field Views from the Bleacher Bar under the Green Monster.

Nikki was in need of a little afternoon catnap so I took off to explore Boston by foot. I was finally able to gain my bearings after a run through the financial district and up through Boston Commons and back. The run took me past the State House (both old and new), the sight of the Boston Massacre and a very active Boston Commons which was featuring a Shakespeare festival, multiple concerts, an art fare and adult softball games.

The North End and its Italian charm came highly recommended for dinner so we picked Nico’s and were not disappointed. On the way we stopped at the Paul Revere Mall and House. On the way back we saw lines around the block for Mike’s and The Modern cannoli shops. We were full and wanted to get back to the hotel for a nightcap (and neither one of us really like cannoli’s) so we passed this time.

Boston has such a historical charm that makes it easy to fall in love with the city (the 75 degree weather was nice too). Nikki and I wanted more time but knew we were limited so we made the decision to turn in early Thursday night so we could get up and walk the rest of the Freedom Trail up to Bunker Hill early Friday morning. It was a great decision as the walk and Charlestown were really great to explore. We also were greeted with hello’s and good morning’s from strangers along the walk…something that was not expected and stood out as a Boston exclusive.

We left Boston Friday morning with a new favorite city in our list of places we’ve visited. Nikki and I both would rank Boston at the top of the cities we visited on a list of places that we could see ourselves living at some point.

Off to Newburyport and Topsfield for the S&P wedding, detailed in Part 2 of this blog.

Cheers,
Ben and Nikki

DC and Baltimore

Having more time on the trains between cities, we’ve blogged about our time in Philadelphia and New York. We are playing catch up on the rest of the cities we visited.

To start off the tour de east coast we landed at Reagan National. Nice, easy spot to fly into. Our good friends Alex and Dustin hosted us for our time there and we were lucky to have Dustin have a day off to spend time with us.

The first thing Alex and Dustin asked was “Do you like burgers?” to which we answered (and will always answer) “YES!” They took us to Good Stuff Eatery in Arlington. We each got a burger and split fries. Good burgers for a medium price. Our favorite was the sauces that you can get to dip the fries in. After burgers we went back to their apartment and were able to taste some Oregon vodka, gin and whisky that Dustin’s family makes and sells. Great stuff!

Saturday was tour DC day with Alex and Dustin. Anytime you try to fit this in in one day you won’t get to see it all, but we were able to get the highlights and must do/see. Founding Farmers for brunch in the GW Univ. area was a great way to start our day out…slow service but great food.

National Mall sights:
White House – wouldn’t truly be complete without active protests happening. Israel and Gaza supporters were both passionate about communicating to the President. Or at least the security guards and tourists. There was even a young girl in her twenties standing along the fence reading a book out loud about Israel.
Washington Monument – tall and visible from most other places in DC. There is a patch of grass between the White House and Washington Monument that could use some love and creativity for land use.
– Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool – Reflecting pool sits between the Washington and Lincoln and is lovely in pictures unless you are walking right by it. Lincoln sits large and proud in his seat. The beard plays.
– Korean Memorial – I love to look at each soldier, as if they are part of a movie and you’re seeing them move right in front of you. Strong statement and both of us have seen this in rain/fog before, which is the best and most eery way to see it.

Korean Memorial 8.2.14
– MLK Jr. Memorial – New to both Ben and I. We thought this was a great setup for him. His figure chiseled out of a large slab, with a quote on the side “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope”. The rest of the area detailed the historic and profound statements he made including my favorite: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

MLK Jr Memorial 8.2.14
– FDR Memorial – New to Ben. I remember taking pictures with my friends by every fountain/water exhibit in this memorial on my 8th grade trip. Very serene feel and welcomed shade in this area. Best quote: “I have seen war. I have seen war on land and seas. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed…I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
– Jefferson Memorial – Full figure memorial with a “power stance” and full robe/jacket. Did they call them robes back then or am I just thinking of Harry Potter? Forgive my ignorance. Although I am now having a good picture of our early presidents partaking in the Harry Potter saga. Let’s see if Ben edits this out! Jefferson quotes chosen were wordy but in his time were the right things to help shape our nation. Bummed to not have time to show Ben Monticello, but alas, we move on.
– Natural History Museum – Way too crowded in here to take full advantage but very cool exhibits on genetics, full skeleton exhibits of hundreds of mammals, and of course the Hope Diamond.

That evening we were able to cross another ballpark off the list by attending the Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies game. The stadium is great and not too far of a train ride located at the Washington Navy Yard. We were able to get some Tacos and put away a few beers at Agua 301 before heading into the game. Beautiful night and cool stadium. They clearly market to the younger crowd by offering a $5 beer before the start of the game. Nationals shut out the Phillies 11-0.

Nationals vs. Phillies 8.2.14

 

 

Best photo from this city: Ben Lucas, Commander in Chief

Ben Commander in Chief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALTIMORE
Next day we were off the Baltimore on the train (thanks Alex for taking us all the way there). Arrived at Baltimore Penn Station and then took the light rail to downtown. Our hotel room wasn’t ready so we checked our bags and walked to Camden Yards. What a great place. Picturesque setup with so many things to see and take your attention away from the game. Our seats were in right field foul ball territory but we were in the covered area.

We were able to have Casey and Wes (friends that we met in Fresno and have recently moved to the east coast off of Chesapeake Bay) drive up and meet us at the game. It was both Wes and I’s first Orioles versus Seattle Mariners game. It was an exciting game to start with a solo home run in the 1st inning but pretty slow after that. Even better to allow us to catch up with Casey and Wes, people watch and take in the atmosphere. Orioles won 1-0.

 

Camden Yards 8.3.14

 

Electric Slugger

The “Electric Slugger” — You play it like a violin and it sounds like an electric guitar and is made out of a Louisville Slugger!

Post game we went to a local brewery and had some good beers! Also got to witness BronyCon 2014 in person. If you don’t know what that is, google it. It’s as weird as it sounds. After dinner Casey and Wes went home (thanks again for coming to see us!!), Ben and I walked to the Inner Harbor. Loved being able to see this. It’s post card beautiful and has so much character. Definitely has some touristy spots there but a different vibe there then where our hotel was. We got back to the hotel just in time before a torrential downpour. Great views of the storm from our room and a good time to make sure we didn’t miss our Sunday night TV show ritual (thanks HBO GO and surprisingly strong WiFi).

Will definitely visit both cities again to see more, eat more and drink more.

Cheers,
Nikki and Ben

In a New York Minute

We were there…now we’re gone…good thing we fit as much in as possible.

Tuesday our train got in at 12:15 which left us just about enough time to meet up with Patrick and get a quick bite to eat before he had to leave to teach his last final. I can’t remember the name of it but we enjoyed the view from the 39th floor and some pretty good Korean food and then we were off.

Our first stop was the Empire State Building to take in the observation deck. We couldn’t have found a better way to see a 360 degree view of all of NYC. Nikki has been to the Top of the Rock at night so seeing the city during the day was a treat. After being bogged down by lines and crowds we finally made our way out of the tower to happily find Heartland Brewery at the main floor. Shocker, we stopped to have a quick beer. Nikki enjoyed a Cornhusker Lager and I had the Indiana Pale.

We moved uptown a little bit to see Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library (on the way we stopped to get a hot dog, because, why not, we’re in New York). Both are very historic and we enjoyed taking time to go into both and experience them.

Patrick met us at the Library and we were all on the same page…time for some pizza and beer. We took the subway over to the NYU area and enjoyed some Ray’s Pizza and Victory Prima Pils. Our next stop was right around the corner at the oldest bar in New York, McSorley’s. This place dripped history out of every corner, booth, wall and table and smelled like stale beer from 1857 mixed with onions and about 40 New Yorkers who just got off work…so pretty much the definition of a great dive bar. The three of us enjoyed some ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ beers and took it all in.

After making it out to Brooklyn we found a pub and finally closed the night with a little Sake and Arrested Development…pretty standard.

 Wednesday morning we found a nice Greek diner for a really good (and Cheap) breakfast before sending Patrick off to Massachusetts and exploring more of Manhattan. Nikki and I took off from our hotel to explore Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center (I could have spent hours in the Lego store). From there we walked up 5th Avenue to Central Park. The biggest surprise for me was seeing the massive rock outcroppings throughout the southern part of the park. Our journey to the Park had to make a pit stop at the Wollman Ice Skating Rink for Nikki to show me where her favorite scene of one of her favorite movies (Serendipity) takes place. Unfortunately there was a Fair taking place (one of Nikki’s least favorite things) so to make the Universe right we donated $1 to a local YMCA youth basketball team, Karma is in our favor.

After the park we found Three Monkeys Tavern for a break to get off our feet (we’ve been walking A LOT). We both enjoyed some beer (Yonkers Lager, Three Monkeys IPA and Radiant Pig) with some good sliders and chicken sandwich before hitting up Times Square on the way back to our hotel. We both needed a little down time before attempting our first subway ride without help and the Yankees game last night.

The Subway was a success and far less intimidating than the first time through (thank you Google Maps!). Yankee Stadium was a sight to be seen and pretty much had anything that you could have wanted at a stadium. We picked up our $11 Bud Lights (yep…) and got to our seats in the Bleachers just in time to see Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe in the section next to us and to join in with the Bleacher Creatures in their pre-game rituals (all very cool). Even though it is a new stadium you could feel history all over the place and it retained a very intimate feel. A couple more $12 beers and some Nathan’s Hot Dogs helped wrap up our entire Yankee Stadium experience. We had to stop one more time at Times Square at night. times squre

New York came and went but we enjoyed every minute of it…we’re 30 minutes outside of Boston and a new adventure will begin soon.

 

Cheers

Ben and Nikki

Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia

We were sad to be in Philadelphia and miss Claytie and Fletcher. Hope you have safe travels Claytie and Fletch we are thinking of you in your recovery!

Luckily, we got the run down prior to our visit of what to squeeze in our quick stop in Philly.

Jim’s Steaks on South St.
After a 15-minute wait, we were able to enjoy our Pepper Steak with provolone (sorry for all the people who said you have to get the cheese whiz, we just couldn’t do it) paired with two delicious Yuenglings.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
Ben and I aren’t big wait in line people unless that line ends with a beer or food. It was good enough for us to be outside and see. Plus you can see the bell through the window. Cool parts of history.

Betsy Ross house
Our quick break for some A/C…and Nikki wanted to buy all the cool things in the gift store. Love the courtyard in front of her house.

Elfreths Alley
The oldest steet in America. Very tiny and has cute houses along it. Looks like the immediate area is going through a revitalization with some new businesses opening.

Christ Church
Our favorite of things we saw. We love living out west but one thing that you notice and appreciate is who old everything is on the east coast. Just so much more national history. We enjoyed sitting where George Washington, Ben Franklin, William Penn, John Adams, Robert Morris, and others sat for church each Sunday.

City Tavern
After Christ Church the plan was to head back to the hotel. But then our walk took us past the City Tavern. Very likely a touristy place, but hey, it’s where Ben Franklin had a beer once! Ben and I both enjoyed water and beers here. More details about that below.

The Coffee Bar
Ben’s mom and Nikki have been dreaming up a future business: coffee shop/beer/wine bar that is also a book exchange. This place was a good example of the combo of coffee house/chill bar. We had beers here detailed below

The Dandelion
Fletch said we had to go here for dinner. And we did and we enjoyed! We had House made ricotta to start. Ben got the Lamb shepherds pie and Nikki got crab risotto for dinner. Dessert was Pana cotta with lemon/basil sorbet, shortbread and strawberries. It was really different but we enjoyed it.

Beer
And now what you’ve been waiting for!
Nikki got Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce which is a Ben Franklin recipe inspired by his time in France. Reminded of a Christmas Ale named Jubilee.
Ben got Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale.
Nikki got OtterCreek Fresh Slice from Vermont. Unfiltered, delicious, clementine white IPA. So, so, so good!
Ben got Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA
Nikki got Blanche du Bruxulles – 16oz can, not a bad way to enjoy this one.
Ben got Sierra Nevada and Victory collaboration (Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, german style ale)

Philadelphia Art Museum (Rocky Steps and Statue)
This was Ben’s last request before leaving Philadelphia…he had to run up the stairs and take a picture with the Rocky Statue. It was warm and out of the way before leaving but it was worth it.

We are on the way to New York now…keep an eye out for our recaps of Washington DC and Baltimore shortly.

Cheers
Nikki and Ben

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Discussion)

In a new series of posts we will be featuring Ben’s sister Jenny Lucas. Jenny (or Jen) is currently a student at Colorado State and an intern for the Vail Jazz Festival working toward a career in music. She loves music and knows more than most about it than most so we are allowing her to flex her creative writing muscles.

We each listened to the album and emailed each other our thoughts…No onto the discussion:

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An Awesome Wave (Album artwork)

(Ben) I hate Breezeblocks…sorry Jenny…you can’t get me to like this song. I’ve made it through Intro…and Interlude 1 (Why are there 3 Interludes???) and am on to Tessellate…which I like. I am going to need to listen to this album multiple times. The first I will need to listed hard but it will be tough to get past the lead singers voice…I CAN’T GET PAST IT. Just skipped Breezeblocks…yep that’ll be a theme. 2nd time through I’ll dive into the instrumentals and third probably the lyrics, but I don’t know, I’m not a huge lyrics guy.

Interlude 2 sounds like David Grey is on a beach in Wales…next…great into drum (snare drum) to Something Good. Oh neat…piano…another piano…Something Good has a good pace, I could run to this song. Something Good sets itself apart from the first part of the album, thumbs up. So far so good on Dissolve Me…this is their most complex song so far…what do you think Jenny? I’m digging it. Lots of different sounds…new age, alternative, Irish Folk…if you dropped a beat and a synthesizer machine over some Mumford and Sons…This is my favorite song on the album so far.

I’m halfway through their album, which has gotten a lot better since weird Interlude 2…I’ll get the rest soon but I’m anxious to compare notes…Jenny…your turn…

(Jenny) Now that Alt-J have announced a new album and dropped their new single (sampling Miley Cyrus which wasn’t as disastrous as I thought it could be) it’s a good time to revisit their breakthrough first album.

I have been listening to Alt-J for years, before their first album came out…Very hipster (blah) of a thing to say, I know (of course you would!), but it is true. The point is that this album has become one of my favorites and I haven’t gotten tired of them.

Love Intro! Makes me feel like I’m starting some epic adventure and then launches straight into Interlude 1, an accapella piece that makes absolutely no sense, but the flow is on point and sounds awesome.

Tessellate had me hooked within the first 10 seconds—the beat is addicting. Lyrically this song made me laugh when I first heard it, but after a while I found it to be unique and quite clever. On the surface it’s a song about basic geometry, but delve deeper and it revolves around love/relationships (my opinion).

I love Breezeblocks…sorry Ben. I don’t mind his voice—it’s is different, but I think it fits the sound of the track, and the vibe of the album. This song just has a cool sound, especially the second half. The drums and the “hey” at 2:32 just make the song for me—it’s the little things.

Interlude 2 is nice and relaxing, but could do with or without it.

Something [really] Good. Everything about this song work for me–The melodies, instrumentation, that piano!!!

The variety and complexity of Dissolve Me, like you said, makes this song great. The quiet moments really make it a stand out for me—I am a big fan of the dreamy feel.

On to the second half of the album, starting with Matilda…Here we go…I think I’m bothered here the same way I am with Breezeblocks. The voice just kills this song…give it a different voice and I think it works better. The instrumentals are good. Ms – at the minute mark I’m getting a Beatles vibe. You’re right with the dreamy, chill vibe with this song. You feel like you can sit on the porch and have a few beers and play this song on repeat on a calm summer night. Fitzpleasure is interesting…it is gritty and unless you’re listening to listen…like actually listen…Alt-J poses problems with the ‘hard to decipher’ statement. I like the song.

I have to bring up Bloodflood…at first listen, I really like this song…there is a whaling feel to the song that sticks with you. Lyrically it is a simple song based around a few lines but the instrumentals and delivery make it a repeat listen immediately.

Matilda was the first song I ever heard and at first I was not a fan, it took months for me to revisit it. It is still not my favorite, but it grows on me each time I listen.

Ms is my absolute favorite! As I mentioned before, I like songs that create a dreamy, chill vibe and this does just that. Every time it breaks into the instrumental portions I get chills, and hearing it live almost brought a tear to my eye—I had a moment. I actually never gave it much attention until I saw Alt-J live. Hearing it was an experience and made me appreciate what Alt-J was doing even more…it’s hard to explain.

Tra-la-la-Tra-la-la. Fitzpleasure is gritty, loud and sometimes hard to decipher, but it is awesome.

Interlude 3 is nice and a good transition from the Fitzpleasue into the more timid Bloodflood.

I found the technique used with guitar—adding an Indian feel—in Taro really refreshing. This is definitely one of the top songs on the album.

Hand-Made is good, but not one I listen to a lot.

Overall, this album is incredible. An Awesome Wave combined so many different sounds/genres that all worked well together. The style is new, different and still exciting 2 years after its release.

Thanks for your input Jenny, it is always good to dive into music that you would have not listened to otherwise. I was not a fan of Alt-J outside of casual listening. A few thoughts right away…there is A LOT going on with the sounds and direction of “An Awesome Wave” and this isn’t a bad thing. It is an album that has turned me more onto Alt-J than I have if I never listed to it. To me, it is a mix of songs that would work great in a road trip mix, a running mix or an uninterrupted day on the slopes. You can listen to “An Awesome Wave” and really lose yourself with the transitions and trance-like vibe of the whole album.

Enjoy

Ben

ps – follow Jen at @jenl0306 on twitter and http://the-unforecasted-storm.tumblr.com/