Tag Archives: music writer

Summertime is Here Again

Summer had a greater meaning to my life when I was younger

Cape May, NJ Beach Photograph by Traci Taylor

-Spending all day at the beach 
-My birthday season (yes I am a Leo sun) 
-The opening of our backyard pool (yes, that meant pool parties)
-Family BBQ’s in the backyard with corn that we would shuck from Legates
-Endless bike rides to the bay just to coast down the big hill
-Wishing oh so badly that my Dad believed in air conditioning
-My hometown going from complete ghost town to overcrowded tourist central
-Nights at the Wildwood Boardwalk

Living in a couple of different cities for almost ten years I can say one thing, summer does not have the same feeling or meaning for me. Give me any of the other three seasons, please – because summertime in the city is not ideal compared to having the privilege of living near the beach in the summer. 

This summer more than ever I find myself trying to rediscover music I used to listen to that reminds me of having my windows down in my Jeep driving all over town. 

I tried so hard to get out of that small town, and now I would give anything to travel back in time to live another summer day in Cape May.

Here’s a taste of music that pulls me right back in to those summertime memories:

Diamonds and Coal – Incubus

There was a whole summer in my late teens where I would only listen to Incubus. I had a deep infatuation with Brandon Boyd. So, for me when I think of summer time music I think back to Incubus and the times my best friend and I went to see them in concert. 

Bad Fish – Sublime

Yes, I had a very long phase of deeply loving Sublime. I had almost every album and a poster up on my bedroom door. There was a time in high school when my friend and I were on the bus coming home from an away lacrosse game singing this song obnoxiously loud (the rest of the team was not thrilled). When I think of the summer and driving around in my old forest green jeep grand cherokee sport – I think of blaring Sublime driving to see the sunset at the bay with my windows down. 

Blue Sky – Allman Brothers Band

I’ve always self proclaimed myself to be an old soul. The music I mainly loved growing up was from the 60s and 70s. By the time I was a teenager I had a fascination with jam bands and hippie culture. The Allman Brothers were very high on my list of songs I loved to listen to on a cool summer day.

Sweet Honey – Slightly Stoopid

When you grow up living by the beach I think it is almost mandatory to have a love for “beach music”. Slightly Stoopid has the same kind of musical vibe as bands like Sublime, Pepper, and G. Love. Light hearted music that makes you wish you were spending days upon days just soaking in the sun on the beach.

The Wheel – Grateful Dead

My love for the Grateful Dead is intense. I’ve seen Bob, Phil, and the Dead in concert many many times – but sadly never Jerry. Those concerts really are unlike anything you would ever experience at another musical event. A community of Dead Heads come together to enjoy music and just dance. My favorite part was always the before when people just hang out before the concert – you meet some great folks at these events. I heard them perform this song and it has always stuck in my memory as one of the most memorable performances I had seen of theirs.

Jamming – Bob Marley

The love and appreciation I have for Bob Marley and his sons is one I could probably never find the exact words for. I admire his music and his story – I had many of his albums. As I grew older though, I started to appreciate the music his sons were creating more so. There is poetry to his music and you can hear how he sings from his soul in almost all of his songs.

The Traffic Jam – Stephen and Damian Marley

The song this album is off of by Stephen Marley is one of my favorite albums. This is not the acoustic version, but I highly recommend listening to the entire acoustic version of this album. I had it on repeat growing up. Fun fact – I was lucky enough to see these two perform on South Street when I was a senior in high school. At the time it felt so surreal to see the two of them in person, and it was a spectacular performance.

Your Love – Dirty Heads feat Ky-mani Marley

This is the ultimate – drink in hand, sand beneath your feet, and nothing but ocean for miles in front of you kind of song. A reminder of late nights with friends and sun burns I would much rather forget.

Baby’s Got Sauce – G Love and the Special Sauce

G Love’s music reminds me of high school summer nights and an age I don’t want to go back to – but I’d relive the carefree-ness of it all if I could. This song is a little playful, and is really meant to be listened to in times of joyous celebration. Fun fact – G Love is actually an alum to a school in Philly that I used to work at, and I didn’t know that until after I moved on to work at a another school.

Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) Janis Joplin

The time to listen to Janis is in any season, but I used to prefer to listen to her music in the summertime. Her voice is out of this world incredible and there’s no one else like her (and I cringe at the Amy Winehouse comparisons, so don’t even try).

Zebra – John Butler Trio

John Butler trio is definitely one of those laid back, beach vibes kind of tunes to listen to. This is one of my favorite songs, but “Ocean” the live version is worth a listen to. Every setting in life has a soundtrack if you think about it and music just like this is what goes along with summers at the beach.


Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead

One of the more high energy Grateful Dead songs that is highly ranked for me. This song was definitely one I had blaring out of my Jeep many many times. When my first nephew was born I used to sing this to him often and it would always get him to smile. He is about to turn six in a couple of weeks and that makes me feel older than I realize. It also makes me realize how fast time can go in a blink of an eye. Somehow though, it still feels like just yesterday I was riding around listening the Grateful Dead either planning a night with friends, headed to the beach, headed to a show, or going to work a double at work. Good ol’ summer days in Cape May.

What are somethings that remind you of summer?

Cape May Beach, NJ Photograph by Traci Taylor

Songs to Ease Your Mind

With the way of the world currently it feels important to state this message very clearly: Protect Trans Kids.
Art by: Tray Taylor
IG:: @allusiontoreality

There never seems to be enough time. 

I think that is something we have all felt before or something that we constantly feel. All in all, it may be easy to agree that even in a world where we were given “more time” at home …it still never feels like enough. 

In a year (more like well over a year) of added stress due to a global pandemic and a metaphorical world on fire around us… we should all just keep acting accordingly…right? 

No, no absolutely not. 

We all need space and time to breathe….AND be forgiving to ourselves & the people around us. 

I’ve tried to set a routine for myself a countless amount of times during this past year. Nothing has truly stuck. A few things I always find myself falling back on for centering though are meditation (shout out to the app Insight) and music. 

Here’s a list of songs to soothe your soul & mind: 

Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce

Have I mentioned how much I adore Jim Croce? I’m pretty sure I have, but I can’t gush about this man enough. His music is my favorite to listen to on vinyl. This song particularly gets me lost in his voice…wait wait, who am I kidding? Almost every song he sings I get lost in that gorgeously comforting soft as silk voice of his. In fact when I was trying to think of songs that made me feel calm or centered, I found myself humming this song instantly. Oh the magical power of a Jim Croce song…

Still Sound (instrumental) – Toro y Moi

Full disclosure, my introduction to Toro y Moi was the instrumental album. Which I quickly realized was actually just a re-release of the original lyrical album that was dropped a decade ago entitled The Difference. I stumbled upon Toro y Moi when I was looking for music that was going to soothe the anxiety I was feeling and somehow in my rabbit hole for searching for that perfect album….The Difference instrumental version was what I found. I fully intend to go back and listen to the lyrical version of the album, I just wanted the experience of listening to the instrumental first. For me, I was instantly blown away and of course Toro y Moi has been around for awhile – so I am a bit behind the times. If you are a fan and haven’t listened to the instrumental version of the album, I highly recommend checking it out in its entirety. This was a favorite, but it was pretty hard to pick just one track. 

You Were Meant for Me – Jewel

I once worked with a guy that loved Jewel…other fun facts about him: he also loved dinosaurs and had a vintage motorcycle. Part of me never really understood his deep appreciation for her music, but I think how much he would talk about it randomly every day made me understand the beauty in her songs a bit more. That friend of mine recently passed away a year or so back and I hadn’t spoken to him since we had worked together. Jewel’s songs have a calming spirit to them, but they not have an added meaning for me. In the chaos of life, when a Jewel song comes on – I get to think of my friend and I think that is part of the many facets of beauty that music holds. 

Simple as This – Jake Bugg 

I forget how much I love this song, until I rediscover it buried in one of my many playlists I have created. This is a song that is simply (no jokes intended there) joyful. Part of it is the sound of it makes it seem as if it is from the 60s or 70s when it actually was released in 2012. A real comforting tune for an old soul like myself. 

Place to Be – Nick Drake

Nick Drake for me has a voice that defies odds …because it is seemingly raspy yet soft all at the same time….which is truthfully an exquisite combination. Anyway, Nick is another artist I often find myself reverting back to when I just need to get work done or to calm my spirit. Place to Be is a favorite of mine because it is a song I can put on and get lost within without even realizing until the song has ended. I say all of that, because that is exactly what just happened when I had it playing.

California – Joni Mitchell

Something about this song that no matter the weather outside or the mood I am in – I am instantly elevated for three minutes and fifty seconds. Joni has a way of transporting the listener to a dream-like-state with this song. There is a powerful pull within the lyrics of the song and Joni’s captivating voice that can make a person believe there is sun on the horizon and everything will be okay in the end. Sure a cynic would say that it is just a song about California, but I’ve never been a fan of cynicism. 

Maybe these songs pulled you in and excited you enough to add them to a playlist. Maybe they encouraged you to revisit music that grounds you and makes you feel centered. 

In a world full of chaos, I wish you all to find whatever outlet will bring you comfort.

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Sometimes writing for this website feels like I am consistently learning how to ride a bike and continuously falling off it each time.

There’s imposter syndrome and loads of self doubt with being a writer, but the gag is …. in order to be a writer you have to get over that and write anyway. 

I don’t think I can count the amount of times I heard the phrase in my life, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I’m trying to relate that to what was working when I first started creating posts on this site and I don’t want to stray too far away from just sharing music with my opinions/reviews to each track or sharing book suggestions or writing anything in my authentic voice. I say all of this because I’m looking to grow my readership, so if you ever want to recommend my writing to a friend, family member, or stranger …that would be greatly appreciated. 

What does seem to be broken though are these past two weeks, because every single day has felt like a Monday. The amount of energy it has taken to intentionally find the silver lining in each day has been utterly exhausting. 

I have searched endlessly to find just the right kind of songs to make me feel upbeat for a mere two minutes of the day. Here are those songs (tell me why I said that like that part in L&O:SVU when the intro says, These are their stories.):

Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead

This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with The Grateful Dead and it is a song I turn to often when I want to reconnect with my younger self. My teenage years and early twenties were very drenched in Dead Head culture. I went to a lot of shows, played the music endlessly on repeat, and dressed the part. Over the years I’ve strayed a bit from my hippie ways, but every now and then I like to play the Dead to remind myself of how carefree life once felt…especially in moments of stress.

At My Worst Pink Sweat$ feat. Kehlani

Okay so, yes this is more of a sad bop. The truth is sometimes, when I am searching for music to uplift my spirits listening to sad songs that I can sing along to actually have a tendency to uplift me (I know I am not alone on this). This song is fairly new, and has been added to one of my recent playlists that I have had on repeat. I love the combination of both of their voices together – poetic in every sense.

Dead FLowers – New Riders of the Purple Sage

I admittedly didn’t discover New Rides of the Purple Sage until a few years into my love for the Grateful Dead. It was actually an old Tumblr friend that recommended the band to me. Sidenote: Tumblr for those that don’t know, is a blogsphere type of platform where others can connect through similar interests & blogging (Disclaimer sidenote: this was not the best description, you can Google it for further details). ANYWAY – my point is I have been going through old favorites of mine and stumbled upon this gem.

Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison

Oh sweet George – I have a deep love and appreciation for George Harrison. I think the first time I heard this song when I was younger, I became instantly obsessed. I know for those that have listened to George Harrison’s music this may seem like the overrated single and he has a greater discography than this song….and I would agree with this sentiment. However, this song still has a special place in my heart, and will always be a favorite. Especially in a time when I need a song to boost my mood.

Heat – Paul Woolford, Amber Mark 

This song just made me feel like I was in a club in the Gayborhood in Philly or at Pride …and I couldn’t resist putting it on the list. I miss music to dance to, I miss dancing, I miss the feeling that dancing to good music gives the soul. So, if you want – here’s a directive…turn up the music, and dance wherever you are…right now.

America – Simon & Garfunkel

Yeah, I know… another sad bop…and this isn’t the last one – so get over that already. I adore this song. I adore Simon & Garfunkel. They were one of the first artists I listened to that showed me that some music lyrics are absolute poetry. Their music tells a story of a time I wish I could travel back and live through. My old soul yearns to just live during this musical time period more often than not. If I could live in a song – it would be this one, hands down.

Dancing On My Own – Robyn

A forever favorite of mine. Robyn is a go-to when I want to get up and dance – but don’t know exactly what I want to be listening to. The answer is never not Robyn, so therefore it is always Robyn. Plus, I mean…”Dancing On My Own”… it just kind of hits different during a time of quarantines and pandemics.

Orpheus – Sara Bareilles

Swoon…Every. Single. Time. when it comes to Sara Bareilles. Her voice is like the sun setting across an ocean horizon and the sky fills up in bursts of all of the colors that every existed in the universe. Beauty that expands any true imagination. She has the power to write a slow song and I find myself singing my heart out in my apartment suddenly filled with energy. Or maybe I am just some strange person that enjoys singing sad songs even when I am not sad just to feel something? I don’t know. Anyway, she’s a master of her craft – if you’ve never listened to any of her music…please do me a favor and go, now.

Welp. That’s it. That’s all there is for now. Writing this made today, an actual Monday, feel a lot less like a Monday…so hopefully reading it did something similar for you.

More Music to Add to Your Playlist

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Here’s the thing with me and I’m assuming some other people out there – I didn’t mind not being able to socialize for an entire year. I loved not having to feel the pressure of flaking out on people simply because I did not have the energy. I didn’t feel a sense of guilt for having to come up with an excuse that I just wanted to go home to read a book, listen to music, or watch TV. 

I also know that this year has been really hard for my friends that get their charge from being around others. That’s just…so not me. 

There was no “hitting the wall” for me, except for that one time last month of March 2021 when I was like…I just wish I could go out dancing with my friends again. Then I woke up the next day and was happy to not have any plans on my calendar. 

This is no shade or anything to my friends that I love so much – I love you all deeply and enjoy spending time with you. I’m just a hermit and that’s the truth. 

I do a really stellar job to appear outgoing to most, but that’s all a facade – I promise. 

You know one thing that really recharges my energy?
You probably guessed by the title where this was going to go…yes, yep…it’s music! ….And it’s been far too long since I’ve shared with you what songs I’ve had on repeat lately. 

Through these long drawn out days of what has been so far a gorgeous spring…I offer you a few songs to add to your playlist: 

Starstruck – Years & Years 

This song is to be played when you want to cook dinner, have your own dance party, or that thing called exercise. I was beyond thrilled to see that Years & Years recently released this song, because it has been far too long since they’ve released new music. Olly Alexander was more so recently focused on acting and just starred in the latest Russell T Davies project, It’s a Sin. Which, if you haven’t seen yet – it’s a 5 episode miniseries focused on the AIDS crisis in the UK during the 80s and 90s within the view of 5 characters’ eyes. Highly recommended and available on HBO max. 

To the Class Of – Bleed the Rads (explicit)

I recently discovered this song when watching the romantic comedy Almost Love on Netflix (yes also go watch this lighthearted movie starring some spectacular underrated actors). The lyrics and composition of the song reminded me of a lot of music that I grew up on. I’m a sucker for nostalgia in the form of music, especially when I’m in a rut of sorts about where I am going in life. 

Obsessed – Mariah Carey

There’s just something about that opening line, “and I was like..why are you so obsessed with me” that has felt more appealing to say recently. Even when I’m not saying it to anyone and I’m sitting in a room by myself (okay…maybe all of this alone time during the pandemic has gotten to me). But also, I would never say that to anyone other than my good friends in a sarcastic tone. Anyway – this song is a forever bop.

Fight the Power Pts 1 & 2 – The Isley Brothers

Verzus recently had The Isley Brothers vs. Earth, Wind, and Fire and like..WOW four hours of legends ..it was totally worth staying up way past my bedtime to witness. Anyway, I was texting my Dad during it because I was introduced to both of these bands through him growing up. His response was to send me multiple different videos of some of his favorites. This was one of them.

Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushen 

This is another song that I like to put on when I’m cooking or dancing in my apartment by myself. The kind of song that when it comes on is just an instant mood booster – I have a deep appreciation for songs that have the power to do that. Clearly it was such a hit that it was replicated for the Men in Black theme song in 1997. 

Can We Hang On – Cold War Kids

There will always be artists or songs that remind us of certain people in our lives both past and present. I’ve been revisiting this song and thinking about where I was when I first heard it. How different I am now and the new meanings these lyrics have taken on for me. The power of music is incredibly beautiful. 

So, there you have it – add a few, add ‘em all, or don’t add any. A good friend of mine often tells me you should only do what you want to do. I’m merely here to suggest music and share with you my thoughts and reflections to hope it’s entertaining enough that you keep on reading. 

Happy listening folks!

For Your Listening Pleasure: Recently Released 04/02/2021

By Tray Taylor
@allusiontoreality

I have an appreciation for reviewing and sharing songs that I have been listening to on repeat or just songs for the season- aka my infamous Happy Holigays playlist. Today, I think it is time to share and review some new songs that recently dropped that I think you need to add to your latest playlist, if you haven’t already. 

As much as I love reviewing and suggesting songs from throughout the decades and genres – I believe sharing recently released music to recommend is just as important (coming from a person that loves music and being introduced to new music). 

Some of these songs might be ones you have heard about recently, and others never before. Either way, enjoy:

Dancing with the Devil – Demi Lovato

I have been overly excited for the album to drop after hearing this single last week. This woman blows me away with her voice and her talent EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Overall the entire album deserves a listen, but I chose this song because it is what pulled me in. 

Recommend the entire album, but here are some standouts: Butterfly, Anyone, Met Him Last Night

Montero (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X just keeps giving us the music we don’t deserve but absolutely need in our lives. A true Queer anthem with a backstory that will warm your heart (as long as you aren’t one of those people that have been passive aggressive with your homophobia over the video). I couldn’t get this song out of my head for two days straight…and now since I am writing this blurb it’ll probably get stuck in my head again for a few more days.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) [Nicolaas Remix] – Hall and Oates

There’s no hiding it, I am a sucker for a remix version of a song when it is done well. And it is the right kind of song that can be remixed. This falls into that category for me. The song is already catchy, but with this Nicolaas remix it’ll have you turning up your volume so high that you’ll forget there are other people in the room that then tell you to turn it down (…or maybe that was just me…) 

Amir – Serpentwithfeet

The first time I discovered serpentwithfeet was watching the music video to Same Size Shoe which I loved. Listening to this album in its entirety though, Amir was the standout song for me. Serpentwithfeet is unlike anything I have ever listened to, which is a fantastic thing because it feels original and unique.
Also listen to: Fellowship, Same Size Shoe (and watch the music video)

Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen Cover)- Waxahatchee

Some people have strong opinions on cover songs. I would consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Sometimes I have strong opinions on songs that shouldn’t be covered, and sometimes I think the cover of the original is much much better. This is one of those cases where I think the cover is better than the original.

What’s Wrong- half alive

Certain songs remind me of different times in my life and hearing this song instantly transported me back to a spring day in Philadelphia. I haven’t listened to half-alive in awhile- and was excited to see a new song drop. If you enjoy indie, alternative music…give this song a listen.

Live & Direct – Kota the Friend, Statik Selektah

There are few things I love more than discovering a new artist and falling in love with their art instantly. This album provided me with that satisfactory moment. Kota the Friend is a lyricist, a poet …so smooth with his delivery. Listening to every song feels like an experience, which made it hard to pick one or just a few songs.
Also take a listen to: Sunrise, Wolves

What better way to start your weekend …or for those in the service industry your work week...than adding a few of these songs to your playlist?