Travel Advent Dec 17: Music to Travel the Aural Planes

What’s been good about this year, kiddos? Aside from my new interest in bonsai and growing lions mane mushrooms under my sink, I’ve had the privilege to discover and delve in to all sorts of delicious audio delights. And to my delight, so many musicians have been locked up in their studios with nothing to do but create and produce music this year — so we’ve got a lot of great stuff to go through. So while we haven’t been able to travel as much as we planned, I think there’s been enough music this year to take us elsewhere within our own minds.

I don’t know about you, but for me, music transports me back in time better than any other form of art. So how will my ears look back on 2020? Here are 10 albums from my playlist that have made my 2020 so much more enjoyable. Add your 2020 playlist to the comments if you’re brave enough to share.

  1. Mordechai, Khruangbin

    The Houston trio with the unpronounceable name have been in my ear buds for years. They’ve gotten me through countless college reports, held my hand through my thesis, accompanied me throughout my daily work life, and prayed with me on many a long flight — which just so happens to be what Khruangbin means in Thai. Each and every one of their albums transports you to a better, more colorful, funkier place in the deep musical dimension. They come back for another great album to add to their golden discography, as Mordechai builds upon the depth of this band I am now realizing I have an unhealthy obsession with. Just listen, and let Khruangbin take you to another place. Also, check out their Midnight Tales collection that just came out.
  2. She’s a Beam, Ty Segall

    Even though Ty Segall is one of the most prolific musicians out there right now — we had a fairly quiet year from him. And by “quiet”, I mean he only released like, three albums instead of twenty this year. Along with his limited release cover album of Harry Nilsson’s, Nilsson Schmilson (which he aptly title Seagol Smeagol), we got the chance to hear Ty take up a project with the frontman from Wand, Cory Hanson. The two banged out a lovely little EP headed by She’s a Beam, a catchy tune with Hanson’s unique aural weaving that transports the mind to the fields behind your high school where you still go every now and then to reminisce about days you never actually experienced.
  3. Odd Cure, Oddisee

    Ya so we spent way too much time on our couches this year. D.C. rapper Oddisee does couch time ode to the Two Oh in his album, Odd Cure. Mixing songs critical of the years miss-handlings in with calls to loved ones and friends, Oddisee shows us a view from the couch writing, dreaming, and thinking about the ones that matter most in our lives. It’s an easily relatable album for those of us who were stuck inside a little bit too lost in our thoughts and critiques of the system, and calling loved ones to make it all feel better.
  4. Elä Totuudesta, Kohti Tuhoa

    People tell me punk is dead and I tell them Punk’s not dead, you’re just not listening. Punk is a way of mind and it’s everywhere this year, in the hearts of every artist, concerned citizen, and protester wanting change and angry with our system. Punk in the musical embodiment is alive and thrashing as well, even in the polar caps of Finland with the hardcore heavy hitters Kohti Tuhoa. This album takes me back to better times, thrashing in dark underground bars where your only worry was not having enough people in the mosh pit. There was no such thing as two meters of distance, and you were more likely to catch some STD just by getting someones blood in your eye than you were to catch a bat flu. The good ol’ days.
  5. #KingButch, Butcher Brown

    2020 was a brilliant year for funk, Hip-Hop, and punk of all tastes. Butcher Brown didn’t disappoint either, with his punchy funk album with vibes spanning from the wandering solos of Herbie Hancock Head Hunters days to Sly & the Family Stone bass slappy goodness. Music is evolving, and I think we need these genres of intense pleasure and thought more than ever. It feels like your dude just invited you over for a garden party, and you were out anyway at KingSoopers so you just buy a pack of Coronas and head over. You haven’t changed, you’re just hanging out in sweatpants and flip flops and a Beer Lao shirt you picked up at a flea market and theres a dreadlock forming in the back of your head. You get to the party, Lexus’ and Mercedes’ are parked out back and you roll up in your rusty Subaru. Your dude opens up the door gives you a hug and welcomes you in, everyones wearing nice clothes and that girl over there with black bangs has a Gucci purse, but she looks at you like “who’s that trash”. But you’re feelin good, ready to get a nice garden party buzz on even though you haven’t showered in a few days. You’re the true artist here.
  6. Idol Eyes, Common Saints

    With the help of our friends Khruangbin and many other bands like Common Saints, we’re entering into a funkiness never before experienced in this planar existence. Last funky album I swear. Prepare yourselves to sit back in a bean back, fill the room with incense, and see faces in a lava lamp on your bed side table. Common Saints are doing the good good, giving us a bit of poppy snare and traveling guitar solo to lose ourselves to for a lil while.
  7. When Jah Shall Come, Various Artists

    After your vision quest with Common Saints, you may need a little Dub cool down. This collection of classic roots dub doesn’t fail, with just enough hip bending hits to make you feel like you’re walking Trench Town. You’ll need a good bit of bass and a mindset to keep you in a meditative repetitive mood for the long while to make this album work its glorifying magic.
  8. Invisible People, Chicano Batman

    Ok I lied, one more funkadelic album please. Listening along to the Chicano Batman journey has been a fun ride, but this year’s album felt strongly influenced by a lot of the social uprise of 2020. It was a tough year, not just with a pandemic but it made us really take a look at how we intermingle and work together in society. Chicano Batman takes the hard topics from 2020 on while weaving in enough catchy hooks to make it enjoyable. Reminiscing about a garden party and a Shakespearian college party a cute girl invited you to even though you don’t know anything about Shakespeare. You go to the Shakespeare party anyway, and meet a cool dude named Joey at the snack table who’s just here because a cute girl invited him too — and he hasn’t read a lick of Shakespeare either. You peace out and drink 40’s watching the city view from Lookout Mountain and give a prayer to your grandma at the Jesus statue on top of the hill on your way down.
  9. Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters…, Frankie and the Witch Fingers

    One of the best band names in history comes out with another great slosh brained headbanger in 2020. Seeing them perform live in 2019 won my heart, and this year they kept it going with an album full of repetitive garage weavers and just enough fuzz to make you question your underwear decisions. I’m always reminded of Thee Oh Sees, another great band with amazing music this year, but with a vibe that’s a bit easier to show to your partner’s momma. Frankie will make her fall in love with you, and Thee Oh Sees are what you’ll play later that night when you need a good old fashioned face melting.
  10. Protean Threat, OSees, Thee Oh Sees

    The face melting has begun. You just took your girlfriend, Frankie and the Witch Fingers, and your girlfriend’s mom who’s a caretaker at a retirement home out for dinner at the Olive Garden. You impressed her with your ability to twirl noodles. Such agility, yet such class. Such supple wrist strength. You and Frankie really won her over with your charm and humor. It went so well that you took them all out for pie at the Village In, on you, and you made your girlfriend and her mom almost blow key lime chunks out of their nose from laughter as you and Frankie read the description to pies in your sexiest most sensual voice possible. “Sweet sumptuous Lemon Merengue oh yessss.” You drive them all home, drop Frankie and your girlfriends’ mom off at home, and her mom gives you a hug and big wet expired lipstick kiss on the cheek, saying thank you for tonight I haven’t felt this young since 1992 y’all have a fun night now. You pop back in the car and your girlfriend is holding a sticker with a smiley face on it, she puts it on her tongue and makes out with you and suddenly this album comes on and your transported to the 7th goo dimension where words have become sentient and your thoughts have formed vibrations that cause them to to be conscious of themselves and question their own existence. Who judges judgement, and what thoughts do thoughts have? Ya ok anyway, Thee Oh Sees really melted my mind into another dimension this year.

Man there’s been way too much good music here this year. It’s been one of the things that’s kept me happy in these long days at home — and it’s one of the only things giving me faith in humanity as we go into another year starry eyed and hopeful that it’ll be better than the last. Share your favorite tracks from the year and keep the conversation rolling.


Travel Advent Dec. 16: Traveling During Corona

Let’s get political. Not because I’m going to say anything politically driven, but because there’s no way to talk about corona these days without sounding like you’re choosing a side. So let’s talk about corona for travelers — because it’s the strangest time to be a traveler.

I was lucky enough to go visit the US in October, and after a 22-hour journey without taking off my mask except to eat or drink both ways, I got back to Denmark corona free. I was able to see firsthand how our two societies are handling the virus, and now I can understand why the US is in such a terrible position. We don’t give a shit about each other — including myself, the guy who decided to travel during a pandemic.

In Europe, everything is spotlessly clean, and even in the relatively crowding Amsterdam Schipol Airport, people were practicing good social distancing measures and wearing their masks properly. Everyone had their little bottles of sanitizer and washed their hands often. People in Europe, for the most part, understand that this virus is contracted by being close to each other, and therefore stay home or at least make the effort to distance themselves (again, for the most part).

In the United States, people are traveling as if nothing had changed. I was walking around thinking “where the fuck are all you people going?!” The airports were packed, with people sitting close to each other, taking their masks off to cough or sneeze into their hands, and not washing their hands even after going to the bathroom. I was in the bathroom in Atlanta airport, and one of the baggage handlers came in with his chin diaper mask pulled down around his neck flab. He went up to the urinal, did his business, and left. I couldn’t help but be ashamed of my fellow countryman, sure it’s disgusting to not wash your hands after touching your dick but it’s somehow even more disgusting to do it during a pandemic — and then to go out and do your job which is to literally touch thousands of people’s luggage.

So what can you do if you simply must travel right now? I’m no professional, but from my successful flight experience, I’d say stay away from people as best as possible. Wearing masks gives people a sense of security that they wouldn’t have if they didn’t wear masks. Masks are a bit like football pads — they do some good to protect you and the other guy but if you both ram each other like a pair of horny rhino’s you’re both going to break your necks. When I flew, I made sure to book a window seat, which at least made me feel a bit safer. On top of that, try to book an airline that blocks out the middle seat. I also had the air running over me the entire flight to break up any air particles, so bring a hat or hoodie to keep your head from freezing.

These are all anecdotal fixes because I think the best thing we can do is just do nothing for a little while. I realized this is a bit hypocritical since I was just in the US, but I really didn’t realize it until I landed in Atlanta and I was too far in. We didn’t even have a mask order back then in Denmark, and we were all pretty much convinced that the virus was controlled in our little utopic bubble. But as soon as I got to Atlanta and realized the sheer volume of people traveling at this moment, I realized we’ve probably gone a bit too far.

I had grand travel plans this year as well, but hopefully, if we just suck it up for a few more months we can get back to some form of normalcy soon. Stay safe, keep your distance, and try to spread a little positivity this holiday season. And for fucks sake, wash your hands if you’re a baggage handler.

Feel free to comment below and tell me how full of shit I am — I know I can’t escape a debate if I bring up the ‘rona!

edit: I’ve been told I was a bit too critical of my countrymen. I simply want the best for them, since I believe America to easily be one of the prettiest places on Earth filled with some of the funniest and most charming people I’ve ever met. I’m critical because I want the best for my people, and I apologize for sounding to one sided because I know Europe has not handled the situation well either.

Travel Advent Dec. 15: Tiny Country Fascination

I have an unhealthy fascination with tiny countries. They’re adorable and I love their little egos. I’m fascinated by their history, how they were able to survive for so long and still press on with sovereignty. Why do the likes of Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein still exist, and what do they even do? Why is Liechtenstein’s main export dentures? How does a country’s GDP survive off denture sales? Why do you exist, little Liechtenstein?!

This is a fun fascination but it’s also cost me a lot of money. I simply visit these places for the bragging right to say I’ve been there. I know that the culture of Liechtenstein or San Marino is not wildly unique from that of nearest cities just outside the borders, yet I still must visit and experience it. But it’s unfortunate because with that time and money I could probably delve deeper into other locations that are more interesting or worthy, rather than just checking another country off a list.

This behavior in general is dangerous, I feel. Even though I’m guilty of it often. Part of the problem is this consumeristic culture we’ve adopted around travel. The purchase of a scratch-off map may seem innocuous, but it influences travel behavior. When I look at my scratch off map, I see all of the places I still have yet to scratch and get a physical itch to go there. What the fuck is there to do in Yukon? Is it worth going when I could use the same money and time exploring more of my native Colorado? Is going to Monaco just to say I’ve been there worth going when I could go explore more cities of France around Monaco?

Certainly not. But my ego has driven me to take this journey to check off all the countries in the world. This is unreasonable and expensive. Rather than going to Burkina Faso, which I’m sure has some beautiful scenery and cultural experiences, maybe I could use that money and time to dig into Ghana or Senegal, countries that deserve a deep dig. But I have most certainly fallen deep into the consumeristic side of travel, and like butterflies or Pokemon, I wish to collect every country’s stamp in my passport. Yes, the cultural experiences to be had in those places are fantastic, but with only a finite amount of time and money, I’m sure my resources could be allocated to different areas. So I’m working on it.

In the past years, I’ve been trying to adopt the philosophy of traveling for people rather than the location. I will browse a country based on its couchsurfers, or whether or not I have a friend to visit there. This is because, at the end of the day, every city is more or less the same. It’s the people that make it special. I’ve never been to Oslo, for example, but I have been to several small towns few tourists visit in Norway, just because the people there sounded interesting — and I’m certain I benefitted from that experience over going to Oslo just for the sake of going to Oslo. So while I still want to collect every country in the world, I want to do so while making it the priority to meet the locals that make that country unique. Not just to be able to scratch it off my map when I get home.

What are the philosophies you use when traveling?

Travel Advent Dec. 14: El Marinero

El marinero volviendo de faenar recogiendo sus redes, junto a dos turistas que lo miran y fotografían con las mascarillas puestas…. El marinero está volviendo a su casa, donde su esposa está cocinando el desayuno y su hijo está en su cuarto sin posibilidad de huir de la pantalla.

Juan, es marinero desde que tenía 12 años, para él los hábitos de su hijo son un misterio… En su tiempo, necesitaba un trabajo para recibir “la plata” para jugar, pero su hijo recibe todo en cuchara de plata. Triste es aquel que tiene todo lo que necesita, porque no sabe lo que es el valor. – piensa el padre, desayunando en silencio -. “Papá, no quiero ir a escuela. Quiero ser un influencer de Tiktok. Puedo ganar un montón, te juro.”

El padre agarra la mano de su hijo y le dice.. – Hijo, hace unos años en un vagón del metro por Dinamarca, me encontré a un señor atando con un hilo una castaña. – En el otro mano, está una castaña, vieja y arrugada, y la pone en la mano de su hijo. “Fíjate …que nada es real en este mundo.”

Travel Advent Haiku’s #2

Japan 2018

Oh ugly baby,
Where on earth are you to be?
Not here, in Japan.

(This Haiku is dedicated to Asian babies — who are all adorable.)

Sri Lanka 2018

I can’t reach my toes
Nor can I see my penis
Fuck, I’m just too fat

I’m a slow loris
My giant eyes will haunt you
Thin arms will climb you

Somewhere in the Balkans, 2018

Let’s puke on the floor
And thrash like never before
Party like we’re twelve
People, instead of just two
Nevermind…let’s sleep