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Let me preface this by stating outright that there are better ways to go about wooing the female object of your desire. In most cases, being yourself will do the trick. There is no substitute for self-confidence, and slyly passing along a once blank CD upon which you poured your heart and soul to a near stranger will only win you an awkward look – or a restraining order. However, a well thought out mixtape, delivered at the right time, can be a very romantic gesture. Whether you are courting a girl or have been dating her for quite some time, there are a few simple preliminary rules we should go over before I delve into our first lesson in the art of mixtaping.

First, you should never, never, ever create a mixtape for someone you LITERALLY JUST MET. A mixtape is supposed to say something, either about her or yourself, and there is nothing of romantic value that you can possibly need to divulge after spending twenty-five minutes chatting at the food court and sharing a Wendy’s frosty. If you come on too strong, you, like that frosty, will soon be nonexistent in her eyes, capisce? Okay, now that we have established what was hopefully obvious, let’s take a look at rule number two. PERSONALIZE IT. The trick is that you want her to think of you when she hears the songs, so try to steer clear of more popular items that she may have already associated a…

From Ingrid’s upcoming January 2012 release, Human Again, I invite you to get swept up in “Ghost” with me. Personally, I thought Everybody was a bit unimaginative for this whimsical, often quirky pop star…but it seems like she is on the right track again after teaming up with producer David Kahne (Imogen Heap, Bangles).

Enjoy.

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I always used to think of new year’s resolutions as an inane exercise. Whoever conceived the idea seemed to be proposing that we should only target improvement once a year, a notion that we all would dismiss promptly and adamantly. As inconsequential of a gesture as it is, the new year’s resolution has actually begun to carry some weight to me. I don’t view it as a single goal for for the next 365 days, but rather as an impetus for change. For example, my 2011 resolution was to get a “real person” job. It’s not like I wasn’t providing a valuable service to the community at my local grocery store, but as a college graduate with a B.A. in mathematics and a B.S. in education, it was rather underwhelming…even considering the abysmal state that the economy was in. I was always on the prowl for a career-oriented opportunity, but I knew that I wasn’t completely applying myself. That admission alone was enough to compel me to set a clear, definable goal – and it just so happened that the new year (and new year’s resolutions, subsequently) coincided perfectly with my desire to take my professional life to the next level. I put myself on a strict weekly schedule for submitting applications, made an effort to visit more potential employers on location, and I even branched out and started my own tutoring program. It only took three months to pay off. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have gotten a…

(25) Kevin Devine – Between the Concrete and Clouds

Between The Concrete and Clouds is perhaps Devine’s calmest album, but it is also his fullest instrumentally. Lush atmospheres complement Devine’s sensitive crooning like we have never heard before, and his lyricism here is brilliant enough to stand alongside former tour mates Jesse Lacey and Andy Hull. This is an essential listen for anyone whose taste leans towards alternative rock and/or acoustic songwriting…definitely one of Kevin Devine’s most mature and complete recordings.

Sample: “Off-Screen”

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(24) Sleepingdog – With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields

Utilizing a minimalist approach to achieve a sense of calm still, this album is strikingly reminiscent of an afternoon spent lazily staring out the window while droplets of water collect on the outside edge of the sill. The soft, supple arrangements and electronic inclusions contribute to a natural flow within the album that makes it quite the cohesive work – with nary a forced or artificial moment to break up the magic created by string after string of beautiful, almost celestial, atmospheres. Full of spacey, haunting, and charged atmospheres, Sleepingdog have once again shown us that less can be more.

Sample: “He Loved to See the World Through His Camera”

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(23) 1,2,3 – New Heaven

New Heaven sounds eerie, unfamiliar, and unpredictable the majority of the time. This can be…

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I find myself analyzing the music behind a movie just as much as the film itself. It’s difficult to determine to what extent a soundtrack influences my opinion of a movie’s quality…technically it shouldn’t, but I always favor movies with indie-geared soundtracks (500 Days of Summer, Garden State) all the same. It’s something that annoys the hell out of my friends, which is why I’m not sure if this is common or if there is just something really wrong with me. But anyway, I glanced through my library and pulled out notable soundtracks (some good, others very bad) and decided to evaluate them for their contributions to the movie and their overall quality. Since it’s Halloween today, let’s begin with Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas:

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This is one of those movies with a cult following, and I totally get why. It’s stunningly original, visually appealing for its time, and it features a thoroughly enjoyable plot. For music enthusiasts, the soundtrack has to be another reason. It follows the storyline extremely closely, sometimes even narrating through song or spoken word (via Danny Elfman). It has been remade, but nothing touches the original which, if you ask me, is a classic.

Sample: “This Is Halloween” by Danny Elfman

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Grade: A

Across The Universe

Now this one I never understood the hype for. I was a sophomore in college…

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