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“My Everything (Deluxe Edition)” Ariana Grande

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Ariana Grande

My Everything Album Review

Republic Records

Released August 22, 2014

Genre: Pop, Contemporary R&B
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To be completely honest, I thought Ariana Grande’s debut album Yours Truly wasn’t that bad…at all. And despite its constant radio rotation and cringe worthy lyrics from Iggy Azalea, I also like “Problem.” I can’t explain why, but I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t. I guess it’s what all pop music succeeds in doing: simple tunes that, no matter how generic or boring it may be, you’ll find yourself singing again and again and again. Throughout her career, Grande has slowly been shedding her Nickelodeon-girl image, becoming a pop star of her own. The Aguilera, Carey, and Lopez comparisons have been made, and there’s no denying Grande’s inherent talent, with her powerful voice and more than modest image and persona. Throw in some Top 40 hits, collaborators turned lovers, and a plethora of fans, and you have a true beginning for of the decade’s most prolific pop stars.

Grande knows her influences well and she smoothly makes these songs her own. So these songs don’t come off as ripoffs; Grande takes the all too familiar emotion and vocal range, and adds modern instrumentation to keep things fresh, relevant, and interesting. There’s the ambitious festival pleaser “Break Free” that, while stumbling into generic territory by hopping onto the EDM fad, shines with Grande’s empowering lyricism and heartfelt falsetto. “Intro” is perhaps one of the most beautiful openers I’ve heard all year; all a Capella and soul, the track sounds like the opener to an indie romance flick. The propulsive beat of “One Last Time” carries Grande’s voice, powerful and emotive.

A slew of artists assist Grande on this latest endeavor of hers including Big Sean, Zedd, The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj. While Grande remains on top of her artistic abilities, some, but not all, of the featured artists provide some assistance or extra baggage. The Weeknd featured track “Love Me Harder” pairs the two up perfectly pleading for love while “Problem” finds Grande confident voice. However the Big Sean plagued “Best Mistake” and horrendous “Bang Bang” showcase the ultimate “no-no”, in my book, for pop music: sacrificing songwriting for musical gain. While most of these songs are party ready and can easily be put on a radio playlist, Grande bring in some sweet and beautiful piano arrangements. “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” finds Grande at her most vulnerable which doesn’t fit her confident personality at all.. While I do frown at the lack of empowerment, the instrumentation of strings and back up harmonies makes me like the track just a little bit more, culminating into a lush and grand climax.

Now, I’m a fan of the Lord A$AP Ferg, but “Hands On Me” doesn’t meander far from the “early 2000s-Destiny’s Child-party” beat that it is so disadvantaged by. I’m not dissapointed for it’s lack of appeal, Ferg can churn out some incredibly catchy trap-rap hooks, but for how shallow the songwriting and instrumentation presents itself. Likewise “Break Your Heart Right Back” brings in fat bass drum thuds, with some silly trap hi-hats over a repetitive hook, but it does showcase Grande as fiercely strong and independent (watch out Beyonce). Nonetheless, Grande does suffer from a lack of variety, vocally or instrumentation. Title track “My Everything” again tones down the upbeat attitude, delivering another piano led tune that finds Grande once again pleading, but on a more personal level.

THE VERDICT

Although mostly hit-or-miss Grande proves to be a major powerhouse in the world of pop music. However, her songwriting and instrumentation suffer from redundancy and lack of variety. Just like Sam Smith’s  conservatively groomed debut, Grande also sounds too catered and modeled for the public, never reaching her full potential; Grande nonetheless has a few gems that are worthy of attention. With My Everything, Ariana Grande shows that she has made her fixture in our culture and there’s no stopping her now. Grande’s infatuation with love, EDM culture, and baroque tendencies have always swirled their way into our ears, but with this record she’s almost distinguishable amongst the other copycats out there.

FAV TRACKS: Intro, Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea), One Last Time, Break Free (feat. Zedd), Love Me Harder (feat. The Weeknd)

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Best Mistake (feat. Big Sean), Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, Hands On Me (feat. A$AP Ferg), Bang Bang (feat. Jessie J and Nicki Minaj)

Score: (6.5/10)

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" LP1" FKA Twigs

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FKA Twigs

LP1 Album Review

Young Turks Records

Released August 6, 2014

Genre: R&B, Trip Hop, Electronica, Dream Pop, Artpop

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So rare is it that a pop-star rattles the music community with such progressive vigour. Normally we push these advancements into the peripheries until we perceive them relevant and label them ‘ahead of their time.’ London based singer FKA Twigs transcends this phenomena, she cultivates a new visual and musical epoch for pop. In some ways I feel that the recent popularity of neo-soul in both the mainstream and alternative spheres have led up to Twigs’ breakthrough. While a lot of the acclaim accredited to Twigs can be accounted to her empowering stances on sexuality, her involvement as a Young Turks prodigy and her complex mystique, LP1 is a documentation of Twigs pushing pop in the right direction.

Making heavy use of reverb, opening track “Preface” is a taster of LP1’s proficient take on mass layering. Harmonies are stacked on top of each other as thick drum samples bound off the walls of the mix, creating a genuine house of mirrors atmosphere. And these off-kilter dimensions are maintained throughout; things are not what they seem within the realms of LP1. Puzzling tones of synths loom slowly in from every direction while minimalist percussion opens the floor for some of the lushest vocals of 2014. Operating mainly in a higher register, nuances of fragility creep through Twigs’ often candid guise as she hints to a past of fractured romances – some may harbour qualms of weakness but I think Twigs’ courage is found in her humanity and her resonance as an enlightening figure.

With a production roster of this magnitude, LP1 was never going to fall short. Armed to the teeth in talent, LP1 features input from Young Turks peer Sampha, Clams Casino and the growing talent of Emile Haynie. All with an obvious reverence for Twigs’ voice, the producers have all put their stamp on their respective tracks, a diversity that can be heard in the way each instrumental develops. It ranges from the purging tones that descend throughout ‘Two Weeks’ to ‘Hours’, co-written by Devonte Hynes, in which haunting rests build a tension of the unknown, like hearing footsteps behind you at night.

Thematically Twigs’ debut breaches new terrain in terms of what is and isn’t shied away from in pop circles. Not to say that there is such a thing as ‘taboo’, Minaj’s Anaconda is as proof of that as anything, but rather veers into the depths of the unsettling. Grappling with more provocative shades than most pop singers, dealing with attitudes towards pornography, betrayal and the feeling of insignificance, Twigs’ experience is laid on the dissecting table, unfiltered.

And in keeping with this, LP1 is truly an extension of the artist. An appreciation for RNB, modern and classic, soul and Trip-Hop, in fact ‘Numbers’ is comparable to a Portishead cut mixed by the Mad Hatter, the beats are consistently challenging but never incoherent or contrived. The musicianship may take some time to adjust to but becomes increasingly accessible with more listens to the extent that the simpler tracks, like the hymnal ‘Closer’, don’t strike as hot as the more experimental instrumentals.

LP1 is the pop record that’s been brewing beneath the brine for all too long. What Channel Orange or 21 accomplished for their fields, LP1 has trail-blazed for the contemporary pop audience. Never over-encumbered or sacrificial, Twigs has shattered preconceived notions of what a pop record ‘should be’ because a pop record shouldn’t ‘be’ anything and I feel Twigs has opened our eyes to that. A cathartic step into ecstasy, LP1 is the current forerunner for progressive pop.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Two Weeks / Lights / Video Girls

LEAST FAV TRACK: Closer

SCORE: 8.1/10

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Passenger at House of Blues Dallas

All I really should say is, “I take that back.” Going to this concert was a really great decision, especially since the tickets were only $6 each. While standing in line outside the House of Blues in downtown Dallas, my friend and I began to lose hope in how Passenger would turn out, as we saw more and more girls line up behind us. Once inside, we went to the pit and, standing second to the fence, began to make jokes about how we’d much rather sneak into the age-restricted rave down the street, Mad Decent Block Party, and how bored we were. I even made this comparison prior to the concert starting: “This is equal to being stuck in a department store waiting for your mom.” And, despite getting a few laughs, I regret that statement.

 


Stu Larsen

 

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The opening act was a solo artist named Stu Larsen, who recently released his new album, Vagabond. He had a soft but truly soothing voice that well went with his European folk lullabies. Very nice to listen to, but my attention was not caught until he performed his own rendition of Coldplay’s Fix You, attached below.


The Once

 

Following Larsen, The Once, a band from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, performed a very riveting mix of lively and somber folk choruses laid over the beat of tribal drums, with many tracks from their new album, Departures.  The crowd was very involved and the lady of the group, barefooted Geraldine Hollett, could not cease praising us on how beautiful we were.  She and the rest of the group had never been to or performed in Texas before.
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Passenger

 

Finally, Passenger took the stage.  By storm.  Well, actually, he was fairly mellow, but he captured the audience like I’ve never experienced before.  I would credit this to his amazing sense of humor and ability to tell a story, and his interaction with audience members.His most memorable story being this one, in which he chronicles his struggle with smoking and what has come from it.
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Others included how he met Stu Larsen and The Once, and his composition of “Let Her Go” and the explosion of that single during a low point in his career and life.  He had the audience every second of this song.

At the end of the show, he performed a song called “Scare Away The Dark”, but I do not have any video or pictures from this performance.  You probably won’t find many on the Internet either—he asked the audience to not record any of this performance to prove a point, that the constant connection with electronics has made us outsource experiences, decreasing their value both physically and in our minds.  This was the most powerful song performed and there was a noticeable energy filling the room.  Of course, we didn’t let him leave immediately, successfully chanting for an encore, during which he and the rest of the artists performed together.  All in all, it was a compelling, meaningful, and ethereal event.


 

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Listen to Passenger’s “Let Her Go”:

 

 

 

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“1000 Forms Of Fear” Sia

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Sia

1000 Forms Of Fear Album Review

Monkey Puzzle/RCA Records

Released July 4, 2014

Genre: Pop, R&B, Electro Pop, Inspring Dance Ready Electro Pop
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Sia has been around in the pop music world for about ten years, yet if you ask anyone who she is, you’ll most likely hear “Titanium” or “Wild Ones”, her real presence never fully acknowledged. Sia is much more involved in the pop culture world than most know. Some would be surprised once they found out she co-wrote the sultry Beyonce ballad “Pretty Hurts” and Rihanna’s chart topping track “Diamonds”, the latter’s signature vocal swoons and dips being Sia’s vocal trademark. Indeed, Sia has had a hand in crafting some of the most successful songs of our generation. On her latest record, Sia drums a set of powerful and emphatic tunes that showcase her songwriting and vocal ability along with a lot more ambitious instrumentals, never sacrificing one for the other.

“Chandelier” overflows with emotion and her vocal range shows her pain, along with her triumph. “Big Girls Cry” finds Sia at her most vulnerable, but her perception, clear as day. While on “Hostage” contrasts uppity beat along with her despondent lyricism. On the Diplo-produced “Elastic Heart” however, Sia has the upper hand, proudly proclaiming “I’m like a rubberband until you pull too hard/I may snap and I move fast/But you won’t see me fall apart”, true evidence of Sia gaining the upper hand, and finding power within herself.

Other than her two chart topping hits, no one really knows who Sia is. You can’t see her face on the cover, but you can feel her prescence, imminently looming over the horizon. 1000 Forms Of Fear finds Sia coming off a string of some of her most vulnerable moments, but by the time it’s over it’s as if she never fell. 1000 Forms offers us a snapshot into the enigmatic figure known as Sia because one thing is for sure: you will remember her name.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Chandelier, Big Girls Cry, Eye Of The Needle, Hostage, Fair Game, Elastic Heart, Fire Meets Gasoline

LEAST FAV TRACK: Burn The Pages

Score: (8.5/10)

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"El Pintor" Interpol

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Interpol

El Pintor Album Review

Matador Records

Released September 9, 2014

Genre: Indie Rock, Post Punk Revival, Gloom Rock
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Interpol is undoubtedly in love with with New York City. You can hear it in their music, their lyrics, and in the albums they create. Even when they aren’t explicitly expressing the Big Apple, they evoke what it feels like to be in New York: at times horrifying, but at times tranquil and peaceful. And this vivid picture they paint justifies the album title of El Pintor: translated in Spanish as “the painter”, as well as doubling as an anagram for Interpol. Clever as it can get.

Of course in this review I’m going to mention Turn On The Bright Lights. There’s no going around it, it’s their biggest album, one of my all time favorites, and most likely the album everyone will come to remember this band by. But another reason why TOTBL should be mentioned is because that sound is what garnered Interpol their success. On El Pintor Interpol take the same approach, bringing in Daniel Kessler’s beautiful, intense and emotive guitar tones while Paul Banks’ notable croon snarls and soothes throughout.

However, something, rather someone, is missing: bassist Carlos Dengler, whose driven bass grooves were crucial to Interpol’s success. But while listening to El Pintor, the entirety of it doesn’t feel decimated or incomplete but rather as a refreshed, new entity. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Paul Banks said “I feel like we’re a new animal, and I think that makes this record pretty exciting.” With Banks handling the bass grooves, the record sounds as if Dengler never left. As if Interpol weren’t one man short.

Like every Interpol song, I slowly grew into “All The Rage Back Home”. Interpol has never been about drastic evolution but rather coloring inside the bold lines first drawn on TOTBL. Antics brought the pummeling fury and catchy hooks, while their lackluster self titled effort was as flaccid and malaise as the band could ever get. When I first heard the swinging strings of Daniel Kessler’s guitar, I knew that Interpol were back to the drawing board.

El Pintor is just as intense as its predecessors: vigorous crescendos, wailing guitars, driving bass, and completely re-energized drums behind the wheel. El Pintor is as refreshing as a tidal wave: pristine at its peak, and even more beautiful when it all comes crashing down, dispersing all of Interpol’s trademarks in one siting. “My Blue Supreme” has the catchiness that Interpol so rarely dips its toe in, “Breaker 1” sounds as if “Obstacle 1” was looked through lens of remorse, and the vigorous attitude of “Ancient Ways” furiously pummels through showcasing an entirely new animal behind the wheel. The album closer “Twice As Hard” careens left and right, up and down as Banks’ baritone builds up the potent closer, before silently fading away.

Admirers of Turn On The Bright Lights should have no trouble finding appeal in this album because Interpol’s music wasn’ always about any drastic switch ups or experimentation, it was always about building upon what they first laid down in 2002. It was always about sticking to the same route, and becoming stronger and focused because of it all while steering away from irrelevancy. A lot has changed since 2002, but Interpol hasn’t. They may be down a man, but that isn’t stopping one of indie rock’s best bands out there. When the bright lights first turned on, the crowd surfing and moshing stopped. Time stood still, and so did the listeners, absorbing the beauty that is Interpol. With El Pintor, time has stood still once again.

 

 PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: All The Rage Back Home, My Desire, My Blue Supreme, Everything Is Wrong, Breaker 1, Ancient Ways

LEAST FAV TRACK: Anywhere

 Score: (8.8/10)

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PATRICK POMBUENA REVEALS NEW TRACKS, PLUS COVERS

Austin/Arlington,Texas singer songwriter Patrick Pombuena has released a handful of original tracks via Soundcloud. Additionally, he has released a few covers of classic songs such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” and “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” from the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Give him a listen!

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166579034″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166563594″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166560851″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166558557″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166513818″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166206507″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Interested in more? Check out his Soundcloud for additional content!

 

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Run The Jewels Announce New Album RTJ2, and Tour

Acclaimed hip hop collaborative duo Run The Jewels have announce a follow up to their overlooked 2013 debut. It’s called RTJ2 and it’s out it’s out October 28 via Nas’ imprint Mass Appeal. That’s the album art above. A remix album will subsequently follow in 2015.  On September 15, Run the Jewels will release a new track via the Adult Swim Singles Series.

 

In addition to previously announced guests Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, the album will also feature Beyoncé collaborator Boots and Diane Coffee (Foxygen’s Shaun Fleming).

They’ve also announced world tour dates alongside Joey Bada$$, Despot, and Ratking.

Tracklisting:

RTJ2:

01 Jeopardy
02 Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
03 Blockbuster Night Part 1
04 Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) [ft. Zack de la Rocha]
05 All My Life
06 Lie, Cheat, Steal
07 Early [ft. Boots]
08 All Due Respect [ft. Travis Barker]
09 Love Again (Akinyele Back)
10 Crown [ft. Diane Coffee]
11 Angel Duster

View the tour dates below:

Run the Jewels:

10-15 College Station, TX – Hurricane Harry’s (Red Bull Sound Select)
10-18 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s (Red Bull Sound Select)
10-20 Little Rock, AR – Stickyz
10-21 Memphis, TN – Minglewood (Red Bull Sound Select)
10-22 Nashville, TN – Exit/In
10-23 Birmingham, AL – Iron City (Red Bull Sound Select)
10-24 Columbia, SC – Music Farm (Red Bull Sound Select)
10-25 Charleston, SC – Music Farm
10-31 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts *#
11-01 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club *#
11-02 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater *#
11-03 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle *#
11-04 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade *#
11-06 Dallas, TX – Trees *#
11-07 Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
11-08 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s *#
11-10 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom *#
11-11 La Jolla, CA – Porters Pub *#
11-12 Pomona, CA – Glass House *#
11-14 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine #
11-15 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater *#
11-17 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge *#
11-18 Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre *#
11-20 Minneapolis, MN – First Line Music Cafè *#
11-21 Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre *#
11-22 Chicago, IL – Metro *#
11-25 Detroit, MI – St Andrews Hall *#
11-26 Toronto, Ontario – Danforth Music Hall *#
11-27 Montreal, Quebec – Club Soda *#
11-28 Boston, MA – Paradise *#
11-29 New York, NY – Stage 48 *#
12-30 Lorne, Australia – Falls Festival
12-31 Marion Bay, Australia – Falls Festival
01-01 Sydney, Australia – Field Day
01-02 Byron Bay, Australia – Falls Festival
01-04 Busselton, Australia – Southbound Festival
01-07 Sydney, Australia – Enmore Theatre @
01-08 Melbourne, Australia – The Forum @
01-09 Brisbane, Australia – Hi Fi @
01-10 Auckland, New Zealand – Town Hall @

* with Ratking
# with Despot
@ with Joey Bada$$

Watch Run The Jewels’ performance of “Sea Legs”:

 

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“Foundations of Burden” Pallbearer

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Pallbearer

Foundations Of Burden Album Review

Profound Lore Records

Released August 19, 2014

Genre: Doom Metal, 70s Metal/prog/psychedelic/stoner rock
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I’ve discovered one thing after slowly getting into this band since I saw them on the Deafheaven tour: you can’t digest their sound easily in one sitting. This album sounds like the soundtrack to the apocalypse, where heavy riffs and imminent doom come crashing down faster than you know. Note the word heavy. Foundations of Burden is relentless: monstrous riffs and ruthless bass grooves barrage the listener at every corner. It’s inescapable but the vocals provide a perfect balance: it isn’t yelling nor is it sinister, but haunting. Lead vocalist Brett Campbell’s soulful tenor encapsulates Pallbearer’s emotion, his voice sounding strained yet powerful, reminiscent of early Ozzy in his Sabbath days. Although there isn’t enough emotion or pathos like on their debut Sorrow And Extinction, Pallbearer still know how to put out some kick-ass doom metal tunes in the process.

“Worlds Apart” holds nothing back as it opens the album where abusive bass grooves (abusive is completely appropriate. When seeing them live, the bassist Joseph Rowland broke TWO basses and had to borrow Stephen Clark’s bass. They were only halfway through their set, too) and more dynamic and catchier riffs. The shortest song on this album is 4 minutes, and the longest, almost 12. But these songs have their own personal drive, whether they are led by a catchy riff, a soaring solo or vocal dip, a propulsive drum beat, or even the occasional bass groove, Pallbearer know how to keep the pot simmering. While these songs are quite heavy and monstrous, Pallbearer have no trouble shooting these songs up to grandiose proportions. Elements of 70s prog, psychedelic rock, and classic stoner rock prevail these tracks. Picture a young Mitch Kramer listening to this, but amp the sound and intensity up about fifty notches or perhaps picture Pink Floyd playing “Echoes” while smoking pot with Ozzy. That’s basically what this album is, and you can’t help but to move along, whether it be a head bang or the occasional dance. It all depends if it’s your cup of tea.

But that isn’t to say that this album is without its hangups. The bad side about Foundations is that all of these songs sound the same. There is some variety, such as the ambient pop interlude “Ashes”, but frankly, that’s it. This redundancy only hurts when trying to identify one song from the other. And yes these songs sound like B-Sides from Sorrow and Extinction, but if that’s what Pallbearer B-Sides sound like, then I’ll take it.

THE VERDICT

While Foundations Of Burden is still working off of the same palette used for 2012’s Sorrow And Extinction, Pallbearer still put out a nostalgic yet modern album that pays tribute to the forefathers of 70s doom metal, stoner rock, psychedelic rock, and prog rock. If any of this sounds appealing, check this album out.

 

FAV TRACKS: Worlds Apart, Foundations, The Ghost I Used To Be, Ashes

LEAST FAV TRACK: None. They all sound the same, the ones above stuck out so if I hate one I might mistake it for one I like. There isn’t a single song I didn’t like; it’s not a masterpiece but the variety of riffs, sounds, and grooves made me like some tracks more than others.

Score: (7.3/10)

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“5 Seconds of Summer” 5 Seconds of Summer

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5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer Album Review

Capitol Records

Released June 27, 2014

Genre: Pop Punk, Pop Rock, Teeny Bopper
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Let’s get this straight. 5SOS is NOT One Direction, although they both have crazy fanbases made up of a majority of teenage girls that rave about them on social media sites such as Twitter and Tumblr. Unlike One Direction, though, 5SOS plays their own instruments. The Australia-based band formed in 2011 and started off by posting videos on YouTube. These videos caught the attention of Sony, who signed them to a publishing deal. In 2012, 5SOS released two EPs, Unplugged and Somewhere New. In 2013, 5 Seconds of Summer was asked to open for the world famous boy band, One Direction. This was where the band blew up and shortly after they signed with Capitol Records. In 2014, 5SOS released their third EP, “She Looks So Perfect” and then their self-titled album soon followed.

The album automatically launches listeners into the single that made them the band they are with “She Looks So Perfect.” The track is a strong combination of catchy lyrics and chugging guitars. It has an All Time Low kind of feel also. For an opener, it’s a pretty catchy one whether you like it or not. The following track, “Don’t Stop,” proves that 5SOS won’t be a one-hit-wonder. For the most part, from “She Looks So Perfect” to “18,” illustrates the up-beat vibe the album insinuates so far. It displays, just like any pop-punk band, how the band are four young boys trying to get the girl.

In “Everything I Didn’t Say,” 5SOS tones down a bit. The lyrics along with the beat itself brings this summer evening feel with a bit of romance in the side. It sort of calms down the listener from the up-beat vibe from the previous tracks. Furthermore, “Beside You” brings in more of the romance with the lyrics making fans all over yearn for them.

“End Up Here” picks up the pace quoting Bon Jovi along the way, too bad they won’t be as good as them though. Another notable track in the album is “Heartbreak Girl“: the track brings more of the All Time Low feel but adds in a pinch of All American Rejects. Speaking of All American, “Mrs. All American” is pretty good. The track like most of the tracks on their album starts off with the chugging guitars and the rhythm begins to get repetitive. At this point in the album, starting off tracks with chugging guitars gets a little repetitive. However, when you begin to think of that, 5SOS goes acoustic and slows down the pace with “Amnesia.”

For their first album, 5 Seconds of Summer truly have out done themselves. Although 5SOS have crazy fans equivalent to that of One Direction, they are a pretty good and talented band. They are kind of like a modern day All Time Low, although I’m pretty sure All Time Low is still around. As awkward as it seems, 5SOS is some what a guilty pleasure for guys.Think about it: how many guys would you see at a 5SOS concert? In conclusion many of the tracks on 5 Seconds of Summer not only brings forth catchy lyrics, but also the pop-punk feeling that bands like All Time Low, Cute Is What We Aim For, and Cartel brought to the music scene, making this debut a much better album than I expected.

FAV TRACKS: SHE LOOKS SO PERFECT / EVERYTHING I DIDN’T SAY / HEARTBREAK GIRL

LEAST FAV TRACKS: GOOD GIRLS / KISS ME KISS ME / MRS ALL AMERICAN

SCORE: (7.4/10)

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Sickening Joy Flares (Quickie)

Flares

Sickening Joy Album Review

Unsigned

Released August 30, 2014

Genre: Post-Rock, Black Metal (occasionally), Post-Metal, Space Rock

Flares is a brand-spanking new post-rock group, fresh out of North Texas. Post-rock can be a derivative genre, but Flares make the extra effort to make something that transcends the usual style. With minimal amount of fluff (superfluous effects, random instrumentation, etc.), Flares have taken us on a beautifully spacious journey.

Kicking off the album is “Lucid,” a song that starts with a repeating pattern, the typical reverb-laden riff that one may find in a post-rock tune. However, the latter half of the track is where the band shines. As the track progresses,the group adds extra instrumentation and effects at the right time. They demonstrate a knack for creating vast soundscapes with just three members. I felt totally transported to another dimension with this track, as well as other tracks. The space-rock flavors (very reminiscent of Hum) elevate the next track, “Purge.” This is a majestic mammoth of a track, clocking in at over 8 minutes. The riff that intersects this track is undeniably catchy, just like many of the riffs on this project. “Reconcile,” has a well-executed black metal approach reminiscent of many blackened shoegaze bands.

Only complaints: “Mute” and “Communion” could’ve used more change-ups compositionally speaking. Good job, fellas. Here’s their site.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Lucid, Purge, Reconcile

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Mute, Communion

Score: (7.7/10)