Adele_-_Hello_(Official_Single_Cover)

“Hello” Adele

Adele

“Hello” Track Review

XL/Columbia

Released October 23, 2015

Genre: Pop, Orchestral Pop, Soul, Piano Balladry

Adele’s 21 is, without a doubt, one of the most defining pieces of pop music in the past decade or so. Its infectious and sharp fusion of soul, pop, and piano balladry hooked MILLIONS and earned Adele a few Grammys. Her contribution to the James Bond franchise, “Skyfall”, is another smart tune worthy of legacy and praise. However, it’s been three years since we’ve last heard from Adele; and recently she broke her silence, announcing the release of her third LP, 25 on November 22, 2015. To start the single countdown off, Adele has released “Hello,” a return to form for the songstress as she goes back to the basics of 21, but with more bravada and outstanding vocal control. If you really listen hard enough, the song sounds like it was stripped from a movie for the genre mostly settles in film score territory. That’s probably just me though.

Musically, “Hello” is nothing new; the same four chord progression carrying the melody and hook to atmospheric heights; the narrative and lyrics are personal and love-based; and Adele’s voice is incredible as usual. With this glimpse, not much can be said about a drastic, or subtle, change in Adele’s music. Eager for a different sound and something new, fans are greeted (pun intended) with a basic and enjoyable Adele song: strong hook, climactic buildup, and emotional catharsis. Just the way we like it.

SCORE: (6.5/10)

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“Badlands” Halsey

Halsey

Badlands Album Review

Astralwerks/Capitol Records

Released August 28, 2015

Genre: Electropop, Trip Hop

In 1973, Terrence Malick released his directorial debut – and arguably one of the best films of all time – Badlands, a film that captured a moment in time and defined a generation so stagnant and ready for something new, refreshing, and game-changing. With this iconic film, the landscape of cinematic archetypes were forever changed and the spirit of the American Spirit forever altered. 42 years later and Halsey, a twenty year old Toronto singer with impressive vocal control and blue hair-lights, has arrived on the music scene with an album titled Badlands, and a hit track that suggests a change in the way America is, in regards to millennials and a new sense of what “americana” means. Martin Sheen’s performance in Badlands defined the charming bad boy archetype, so it’s no surprise that Halsey name drops James Dean in the song. Whether Halsey knows of the film or not, the comparisons are oddly uncanny; and the way Halsey ushers these ideas, a call-to-arms for millennials, makes up for eleven tracks of some of the most uninspired pop the music landscape has seen.

Whether it be undercooked ideas, lazy lyricism, or blatant stylistic cop-outs, Badlands  is, in all meanings, shallow. The lyrics here are so lazily constructed: “raised on Biggie and Nirvana”; I don’t think you can get more entry level than that. The instrumentation here is a toxic cross between Lorde‘s atmospheric electro pop and Lana Del Rey’s luscious and dramatic crescendos. So while it was smart for Halsey to capitalize on 2015’s hottest pop styles, it doesn’t mean that the end result is great. The cliche indie “woahs” appear on “Drive” while “Roman Holiday” explores cliche wanderlust topics of sunsets and headlights, all played out on the backdrop of a walloping drum-and-bass beat.

Cliche is a big problem on this record for not only do the lyrics suffer from these rehashed topics (and, I reiterate, lazy songwriting) but the instrumentation remains utterly basic and shockingly humdrum; the same synth based approach; the same drum beats; the same song structure; the same everything. The only stylistic departure is the electro-acoustic “Coming Down”. One of the few moments of slight brilliance on this record is the atmospheric and glitchy intro to “Haunting”, a song that follows the basic formula but has an astounding and notable affect.

All in all, Halsey’s Badlands merely capitalizes on popular music trends in hopes of delivering a debut of worthy attention. However, the result neither excites or advances or innovates. It’s just there. Forty two years later, and a piece of art titled Badlands has come again, yet this latest form of “generation defining” music has done more harm than good.

 

FAV TRACKS: Haunting

LEAST FAV TRACK: New Americana

Score: (2.0/10)

 

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JULIAN PATRICK QUINN RELEASES LOVERS TELEPATHY

Denton, TX musician Julian Patrick Quinn has released his new album Lovers Telepathy on Bandcamp. Quinn offers insightful perspectives on life through quaint indie folk saying “A folk-inspired multi-instrumentalist, love-obsessed singer-romanticizer, and long-haired long-boarder, Julian Patrick Quinn sees music as a purpose, a joy, an end. He is a North Texas Philosophy Major of 19 years.”.

Quinn describes Lovers Telepathy saying “The content of most of the songs are about a young lady who means more to me than anyone else. We experienced a lot together and these experiences were used for over 25 of the 40ish songs I have written.” Stream it below on Bandcamp and purchase with the “Name Your Price” format. Support local and rising musicians!

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LISTEN TO TWO NEW KANYE WEST SONGS NOW

Kanye West has dropped two unexpected tracks from his HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SWISH. One is a new version of “Say You Will,” with additional vocals from Caroline Shaw, and the other is his own version of the Weeknd​’s Tell You Friends,” which ‘Ye renamed “When I See It.” The songs sound like a grander and more fully realized version 808s & Heartbreak . IBNJasper shared the news on his Instagram, but didn’t go into detail as to why Kanye decided to drop the two songs today. Listen below.

“Say You Will”

“When I See It”

 

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“V” Wavves

Wavves

V Album Review

Ghost Ramp/Warner Bros.

Released October 2, 2015

Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk, Punk Rock, Surf Rock

Nathan Williams, and his band Wavves, are clever to the bone. Taking advantage of the internet/blogosphere’s obsession with lo-fi/surf punk craze in the late 2000s, the band made a name for themselves with their lo-fi and somewhat catchy tunes that were at the forefront of pretty much every indie kid’s playlist. While their third album King Of The Beach is arguably their best, much due to their terrific fusion of surf rock and pop punk, the band has continued to teeter the line between lo-fi surf rock and pop punk, never quite finding that solid direction to head towards (most notably with their fourth effort, Afraid Of Heights, which anyone can consider as an enjoyable Nirvana tribute). However, the band’s fifth effort V, finds the band delivering their usual brand of pop punk infused with angsty whines that, despite the frivolous hooks (“This conversation is boring”), still manages to produce some of the best pop punk tracks of the year; some, though.

builds off of the teenage angst and angry collection of songs from their last collaboration with punk/noise rock counterparts Cloud Nothings, with some pop and surf finesse infused into the tracks. Whether it be the equally whiney and catchy “Way Too Much” or the warbled and thrillingly jolting “Redlead” Wavves still manages to craft some solid tunes here. The breezy surf-rcok opener “Heavy Metal Detox” is an enjoyable return to form for the band as they reiterate their aesthetic of fuzzy riffage, catchy hooks, and “verse-chorus-verse” dynamics. There’s a lot to like here for a new fan, and the occasional Wavves connoisseur will find at least one track to love. However, that isn’t to say that V is an admirable step in the band’s discography.

Towards the second half of the record, the whiny lyrics and typical pop punk format becomes tiring to even listen to. Sure you can enjoy the occasional riff here and there, but the formula gets surprisingly stale for a record that clocks in at little over a half hour. It’s a stark departure from the band’s past efforts, one being their best and most mature punk tune recorded, and it’s shocking to see that Williams and Co. can’t find a solid direction head towards as they actively linger in the same genre gray area they have since Afraid Of Heights. Proudly saying “everything sucks” (“Tarantula”) can only get you so far, and hopefully, a more mature Wavves looms on the horizon.

FAV TRACKS: Way Too Much, My Head Hurts, Redlead

LEAST FAV TRACKS: All The Same

Score (6.5/10)

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“Revival” Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez

Revival Album Review

Interscope/Polydor Records

Released October 9, 2015

Genre: Pop, Electropop

Revival opens with a poem that leads into a surprisingly decent album opener. For an artist like Selena Gomez, the actress turned singer (who isn’t nowadays?), the track is enough to pique interest and perhaps brings someone into the album. Revival is Gomez’s second studio record and it follows the EDM & worldbeat genre smashing Stars Dance,  by following the more straightforward electro pop formula that every other artist is following nowadays (Halsey, Lorde, Lana Del Rey,etc.). However, Revival is an album that, while most of it may stand true to Gomez’s personal life and struggles, falls victim to the countless plagues of pop music: hollow meanings, weak hooks, and cheap production.

“Revival’s” solid chant of a chorus is a redeemable aspect that doesn’t keep the song from fading away from my memory, but the following tracks do a pretty good job at making some questionable vocal approaches and lyrical themes. The awkward whispered vocals on “Hands To Myself” sound so out of place while “Same Old Love” starts off with a pretty interesting beat and melody, but falls victim to repetition and some pretty weak lyricism, both literally and figuratively (more on that later). The album does begin to head upwards on the cloudy and atmospheric “Good For You” but that can be attributed to the A$AP Rocky feature, which in retrospect isn’t that great. The song reiterates my lyrical and thematic problems with the record, which I’ll elaborate on later.

The track “Camouflage” sticks out like a sore-thumb as the bare piano ballad sits smach dab in the middle of all the electronic-infused pop. Gomez’s voice here sounds honest for once and the ballad isn’t too bad either, and the lyrical departure too is a nice sequitur from the weak lyrical themes. “Me & The Rhythm” follows through with the 80s pop revival tropes that is popping up every now and then (La Roux, Carly Rae Jepsen, HAIM), so the track has some enjoyable aspects but is plagued by some terrible, and recurring, vocal approaches. “Survivors” adheres to the stereotypical EDM “rise and fall” dynamics, but the drop isn’t anything to drastic to get hyped about. “Body Heat” has some world beat influences into it, and keeps things surprisingly fresh on an otherwise stale and bland pop record.

My main problem here are the lyrics and themes: they rely so heavily on being submissive that they can’t be admirable or considered healthy, considering Gomez’s young audience. In the track “Sober” Gomez talks about how her significant other “[You] don’t know how to love me when you’re sober”; I don’t know what planet you’re on, but that can’t be considered love. If it is, it’s a demented form of it. Furthermore “Good For You” focuses on Gomez being able to please her significant other, knocking down her role in the relationship and again, being submissive. It doesn’t help when considering the current landscape of feminism and gender roles actively playing a role in today’s society. I’m surprised there hasn’t been much controversy surrounding these songs; I guess that’s the media for you.

Revival is just as bland and uninspired as pop music can get this year. But honestly, what can you expect from a heavily controlled artist under the management of a corporate conglomerate? I can’t see Gomez improving more on her music, seeing how my two favorite tracks on here aren’t elaborated or even further explored with the rest of the album. Maybe she’ll get better; or maybe she won’t. Gomez’s acting talents can be debated, but the main gist with her music is as bland, tasteless, and calculated as the album cover: only made to sell and sell and sell.

FAV TRACKS: Revival, Camouflage

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Hands To Myself, Same Old Love, Sober, Me & My Girls

SCORE: (3.0/10)

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STREAM THE NEW BEACH HOUSE RECORD THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS

Three months ago, Beach House released their lukewarm fifth record Depression Cherry. Now, three months later they have released their surprise follow up to it entitled Thank Your Lucky Stars. Luckily for Spotify users, you can stream the album early.

A press release stated ““The songs came together very quickly and were driven by the lyrics and the narrative. In this way, the record feels very new for us, and a great departure from our last few records. Thematically, this record often feels political. It’s hard to put it into words, but something about the record made us want to release it without the normal ‘campaign.’ We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist.”

Here’s the tracklist:

Thank Your Lucky Stars Tracklist:
01. Majorette
02. She’s So Lovely
03. All Your Yeahs
04. One Thing
05. Common Girl
06. The Traveller
07. Elegy to the Void
08. Rough Song
09. Somewhere Tonight

Listen below:

 

from the album "Beach Music"

“Beach Music” Alex G

Alex G

Beach Music Album Review

Domino Recordings

Released October 9, 2015

Genre: Bedroom Indie, Singer Songwriter, DIY Weirdness

Behold, the cutest album of 2015; I mean this in the most Zooey Deschanel way possible. Alex G has always made odd DIY bedroom-recorded jams for the angst-ridden, but he’s nearly perfected the art of the quirk on his Domino debut, Beach Music. The Philadelphian wonderboy will appease fans and entrance newcomers with ease on his most cohesive project yet.

DSU was a smash hit on the blogosphere last year, with its diverse styles but consistent idiosyncrasy. Although it was a solid project, many songs felt unfinished, as if after Alex found one right riff, he stopped each song without trying to add other passages. Beach Music avoids this for most of the album, as songs are fully fleshed. “Bug” follows the incredibly kooky Intro, closed out with Chipmunk vocals of all things. It’s unsettling at first but inadvertently conveys sincerity in the song. Alex continues to churn out the curveballs when a drum machine is introduced on the previously released single, “Salt.” More odd vocals soar over the emphasized guitar leads on the chorus, creating a dream like setting. It’s songs like these that long-time Alex G fans have come to expect. Being able to hear a well made bluesy shuffle (“Ready”) right after a emo-tinged acoustic ballad (“Mud”) is refreshing. Alex’s vocals are as sincere as ever, not technically proficient but emotionally intact. The performances with the instruments are tighter than before even though the production isn’t flashy.

A few songs aren’t structured as well as hoped for, however. “Look Out” sounds like a chopped n screwed alternative rock standard, but it’s too spacey to connect to. “Kicker” is a great song, but feels totally unfinished with an awkward fade out. “Station” also falls flat because the attempt for weirdness makes the song structuring suffer.

All in all, these shortcomings don’t stop Beach Music being an essential for any indie rock fan this year. Alex G has come and he’s taking the indiesphere by storm, whether you like it or not.

 

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Bug, Thorns, Salt, In Lover, Mud, Ready

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Brite Boy, Station

SCORE: (8.0/10)

from the album "Vega Intl. Night School"

NEON INDIAN STREAMS VEGA INTL. NIGHT SCHOOL

Alan Palomo will release his new Neon Indian record VEGA INTL. Night School on October 16 via Mom and Pop/Transgressive. After releasing new songs from the album which include “Slumlord”“Annie”, and “The Glitzy Hive”, Palomo has made the entire album available to stream in full via NPR. Listen below. THe album is the follow-up to 2011’s Era Extraña. The stream is accompanied by visuals by artist Sabrina Ratté.

Here’s the album stream with the visuals:

from the album "Fetty Wap"

“Fetty Wap” Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap Album Review

RGF/300/Atlantic

Released September 25, 2015

Genre: Hip Hop, Pop Rap, Trap Rap

Say what you will, but Fetty Wap is the epicenter of modern pop music as of now. The underdog star, born Willie Maxwell, has spurred hit after hit after hit, becoming an international sensation by way of meme and music – a dichotomy that has both plagued and benefited musicians as of now. On Fetty Wap’s more than confident debut, the artist follows through with the success of “Trap Queen”, offering infectious melodies and catchy hooks left and right. However, the formula gets stale once spread out over twenty tracks. But in the long run, it hardly becomes an issue, and you’ll hardly even care.

Every single song on here follows the same lovable formula: bright synths, basic trap beats, infectious hooks, Fetty’s warbled and confident vocals, Monty’s direct vocals (he appears on nine tracks on this album). While this formula works, considering the slew of hits that Fetty has had recently, these moments render Fetty very limited. The lack of variety and versatility on Fetty Wap is both a blessing and a curse. For starters, you’ll come to find yourself with a handful of bouncy, fun, and enjoyable tracks in the same class of “Trap Queen”, but you’ll also find it hard to tell one song apart from another.

That is to say that this album does come with its highlights: there’s the massive hook on “Jugg”; the pulsating throb of “I Wonder”; the driving “RGF Island” is sure to soundtrack many pre-game rituals; and the surprising sincerity and compassion of “Again” is sure to be overlooked by many. Fetty’s debut isn’t a bad start for this underdog. He’s sure to come back stronger than ever, riding on the success of all these hits. For now, Fetty Wap is a fun, consistent, self-assured, and confident debut – a record that finds itself being as braggy as it can be, but doesn’t forget where it started from.

FAV TRACKS: Trap Queen, How We Do Things (feat. Monty), Jugg (feat. Monty), Again, My Way (feat. Monty), RGF Island

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Trap Luv, Rewind (feat. Monty)

SCORE: (17/38) (6.0/10)