album review

American Dream: Album Review

Summer 2017 has almost reached its conclusion. There’s only a few weeks left, but after Labor Day, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage, temps start decreasing, and sweaters and flannels cover the upper torsos of most. Summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd, but still we’re less than a month away.

That being said this summer was epic for both me and the rest of the music world. I worked all over the country, had amazing experiences, made new friends, and strengthened relationships with old friends. It was incredible. It was also incredible because a plethora of new albums were released this summer by so many of my favorite bands and artists. Before the end of summer though, there’s one more highly anticipated album that was just released. The album was a long time coming for NYC alternative dance band, LCD Soundsystem. So after 7 long years, an apparent break-up, a final show at Madison Square Garden and a film to tell its tale, a Christmas song, and a comeback no one ever thought was happening, American Dream is here.

American Dream is the 4th full length album from James Murphy and his posse. This album is more melodious than their previous works, yet it combines the great electronic/techno indie dance style that LCD Soundsystem is known for. If you’re looking for that classic LCD sound, look to the songs “tonite”, “call the police”, “emotional haircut”, and “other voices”. Songs like “change yr mind” and “how do you sleep?” combine a dance style with more melody, as they both start slow and build to a pace where you’re able to get into the groove.

LCD Soundsystem records have been known to include a slower song or something with more melody on more than one occasion. “New York I Love, But You’re Bringing Me Down” or “All I Want” are perfect examples of this. Each are on separate albums though. The latest from LCD Soundsystem incorporates 4 of these kind of tracks with “oh baby”, “i used to”, “american dream”, and “black screen”. “i used to” and “black screen” remind me of songs I’d hear from bands like Brand New or Circa Survive. They have an alternative rock/post-hardcore feel where all that’s missing is Murphy adding some screaming to his vocals. “oh baby” and “american dream” are filled with love, longing, and nostalgia lyrics reminiscent to the waltz style track “New York I Love You…”.

Normally I hate when bands change their sound, but in this case LCD Soundsystem hasn’t really changed much. They’re still playing the same style of music that made them famous in the mid to late 00’s. They’re just progressing. They got older even though they were never that young to begin with. They’re the same, but new. Anyway, to me, this record is one that no one ever thought they’d hear and LCD Soundsystem is back with a vengeance.

I urge you to check out this album. I first started listening to LCD Soundsystem in 2012 (yes after they broke up!) but fell in love with them all over again last summer after preparing for and seeing them live at Lollapalooza. They’re different than most bands I’m into and most bands you might listen to, but they combine an EDM style of music with an indie style. You just can’t help but want to dance yrself clean when you listen to them.

Almost every show on their upcoming tour is already sold out and they haven’t even begun to play shows yet. There’s no question that the rest of the shows will sell out in due time. So if you plan on seeing the revival of LCD Soundsystem on their touring circuit this time around, you either have to grab a ticket to one of the few remaining shows quickly, buy an overpriced resale ticket, or you’re S.O.L. Fortunately I have tickets to their upcoming tour and plenty of time to indulge in this new masterpiece of an album. Their American shows begin in mid-October so for those looking to see a live performance you have plenty of time as well as long as you start today. Check out American Dream as soon as you can!

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Sacred Hearts Club: Album Review

July 21st was a big day. I worked Check-In for travel packages for a Phish show and two of my favorite music artists released their new albums. I didn’t have much of a chance to listen to both because of work, but I got on it this morning. I figured I’d start with a review of Foster the People’s latest work Sacred Hearts Club because I’ll be seeing them in two weeks when I head to Chicago for my second Lollapalooza. At this point, binging on their new album is necessary.

Stylistically, their new album has a much different feel than their last two. There are songs that have the classic Foster the People sound like “Doing It For the Money” and “SHC”, which were both released in April as part of their 3 song EP entitled III and others that add elements from other styles of music. “III” sounds like a deep house track. If it wasn’t for Mark Foster’s signature vocals, I’d think I was listening to a Flume song. There’s more electronic influence in songs like “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” and “Harden” too. Foster the People has always used synth in their music but these songs just sound more electronic. Maybe it’s me and how my listening style has developed, but I’d argue regardless. I even feel like there’s a jazz influence in some of their songs, particularly in “Static Space Lover”.

As I said before, I believe this album sounds different to me, but Foster the People has been blending genres since their first record. There’s dance, punk, and hip-hop blended into their previous albums. There’s just something about this one that stands out though. The band wanted this record to be a uniting voice amongst a world filled with negativity too. I think it has the potential to be just that as many songs express camaraderie lyrically. I believe listeners will be able to relate and use this music to rise above the hate in the world.

If you asked me who my top 5 favorite bands are at this point in my life, the first band I’d name would be Foster the People. Torches is still one of my favorite albums of all time. So for me, buying this album was a no-brainer. I would have even bought it blindly. Therefore, it might be hard to believe my opinion is unbiased when I say that I think this album would appeal to more than just Foster the People fans because of the development of their music style. I promise it’s worth checking out though so do yourself a favor and pick-up a copy.

Something To Tell You: Album Review

I have some amazing news! Haim released their new album today! Can I get a hell yeah?! (Hell YEAH!) Something To Tell You, Haim’s latest release, is their second full length album and first in 3 years since 2014’s Days Are Gone. In the months leading up to the release, the sister trio debuted a few singles from the album with “Want You Back”, “Right Now”, and “Little of Your Love”.

Based on my first listen to the album, it seems like a quality follow-up to Days. The thing I love about Something To Tell You is that it incorporates sound from different genres and decades of music. To me, Haim’s vocals have given their music an 80’s type of sound, but on this new record I feel like their vocals create a 90’s to modern day feel along with that go-to 80’s vibe. The music itself takes pieces from different genres to give the band a unique sound on each track too. There were moments where I thought to myself, “this song sounds like an 80’s song (“Nothing’s Wrong”) to this song has a rockabilly thing going on (“Little of Your Love”), or this one has a sort of R&B/deep house/electronic feel (“Walking Away”).” There are many instances of this on the album and if you sit down and really listen to the songs, you’ll hear them. Their songs are just as catchy as the ones on Days too. It’s only a matter of time and repetition before I’m singing along to this album.

I will say a noticeable difference between Something To Tell You and Days Are Gone is that I think there are more songs that are more mellow and chill on the new album, which I feel like is a natural progression. The debut album was full of some great jams. The new one is too but also calms it down a bit. It seems fitting as well since the band has said this album’s lyrical content is full of highs and lows.

For all the Haim fans out there, you’re definitely gonna want to hit up a record store this weekend to pick-up the new album (or online store, or iTunes, or whatever you use). I’ll probably do the same. Haim has already started to post a few tour dates in support of this new record, but I’ll be damned if they don’t add more in the coming days, weeks, or months. Until then, listen to Something To Tell You on repeat! The Haim sisters created some incredible combinations of sound and it’s worthy of your ears.

Melodrama: Album Review

Last Friday Lorde released her highly anticipated second full length album, Melodrama. The announcement of the album came in March shortly after she released the album’s debut single “Green Light”. In the mean time she also released two other singles, “Liability” and “Perfect Places”.

So far the album has been received with high praise and it’s only been out for a week. I was away for a work trip last weekend so I first listened to the album last Thursday night/Friday morning on Spotify. I loved it. I knew I was gonna head out immediately once I got home to purchase it. I bought it Wednesday. It’s a fantastic album. It’s everything you could ever want from Lorde, especially as a follow-up to Pure Heroine. The songs are emotional, catchy, and have that edgy sound Lorde is so well known for.  It takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. It will have you dancing with songs like “Green Light” and “Supercut”, singing to “Perfect Places” and “Homemade Dynamite”, crying while listening to “Liability”, and loving everything else in between.

Lorde created the album with well-known producer/musician, Jack Antonoff. He has production credits on almost every song on the album. I’d be surprised if this album doesn’t earn the Lorde/Antonoff duo a few Grammy nods. I highly recommend purchasing it as soon as possible. Make it one of the soundtracks to your summer. It’s that good so stop reading, go listen, and fall in love with Melodrama.

hopeless fountain kingdom: Album Review

As you know, all-new albums from some of my favorite artists will be dropping throughout the summer. The album releases began over the weekend. I’m going to try to review as many of them as I can, especially because I’ll be busy traveling and it will at least give me a few planned topics to write about.

On Friday, along with alt-J’s Relaxer, Halsey released her sophomore album hopeless fountain kingdom. Although it’s currently #1 on iTunes, it’s a disappointment for me. I’ve always liked Halsey’s darkness and edge that she brought to her music. Her new album seems generic. She tried to bring in this artsy, creative aspect to it by having it reflect a Romeo & Juliet type of scenario, but instead I feel like she’s trying too hard. I previously compared her styles and sound to a mix of Lana Del Rey and Lorde. Although this album brings in some of that Lana Del Rey creativeness, she’s strayed from the Lorde-ish type of sound and Lana-ish lyrical content heard on Badlands. If there are any songs that I enjoy/appreciate from this new album, it’s “Bad at Love” and “Eyes Closed”. “Eyes Closed” was released as a single a few weeks ago and I liked it initially. There’s really nothing more to it than that for me. Upon listening to the album though, “Bad at Love” was the song that stood out to me in sound and lyrics. It’s catchy, but the lyrics also give representation to Halsey’s bi-sexuality, which she’s been open about in the past. Sure the lyrics aren’t genius. They’re kind of just average pop lyrics. It’s definitely no “New Americana”, but I like the fact that the song reflects Halsey as an LGBT artist, which is something you don’t always get in music.

The new album also features a few collaborations. Quavo from the hip-hop group Migos, Lauren Jauregui from girl band Fifth Harmony, and Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat all make appearances on hopeless fountain kingdom.

Overall though, I think this is one album I’m going to bypass on purchasing. It was a disappointment for me after such quality work with Badlands. I feel like Halsey is just falling into the main stream pop, where she had potential to be more than that. I’m going to just blame “Closer” and The Chainsmokers for this one. Hopefully her follow-up delivers in a big way. For those of you who really like this album, I’m sorry I don’t agree with you. I was hoping for this album to be just as good as Halsey’s debut. Unfortunately that’s not always the case and I’ll just hope for something better next time.

Relaxer: Album Review

Yesterday alt-J released Relaxer, their 3rd studio album. Today I’m giving you my take on it.

Relaxer is shorter than the first two alt-J albums. It only consists of 8 songs and 39 minutes of play time making it alt-J’s shortest album thus far. However what it lacks in size, it makes up for in content. It’s a perfect combination of the alt-J music you know and love.

I’ve always found alt-J’s sound to be so original. At least none of the other bands I listen to sound similar to them. Some of their earlier music had an Arabic/Middle Eastern sound to it. “3WW” and “Deadcrush” have a bit of that sound, but each song’s sound goes beyond that too. “3WW” has this Egyptian-like sound, while “Deadcrush” incorporates an electronic/deep house type sound. “Hit Me Like That Snare” has an indie rock feel and “In Cold Blood” has the sound of a classic alt-J hit similar to “Breezeblocks”.  “Adeline” and “Last Year” are both soft and mellow. They’re comparable to “Warm Foothills” and “Pusher” from This Is All Yours or “Matilda” from An Awesome Wave. Finally, the intros of “Pleader” and “House of the Rising Sun” remind me of something I’d hear from a movie score.

Relaxer is the new album you’ve been waiting to hear from alt-J. It’s got everything you’d want from the indie rock band and it’s the perfect addition to your alt-J album collection. I will say though, alt-J isn’t for everyone. Their sound is unique no matter how you look at it so if you’re going to listen to them for the first time with this album, don’t expect your typical indie rock. It’s a bit beyond that. If you love alt-J though, you’ll definitely love or at least like this new album.

The NBHD

Last weekend, I was at Best Buy looking for an item that I could spend my Best Buy Rewards mystery prize coupon on. I checked out the movies. Nothing interested me, so I figured I’d check the music. Best Buy isn’t really the best option for music. They don’t have a large selection, but they do usually have the latest releases. As I glanced over the new releases, I saw a brand new album from The Neighbourhood. My eyes lit up. I love those guys. Their first major single “Sweater Weather” was basically the anthem of my spring 2013. I didn’t even know they had new album coming out. I was definitely spending my mystery coupon on something (got the album for $5.29…WIN).

Formed in 2011, The Neighbourhood (The NBHD) hails from Newbury Park, California. The alternative, indie rock group comprised of members Jesse Rutherford (vocals), Jeremy Freedman (guitar), Zach Abels (guitar), Mikey Margott (bass), and Brandon Fried (drums) (original drummer Bryan Sammis left the group in early 2014) decided to spell their band name using the British spelling of “neighborhood” as to not be confused with another band of the same name who used the American spelling. They released two EPs in 2012, I’m Sorry… (May) and Thank You, (December) followed by the release of their first full length in April of 2013, I Love You. It debuted at number 39 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The band played dates at SXSW and Coachella that spring and toured the U.S. throughout the summer. Their single “Sweater Weather” reached number 1 on Billboard’s Alternative chart by early June 2013. The group spent 2014 touring in Europe and released a mixtape album titled #000000 & #FFFFFF (the color codes for black and white) on November 28, 2014. It wasn’t until August of 2015 that the group announced their second full length album Wiped Out! would be released on October 30th.

The Neighbourhood surely fits the bill of alternative rock, indie rock. You might even say they’re a little experimental, but to me they always sounded a bit more than those categories. Maybe it’s just lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s voice, but I feel like they have an R&B sound to the vocals mixed with a rock background. I mean listen to some of their songs and tell me it doesn’t sound like baby-making music. They basically play baby-making music for hipsters.

I first heard of The Neighbourhood in March 2013. I saw a friend tweet about the song “Sweater Weather” so, of course, since I’m always looking for new music, I looked up the song. I fell in love. It was my jam for a couple weeks straight. The first week I listened to it on repeat constantly. I remember playing it for my friends when I picked them up for our weekly hang out of watching the TV show Pretty Little Liars. If I had a soundtrack for my life, that song would definitely be a part of it because it became synonymous with that incredibly inspirational time period (for other reasons unrelated to The NBHD). After that, I eventually heard other songs by The Neighbourhood and took a liking to them as well (not quite as much as “Sweater Weather”, but they were still pretty good). My friend bought me the album for Christmas that year and I had it on replay in my car for a while. That’s why finding their newest release at Best Buy last weekend was such a pleasant surprise, especially since the new record is awesome.

The new album has that same groove featured most of their songs (*cough cough* baby-making music). Their latest single “R.I.P. to My Youth” is the final track. Rutherford almost seems to sing-rap the verses while coming in with his signature smooth vocals on the chorus. Songs like “The Beach”, “Daddy Issues”, and “Baby Came Home 2/Valentines” are almost pushing into the rock ballad category, while other songs like “Prey” and “Cry Baby” lead into the record with that signature Neighbourhood sound. I even got the impression of some folk undertones in the song “Single”. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new album is the first track “A Moment of Silence”. It actually is a moment of silence, or 30 seconds, if you want to get technical. Popping the record in my car’s CD player without looking at the names of the track-listing, I was confused by it at first. I waited for the album to start, only to hear dead air. Then, when a song started playing, it was already on the second track. It was seriously about 15 minutes ago while researching these guys that I understood my confusion. If you’re already a fan of The Neighbourhood, I recommend picking up this album. It features hints of other music styles while still sticking to their sound roots. I also recommend the album if you have a date scheduled with your significant other and you really want to get into their pants. In fact, I have other songs I can recommend for that too:

  1. Sweater Weather
  2. Afraid
  3. Flawless
  4. Female Robbery
  5. W.D.Y.W.F.M.?
  6. West Coast
  7. #icanteven
  8. No Grey
  9. Wires
  10. The entirety of Wiped Out!

Honeymoon: Album Review

It wasn’t my intention to not post for the last month, but sometimes life happens. And so it goes. But, what better time to get back into the swing of blog posting than with the release of Lana Del Rey’s fourth studio album, Honeymoon?

Yesterday the pop goddess released her fourth full length to the masses of her adoring fans. As one of those adoring fans, I, of course, needed to buy it. Compared to 2014’s Ultraviolence and 2012’s Born to Die, Honeymoon is missing something for me. It feels like it lacks varying melodies and is less upbeat. Let’s be real though, Lana Del Rey doesn’t sing upbeat bubble gum pop music. She’s not Taylor Swift and she definitely won’t be shaking it off anytime soon. Still, even for her usual, many songs off the new album like “Honeymoon”, “Terrence Loves You”, and “God Knows I Tried”, are soft, slow and missing that little edgy background beat. Sure there’s still background music to her songs, but it’s slower than what we’re used to for the singer. This album focuses more on Lana’s powerful hypnotic vocals.

One thing remains true when it comes to Lana Del Rey: girl can sing. Focusing on the singing gives Honeymoon a different feel than her other albums where many of her songs are the whole package. Her choice of lyrics and themes also don’t stray much from standard Lana songs. None of the lyrics reach to the level of quality like “my pussy tastes like Pepsi cola” did, but there’s still some gems. I mean one of her singles off the new album is called “High By the Beach” with the line “all I wanna do is get high by the beach” repeated continuously throughout the song. One of my personal favorite lines comes from the song “24”, “if you lie down with dogs, then you’ll get fleas.” I also dig the chorus in “Freak”, particularly the lines that go “baby if you want to leave, come to California, be a freak like me too.”

Overall, I’ll probably fall in love with this album after listening to it a few times. For my tastes though, it needs to grow on me. I have no doubt it will. I love Lana Del Rey as a music artist, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If you love her as much as I do, I highly recommend purchasing the album.

My song recommendations (favorites) from Honeymoon:

  1. High By the Beach
  2. Music to Watch Boys to
  3. Freak
  4. Art Deco

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

According to my little stats here on the blog, it’s been 22 days since I made any sort of update. With the epic coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup throughout June and trying to focus on getting my life in order plus some vacation time, I needed a little break. Right before the World Cup began, I failed to note a much anticipated release in the music world.

Since seeing Florence and The Machine at Coachella back in April (one of my favorite performances of the festival might I add), I anticipated the release of her latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. It came out on May 29th, about a week and a half before the USAvAUS opener. However, I was waiting to purchase it with my gift certificate from Amoeba Music (the world’s largest independent record store with three locations in California- Berkeley (the original location), San Francisco, and Hollywood) during their monthly 15% off sale. The sale didn’t happen until mid-June so I ordered it on vinyl then. I received it by the end of June, about a month after its initial release. I didn’t listen to the album aside from an early song release or two in prep for Coachella until I had the record in my possession. I did however unintentionally hear a few songs from the album because FoxSports, who covered the Women’s World Cup, used some songs off the latest album as background music during their video montages of the tournament. Needless to say, that just got me more hyped to listen to the album.

The album was worth the wait. After purchasing the first two Florence and The Machine albums on vinyl, I had to follow suit with the third. Like the first two albums, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful delivered with the same powerful female vocals, catchy choruses, and indie pop/rock style. I  honestly love this band’s consistency as far as style goes. Although the themes in Florence and The Machine’s albums may vary, the sound never disappoints or strays from what made people fall in love with them in the first place. It may be my favorite album of theirs to date. I highly recommend it. The album topped the charts in eight different countries during its first week on the market, including the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 in the United States. It was the first time a Florence and The Machine album received that honor. So there’s a little proof of how good this record is besides me just saying it’s awesome. So check it out asap and check out these songs in particular:

1. Delilah

2. Queen of Peace

3. Ship to Wreck

4. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

5. What Kind of Man

6. Caught

7. St. Jude