album reviews

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)

2017: The Best Year in Music Recap

Last year around New Year’s, I wrote about how music saved 2016. It was a pretty shitty year for the country and in the grand scheme of things. Although people would say 2017 might not have been the best for some similar reasons, I would have to argue. 2017 was a great year. Personally, I worked more events than last year, worked new festivals including my all-time favorite, Coachella, had the opportunity to work a few different roles, saw tons of incredible live music, made new friends, got closer to friends I already had, and figured out what my ultimate goal is. Overall yes there were several bad and upsetting events that happened especially in America. There were even a few hiccups in my own life. However, despite the bad, there were plenty of instances of hope. As for music, as much as I thought it was the best part of 2016, it doesn’t hold a candle to this past year.

So many artists released new albums this year. I mean I guess that’s pretty standard for every year but this year was special for me. It was all of my favorites (minus Florence and the Machine) putting out new albums. I also discovered so many more great bands thanks to the incredible people I met and grew closer to this year.

I could do a detailed recap of all the music I loved from this year, but I wrote about it so many times so I’ll give you all the links in a ranking of my favorite albums of 2017.

My 2017 Top 10 Favorite New Albums

10. Zombies on Broadway   -Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

The follow-up to Andrew McMahon’s debut had a handful of hits. I never reviewed this album and I’m so sorry because it was a good one, making it #10 on my list.

9. Something to Tell You   -Haim

Although Something to Tell You wasn’t quite what Days Are Gone was for me, I was super stoked to hear some new music from the Haim sisters. The new album had a few great jams like “Little of Your Love” and “Want You Back” which helped it earn my #9 spot.

8. Lust For Life   -Lana Del Rey

As advertised, Lust for Life was an album for the fans. In my opinion it wasn’t Lana’s best nor her worst. “Coachella – Woodstock on My Mind” and “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” featuring Stevie Nicks were two of my favorites, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for by one of my favorite artists, putting Lana at #8.

7. Woodstock   -Portugal. The Man

I owe the love of this album to our self-planned Hipster Day in NYC when we went to Brooklyn, checked out cool street art, and spent time in a record store where I purchased the album on vinyl. Who would have thought 2017 would have re-introduced me to Portugal. The Man? After a banger like “Feel It Still” it, it happened though. I never reviewed this album or this band on my blog yet, but don’t worry it’s coming soon. My recent hype and appreciation for Portugal. The Man’s hit album helped it reach the #7 spot on my list.

6. American Dream   -LCD Soundsystem

American Dream was the highly anticipated comeback album from LCD Soundsystem. It might not be Sound of Silver, but it’s got plenty of great tracks that will be played at LCD’s show until they decide to break up for good this time.

5. A Moment Apart   -Odesza

Odesza was a new discovery for me this year. When this album was released, I had never listened to them so I wasn’t anticipating the release nor planning an album review (I linked my general blog post from a few weeks ago instead). It took a special trip that included an Odesza concert to force me to listen to the album, but it was definitely worth it as it comes in as my #5.

4. Ultralife   -Oh Wonder

2017 became the year that I really fell for Oh Wonder. I owe it to Coachella, Denise, and a shitty work schedule, yet I’m so grateful it worked out that way. Their new album picked up where their self-titled debut album left off and added a few new hits to their repertoire making Ultralife my #4 top album this year.

3. GALLERY   -A R I Z O N A

After discovering A R I Z O N A last year, listening to almost every new single they released, and loving each and every one, their debut album had to be high on my list. The album is basically a compilation of each single plus a few new tracks. I don’t even own the album, but I’ve spent a lot of time listening to their songs. Again, I linked up my general blog post from this year about the band.

2. Melodrama   -Lorde

If I wasn’t biased, this would hands down be the best album of the year. Every song on Melodrama is fantastic. The album was the kind of sophomore album bands and artists dream of, but not many can achieve. Lorde crushed it with this one giving her second full length my #2 spot.

1. Sacred Hearts Club   –Foster the People

Like I said, I’m biased on this. I’ve always said Foster the People was one of my favorite bands, but this album made me fall in love with them all over again. It’s not quite Torches, but it’s close. “Sit Next To Me” became my favorite song of the year. Seeing them live twice and up close was everything I needed. They’re always my #1.

Honorable Mentions: I See You -the xx, Relaxer -alt-J, Wonderful Wonderful -The Killers, Everything Now -Arcade Fire, L.A. Divine -Cold War Kids, Masseduction -St. Vincent

So there you have it My Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2017…the Best Year in Music, at least in my opinion. 2018 has a lot to live up to. There’s sure to be plenty of good music this year, but it’ll be hard to beat all the new stuff from my favorites. Still we have a few to look forward to. I heard some rumors about upcoming albums from Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, and MGMT. Hayley Kiyoko will be releasing her debut album this spring and the 1975 is supposed to drop their third full length album. Chrvches and Bastille are also on radar for some new albums. As you can see there’s still good things to come. Plus the Coachella lineup drops this week and you know what that means. So thanks 2017 for being so special. 2018…”just come over here and sit next to me” because I’m ready for you and all the music you have to offer.