Ashley Frangipane

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.

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Coachella Band Preview: Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975

Coachella Weekend 1 is 23 days away, which means 3 more weeks! I only have 3 weeks left and so many more bands to preview. That’s why this week I’m combining 4 bands into one preview since I covered them each in depth on the blog before. They are Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975. You’ll notice links on the names of each band to their respective blog posts for a little more background information, but for now I’m just going to give a simple breakdown/recap on each.

Years & Years is a band I started listening to near the end of summer. They’re kind of on that EDM spectrum, but can also be considered pop, indie pop, or synth pop. Since I wrote about them in the summer, the group has toured the U.S. and booked several music festivals along with Coachella this summer. They’ll also be supporting fellow Coachella act Ellie Goulding on tour this spring. As a somewhat newer band (their first full length album was just released last year), it’ll be their first time playing the Coachella festival. They play Friday.

I also started listening to Halsey around the same time I started listening to Years & Years. Halsey is a pop/electropop/indie pop singer. As I mentioned in my prior blog post on the artist, she has a comparable sound to Lorde but lyrically is comparable to Lana Del Rey. Since writing about Halsey, she released her debut album, Badlands, and like Years & Years also toured performing in venues throughout the U.S. She will perform for her first time in the Indio desert this year as well. Her set is on Saturday.

Both Cold War Kids and The 1975 are no strangers to Coachella. The 1975 played Coachella for the first time in 2014 and are making their big return this year following the release of their sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Since writing about the indie pop/indie rock band from the UK in early December 2015, they released their new album at the end of February. It debuted at the number one spot on both the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the U.S. They play Sunday and I anticipate them drawing a decent sized crowd, especially now that they’re playing more of a headlining role compared to their last Coachella appearance. Cold War Kids on the other hand will be playing Coachella for the third time. They first played the festival in 2008, but haven’t performed there since 2011. There was actually some speculation that they might have been on last year’s lineup, but as you know that didn’t happen. Since I wrote about these alternative rock/indie rock music vets in the fall, they haven’t been up to much besides touring. However the band announced last week via instagram that lead guitarist Dann Gallucci was parting ways with the group and will be replaced by David Quon. I’m sure he’ll be in the mix when the group takes the stage on Sunday.

As you already know, I like all these acts and I recommend seeing each one’s performance at Coachella. With Sunday’s strong lineup of acts, it might be tougher to make the Cold War Kids set or The 1975 set due to conflicts, but there’s less likely to be conflicting issues with seeing Halsey and Years & Years. To make sure you’re ready to see each band/artist’s performance though, here are my top three favorite songs by each (you can check my original blog posts on these 4 for more recommendations):

Years & Years

  1. Border
  2. King
  3. Shine

Halsey

  1. New Americana
  2. Drive
  3. Hold Me Down

Cold War Kids

  1. Miracle Mile
  2. First
  3. Hang Me Up To Dry

The 1975 (** but really check out their whole second album too!**)

  1. The Sound
  2. Girls
  3. Chocolate

We Are the New Americana

One of the best things someone can do (in my mind) is recommend music. I don’t care if it’s a personal recommendation (the person recommends to you specifically), a recommendation through social media, a website, blog, etc., or even if it’s not a direct recommendation at all, meaning someone just talks or posts about a band/song/lyrics. I love it. I love it because I love music (if you haven’t already figured that out). I love finding new music or bands to listen to and it’s so refreshing when someone else can offer you new music by word of mouth (or word of the web). What’s even better, when someone recommends music, is if they recommend artists or songs that fit your music style. Lately, I’ve found out a few new things to listen to this way. Most recently, it was the singer, Halsey.

Halsey, a.k.a. Ashley Frangipane, who hails from the New Jersey/New York region has been working her way into the indie pop scene in the past year. Halsey is an anagram of her real name Ashley and it’s also a street in Brooklyn where she hung out growing up. She started her career playing acoustic shows to afford rent. When she recorded her song “Ghost” about a year ago, it was almost an overnight success. Shortly after, she had meetings with five major record labels. She signed with Astralwerks.

The last year has been nothing short of amazing for the 20 year old recording artist. She released an EP, Room 93, in October 2014, while on tour opening for The Kooks. She was the most talked about artist at SXSW. She headlined The American Youth Tour along with Young Rising Sons this past spring and in a little less than 2 weeks her debut album, Badlands, will be released (August 28th). To be honest, girl is killing it. There’s no doubt once her album comes out that she’ll get even more attention too.

Her sound can definitely be labeled pop, but could also fit the alternative, indie spectrum. Think along the lines of Lorde or Banks. Her lyrics are the catch though. They’re at times angsty and angry, but always raw and honest. She doesn’t really fit the mold of any of her sound comparisons in that regard. If you read the lyrics to the song “New Americana”, which is a single off Badlands, you might confuse it for a Lana Del Rey song. “New Americana” is almost the new “National Anthem”. Also like Lana, her passion for artistry through her music is beyond her years.

I first heard “New Americana” about a week and a half ago because someone I follow on Twitter tweeted out the lyrics (grateful for these people as you can tell from what I mentioned above). It was catchy so I added it to my workout Spotify playlist. I’ve listened to many times since. I’ve also listened to her other music. I love it as much as I love when people recommend music. She doesn’t have many songs out right now, but she’ll have a solid bunch of tunes once her album debuts. I can’t wait to hear it. I highly recommend checking her out asap before you feel like you’d just be hopping on the bandwagon. It might even be considered a slight bandwagon at this point, but who knows.

Song recommendations:

  1. New Americana
  2. Hold Me Down
  3. Ghost
  4. Hurricane (check out the Arty Remix if you’d rather a more upbeat track)
  5. Empty Gold
  6. Is There Somewhere
  7. The rest of Badlands once it’s released on August 28th