LGBT music

if i could make it go quiet: Album Review

Since discovering girl in red last fall, I’ve joined the fans anticipating her debut album and finally it’s here. if i could make it go quiet, the debut album from girl in red, was released on Friday. The album was released through indie label AWAL and produced by girl in red herself, Marie Ulven, along with Matias Tellez and includes some production credit from Finneas O’Connell (aka Finneas, the brother of Billie Eilish). Throughout the past year girl in red released a few tracks in anticipation of the album including, “midnight love” and “Rue” last year, followed by “Serotonin” in March 2021 and “You Stupid Bitch” two weeks ago.

The album, as promised, features what we know and love about girl in red with a more mature feel. So yes, it’s indie pop/rock music about girls and love, but also with a jam about mental health and lacking serotonin. The quality of the record definitely feels more developed from girl in red’s earlier work too. This is the kind of album that could be the soundtrack to a solo drive in your car while on a road trip. I could also envision listening to this album while laying alone in a wide open field.

My early front-runners for favorite songs on the album are “Body And Mind”, “Serotonin”, which is an absolute banger, “You Stupid Bitch”, and “I’ll Call You Mine”. One thing I’ve always got from girl in red is that she doesn’t hold back in her writing. She says what she wants and it’s evident in so many of her tracks on the debut record. Listen to “Serotonin”, “Did You Come?”, and “hornylovesickness” if you want to see what I mean. I think this attribute to her music is what makes girl in red so great in her own way.

So far I feel like this year has had a slow start, both in general and musically, but even though we’re 5 months in, there’s still time. There’s plenty of potential for good things to happen and great new music to be released. girl in red’s debut album is one sign of that optimistic view for this year as it’s a solid indie album from front to back. Ironically, it boosted my serotonin and I hope it does the same for you as well.

girl in red

It seems like monthly posts have become my thing this year so I couldn’t let November end without something new to talk about. Back in September, I discovered a new artist that I really like. Thanks to watching Tik Tok compilations on Youtube, I heard her song “i wanna be your girlfriend” endless amounts of times and it got stuck in my head. I looked up the song and learned it was by an artist called girl in red. I heard of girl in red a few months beforehand and finally had that “OH! Okay, so that’s who that is!” moment.

girl in red, also known as Marie Ulven Ringheim, is a Norwegian indie pop singer-songwriter who releases her music straight from the comfort of her bedroom. While growing up, her grandfather gave her a guitar on Christmas. She credits him with getting her into music because of it. Her stage name, girl in red, came from describing herself while in a crowd to a friend via text message. She began releasing music to Soundcloud under the name in 2016. Her debut single was “i wanna be your girlfriend”.

girl in red released her first EP, Chapter 1, in 2018. It also included her new singles “summer depression” and “girls”. She began touring in 2018 as well, opening for Clairo during her Dublin and Paris shows. Then she opened for Conan Gray in early 2019 which was her first North American tour. She released her second EP, Chapter 2, in 2019. In late 2019, Ulven went on her first headlining tour which included dates in Europe and America. Her debut album World in Red was slated for an October 2020 arrival, but is still yet to be released. The first single from the album, “rue”, was released in late August.

When I first listened to girl in red, I called her the indie version of Hayley Kiyoko and I still stand by it. Ulven is openly gay and the subject matter of her music is representative of that much like Kiyoko’s. girl in red’s music is just way more indie/indie pop. It has also been described as bedroom pop.

Since discovering girl in red, I’ve been listening to her music here and there, even adding a song or two to my always go-to work out playlist. I really got into the song “bad idea!” and her cover of Maggie Rogers’ “Say It” during the past month and a half. I’m anticipating the release of girl in red’s debut album as I’m sure most of her fans are. It’ll be here before we know it too. Once touring resumes, I’m sure we’ll see girl in red out on the road especially with the fame she’s gained over the last year. She recently dropped the Christmas single “two queens in a king sized bed”. So this holiday season, check out that new single and while you’re at it check out all that girl in red has to offer. If you’re an indie fan, it won’t disappoint.

Hey I’m Just Like You: Album Review

A few weeks ago Tegan and Sara released their ninth studio album. The Canadian duo has been making music since the early 2000’s, but this album is a bit more special than the others they released prior. The album coincides with the debut of their memoir High School. The book is about their musical beginnings, growing up, and attending high school in the 90’s. While working on the book, the twins found a bunch of cassettes with early recordings of songs they wrote during that time and decided to re-work and re-record the songs. From there, Hey I’m Just Like You was born.

The new album pays homage to their rock and punk rock roots while still incorporating the pop sound they’ve grown into over the years. The best example of this is the track “I’ll Be Back Someday”, which was one of the first songs from the album that Tegan and Sara released. The song has a very clear and distinct punk influence. The lyrics reference themes of their adolescence like drug use, relationships, friendship, love, and self-reflection. Hey I’m Just Like You is also the first Tegan and Sara album recorded by an all female team.

Tegan and Sara are currently on tour in support of the album and book. Many of the tour dates are sold out. Fortunately, I’ll be attending one of their shows next week. I already picked up a copy of the book before I left to work Austin City Limits. Then I bought the album while visiting Waterloo Records on one of my off days in Austin. It’s safe to say I’ve been prepping for the last 2 1/2 weeks, but I love a good Tegan and Sara show. I highly recommend the album if you’re a Tegan and Sara fan. This one is definitely unique and yet at the same time I think you’ll be satisfied because you’re still getting what we all know and love from Tegan and Sara.

Palo Santo: Album Review

It’s been 3 years since Years & Years released their debut album Communion. They’re finally back today with their sophomore release Palo Santo. Often, upon listening to an album for the first time, I’m not sure what to say about it. A lot of times it’s because the album needs to grow on me. I just started listening to this new Years & Years album about a half hour ago and I’m already in love though. It’s a gem. I had a similar feeling when I listened to Lorde’s Melodrama for the first time. That album was nominated for a Grammy for album of the year last year so as you can tell, I already have great expectations for this new Years & Years release.

A lot of times the sound on a second record might diverge after creating a solid debut. Palo Santo isn’t that at all. It’s an electropop masterpiece. Olly Alexander’s hypnotizing vocals make each track stand out. The beginning of the album has songs that make you want to get up and dance, while the middle is filled with songs that really create a soulful, electronic vibe. Those tracks almost remind me of something Banks or Bishop Briggs would put out. They just have more of an electronic dance feel than you’d hear from both female powerhouses. Then the album picks up the energy again and finishes with a bang. Honestly, there’s not one song I haven’t liked. It’s that good.

Lyrically, LGBTQ themes come to the forefront. With Communion, those notions were subtle. Palo Santo is the opposite. It’s almost a “coming out” of sorts even though lead singer Alexander is already an out gay man. Between this album and Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations the LGBTQ community has plenty of music representation this year and honestly both albums are killer without that being a focus. It’s just a plus.

I didn’t plan on leaving my home today, but I might make an exception to go pick up a copy of Palo Santo. It’s one of the best records I’ve heard all year next to Vance Joy’s Nation of Two. I highly recommend it to everyone. Go listen on Spotify or Apple Music! Download a copy! Buy a copy! Just check this shit out. Years & Years have officially made a strong comeback in 2018.

I Gotta Be On My Own

Over the last year, there’s been several times within blog posts where I’ve mentioned having an epic concert night last November. I first wrote about it shortly after it happened when I wrote about Tegan & Sara. Then I wrote about it again while writing about ARIZONA. It’s almost been a year since I saw two concerts in one night so I figured it’s finally time to write about the other concert I attended on November 3rd besides Tegan & Sara, the one that ARIZONA was the opener for.

Before the Tegan & Sara concert last year, my friend and I decided to grab tickets for Hayley Kiyoko. Kiyoko grew up involved in the music and acting communities in Los Angeles, CA. Before even hearing of her music, I knew of her from watching the Disney Channel. She starred in a few episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place and the 2010 Disney Channel Original Movie Lemonade Mouth. She was also involved with Cartoon Network starring as Velma Dinkley in the 2009 TV film Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and then reprising her role in the sequel Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster. She has of course acted in other small parts on various television channels and networks as well, but the roles I just mentioned are what she is best known for.

Hayley Kiyoko (Alcroft) has always been about music though. She started drum lessons at the age of 6 and learned several other instruments over her lifetime such as guitar, bass, piano, and accordion. In 2007, she became part of the all-girl pop group The Stunners which was formed by former pop star Vitamin C. The Stunners lasted as a group until 2011. They broke up before a full album was ever released.

Kiyoko released her debut EP A Belle to Remember in March 2013. Her second EP This Side of Paradise was released a little less than two years later in February of 2015. She co-directed and directed two music videos from the EP for the songs “Girls Like Girls” and “Cliff’s Edge”, respectively. In August 2016, she released the upcoming single, “Gravel to Tempo”, from her latest EP Citrine as well as the music video for it. The EP itself was released just over a year ago on September 30, 2016. Since then she directed two more music videos for the songs “One Bad Night” and “Sleepover”, another new single. Today she debuts her latest single, “Feelings” on MTV’s TRL.

Most of Kiyoko’s following comes from the internet. Her video for “Girls Like Girls” currently has over 79 million views. Last spring she went on her first nationwide headlining tour, which was nearly sold out. Her music draws a lot of attention from the LGBT community because of its subjects. As an out gay woman, Kiyoko wanted to write music that girls and women like her could relate to.

Her music is part of the dreampop/synthpop genre. I’ve always thought her songs have a subtle edge along with a hypnotic flow to them as well. They almost have an R&B style sexual feel going on too.

Last year when my friend and I decided to see her we both knew a handful of her songs. The tickets were pretty cheap too and the show only had some overlap with Tegan & Sara (Hayley Kiyoko was on during the Tegan & Sara opener, but finished before the Canadian twin duo took the stage). Also both shows were in different parts of the same venue. It worked out well for us and made for an epic concert night, one that I’m not sure we’d be able to replicate. It was kind of special occurrence too since we decided to attend Hayley Kiyoko’s show on the day of. It was one I didn’t prepare for, which in some ways made it more exciting. Plus I was super stoked when I realized ARIZONA was the opener for Hayley Kiyoko. She played a short set list, but played all of the songs we both knew and a quality mix from her 3 EP’s. She even covered Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving”. My friend and I were both glad we went. The venue was small. The setting was intimate. It made for a great opportunity to see her since we both expected her popularity to rise and it has already. We’re lucky we took advantage of the chance to see her.

If you’re into the kind of music she plays, I suggest you check her out. I also recommend that if there’s any artists or bands on the rise that you like that you should go see them live. See them in a small venue. See them in an intimate setting. See them like that because it’s special and you may never get another chance to. I’m glad we saw Hayley Kiyoko like that and I’m glad she gave us an epic concert night we never expected.

 

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.