new album

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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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.

Coachella Band Preview: Lorde

Another week down in the countdown to Coachella 2017 means another band preview. This time it’s not a band I’m previewing. It’s a singer who hails from New Zealand named Ella Yelich-O’Connor. You may know her better as Lorde.

Lorde came on to the music scene as a 16 year old in 2013. She had an interest in music growing up and performed while in Intermediate School with her musician friend Louis McDonald. It was because of McDonald’s father that Lorde signed a deal for development with Universal Music Group. He sent an audio and video recording of his son and Lorde covering two songs together to A&R at UMG. The duo performed under the name Ella & Louis. When Lorde went solo, she decided on the stage name “Lorde” because she was fascinated by aristocracy and royal folk. Because “Lord” seemed to masculine, she added an “e” at the end of “Lord” to give it a more feminine touch.

Lorde self-released her first EP, The Love Club EP, in November of 2012 via her SoundCloud and also made the record free to download. After reaching high download numbers, UMG released the EP for sales in March of 2013. Lorde released her debut album Pure Heroine in late September 2013. She embarked on an international tour in conjunction with the album release that began in North America in early 2014 and made several festival stops along the way including the Laneway Festival in Australia, Lollapalooza and three South American Lollapaloozas, and Coachella. Her debut album featured the chart-topping single “Royals” which was also a track on The Love Club EP. “Royals” earned Lorde two Grammy Awards for “Best Pop Solo Performance” and “Song of the Year” in 2014 in addition to four New Zealand Music Awards in 2013, two Billboard Music Awards, three World Music Awards, one MTV Video Music Award, and the New Zealand APRA Silver Scroll Award in 2013.

Lorde’s music style is an edgier kind of pop music. Alternative pop is how I would define Lorde’s music style, but it’s truly a combo of indie pop, dream pop, and electropop. Since Lorde hasn’t released new music in over 3 years, it’ll be interesting to hear how her new music sounds, if it fits her current style, or evolves into something slightly different, which brings me to my next point.

Since 2014, Lorde has been relatively quiet. In September of that year, Lorde released a single for the Hunger Games series’ film Mockingjay – Part 1 called “Yellow Flicker Beat”. She was also featured on the Disclosure song “Magnets” in 2015. Otherwise Lorde has not released a new album since 2013’s Pure Heroine, which is expected to change this year. Although no official release date has been set yet, Lorde’s new album is expected to drop in Spring 2017. Perfect timing considering her Coachella performance. I’m sure the new album will also involve another tour and possibly more festival dates. Along with Coachella, she will also be performing at Governor’s Ball in NYC in early June followed by Bonnaroo a week later. Several festival lineups have yet to be released so like I said there might be a few more festivals for Lorde in 2017.

I’m pretty excited to hear what Lorde’s been working on. I’ve been a Lorde fan since August 2013 when I first heard the song “Royals”. It was around that time that I booked my flight for my first trip to California to visit my cousin who lived near Oceanside, and about a month later “Tennis Court” became a song I listened to in anticipation of the trip. There are lyrics in “Tennis Court” that go “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane,” which I related to at the time. My flight to California was by no means my first plane trip. I flew to Florida three other times and Las Vegas as well, but before my trip to California my most recent flight was nine years prior. I obviously got older in those nine years. By getting older, I became more worried about things than I did when I was 15, so I was kind of nervous for my flight to Cali, which made it feel like my first time. During that month before hearing “Tennis Court” made me filled with anticipation, nerves, and excitement for my trip.

After Lorde played Coachella in 2014, she dropped off my radar for a bit, until last summer when I worked at the Firefly Music Festival. Lorde playing a secret DJ set in our lounge, a secret set at the festival, or just a random festival appearance became an inside joke amongst my fellow crew members. Someone even brought up that Lorde had just disappeared so it made the thought of a random appearance or set even funnier. The joke got even better when Lorde did show up in one of our lounges at another festival. I wasn’t working at that one, but I laughed pretty hard upon hearing the story. I guess that was just a precursor to the epic 2017 she’s expected to have.

That epic 2017 all begins with Coachella. The last time she played the festival she was a prime time act on Saturday night. This time she’ll be a prime time act on Sunday night. There’s no doubt she’ll take the main stage before Kendrick Lamar closes out each weekend. She’ll probably draw a huge crowd as well. If you plan to see her even remotely close, you’ll need to get there way before her set. Maybe even before the set before hers. Along with whatever singles she releases before the festival (or her new album if that comes out too), you’ll need to listen to these songs to prep for the starlet’s serenading:

  1. Royals
  2. Team
  3. Tennis Court
  4. Buzzcut Season
  5. Yellow Flicker Beat
  6. White Teeth Teens
  7. Glory and Gore
  8. The Love Club
  9. 400 Lux
  10. A World Alone