new music 2020

Women in Music Pt. III: Album Review

I’ve been patiently waiting for Haim’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III to drop. Some of the bright spots of this year have been the release of new music so I’ve been looking forward to this brand new album by one of my favorite bands. The album was slated for release on April 24th, but due to the current world wide crisis was pushed back for a late summer release. Then it was bumped up to a June 26th release date. June 26th was Friday, which means the album is finally out!

Haim has been releasing new music for almost a year now with “Summer Girl” dropping at the end of last July. Several other singles have also dropped in the lead up to the album release. Before live music ceased in March, Haim was in the midst of a Deli tour that honored their Jewish roots. The band was playing small shows at famous delis in a few locations around the country in honor of their first show ever being at Canter’s Deli in L.A. in 2000. The band played two of those scheduled dates before the country began to shut down. In honor of the album’s release though, the band did a live stream on Friday from Canter’s.

The biggest difference between Women in Music Pt. III and Haim’s first two albums is that this one hits deeper. The song topics get personal and more sad than their earlier works. Many songs on the album sound like the total opposite of that though. I’ve heard them described as “sad bangers”. A few tracks also add hints of jazz and Caribbean/tropical vibes to Haim’s west coast style pop/soft rock. Overall the album offers versatility in sound and lyrics compared to Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You. It’s got the Haim we’ve always loved (my favorite song “Don’t Wanna”) plus the Haim that is growing and pushing their style more (“Los Angeles”).

When live music is finally a thing again, expect plenty of tour dates and festival dates from these three sisters. I would even expect them to join the lineup for Taylor Swift’s festival next summer. Until then, bask in the greatness of this new music we were given in the strangest of times. It’s a great soundtrack for the summer and one you should take in before you can see them perform again. For me, new music is one of the only things that has felt the way it’s supposed to feel and I owe Haim and whoever else is releasing new music this year for this piece of comfort in a very uncomfortable year.

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!)

Good Spring

It’s kind of amazing how much has changed since I last posted. Two weeks ago my big concern was hoping Coachella wouldn’t get cancelled. Now it’s hoping that I’ll get to work again at some point this year. In the last 3 weeks the world has just gone downhill. Three weeks ago it was unimaginable. Now it’s the standard and it’s crazy how I’ve already settled into it. For me it’s been a re-adjustment. When I first started this blog, I was in the midst of a time in my life where I was unemployed. I stayed home a lot. I tried not to spend much money. I would occasionally do things like drive an hour to the nearest Chipotle once a month. It’s kind of like that now with even less opportunity to do anything to pass the time. It’s heartbreaking when I think about it, but I’ve been getting through it and I’m reminded every day just how lazy I can be. I’ll buy into this thing though if it ends with me being able to work again, see my friends, and enjoy live music sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what other options I have. It’s all pretty shitty and hopefully the music industry gets some support soon.

When I last posted, I know I said I’d have a lot more time to write, but I really didn’t realize just how much time I’d have. Since then, I did a lot of thinking about music during this down time. The moment we all get to enjoy concerts and festivals again is gonna be pretty special. I also think we’re gonna get a lot of great new music out of this, which lead me to think about a great record that was created after Justin Vernon of Bon Iver spent months escaping the world, For Emma Forever Ago.

Bon Iver’s debut album was made while Vernon spent November 2006-January 2007 at his father’s remote hunting cabin that was an hour northwest of his hometown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Vernon decided to spend some time there to get away from society after dealing with having mono, a liver infection, and just general displeasure in his songwriting and life. While in the cabin, he hunted his own food. His father also visited him every two weeks or so to bring him beer, eggs, cheese, and other items he wasn’t able to hunt.

Vernon recorded 9 songs in the cabin that winter including favorites like “Skinny Love”, “Flume”, and “Re: Stacks”. He drew inspiration from multiple sources such as Bruce Springsteen, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and Appalachian folk singers. He recorded the music for his songs first. Then he used wordless vocals to add to each song. The album represented major life events Vernon was going through at the time that ranged on topics of longing and lost love to mediocrity. When Vernon left the cabin in February 2007, he was still feeling ill and not particularly satisfied with his songwriting.

After about a few months, Vernon’s friends encouraged him to release the album so he did. He independently released it in June 2007 under the name Bon Iver, which is a misspelling of the french phrase “bon hiver” meaning “good winter”. The project gained popularity throughout 2007 into 2008 from many indie music outlets. For Emma Forever Ago was re-released in February 2008 under Jagjaguwar. It eventually made music charts worldwide and lead to plenty of success for Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver.

I spent a few days last week listening to this album in full. It gave me a lot of comfort in knowing such a beautiful thing could come from isolation.  This is why I truly believe there’s going to be great music that comes out of this dark time. There’s going to be a lot beauty in general. Who knows how long this lasts or what’s to come for our future because for once I think everyone feels pretty uncertain. We will make it out though. There will be concerts. There will be festivals. There will be more new albums and songs. Things might be a bit different initially, but we’ll adjust and make them better. Maybe we needed this break. Maybe earth just needed this break. It will get better though. It always does. Be well in the meantime and I’ll leave you with this from Florence and the Machine, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”