Music Review: Haim, “Something to Tell You”

Music Review: Haim, “Something to Tell You”

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Southern California sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim who make up the soft rock group, Haim, are back with their sophomore album, “Something to Tell You.” Haim, the breakout band of 2013, who charmed listeners with their laidback, quirky, SoCal style, caught the eye – or rather – ears, of The Godmother of Rock and Roll, Stevie Nicks, as well as pop music mogul, Taylor Swift (who they opened for on select stops of her mega-successful 1989 World Tour). The sisters grew up playing a diverse collection of instruments, and their musical proficiency is always on full display (check out a fantastic, live version of “Right Now” below to see how seamlessly they can switch instruments in a single song). Haim sounds unlike any other band out there, and “Something to Tell You” is a solid addition to the band’s growing opus. Highlights include playful opener “Want You Back;” the soulful “Nothing’s Wrong;” the bouncy “Little of Your Love;” and the stark, powerful track “Right Now.” In their short time in the spotlight, Haim has gathered somewhat of a cult following, and fans of their first album, “Days Are Gone,” will not be disappointed in the follow-up (or the return of Este’s beloved “bass face.”) Check out Haim’s website here: http://haimtheband.com/

 

Music Review: Bleachers, “Gone Now”

Music Review: Bleachers, “Gone Now”

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New Jersey native, Jack Antonoff, has finally released, “Gone Now,” the highly anticipated Bleachers sophomore album. Antonoff began Bleachers as a side project while on tour and enjoying success as the lead guitarist for the indie-pop band, fun., who are best known for three hit singles in 2012: “We Are Young,” “Some Nights,” and “Carry On.” For Bleachers, Antonoff released a debut single, “I Wanna Get Better,” in early 2014 which became an instant chart topper. Since his Bleachers debut album, “Strange Desire,” Antonoff has been busy co-writing and producing for major artists like Taylor Swift and Lorde, as well as moved out of his parent’s house (at the age of 27) to live in Brooklyn with girlfriend Lena Dunham. With the release of “Gone Now,” Antonoff takes center stage once more. The album – which is about transitioning from adolescence into adulthood (and ultimately saying goodbye to childhood) – is filled with 80’s inspired melodies and synths, reprises, and spoken word interludes. There are a few highlights in “Don’t Take The Money” and “Everybody Lost Somebody,” but overall, the album feels one-noted. But don’t feel too bad: Antonoff has had some major successes in 2017, most notably, his producing and co-authorship of Lorde’s latest album, “Melodrama.” Sometimes your art soars; other times, it may fall flat. http://www.bleachersmusic.com/

Music Review: Lorde, “Melodrama”

Music Review: Lorde, “Melodrama”

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It’s no secret that Lorde is wise beyond her years. When she penned her debut single, “Royals,” she was fifteen years old; sixteen when she achieved international recognition as the leading musical talent of her generation (shortly before his passing, David Bowie took her hands in his and told her that she “sounds like tomorrow.”) With her 2013 debut album, “Pure Heroine,” the world was introduced to not only a gifted songstress, but a peculiar person who somehow understood the complexities, ironies, triumphs, and tragedies of one’s teenage years – all while still living it. To say that there was pressure for the young artist to achieve that same level of success for her next project is an understatement. For four years, the then teenager obsessed over her highly-anticipated follow-up. During this time, she moved back home to New Zealand, experienced her first heartbreak, tried to be a normal teenager, met Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and fun., moved to New York to record her album in his and Lena Dunham’s Brooklyn Brownstone, and ceberated her 20th birthday. The culmination of all this is “Melodrama,” a powerful look into young adulthood. The album centers around a raucous house party and it’s partygoers – a microcosm of all the elation and devastation experienced during one’s later teenage years. “Melodrama” is Lorde transitioning into adulthood. In the album’s first single, she gives herself the “Green Light” to let loose for one night before picking up the pieces of a failed relationship and moving on the next morning; on “Liability,” she wonders if she’s too much for other people, even unworthy of friendships and love. The album is beautifully produced by Antonoff – staying true to Lorde’s aesthetic and breaking all the conventional rules of pop music by mixing house piano with banger beats. “Melodrama” is an album about discovering one’s place amongst all the noise and chaos of the world – especially young women fighting for autonomy in a society where their voice isn’t always taken seriously.

Check out Lorde’s website here: https://lorde.co.nz/

Music Review: Fleet Foxes, “Crack-Up”

Music Review: Fleet Foxes, “Crack-Up”

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The last time Fleet Foxes released new music, it was 2011 and “planking” was a thing. Since then, a lot has changed: the US has gone through not one, but two divisive Presidential elections; the band’s drummer, Josh Tillman, left to start a snarky, yet successful solo career as “Father John Misty;” and it’s lead singer, Robin Pecknold, moved to New York City to complete an undergraduate degree at Columbia University. Fans have been anticipating new music since 2013, when the group uploaded a teaser pic on their Facebook page, which has since been deleted. It’s almost hard to believe that we’ve been waiting six years for a third Fleet Foxes album – almost. As quickly as their music blew up across college campuses (and even more vigorously in Europe) they were gone – like footprints covered by snow. Winter has thawed to reveal “Crack-Up,” an astonishing work of art: complex, subtle, devastating, introspective, and celebratory all at once. The sound is fresh, yet distinctly Fleet Foxes – mixing folk with New Age and Eastern influences. “Crack-Up” requires just as much patience to listen to as it – undoubtedly – needed to create. But once you wade in, the music breaks over you like a wave, and you’re swept into a new, but familiar space. The album plays host to many memorable moments, including the 9-minute “Third of May / Odaigahara,” which takes a sudden, sorrowful turn roughly 3 minutes in; “Kept Woman,” and “Fool’s Errand,” just to name a few. “Crack-Up” is a classic in the making, and a welcome addition to Fleet Foxes’ small, yet stunning oeuvre. Fleet Foxes is now on tour! Check out their tour schedule here: http://fleetfoxes.co/tour

Featured Music Friday: Witness

Featured Music Friday: Witness

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The Leading Lady of Pop, Katy Perry, is out with her fourth album, “Witness,” a jumble of lackluster, out-of-touch singles trying to pass off as a cohesive pop album. Perry rose to prominence in the early 00’s when teens would download the latest chart-topping single off iTunes for .99 cents and play it back on their iPod Shuffles. Back then, it was all about the single, and Perry was the artist on top. Now, in the era of music streaming, the album is making a comeback, and it seems that Perry’s attempt at a throughline (empowerment and “wokefullness,” a timely motif) is overshadowed by cringe-worthy lyrics and tired, jumbled metaphors. That’s not to say Perry isn’t a talented performer, but when it comes to creating an album (as opposed to a catchy single) a certain subtlety is required to keep the album buoyant- and subtle, Perry is not. “Witness” is weighed down by clichéd lyrics and overproduced styles that are too much – even for pop music. The album’s first single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” (which was first released through a PR stunt of singing disco balls literally chained to park benches in Brooklyn) and accompanying music video, sets the stage for the album’s heavy-handedness. Ironically, on the one track that fans and critics would’ve allowed, even welcomed, an overzealous approach, Perry misses the mark completely. “Swish Swish,” Perry’s highly anticipated Taylor Swift diss track featuring Nicki Minaj, is a dull shot in the dark. Perry has been building up this rebuttal-track for years, and what should have been an album highlight (and tabloid fodder) winds up being just as lame and insignificant as the feud that inspired it. Perry’s lack of success off her fourth album and her awkward promotion of it (see: video of Katy Perry surprising fans but no one recognizes her/knows who she is/really cares) shows just how out-of-touch she is with the genre. In the wake of artists like Lorde and Beyoncé who have transcended pop music from catchy gimmicks made for radio to an all out, soul-bearing artform, Perry has stalled – chained to the rhythm of the prior decade. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.