Friday, February 28, 2014

Five Song Friday - February 28th

Happy Friday all! I hope that wherever you are, it's not quite as rainy as it is here in Azusa. I'm a bit pressed for time this week, with a lot of midterm projects and tests coming up, but I'll still share some songs I've been listening to to get through all this work. Thanks for reading!

  1. Fake Your Death - My Chemical Romance
    This song. I almost can't handle it. It's the final song My Chemical Romance recorded before they disbanded, and it's a fitting send off tune. It's not loud and fast, it's not slow and mellow, but finds a nice spot in-between those sets of opposites. The choice to lead with a piano line creates a softer feel, but the drums help to keep the song from becoming too depressing. Gerard Way's vocals stick to the more vulnerable and lower end, adding further to the sadness of it all. I really hope it's not the end of the group, but if it is, this is a good way to say farewell. 5/5
  2. Settle Down - The 1975
    I can't get enough of this album. This song is the latest that I've been hooked on, thanks to it's grooving nature and funky hints. It's one of the more upbeat tunes on the track, and has less of an emphasis on electronic sounds and more on the instruments like guitar and drums. The energy it has is infectious; you can't help but bounce around a bit to the beat. The verses might be my favorite part, just because of the grooving feel it takes on. Definitely worth a listen if you haven't heard of the band before. 5/5
  3. Under Control - Ellie Goulding
    I happened to hear a little bit of this song playing at a baseball game as I was walking around campus one day, and the snippet I heard was good enough to make me want to buy the track. I was not disappointed with the rest of it. This song emphasizes Ellie Goulding's darker side, for even though it is pop and radio friendly, the electronic elements take on a gritty tone that pulls the song away from that bright and polished sound she does so well. I personally like this side better, and really enjoyed that aspect of this song. 5/5
  4. Is There Someone Who Can Watch You - The 1975
    This song was a complete surprise for me, with a drastic shift in sound from the bright and full bodied sounds to just vocals and piano. It feels stripped and vulnerable, and shows some incredible musicianship from the group. It might feel a little short, but is definitely has a powerful sound without ever getting loud. The vocals are lower than the rest of the album, which I think is what mainly adds to the sense of vulnerability that is so prominent in this song. 5/5
  5. Hospital For Souls - Bring Me The Horizon
    A lot like "And The Snakes Start To Sing", "Hospital For Souls" is another epic track that starts off slow and quiet, but builds with a drop into gritty guitars and heavy drums. Oliver Sykes reveals both an incredible sense of vulnerability and a huge presence of raging screams throughout the track, giving the listener a wild ride as the song rises and falls over and over. During the high points, the song feels huge, thanks to the coming together of all these incredible elements and some more that result in an insane closer for a risky but excellent album. 5/5

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Song Friday - February 21st

Hey everyone, happy Friday! Welcome to the latest edition of Five Song Friday. I hope your weeks have all been less busy than mine, but no need to worry; I have still made time to find more and more music (I know, you were all so worried). It's a weird mix of some alternative, some indie, and even some hardcore thrown in. So make sure to check out the links to videos (some of the videos might have graphic content, so be warned) so you can hear the songs, and then read my thoughts and compare them to your own. Thanks for reading!

  1. And The Snakes Start To Sing - Bring Me The Horizon
    Haunting is definitely the word I would use to describe this song. It builds in a fantastic manner, but has dark undertones that make the piece not the most uplifting. It has a lot of vulnerability and even pain in the vocals, with Oliver Sykes giving both soft moments and searing, throaty growls that punctuate an already heavy instrumental of distorted guitars, crashing drums, and gang vocals. It flows and ebbs, with builds that soar and almost silent lows. Overall, it's a very mature song from a hardcore band. 5/5
  2. Sex - The 1975
    I've already talked about The 1975 before, but I finally got their entire album from a good friend of mine, and was even more impressed than I thought I would be. The two songs I had weren't entirely representative of their sound, which I discovered was a very mellow-alternative sound that just grooves no matter what. This song is more  upbeat and gritty feeling than some of the other songs on the album, leaning more towards the rock side than the alternative. Guitar chords, a smooth bass-line, and a driving drum beat come together to create a lively and summer-oriented vibe. The song also is about sex (surprise surprise), but it's not something that'll make you feel awkward or flustered listening with others. It's a sound that is appealing to most people, and draws the listener in with the easy going feeling. 
  3. Candles - Daughter
    I was introduced to this song by a very good friend of mine, and I think it's absolutely beautiful. A fantastic mix of the indie-acoustic sound with electronic elements makes for a very relaxing song. The lyrical material is bittersweet and sad, but the vocals are a perfect combination of sensual and haunting. The overall feel of the song is intriguing, bringing to mind a multitude of places and ideas. It has a very woodsy feel to me, but that may be different for everyone. I definitely enjoyed it, and recommend it for those of you who like Bon Iver and Florence + The Machine. 5/5  
  4. Late - Issues
    I haven't listened to much of Issues' work before, but I kept hearing things about them and saw they had a new album so I gave it a listen. This was the song that stuck out the most, with it's combination of electronic and hardcore elements. It's not an incredibly innovative song that brings anything new to the scene, but it offers something a bit different by leaning towards the "mellow" side, relatively speaking. It combines pop-sensible vocals with heavy guitars and drums, all with synths and even a little acoustic guitar mixed in. It all comes together to create a catchy tune that definitely will get stuck in your head. 5/5
  5. Menswear - The 1975
    This is another favorite so far off of The 1975's self-titled album. It's got an extended instrumental intro (almost half the song), but the wait is worth it. As with the general feel of the rest of the album, it's a very soothing yet grooving song. It has a lot of soft elements, like the drum beat that is half real drums and half synthetic and the vocals that stay pretty low in pitch and volume. It serves as a great dusk-time song, with some sensual vibes but a pulse that makes you want to move, to dance. Thanks to the intro, the song itself feels pretty short, but it's a sweet little tune that'll leave you in a better mood than before. 5/5

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shreds - Grieves

After a solid three years of no new music, Grieves is back with the explosive "Shreds", the first single from Winter & the Wolves, his follow-up to Together/Apart. Channeling his previous influence of jazzy-undertones, Grieves reveals a more hard-hitting side alongside some more pronounced electronic elements. On most of Together/Apart, the drums had a jazz swing and realistic feel to them, like an actual drum kit instead of being electronically based. The beat throughout this track retains a bit of that kit feel, but leans more towards the electronic side. The leading synth, another electronic element, adds a radio-friendly feel to the song, giving it a bit of a mainstream feel that isn't bad by any means. "Shreds" is not all new ideas, however, Grieves makes sure to retain sounds and elements that he had been using for a while. The subtle piano chords bring to mind the realistic sound of his last album, as well as his signature rapping style that is crystal clear, fast paced, and  raw emotionality. Grieves isn't a chart topping artist, but that definitely doesn't reflect his talent; it's usually the more talented and driven artists that don't get the credit they deserve. Hopefully this next album will get him the attention he deserves, and launch him towards the higher end of the charts.

Rating: 5/5

Related: Macklemore, Lupe Fiasco, or Atmosphere

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dark Purple Sky - There For Tomorrow

By 2011, There For Tomorrow was looking like they were ready to break out big time, with a sound finally honed in and a get-it-done attitude. They had just released their best album to date, The Verge, which stood apart from their previous work, and they were touring like crazy. Then, as time went by, they began to fade into the background noise, with touring getting smaller and no new releases.

Fast forward three years later to the start of 2014, and we finally have something. After promising fans new music for months, the first product of the new writing has come forth and it seems worth the wait. "Dark Purple Sky", the single from the highly anticipated new EP from TFT, took what The Verge began and expanded it even more. It continues their ever maturing sound while keeping the intensity they've done so well over the years. They have fully shed their early hardcore-influence and grown more into their expansive alternative tone. The beginning of "Dark Purple Sky" has a very low-key feel, with muted guitars, soundscape synths, and echoing soft drums all backing Maika's ever-incredible vocals. He has a huge presence, and an ability to soar to insane heights. The song really kicks into gear with the first chorus, where the rest of the band comes in to match the intensity and fire in Maika's voice. The rest of the song carries this same fire and has an anthem like sound to it, which is especially helped by the brief drop and build back into the final chorus. The song harness the hardcore energy they had in their first releases, but mixes it flawlessly with their newer, more mature sound. It all comes together to create a great comeback single after a long absence from the music scene.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended if you like: Anberlin, VersaEmerge (before their name change) or The Dangerous Summer

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five Song Friday - February 14th

Oh man. It's THAT Friday. Happy Friday/Valentine's Day all! I hope you're having a great day, regardless if you're spending it with a significant other or just some friends. Since it's a special occasion, I thought I'd make this week some of my favorite romantic/cheesy songs. See what you think, and then you could even use some for your plans this Valentine's Day.

  1. Always - Blink-182
    Easily one of my favorite songs in general, this tune is a good romantic choice, although it might lean towards a more intimate mood. However, the chorus is full of stuff for couples, such as "let me hold you, touch you, feel you, always, kiss you, taste you, all my, always. And while the instrumental is a bit more gritty than the other songs on this list, I assure you it won't damper any moods you're in. It's a classic tune that is great for a romantic dinner or car ride thanks to the acoustic guitar and strings that make appearances throughout, and I highly recommend it. 5/5
  2. The Only Exception/Still Into You - Paramore
    I know, this is sort of cheating in terms of "Five Song Friday", but I'll explain why. If you're looking for something that's more low-key, acoustic, and relaxing, then "The Only Exception" is a perfect fit. If you're looking for something with more of a bite and a beat, then "Still Into You"is the song for you. Each have their romantic aspects, and each work differently for different moods. "The Only Exception" has that slow-dance quality, but "Still Into You" is sure to be followed by jumping and dancing around in a very up-beat manner. Both of these are great selections, and will work for the mix of songs you're making. 5/5 & 5/5
  3. Whoever She Is - The Maine
    This song is not the most cheery, but has that laid-back mood and acoustic sound that give it a nice romantic feel. John O'Callaghan laments about the things going wrong in his life, but then looks towards the future and the possibilities it holds. If you're into being cheesy, this song is the perfect opportunity to tell that special someone that you don't need to wait till the future to find someone you care about. I know, you can thank me later. Anyways, this song it a good fit for Valentine's playlists, so put it in the mix and it won't disappoint. 5/5
  4. Kiss Me Slowly - Parachute
    This song has a fast pace, but a laid-back nature with the low-key drumming, piano line, and acoustic guitar all accenting beautiful vocals. Parachute has a way of bringing out the romance in their songs, and this song is the pinnacle of their attempts to do that. The lyrics may not be entirely happy at points, but the chorus definitely gets cheesy with lines like "taste your lips and feel your skin" and "when the time comes, baby don't run, just kiss me slowly". Throw this song in your playlist for the day, and I promise it'll fit right in with all those other romantic mushy songs. 5/5
  5. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) - Frank Sinatra
    You can never go wrong with some classic Sinatra. While this song doesn't quite sound like the rest of these songs, it is sure to be a perfect fit for this holiday of romance and love. With lines like "fill my heart with song, and let me sing forevermore"and "you are all I long for" and the swaying big band in the background, it provides a wonderful soundtrack to a lovely dinner at home or a drive to a night out. It may be old, but it has a timeless quality that will have it continuing to play for couples all around the world for many years to come. 5/5

Friday, February 7, 2014

Five Song Friday - February 7th

This week has been an exciting week, at least in terms of the music I've bought. I finished getting some albums on iTunes, so I've been listening through them and finding my favorites. Check my choices out, and see what you like. As always, thanks for reading!
  1. Anagram - Young the Giant
    I ended up getting this album as well, and this song was easily one of the stand outs. The raw energy and explosive transitions between each section immediately makes this song memorable to the listener. Young the Giant explored their upbeat side a lot more on this album, which is one of the reasons I like it more than their debut album. They are strong in this area, able to create driving drum beats that are accented by a variety of sounds, from guitar lines to string sections. These elements are featured separately at first, but come together at the end to create a much bigger and deeper sound. The vocals are probably my favorite part, for Sameer Gadhia gets low and intimate, but will immediately soar to incredible heights. All in all, this song was an excellent first full song to kick of their sophomore attempt. 5/5
  2. Sunny Side of Hell - GrieveI've slowly been picking songs off this album and buying them, and after I got this song I finally just got the rest of the album. This song is one of my favorites of the bunch thought, because it's got Grieves aggressive rapping style and prominently features the influence of jazz that is present throughout the album. The horns, the drum beat, it's all got hints of jazz that create an old-school sound without sounding old and out of relevance. He combines the old and the new, and the result is intriguing and enticing. Even though this song is one of the more upbeat and energized songs, it still has this sensual nature that draws the listener in. I haven't listened to it too many times, but I know I'm definitely going to be spending more time with this album in the future. 5/5
  3. Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2 (feat. Jay-Z) - Drake
    This song has an interesting intro, featuring a soundbite from an older gentleman who talks about how he used to just record what he wanted back in the day, and that good music is the only kind that will last. After some vocal editing at the very end, the beat drops in and the real song begins. It's dark and it's simple, but it has depth in the vibes it gives off. I personally think Drake does better when he draws on a gritty feel, and this song definitely does that. Jay-Z has a great guest spot on this song as well, taking not just one but two verses. It's easy to get lost in this song, thanks to the contradictory nature of the simplicity of the beat, yet the depth that is created by just a few instruments. However, about halfway through it all switches up and the vibe completely changes, taking on a much more upbeat tone but still retaining a tinge of darkness. I don't like this half quite as much as the first, but it's still worth listening to. The end result is a more than 7-minute track that shows some great contrast, but deviates from the expected radio sound. 5/5
  4. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) - Hillsong United
    I've heard this song many times before, both at my school and when I saw Hillsong United in concert, but I never bought it until this week. I've always liked it, but something finally just clicked and I wanted to have it. I think that worship nowadays can be lackluster and dry, but this song is definitely a stand out from the rest. It has huge soundscapes, awesome builds, and powerful vocals. It all comes together to create an inviting worship environment, but doesn't come out as musically hollow. It has life and passion, and the musicians behind it wanted to make more than just a good worship tune; they wanted to make quality music that is enjoyable to listen to. 5/5 
  5. Firelight - Young the Giant
    This song was also a stand out from the new album, Mind Over Matter, but for all the opposite reasons as "Anagram". It's soft, mellow, and very low key. This side was not as present on the album, but this song is really all you need. It's dreamy, it's ethereal, and perfect for falling asleep to. That doesn't mean it isn't interesting, however, thanks to the gang vocals found throughout, the vocals in general, and the repeating but beautiful guitar lines. It would be an acoustic song if not for all the echoes that give the song more depth than it would ever achieve acoustically. It also has a beat that comes in after about 3 minutes, but by no means does that make it any less soothing. If anything, it makes it more mellow and relaxing. It's simply a feel good song, and one of my favorites from the album. 5/5