Paramore Back In Pastel

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Paramore recently made a powerful comeback with their new album “After Laughter”, which dropped May 12th. I was stoked to hear the first single off the album ,“Hard Times”, which draws a lot from indie-pop with classic punk undertones – which isn’t surprising from the band who brought us “Misery Business”. Immediately, I feel in love with the aesthetic of the album; it’s filled with pastels and playfully muted colors. The album exemplifies something that the band was really playing with and moving towards in their self titled album. 

The color and tone of the whole album feels a bit reminiscent of some of their previous songs like “Fast in My Car” or “Ain’t it Fun”.

(Listen while you read! Here’s the album! Thanks Soundcloud)

In fact, the lead singer and front-woman, Hayley Williams, wanted to take the band in such a new direction that there was an entire shift in the membership. The bassist, Jeremy Davis, left the band and pressed into a legal battle with Paramore, and Zac Farro rejoined the band as the drummer. Current membership stands at Hayley, Taylor York, and Zac Farro. Needless to say, the direction Paramore had taken with After Laughter is certainly enjoyable both visually and in it’s sonic texture. You can check out the music video for “Hard Times” here, to get a feel for the aesthetic of the album. (Not to mention, Hayley Williams absolutely murders with those platinum locks).

As far as content goes, this album is jam-packed with some pretty wild songs. The album titled is (probably) derived from the saying “after laughter comes tears”, and the tracks on the album are certainly a reflection of that. We have a ton of amped up, danceable, fun songs like “Hard Times”, “Told You So”, or “Fake Happy” which imposed strong irony with somber lyrics. In “Fake Happy” we hear; “

You think I’ll look alright with these mascara tears?/See I’m gonna draw my lipstick wider than my mouth/And if the lights are low they’ll never see me frown”. Damn, are you okay Hayley Williams?   

Then again, we’ve also got tracks like “26″, “Caught in the Middle”, or “Forgiveness” which are unapologetic (pun NOT intended) in their tragic nature. I mean, come on, with lyrics like “I don’t need no help, I can sabotage me by myself” these tracks are practically begging you to let a tear loose. (not that I cried, or anything) They do well to round of the album so we aren’t just being constantly slammed by the pop-punk feel that Paramore does so well. Most of the tracks are tied together by a playful sonic undertone that I can only describe as “pastel”. It’s the beat of a tambourine or the tapping of a xylophone that lends so strongly to the album’s entire texture. Moreover, I love Hayley’s vocals on this album, with the quick changes in key and tone, it’s really riveting to listen to, and the guitar complements it so well. 

Personally, I’ve always viewed Paramore as one of those hard-to-reach punk, “emo”, bands that didn’t really appeal too strongly to me. But with this album I really feel like I’m seeing the band, especially Hayley Williams, in a whole new way. They haven’t departed from their core sound, but they’ve certainly evolved and time has been kind to them. I’m excited to see what direction this album takes them in. 

In sound, aesthetic, and lyrical content – this album is the real deal. It’s a really strong album musically, and reveals tender spots in it’s lyrics. There’s a lot to be explored here, and you can be sure I’ll have this one playing on repeat for a long time. 

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Zach Krieger

New Music Review: Connect the Dots by MisterWives

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I can’t stop listening to Connect the Dots, the brand new studio album released by MisterWives on May 19, 2017. The band brought their irresistibly fun energy and eclectic mix of instruments (including saxophone by Mike Murphy) to the 11 track album.

The album starts off with a danceable hit “Machine” that includes blaring saxophone and shows off lead singer Mandy Lee’s unique vocals. The album has a hopeful, uplifting feeling embodied by the sounds of “Chasing This” and “Drummer Boy” (a personal sweet favorite). It slows down with “My Brother” and takes a breath with the raucous song “Out of Tune Piano” before “Coloring Outside the Lines” delivers with a lovely tune and powerful vocals. Misterwives released the song “Coloring Outside the Lines” as a single ahead of the album on May 12th. 

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This is only the second studio album from MisterWives, and the band has already gathered an impressive following after opening for bands like Panic! At the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and Bleachers on tours. Their first full album, Our Own House, was released in January 2015. I had the pleasure of seeing them live when they toured with Panic! on the Death of a Bachelor tour, and they were a force of nature on the stage. If you ever get the chance to see them live, I would recommend it wholeheartedly. Mandy Lee is a tiny whirlwind on stage, and the whole band has a spirited energy that makes them very fun to watch perform. 

Keep up with the band on Twitter and look for them on tour in the fall!  

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Kenzie Wamble

Best New Music: Denzel Curry’s “Hate Government [demo]”

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Denzel Curry’s music has yet to reach the masses. His aggressive style has helped him find a niche in the rap community, and with “Hate Government [demo]” he continues to embrace it. Possibly taking production notes from Kendrick Lamar (think second half of “DNA.”, when the beat switches), Curry spits over booming bass about his distaste for the government. His flow fits perfectly with the beat, but the track ends far too early at just under two minutes. Hopefully this serves as a teaser for Curry’s next album, Taboo, because it sure builds the hype for his forthcoming project. Listen to “Hate Government [demo]” here and stay tuned to Rainy Dawg Radio for future Denzel Curry news.

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Archie O’Dell

We the Music: Samantha Crain

My last post was about indie/folk music being so white so this installment of We the Music highlights the brilliant singer-songwriter Samantha Crain who is a member of the Choctaw nation. Her latest album You Had Me At Goodbye came out at the end of March and if you haven’t listened to it you’re going to want to stop what you’re doing and play the whole thing.

Compared to her previous albums Crain’s latest work strays away from the folksy sound she’s been most known for and embraces a more pop sound. The first track “Antiseptic Greeting” makes that clear from the beginning. Crain commented in interviews how she feels more comfortable.

However, songs like “Red Sky, Blue Mountain” and “When the Roses Bloom Again” stand out as call backs to her folk origins. On “Red Sky, Blue Mountain” Crain sings in her native Choctaw language with a simple guitar being the prominent instrument on the track. The song “When the Roses Bloom Again” is the first cover Crain has done for an album and was actually written by Woodie Guthrie.

It’s important not to put a box around artists from minority communities and let where they come from define their work. However, it is important to support these artists in their endeavors so that they may serve as inspiration for others and further diversify whatever field they are in. Recognizing and embracing them as artists or in their work in general is necessary.

Crain singing in her native Choctaw language is significant – even if it wasn’t meant to be a political statement it is almost impossible for it not to be with our history of colonization and oppressing the Indigenous people of North America. The saying of “kill the Indian, save the man” represented the philosophy of the American government towards Indigenous people. It was racist and the policies that resulted created an oppressive system that’s remnants remain today.

By embracing and singing in the Choctaw language, Crain demonstrates to the world that Indigenous voices and culture are still around to be heard. That’s really powerful, especially being a musician whose genre is so white.

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American folk music is interesting in that even though today it’s very white it wasn’t always that way. Its roots stem from variety of influences from Cajun to blues to gospel and music from the various Native American nations. Folk music eventually meshed into protest music during the civil rights movement and eventually Vietnam. But folk music is much more expansive than what we remember it to be and what we think of it as now.

Folk music in general is music that is traditional – passed down from generation to generation within communities. Folk music in America became a genre that got popularized by white males and continues to be dominated by them too. It’s important to remember that American folk music has roots in a multitude of music from different culture which isn’t represented as “folk music” today.

Crain’s music is important in keeping the tradition of folk music alive and acknowledging the roots of the genre. Not everything has to be political but it is important to consider the diversity of artists you listen to. Check out Vagabon, Benjamin Booker, and Hanni El Khatib; all three are artists who are representing different voices in white dominated genres.

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Grace Madigan

Bleachers

I remember back in 2014 (or sometime around then) when Fun. announced they’d be going on hiatus, I was pretty distraught. Personally, I am a pretty big fan of the band, and I’ll patiently stay hopeful for their glorious return. It wasn’t soon after their hiatus announcement that I discovered Bleachers, whose front man, Jack Antonoff, was actually the drummer for Fun.! This was madness to me, but my love for Fun. extended to Bleachers, and I fell in love. Who put him on the drums? This guy can kill vocals! (Not that Nate Ruess couldn’t, God bless – check it)

Since the release of their first album in 2014, Strange Desire (which housed familiar hits like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster”) the artist had only released Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 way back in 2015. This album was a simple reprise of all the songs from the original Strange Desire, but sung by some pretty prominent female vocalists (Sia, Tinashe, Sara Barellies, MO, Elle King – to name a few). 

And now, in the magical year that is 2017 we have been blessed with all new music from Antonoff. The first of two singles (so far) “Don’t Take the Money” is somehow worth the three (two?) year wait. First, I’ll say that it definitely feels like summer. It also has a pretty wicked music video to accompany it, it’s pretty weird with a fun little twist – but, that’s not unusual for Antonoff considering previous music videos. Check it: 

Next up, we’ve got the latest release, “Hate That You Know Me”, which feels a bit like “I Wanna Get Better” as far as lyrical composition, but definitely departs from the more rock/punk feel that “I Wanna Get Better” throws out. Personally, it’s my favorite of the two to be released so far. I feel like it’s that track that everyone has been trying to write, but no one has done it just right. It takes the classic cliche “hate that you know me so well..” that you find in a lot of songs, and expands it into an entire track. 

Just right off the bat, the two songs really feel pre-2000′s with a nice modern twist all blended together with Bleachers’ mixed bag of rock, pop, and a little bit of heavy piano ballads. I’m excited for what’s to come – and you can bet you’ll find a follow up post.

The upcoming album “Gone Now” holds a lot of potential, and it’s three (two?) years in the making. You can find it dropping on June 2nd – get it while it’s hot. No doubt it’s gonna dominate the summer, ya know, sorta like “I Wanna Get Better” did? 

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Zach Krieger