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

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

Album Review: This Old Dog from Mac Demarco

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Easy going Mac Demarco has dropped his fourth album, This Old Dog. This follows his 2015 album Another One and shows his continued growth as an artist. Demarco is known for his laid-back demeanor, wanting to interact with fans directly, whether through his Official Fan Club or at shows. He’s given out his New York home address on the final track of Another One offering his fans a cup of coffee if they stop by. Since this, he moved to California at an undisclosed address and started working on his newest release. If you’re unfamiliar, you can get a better sense of his attitude through his music videos or social media posts.

This Old Dog doesn’t deviate much from Demarco’s easy, breezy sound found in his previous two albums, but displays a level of growth in songwriting and production. His lyrics are less cluttered than before and grapple with much more complex and adult themes, the largest being Demarco’s relationship with a largely absent father. He laments that he’s turning into his father on the first track “My Old Man”, closing the album with “Watching Him Fade Away” where Demarco says of his father’s illness: “the thought of him no longer being around/ well sure it would be sad but not really different”. It’s heart wrenching to hear about losing something that was never quite there and a stark contrast to previous songs such as “Ode to Viceroy”, an ode to Demarco’s favorite cigarettes.

Maybe it’s his shift towards these more adult themes that makes this album feel different from the previous ones. The sound hasn’t changed that much, although Demarco’s favored an acoustic guitar heavily this time around. This album also sounds more polished, more studio produced than previous demo-like moments from Salad Days or 2.  He’s still the laid-back singer-songwriter but his sound is starting to explore a selection of other genres and influences. “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes” feels folky with a harmonica and acoustic guitar while “One More Love Song” immediately after is funkier with heavier bass. However, he manages to do all of this and still sound like Mac Demarco.

This album makes for easy listening in true Demarco fashion. While it personally isn’t my favorite work from him, it still has great moments and is still a strong album.

Stream This Old Dog here and catch Demarco at The Moore Theatre September 10th or 11th.

Best Tracks: “My Old Man”, “Still Beating”, “One More Love Song”

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Jessica Gloe

Bastille: A Concert I’ll Never Forget

Last night I saw Bastille perform at the WaMu theater, just outside international district in Seattle. In a word, it was WILD (pun intended). I bought the tickets because a friend and I were (and still are) really into their newest album, Wild World. Also – it was her birthday, so, perfect gift. I wasn’t super interested in their older stuff, from Bad Blood, but there was simply no denying I’d heard it all before. It had been force fed to me by the various radio stations that played almost all their songs relentlessly. Bad Blood, particularly the track “Pompeii” was what made this band absolutely explode (yes, like the volcano). Bastille has some kick-ass merch, so naturally as soon as we got to the venue and I immediately bought a shirt from the merch stand, no regrets. You can find their merch here. With a belly full of hot Asian soup, bubble tea, and a new Bastille T-Shirt on my back – I was pumped to see them perform. 

[As a side note – I was too busy buying merch that we missed the opener, Cosmo Mondo, but the drunken woman behind us assured me they were fantastic.]

If you haven’t seen the music video for their song “Fake It” you should watch it now, because it’s pretty important to several aspects of the concert. 

Anyways, the newcaster guy from this video was displayed on the two huge screens on either side of the stage for about 20 minutes before Bastille took the stage. Essentially, it was just behind the scenes footage (although clearly staged) of this news caster being a pompous asshate to basically everyone in the studio. It was really interesting and gave a lot of context to the music video. There was a lot to read into here, but I know I’ll get carried away talking about it so I won’t even start. 

When it was time for Bastille to enter, we heard “Pay attention to this breaking news” (or something like that) as the beginning of “Send Them Off!” began to play. Bastille stormed the stage and the concert was in full swing in a matter of seconds. They rocked, they destroyed really. Dan (the lead singer) had excellent control over his voice and completely blew me away. You can check out his vocal performance compared to the track performance here, and you’ll see there’s very little discrepancy. In my opinion, he was better live, Bastille as a whole was. 

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Between the amazing guitar solo (during “Four Walls”), the mesmerizing background, and the awesome sound of Bastille 20 feet away from you – I got lost. I took too many pictures, and I’m not normally one to take photos of a concert, I’m all about that “be in the moment” bullshit. But, they were so picture worthy. I was dancing and singing along, the concert lasted 2 hours and I loved every second of it. 

Back to the background for a moment, did I mention it rocked?? Because it did, each song had its own really intriguing music video esque background to accompany it. Some of it was new perspective on their already released music videos, and a ton of it was new content. I couldn’t get enough of it. Again, so many ways to read into it… don’t even get me started. Basically justa  huge amount of playful commentary on how the media and politics can destroy and mold us.

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The concert ended with an awesome and emotional encore. The whole idea of encores seems silly and planned to me, so usually I find them superficial (not that I’m not thankful for the extra songs, but yeah). But, right before they played the last song of the set Dan told the audience that they’d be back, obviously, for the encore, so not to be worried. He commented on how silly it felt, but he had no choice. Awesome. Speaking of which, Dan (and the whole band) had great stage presence and audience interactions. At one point Dan walked right through the middle of the audience to the back of the theater… I tried to snap a picture, but I didn’t do a great job. I didn’t get close enough to actually see him.  (Maybe you can spot him here in the middle of the spotlight somewhere)

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When the lights came back on, the newscaster dude was back on the screens. And he FREAKED out. It was awesome. I can’t even explain how much commentary about the political and media climates there were, but it was a lot. And it was done perfectly, considering the Wild World album focuses a lot on the media and how our views can be shaped. I was sad to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed. Next time Bastille is here in Seattle you can be I’ll be there.

Until next time blawgers!

<3 Zach

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Flor:  A Better Opener

So, a few weeks ago a few friends and I went to go see Hayley Kiyoko live. The performance was at the wonderful Crocodile in downtown Seattle (although the roof was leaking??) and we were excited to see the show. We got there praying there wouldn’t be an opener, we just wanted to get straight to the Hayley Kiyoko part of the night. But there was an opener, of course, the upcoming band Flor. To our surprise, Flor blew us away with their music and stage presence – they rocked our socks right off. Surely, we thought, Hayley would top them by leaps and bounds – this wasn’t the case. Hayley Kiyoko was fine, she got the job done but all in all she was a beautiful mess. The show felt unprofessional, and I’d describe her stage presence and remarks thereof as a long Tumblr text post I did not want to read. So, this blog is gonna be about Flor, because I fell in love with them. Sorry Hayley.

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Although Flor has just only started touring and doing large live performances, they still managed to impress us. The lead singer, Zach, was adorable and so awesome and kind to the audience. He had sort of a cute and quirky way of getting us pumped up. After their first few songs he thanked the audience, “Thank you guys for applauding, you really didn’t have to. It could’ve been totally silent, and I just wanna thank you guys for the applause”. I hope that in the future, if Flor gets big, that he doesn’t lose this thankfulness to a jaded look at fame and performance.
All four members of the band had a stage presence that played off one another, they worked as a cohesive organism that made awesome rock sounds. Not only was their stage presence just fantastic, so was their music. The indie and high voice of the singer was the perfect complement to the airy indie rock music flow they had going on. They did a really cool rock style performance of Adele’s “Send my Love (to your new lover)” that you can watch here:

All in all the concert rocked, and it was really worth it to see Flor – oh, and Hayley Kiyoko was there too. I ended up buying this sick hat from the Flor merch, I liked them so much.

<3 Zach Krieger

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!