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

Coming Up: Toro Y Moi – What For? (Album Preview)

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Earlier today, Toro Y Moi surprised us all with a track we never expected! “Buffalo” (available on SoundCloud below) premiered on The Fader this morning along with a few insights into TYM’s creative process:

When I started writing this song I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block and this song was what pulled me out. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it would set the tone for the entire album.

And so it did. Comparing this track with TYM’s last release from this album, we can hear similar vibes of snares and solidarity. Both “Buffalo” and “Empty Nesters” rely on a driving rhythm beneath insightful lyrics. ‘Cause you love it all / ‘Cause you’ll find a way / To keep on… Check out the video from the January release below:

Stay tuned (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for more coverage of Toro Y Moi’s latest endeavor! I am excited to see what other singles are planned for release before the album (tracklist below) drops in April!

What For? (Expected Release Date: April 7, 2015)
01 What You Want
02 Buffalo
03 The Flight
04 Empty Nesters
05 Ratcliff
06 Lilly
07 Spell It Out
08 Half Dome
09 Run Baby Run
10 Yeah Right

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DJ Desman

birthday shoutout: Jermaine Lamarr Cole

it’s January 28th, so you know what that means.

and if you don’t know what that means, it’s rapper J. Cole’s birthday!

i’ve been following J. Cole since he released Friday Night Lights in 2010, so when he dropped 2014 Forest Hills Drive, i was ecstatic (probably an understatement).

and, with good reason. the album grew on me a lot, and i still listen to it pretty religiously, though it’s been out for over a month now.  i’ve gotta hand it to J. Cole, this album is, in my mind, a classic. i’m a sucker for clever wordplay, catchy beats, and Cole-style oversharing, so i guess it’s no surprise i feel this way.

since the album came out, i’ve been trying to write a “review” of sorts. i’ve jotted thoughts on each song, analyzed lyrics, yadda yadda yadda. and i have GIVEN UP. i can’t do it. it’s so hard to review something that you feel like no matter how many times you listen to it, you learn more about it and recognize new things, because whenever you start to review, you feel like you’re shortchanging the artist (i promise this is not just me).

so i’ve decided to “review” the album in a different way that speaks to its strengths: i’ve chosen my favorite* lyrics from each song. and i’m gonna share them. i’m doing this because if you haven’t listened to the album, you will definitely want to after catching this quick peek into the songs.

*my favorite for now, that is

here goes:

1. “Intro” 
“do you wanna be, free / Free from pain, free from scars / Free to sing, free from bars”

2. “January 28th”
“What’s the price for a black man life? / I check the toe tag, not one zero in sight”

3. "Wet Dreamz" 
“I’m thinking how that body look naked when you laying on the bed / Teacher, please don’t make me stand up”

4. "03’ Adolescence”  
“I got food for your thoughts to soothe your soul / If you see my tears fall just let me be /Move along, nothing to see”

5. "A Tale of 2 Citiez"  
“Anybody is a killer, all you gotta do is push ‘em to the limits / Fuck being timid in the Civic politicin’ with the pushers and the pimps”

6. "Fire Squad”
“While silly niggas argue over who gon’ snatch the crown / Look around, my nigga, white people have snatched the sound”

7. "St. Tropez" 
“Lately / It’s been hard for me to smile”

8. "G.O.M.D.“ 
"Why every rich black nigga gotta be famous / Why every broke black nigga gotta be brainless”

9. "No Role Modelz"  
“But then I thought back, back to a better me / Before I was a B-list celebrity / Before I started callin’ bitches "bitches” so heavily / Back when you could get a platinum plaque without no melody"

10. “Hello”  
“Reflection bring regrets don’t it / Rejection makes you defensive / So you protect your pride with your reflexes”

11. “Apparently" 
"Keep up, never sure where the words would take me / Niggas eat em up, and regurgitate me”

12.“Love Yourz" 
"It’s beauty in the struggle, ugliness in the success / Hear my words or listen to my signal of distress”

13. “Note to Self" *** 
“I don’t mind cuz I don’t matter”

*** side note: this is the, as Cole calls it, role credits. so it ends in a long monologue and he references Jonah Hill & Dale Earnhardt Jr. as playing a part in the album, and right after says:  "I’m just fuckin’ playin’, I don’t know either one of those two dudes. I don’t know either one of them niggas, I was in the moment. I just lied, I don’t give a fuck.“ that’s my favorite part of the whole album because he is so damn goofy, even after how awesomely deep and real the other songs were, and it’s just cool to see his personality displayed through talking, not even rapping. <3

hopefully this makes you want to listen to the album, or if you already have, maybe you like it more now. 😉 

happy january 28th! 

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xoxo, gnovs

Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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It’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten to know an artist just by listening to their music, and sometimes I feel weirdly betrayed if it turns out someone who’s music I really like is a bit of an asshole. With the music of Ernie Graham and a few odd photographs, comes a strange confidence that he was a genuinely good dude. Just look at that smile:

imageIn the end though I suppose it’s probably just the music that matters, not the person who created it. Ernie Graham was a man, and he created some excellent music. Starting out as a rhythm guitarist for Tony & The Telstars in his home of Belfast, Ireland, Graham soon split for England where he met Henry McCullough. The two headed back for Belfast and formed The People, later called Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent is mostly known for recording an album produced by Jimi Hendrix, with a couple songs featuring his guitar work. These are gems for any Jimi fans, but Eire Apparent’s stuff was seriously excellent, and should stand on it’s own merit. Here’s an pretty raw 1968 single of theirs:

Here I Go Again

The band broke up in 1970 and Ernie decided to go solo, releasing the eponymous LP Ernie Graham in 1970. This album is an absolute stunner, and if you’ve got a record player I can’t recommend it enough. On it, Graham takes a new direction with his sound resulting in what most would define as “pub-rock”, a musical movement aimed at bringing music back to it’s basics from the glam rock that was emerging around the same time. Some parts folk, some parts roots; good vibes abound and Ernie Graham captures the soul of the genre perfectly. Here are a couple standouts from the album which was reissued by 4 Men With Beards this year and can also be found on CD:

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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The album was praised by critics but sold poorly, and in 1971 Graham joined the band Help Yourself, appearing on their 1972 album Strange Affair. Ernie would go on to form the band Clancy, releasing two albums with them and later going solo again. In the 80s after another failed attempt at success with a new band, Ernie Graham called it quits on his music career and took a job on the railroads. In 2001 he died due to complications with his alcoholism. Perhaps a sad ending for a man who never received a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but I think he must have died proud of the music he helped create. Here’s a song from Strange Affair to send you off:

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin