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

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

Album Review: COIN’s How Will You Know If You Never Try

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COIN released a whole new studio album, and it is exactly what I was waiting for. The new album, titled How Will You Know If You Never Try, was released April 21, 2017 and is COIN’s second full studio album. It includes the single “Talk Too Much”, which was released in 2016. Personally, I’ve been waiting for new music from COIN ever since they released “Talk Too Much”, the hit banger that brings a party with it’s awesome dance-worthy beat and melody. As soon as I heard “Don’t Cry, 2020”, the first song off the new album, I knew it was going to be just as entertaining as “Talk Too Much” promised. 

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The album flew by the first time I listened to it. Not every song on it is a hit, but a couple definitely stand out. “Boyfriend” includes funny elements of back and forth dialogue and features big drums and an upbeat tempo.  “Lately II” starts slow, does an interesting pickup halfway through the song, and basically sounds like two different songs fit under one title. I was feeling the beat from “Feeling” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, which brought the cool guy vibes of “Talk Too Much” back to the album. As a bonus, I got Neon Trees vibes from the whole album, which I was definitely grooving with. 

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The chill, sweet tones of “Malibu 1992” was a good finish for the album, and I appreciated the nostalgic mood it set for the second listen through. COIN gained some popularity with the 2015 single “Run” from their first full album, self titled COIN. The new album capitalizes on this success and delivers with a few danceable jams and a solid overall album. COIN’s new music is worth a listen, so check them out. 

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Kenzie Wamble