Tag Archives: newalbum

Twenty One Pilots: Blurryface


When Twenty One Pilots released their breakout album Vessel after signing with label Fueled by Ramen, in 2011, artists within the pop punk category knew they were going to have to up their game.

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So when I heard that the Ohio natives Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun dropped their new album Blurryface, I couldn’t wait to see what the artists had been up to in the studio.

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If you’re a fervent fan of Twenty One Pilots, and have been since the beginning, then you know that the two enjoy blending genres to create music that is outside the normative lines of music genre.  Joseph, who leads vocals, loves mashing up a mix of rap, hip-hop, pop, rock, and reggae, sometimes even screaming at times when he finds necessary.

Take a track like “Fairly Local,” on the newly dropped record. Joseph’s tendency to switch his vocals from hard rock screams to a more pop falsetto to then randomly rapping all overlain intricate beats and some synth hints at a schizophrenic nature of the duo’s sound—at least in this album.

And the question is, does this mix of genres within the tracks, work? Or at least as well as they did in Vessel? You listen to a massive amount of ukulele and reggae vibes within tracks like “The Judge” and “Ride,” and then completely switch directions to a completely different vibe in a track like “Polarized” with a chorus so built up like Imagine Dragons and a vocal inflection similar to Alt-J. There’s a lot going on, but Twenty One Pilots tries to keep the pop reggae vibe with random bits of rap leaked in.

But maybe the two do this for a reason. You compare “Homeless” with the sweet harmonies and electronic influences, reminiscent of Glass Animals with more, hard rock emotionally engaging last track “Goner,” and you can’t help but compare genres across musical lines. And with thoughtful lyricism that Joseph incorporated, it becomes apparent that maybe this album is less about the musical style and more about the concepts and themes embedded in them. Look at “Stressed Out,” in which Joseph expresses concern over everything from his music (“I wish I found some chords in an order that is new / I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang”) to growing older (“I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink / But now I’m insecure and I care what people think”). Or take a listen to “Heavydirtysoul” when he states “This is not rap, this is not hip-hop / just another attempt to make the voices stop.” He sings about uncertainties, insecurities, and fear—things not only any musician expresses concern over, but any human in the world with a rationally functionally mind. And how else would anyone express concern and insecure emotion without at least the hint of a schizophrenic, out of control nature? He’s right about this at least—uncertain emotion can’t fit within one single box.

There’s the mish-mash of genres with the track, across the track, and throughout the album, and yet you can’t really bring yourself the hate the album. The tracks and the instrumental expression, although not entirely incredibly innovative, are still creative enough for you smile, and say to yourself, “There’s Twenty One Pilots.”

Ariana Rivera

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New Album: Holly Miranda

I’m picky when it comes to female vocalists. It takes a certain combination of honed skill, raw talent, and lack of nasally pompous tone to really capture my attention.

Holly Miranda has seemed to captured my attention.

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A laid back alternative singer-songwriter who’s been kicking it with the music industry since 2004, she’s come into her own as an artist, and knows her sound. And I’m not surprised, with her skills as a trained pianist and self taught guitarist and trumpet player. An 11-track album, Holly Miranda’s 2015 self titled album is one for the books. A strong start to the record, “Mark My Words,” is a track that begins with hints of a Explosions of Sky-esque guitar instrumental leading into some dreamy vocals and calming bells in background. The way Miranda rifts off into “You were just what I needed” in the first minute of the song is a beautiful demonstration of the very clean tone to her voice. The song is quiet and calming, and is a great hint to listeners of the overall vibe of the album.

And for the most part, her sound throughout the entire album is pretty consistent in terms of vocal and instrumental arrangements. She’s simple. She likes to coo and draw out her soft lilting voice with the help of a piano, and hey it works in a song like her last track of “Hymnal.” Fully demonstrating her vocal range on this track, you see this girl can almost take it to the opera level and you’re impressed.

Leading into the next track, “All I Want Is To Be Your Girl,” I get a more upbeat folk pop vibe, almost reminiscent of The Mowgli’s, but I think what I dig most are the chilled out tracks that have an Ingrid Michaelson feel, especially with the drawn out lovelorn vocals in songs like “Everlasting,” and “The Only One.”

“It’s not until we’re faced with death that we truly understand,” sings Miranda in Heavy Heart, overlain by a beautifully simple piano melody, a track which brought tears to my eyes. These tracks are too real for words, and it isn’t because of some phenomenal innate musical composition (although that is present). Miranda discusses themes of love, heartbreak, and that sense of not being to get someone off your mind, and these concepts if not relatable, are at least ones that evoke emotion.  

Best track of the album by far  “Desert Call.” Starting it off clean with Miranda’s vocals and some clean, clear cut guitar, “Desert Call” also takes you back to childhood in the summer. The saxophone near the latter half of the track makes you swoon with the sheer amount of jazzy sophistication coupled with Miranda’s suave vocals.

Think Ingrid Michaelson. Think stripped down Florence & the Machine. Think girl next door singing to you about love.

But in actuality, stop thinking and just listen because the album just dropped TODAY on iTunes and is most-definitely dope.

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Ariana Rivera