top of page

The Music Note

bowie review poster (1).png
david bowie

Artist Spotlight: David Bowie

Review by Alana Jordan

 

     This year marks what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday, and I could not resist making the first Music Note all about his music and the many phases he went through during his musical career. Anytime I talk about his music, I always like to tell people that his work is so diverse that if you aren’t really liking one album, then you may like the next one because they’re all so unique and have their own personalities. 

 

     The first album of his that I listened to all the way through was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars that was released in 1972, and this album was what made me curious to listen to even more of his work (and eventually become a big fan of his). When I listened to this album for the first time, I kept thinking about how ahead of its time it sounded and how I could not compare it to anything else I had heard before. I think it can come off as a little cheesy by today’s standards, but I still think that it is such a cool album regardless, and it features some of his most well-known songs like “Moonage Daydream” and “Starman'' which are amazing songs that also really helped him become more famous early on in his career. 

     I went back and listened to his 1971 album Hunky Dory after I finished listening to Ziggy Stardust, and this one features even more well known songs on it like “Changes'', “Oh! You Pretty Things”, and “Life on Mars?” all of which I think sounds very pretty especially because of the piano featured in all three of these songs. The two albums share a lot of similarities regarding his usual sound and style, and they are both still really fun to listen to today.

     Although he released many more 70s albums that I love too and became what people usually think of when they think of David Bowie, including Aladdin Sane (1973), Diamond Dogs (1974), Young Americans (1975), Low (1977) and Heroes (1977), I’d have to say my most listened to Bowie album out of his entire discography would have to be Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) which was released in 1980. This album (and David Bowie in general) is pretty weird–which I absolutely love–and the electric guitar featured in every song is always what I imagine first when I think of this album. Every song in this album has a lot of personality and I always keep coming back to it. I think that the instruments go so well with Bowie’s vocals, and this album feels a lot more punk/alternative than most of his other works. 

 

     Let’s Dance from 1983 features many of his big radio hits that are still played regularly, like “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, and “Let’s Dance”. This album sounds really upbeat hence why it has gotten lots of radio play, and I would recommend this album to most people as a pretty good starting point for anyone interested yet unfamiliar with his work and are wondering which album to start listening to first. Tonight, which was released in 1984, is an album I listened to later on and I never see it get much appreciation. I think it features some really nice sounding instruments and vocals throughout it; it is similar to Let’s Dance in a lot of ways, and songs like “Blue Jean”, his cover of “I Keep Forgettin’”, and “Loving the Alien” stay stuck in my head pretty often. 

 

     Bowie experimented a lot with his music and style and he covers a pretty wide range of genres and sounds, and I think his works have really helped influence a wide variety of artists because of how unconventional and unique he was and still is. Some people may not know that he also made traditional art and acted in several films including the fantasy film Labyrinth (1986) – which features some more really great songs that Bowie had written like “Magic Dance” and “As the World Falls Down”. He has stated that he thinks of himself as a canvas for his audience and every listener is going to and is meant to interpret his works differently, and I think that and his willingness to stand out in every way is a big part of what makes Bowie and his art special.

Album Spotlight:

Black Pumas’ Self-Titled Album

Review by Alana Jordan

 

Black Pumas are best known for their song “Colors”, which appeared on their self titled album that was released in 2019. The rest of the music from this album is just as wonderful to listen to as “Colors”, although the album itself isn’t very long. Each and every song on this album is full of beautiful instruments and vocals–I especially love the electric guitar that appears in most songs which sounds like it was heavily inspired from the 60s and 70s. 

 

This album is very calm and slow and all of the songs have beautiful lyrics and messages in them that have a relaxed and dreamy vibe. It always makes me feel at least a little bit happier just to listen to any song from this album, no matter what. I can really hear that every song is packed full of so much genuine passion and soul from the band, and that they truly love making music.

 

Black Pumas poster 2.png

“Old Man” is my favorite song from the album, and I think that the guitar performed by Adrian Quesada sounds absolutely perfect here with Eric Burton’s vocals. This song has a really lighthearted vibe to it, and the lyrics are very uplifting and carefree. The album begins with “Black Moon Rising”, which sounds a lot like blues and soul combined; I always make it a point to listen for the violins that play during the chorus especially.

 

“OCT 33” also has lots of lovely violins parts in it that are prominent all throughout the song, and at one point towards the end of the song they are accompanied by an electric guitar which sounds very satisfying to listen to. “Fire” features a guitar riff that reminds me a lot of Johnny Cash, and the song then transitions back into a soulful love song after most of its appearances. 

 

In the middle of “Touch The Sky”, there is an awesome electric guitar solo that gives the song even more of that retro 60s/70s energy to it, and it also features lots of acoustic guitar, keyboard, and horns that play throughout the song that also give it even more emotion than it already had just in the vocals. “Sweet Conversations” is the final song on the album and the most calming song on the album for me, especially because of the sounds of birds in the background and the acoustic guitar playing throughout the whole song. 

This entire album is gorgeous and mellow, and if you like “Colors” then I promise you definitely won’t be disappointed by the rest of the album! 

 

Link to the whole album on Spotify: Album by Black Pumas | Spotify

black pums
hozier poster (2).png

Artist Spotlight: Hozier

Review by Alana Jordan

 

Hozier’s eponymous debut album is always incredible to hear, and it will never get old no matter how many times I listen to it. All of his music is smooth, flowy, and passionate, and each song of his brings up unique experiences that any listener can appreciate and enjoy. The way he sings and his voice is truly fantastic, but the piano, guitar, and drums draw attention to that fact even more. His 2019 album “Wasteland, Baby!” is another work of art as well, although the instrumentation of each song is a bit less varied than in his first album. Each of his songs truly display his talent for creating incredibly unique imagery and lyrics, and he is an artist that everyone should listen to at least once.

 

“Take Me to Church” is his most famous song, and it is an incredible blend of the blues, soul, 

 

and rock to start his first album off with. It’s also one really great example of the smoothness, darkness and moodiness that he’s known for, and all of the instruments–including his voice–shift between being dim and soft to intense and powerful so effortlessly. I tried to pick what my one favorite song from this album would be to focus on and discuss for this review, but I just could not pick between “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene”, “Jackie and Wilson”, or “Work Song”. All of his music sounds very strong and passionate, and his music explores a wide range of topics that are very personal yet relatable to the majority of people at the same time.

 

“Wasteland, Baby!” begins with “Nina Cried Power”, which is the most popular song from this album, and Hozier and Mavis Staples’ voices sound beautiful together in this song. This song is definitely the most intense and it instantly caught my attention, although the rest of the album did not disappoint me at all either. My personal favorite songs from this album are “Be” and “No Plan”, especially because I really love how all the instruments used sound. These two songs also sound more like rock and alternative music than he usually sounds, but they both fit into this album and reflect his style so perfectly.

 

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad Hozier song, and I think the majority of his songs are incredibly underrated! He is an incredibly passionate and talented artist, and I think anyone would be able to tell that about him just from listening to at least one song of his. 

 

Hozier playlist on Spotify

hozier
halsey poster 1.png

Album Spotlight: Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Review by Louisa Parrish

     I have been a fan of Halsey (she/they) since their debut album, Badlands, was released in 2015.  While I respect the gamut of music they have released, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power (IICHLIWP) is my favorite album by them.  

     IICHLIWP starts with “The Tradition”, where Halsey introduces the main themes of independence and the empowerment of women, and the feminine experience. This song is stripped to the basics, going back to tradition. It is just Halsey’s haunting vocals and a melancholic piano. In the chorus, they sing, “Ask for forgiveness, never permission/ Take what you want, take what you can/ Take what you please, don't give a damn/ It's in the blood and this is tradition.”  

halsey

With women's empowerment being a central theme, this song talks about how it is tradition for women to be overlooked and used. It is a phenomenal and chilling opening to the album.  

   “Easier Than Lying” is the third track of IICHLIWP, but one of my favorites from the album.  There is anger in the lyrics that Halsey is expressing. The drums beat in a way that has you ready to release your pent-up anger.  The people that made them what they are, hate them for who they’ve become.  The first verse builds this tension as Halsey expresses their frustration. “I'm only whatever you make me/ And you make me more and more a villain every day/ But you don't know, you reap, you sow/ Whatever you give to me, from yourself, you take/ Well, if you're a hater, then hate the creator/ It's in your image I'm made.” Halsey’s vocals in the song make the listener feel her frustration like it’s their own. 

     “Lilith” is another track from IICHLIWP that deals with women's empowerment, especially as the song title references Lilith, a figure from Judaism, who was Adam’s wife before Eve but was sent away when she did not obey Adam.  It is a song that gets most of its sound from the guitar, bass, and light drums underneath the bass sound.  

     “1121” is a song Halsey wrote after they found out they were pregnant.  It is a personal song for the singer.  They wrote this song as they came to terms with the pregnancy while commemorating past pregnancies they lost, hoping they wouldn’t lose this one as well (they didn’t). It is a take on a lullaby as the song is softer than most on the album, but it builds as the song plays, like Halsey’s worry and anxiety over their pregnancy.  It is a beautifully intimate song that I never skip when it plays. 

     “I am not a woman, I’m a god,” is the lead single of IICHLIWP.  This track deals a lot with how Halsey identifies and how difficult it is to fit into simple categories. It has a synthy beat, which is usually not my type of song, but I cannot help but enjoy it. While not one of my personal favorites from the album, I love the lyric progression through the song as it goes from “maybe I could be a different human in a new place” to “maybe I could be a better human with a new name.”

     The twelfth track of IICHLIWP, “The Lighthouse,” is my personal favorite from this album.  From the perspective of a siren that deals with abusive relationships that leave the siren stranded, the siren learns to survive and thrive after abuse. It features Halsey’s siren-like vocals, a distorted guitar, and percussive beats.  It gives the listener a representation of the siren, distorted but firm in their movements as they lure men into traps with their voice. One of my favorite lyrics is from the bridge, and it says, “that should teach a man to mess with me/ He was never seen again and I'm still wanderin' the beach/ And I'm glad I met the Devil 'cause he showed me I was weak/ And a little piece of him is in a little piece of me.” Even though this siren has suffered, they recognize that they have at least learned how to better protect themselves in the future.  

     Halsey’s albums and how much I like them vary, but If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power easily takes first place for my favorite album they have done to date!

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

NIN
NIN 2 music note poster.png

Album Spotlight: Pretty Hate Machine

Review by Alana Jordan

     Nine Inch Nails is made up of Trent Reznor and a revolving cast of musicians that has been releasing music since 1988, and they are still releasing music today with their most recent album titled Ghosts V: Together, which was released in 2020. Pretty Hate Machine is their debut studio album, which was released in 1989, and originally featured 10 songs. The album is overall very anxious and aggressive, and that is very clearly portrayed through Trent Reznor’s vocals but also through the synthesizer and electric guitar as well. 

     The album begins with “Head Like a Hole”, which is very fast-paced and one of their most popular songs besides “Closer” from their third album, The Downward Spiral, which was released five years later.

     The post-chorus from “Head Like a Hole” is the catchiest part of this song for me, and it is always the part I immediately think about when I see this album. The synthesizer switches back and forth between sounding rough and calm to match the intensity in Reznor’s voice, and it consistently sounds metallic and industrial. The song fades into “Terrible Lie”, which also has an extremely catchy post-chorus, but it is overall a bit of a slower song than “Head Like a Hole” is. These two songs, in particular, always grab my attention and were the two that made me want to dive even deeper into the rest of the album.

     The drums, guitar, and synthesizer throughout the album help to portray the hopeless and angry feeling that all of the songs on this album carries, although I could definitely see how the heavily used synthesizer can make the album feel a bit dated, I think most of the songs sound mesmerizing. “Sin”, “That’s What I Get”, “The Only Time”, and “Ringfinger'' all heavily feature the sort of cheesy synthesizer sound, but I think they all still hold up and can be enjoyed just as much today as they were when they were originally released. I personally still like to hear the synthesizer and heavy sounds from this album, and I think its cold-hearted electronic sounds are great combined with Reznor’s mocking voice. Most of these songs can sound a bit shaky and awkward but in a truly interesting and spicy kind of way. 

     Something I Can Never Have,” in particular, stands out on this album because of how Reznor’s vocals gradually build up and become more dynamic each time the chorus comes around, while the piano and mechanical noises are much softer, quieter, and more dismal than the rest of the album. “Kinda I Want To” features a muffled-sounding electric guitar mixed in with the synth right in the middle of the song just before the song returns back to its cold and unapproachable vibe that the rest of the album also has along with the heavy electronic sounds and Reznor’s angry vocals.

     This album is full of brutally honest lyrics and emotions, and it also seemed to really help Reznor find his sound as the band continued to grow, and all of the songs are full of anger and anxiety while still sounding catchy and dark. I would recommend anyone who is interested in alternative music to listen to this album if you haven’t already, but I’d also recommend The Downward Spiral and The Fragile as well, especially since those albums sound a lot more mature than this one does. For those who are interested in their new releases, all of the songs from his series of Ghost albums are purely instrumental, with some of the songs sounding calm and smooth to some being harsh and heavy, similar to the songs from PHM. The debut album of his amazing band was really cool and memorable for me when I first experienced it, especially just before listening to the rest of his albums afterward and noticing how much more secure Reznor became in his music and sound.

You can listen to the whole album right here!

mazzy star
So Tonight That I Might See Poster 2.png

Album Spotlight: Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See
Review by Alana Jordan

     Mazzy Star is an alternative indie band that was originally called Opal, and had originally formed in 1988. Hope Sandoval became the vocalist after Kendra Smith left Opal, and the group has been called Mazzy Star ever since Smith left the group. The band had released their second album titled So Tonight that I Might See in 1993. Hope Sandoval wrote almost all of the lyrics for Mazzy Star along with David Roback, who was the band’s co-founder and composer. Mazzy Star still remained active until David Roback had passed away from cancer in February 2020. So Tonight That I May See features 10 songs, and the album begins with their most well-known song, “Fade into You”.

     Every song on this entire album sounds very soft, slow, psychedelic, and dreamy, and Sandoval’s haunting but ethereal sounding vocals fully express difficult experiences and emotions that she has experienced throughout her life like regret, melancholy, and pain. “Fade into You” expresses feelings of optimism and desperation at the same time, and the guitar, piano, tambourine, and drums sound mesmerizing and delicate. “Blue Light” is the fifth (and my personal favorite) song from the album. The track expresses empathy and sadness for her closest loved one that she wishes to encourage and support, but she also feels as if depression and anxiety keeps her feeling stagnant and unable to move forward. It begins with a hypnotic synth that plays all throughout, and it is combined with the consistent rhythm of drums and a bluesy guitar. 

     “Bells Ring” is the second song on this album. While it still features the same similar rhythm as many of the other songs from the tambourine and drums, it also features a shadowy electric guitar throughout the entire song, and the lyrics feel as if Sandoval is letting her listeners feel less alone and as if they have to handle everything in their life by themself. “Into Dust'' constantly features a mellow guitar while a cello oscillates between standing out during certain parts of the song and playing subtly in the background. Sandoval sings about someone who feels as if she is disappearing into nothingness and how her interactions with others make her feel numb.

     This album was influenced by several bands that Sandoval and Roback both enjoyed and listened to such as The Doors, which can especially be heard in the final song on the album “So Tonight That I Might See” which the album is named after. Mazzy Star has influenced a number of other musicians as well, Lana Del Rey being one of the most obvious and prominent ones that comes to mind at the moment. This album overall feels very deep and dark, but in a comforting way. The lyrics and emotions that are brought out through the various psychedelic vibes and instruments combined with Sandoval’s wonderful vocals capture how those dark vibes feel in a way that makes listeners feel much less alone and encouraged to become more accepting of their own experiences. My mom listened to this album until it got wore out around the time it was released, and I’ve been doing the same ever since we’ve listened to it together.

 

You can listen to the album here!

preachr daughtr
Preacher's Daughter Poster (1).png

Album Spotlight:  Ethel Cain's Preacher's Daughter

Review by Louisa Parrish

     Ethel Cain is an artist that has recently become more popular after the release of Preacher’s Daughter in May 2022.  I discovered Cain through TikTok, and after hearing her songs used as audio for videos on the app, I shuffled over to Spotify and fell down the rabbit hole of Preacher’s Daughter

     Preacher’s Daughter is a concept album telling the story of “Ethel Cain” as a character, not the artist, so to avoid confusion, I’ll refer to the artist as Cain, whose real name is Hayden Anhedönia,  and the character as Ethel.  On my first listen to Preacher’s Daughter, I was not aware of the concept of the album, but I knew this album had hypnotized me with its alluring darkness and intriguing lyrics.  It wasn’t until I looked at the lyrics did I learn of the enigmatic and devastating world of Ethel.  

Content Warnings: (Child) Sexual Assault, Drugs, Murder, and Cannibalism

     Okay, I KNOW how it looks, but Preacher’s Daughter, regardless of how dark it seems, is so beautifully written and composed that I fell in love with the songs, and I grew to care for her over the course of the album.  The haunting vocals and soothing but dark instruments pulled me into this southern gothic world of Ethel, and the very least you could do was listen to her story. 

     The album starts with “Family Tree (Intro)” this is what you’d think, the introduction to this album.  The opening lines are “These crosses all over my body/ Remind me of who I used to be/ And Christ forgive these bones I'm hiding/ From no one successfully.” Ethel is going to clear out her closet of secrets and reveal what she has gone through in her life. It raised the questions of “Who did she used to be? What is she hiding?” Don’t worry; you’ll find out.  As the chorus that closes the intro, Ethel says, “The fate's already fucked me sideways/ Swinging by my neck from the family tree/ He'll laugh and say, "You know I raised you bеtter than this"/ Then leavе me hanging so they all can laugh at me.” Ethel knows she is doomed, and as you continue through the album, you realize that Ethel never really stood a chance, “the fates” are already decided.  You can tell from this intro that Ethel will try to escape, but she can’t change who she is and her fate. 

     The happiest and most pop-sounding track on this album is track two, “American Teenager.” Best years of your life, right? Cain said this about the track, “[the world] make[s] you think it’s [anything is] achievable and that if nothing else, you should at least die trying. I wrote this song as an expression of my frustration with all the things the ‘American Teenager’ is supposed to be but never had any real chance of becoming.” So while this is a fun pop-sounding song about being young, it reveals the delusions placed on young people in the world that they are expected to fulfill.  

     Track three, “A House in Nebraska,” is about the first love of Ethel’s life and how you never really get over it.  You love endlessly, have never been hurt before, have no scars or reservations, just love.  But first loves rarely, if ever, last, “You and me against the world/ You were my man and I your girl/ We had nothing except each other/ You were my whole world.”  Even as we’re told of this relationship Ethel has (Cain revealed his name is Willoughby) it's told in the past tense.  Ethel has already lost this person whom she saw as her safe place away from everything. Ethel and Willoughby call the place where they meet their “House in Nebraska,” even though they are in Alabama. They meet at this house and pretend they are somewhere else where they can be happy and live together, “Where the world was empty/ Save you and I/ Where you came and I laughed, and you left, and I cried/ Where you told me even if we died tonight, that I'd die yours.” Then it's revealed that Ethel isn’t with Willoughby anymore when his mom calls to check on Ethel occasionally, and she says, “that I'm doing fine/ When really I'd kill myself/ To hold you one more time/ And it hurts to miss you/ But it's worse to know/ That I'm the reason/ You won't come home.” We don’t know what happened in the relationship to end it, but we know Ethel thinks it's her fault, and now she’s been left behind, and she doesn’t have a safe place to escape the world anymore. 

     Track four, “Western Nights,” follows Ethel’s next relationship with a man (Cain named Logan), and he’s not very kind and sometimes violent towards Ethel, but she loves him anyway. 

     Track five, “Family Tree,” is one of my favorite songs on the album. The build-up to the bridge of this song is my absolute favorite thing.  The sound of this song is what the Intro song echoes off of.  The church bells ringing in the background and the guitar in this song are phenomenal. I’ll leave you with the bridge lyrics because I can’t talk about this song; just experience it. “These crosses all over my body/ Remind me of who I used to be/ Let Christ forgive these bones I've been hiding/ And the bones I'm about to leave.”

     Track six, “Hard Times,” is the end of act one of the album.  This song covers Ethel reflecting on her relationship with her late father, as he had sexually abused her as a child.  It’s a song I don’t listen to as often as the others on this album, but the genius of this song is poignant. 

     Track seven, “Thoroughfare,” is about Ethel running away from home and meeting a guy, Cain named Isiah,  and they decide to head west together. This is probably the happiest Ethel is in the entire album, so enjoy it as Ethel falls for Isiah. “'Cause for the first time since I was a child/ I could see a man who wasn't angry.”  This song is like a southern montage.  With a harmonica and twangy sounds, this song doesn’t seem as long as it is.  

     Track eight, “Gibson Girl,” is a sultry-sounding song.  Surprise, the descent begins. From being a preacher’s daughter to being fed drugs and pimped out behind strip girls by Isiah.  So much for summer love.  Without any context, this is a groovy, sexy song, but here’s context. 

     Track nine, “Ptolemaea.” From Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Ptolemea is a circle of Hell in which the traitorous reside. This haunting song is Ethel hallucinating and confronting the darkness she is facing. I see the darkness as Death itself talking to Ethel.  The darkness speaks to Ethel, “You poor thing/ Sweet, mourning lamb/ There's nothing you can do/ It's already been done.” (If you see female rage tiktoks, this song will come up timestamp 3:36). This is another I can’t talk much about, it is experience. 

     Track ten, “August Underground.” This instrumental is something. No words, yet so much happens.  Ethel is murdered in this song by Isiah. Ending with a resounding bang, like a gunshot.  This song blends into the next song perfectly. 

     Track eleven, “Televangalism.” Another instrumental that conveys Ethel’s ascent to the afterlife with a churchy piano (if you know, you know) playing in the background. 

Track twelve, “Sun Bleached Flies.” In this song, Ethel makes peace with her death and the hardships she dealt with in her life. The two lyrics from this song that rip my heart out are “God loves you, but not enough to save you,” and “I'm still praying for that house in Nebraska.” Such loaded lyrics with Ethel reflecting on her life and ending and how she still yearns for her first love Willoughby. 

     Track thirteen, “Strangers,” is the last song of this album.  You might be thinking, she’s dead; what else can happen to Ethel? Remember the content warning? Cannibalism happens.  So from beyond the grave, Ethel is consumed by Isiah, her murderer, and she says her final goodbye to her mother.  “Freezer bride, your sweet divine/ You devour like smoked bovine hide/ How funny, I never considered myself tough,” and “I'm turning in your stomach and I'm making you feel sick” … this is so disheartening to hear from Ethel as she knows what is happening to her and how her suffering doesn’t end with her death.  The song concludes with Ethel speaking to her mother, “Mama, just know that I love you (I do)/ And I'll see you when you get here.” 

     This album is a journey of heart-wrenching loves in Ethel’s life.  By the end of it all, she is tough (not in the cannibalism way, screw you, Isiah); she endured all of this and still forgives all those who did her wrong to live her afterlife peacefully.  

half aliv

Half Alive is a trio that was formed in 2016, featuring Joshua Taylor as the lead singer, Brett Kramer as the drummer and J. Tyler Johnson as the bassist. They have a rotating cast of talented dancers and remain one of my favorite bands since I found them in 2018. 

 

The fifth song in the album is titled ‘Hot Tea’ and it reminds me of being wrapped in someone’s arms and riding out a storm of emotions. It’s a safe song about love and feeling safe in the embrace of another and feeling truly wanted. It is heavy on the guitar and plays deeply into the back up vocals, before the chorus falls back into their signature techno style. ‘Hold you in my hands like hot tea, knowing I’m safe cause you want me’, lyrically, I feel it is one of their best songs, and musically it just soothes a piece of your brain with the contrast between the trap like beat and the hollowed out guitar. 

The sixth song titled ‘Did I Make You Up?’ follows right after, completely doing a 180 lyric wise. It encompasses the feeling that you fell in love with someone who was wearing a mask. How some people change after you think you know them. ‘Fall in love with who they won’t become, was it ever real? Did I make you up?’. The beginning of the instrumental features vocals that sound drowning and a bright piano. The drums are added in a marching-like style that adds depth to the song and fades in and out with the back up vocals. The piano is very intertwined within this song, which is a highlight of it because they do it so beautifully. 

Following ‘Did I Make You Up?’, the haunting yet relatable song titled ‘Nobody’ definitely makes you feel as though you are never alone in your thoughts. The drums begin this song with a cowbell like clicking before Josh begins singing about being exhausted and empty despite being surrounded by energy and people full of life. This album focuses heavily on techno sounds and this song is no different. ‘The more that I grow, the more that I’ve come to know, that its hard to be someone, and it hurts to be nobody’ is a line that almost everyone can relate to, especially those working to make a name for themselves. 

The eighth one in this album is titled ‘Move Me’ and it starts out with a sound similar to a Hang in a simple yet entrancing beat before Josh’s voice breaks it with ‘I never told, You never asked’. I feel this song is about knowing where you’re headed in life but never feeling like you're enough for those surrounding you. ‘Well I was getting used to what I thought was love…cause all I had, was not enough’. The chorus of this song is a slow but filling lyrical masterpiece. It gives a feeling akin to an organ with how it fills up the empty space around you. I recommend listening to this song with headphones. 

Song number thirteen is titled ‘What’s Wrong’ and gives an old record scratch type of feel. It shares the memento that time heals all wounds, and to not get too caught up in what could have been. It focuses on living in the moment and that there is never a better time than now to fix what’s wrong, ‘Started with the right intentions, but left them on the shelf’. It has the same trap-like beat with heavy harmonies within the back up vocals. My favorite lyric from this song has got to be ‘Yipee-ki-yay it’s not my blood, but every single day it calls my bluff’.

While I couldn’t possibly dive into all the songs of this album, this band always surprises me. Every time I think that I have a new favorite album in their latest one, they break my expectations again with a new album. I hope to see them back in town for another tour, their tickets are always affordable and their live shows are always really fantastic. 

Album Spotlight: half alive’s

Conditions Of A Punk

 

Review by Rachel Blue 

Conditions Of A Punk proves that the trio is ever evolving musically and visually as their music videos continue to inspire and stretch the boundaries of colors and choreography. The title song ‘Conditions Of A Punk’ shares the trials of love and the expectations that come with relationships and how they may not pan out how one originally expected them to. ‘And you’re not what I thought, out of character. Guess I played the part of being so in love’. It’s a very techno song that starts off pretty slow but you can continue to feel the steady rhythm and the guitar strings, it was one of my favorites to see in concert. 

tv girl
TV Girl Music Note.png

      TV Girl is an indie band originally from San Diego that formed in 2010 and currently consists of lead singer and songwriter Brad Petering, Jason Wyman, and Wyatt Harmon. Their pieces frequently sample songs, film dialogue, and other media from the 60s-70s, and their lyrics are often about past relationships. In 2010, “If You Want It (You Got It)” was released and started garnering some attention for the band. (However, it never got released on most platforms, likely because of copyright issues since it heavily samples Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me.”) They currently have four studio albums: their debut album, French Exit (2014), Who Really Cares (2016), Death of a Party Girl (2018), and Grapes Upon The Vine (2023). 

   

     The first song I heard from them was “Not Allowed” from their second album, which samples Yeastie Girlz’s “You Suck” and is among one of their most well-known songs along with “Cigarettes out the Window” from the same album, “Lovers Rock” from their debut album, and “Blue Hair” from Death of a Party Girl. (These specific songs have become increasingly popular thanks to TikTok.) “Blue Hair” is my favorite song from Death of a Party Girl, and the song samples “The Minx” by The Cyrkle. The piece features plenty of reverb, which plenty of their songs do. Still, I feel the use of it is particularly distinctive and impactful here because it conveys the hopelessness Petering feels when he sings about watching the one he loves change, grow distant, and leave him behind as the relationship fades away. At the same time, he accepts that there is nothing left that he can say or do to make things the way they used to be. 

     “The Blonde” is my favorite song off their album French Exit because of how dreamy and hypnotic the cascading synthesizer sounds once the piece starts and ends and when it reappears to accompany the vocals and the rest of the instruments during the chorus. The song critiques how shallowly society treats and views certain physical features and how that creates pressure for others to change themselves or “dye their hair” to try and become worthy of love and desire. 

     “Taking What’s Not Yours” is the first song on their sophomore album, and it has become my absolute favorite song out of all their works; I seriously love everything about how it sounds and how sarcastic the piece is. This song is also one of their fastest-paced songs. It is all about the physical things like books and lighters that his ex left behind where he lives and about the various things he left behind at his ex’s, which inevitably leads to him reminiscing on their shared memories, which are also part of “everything you brought but you never took.” This song samples Tom Scott and The L.A. Express's "Strut Your Stuff" as the instrumental, which features horns that can be heard in the chorus and a constant reverbed synthesizer. The piece also samples “That’s thievin’, stealin’, takin’ what’s not yours” from “Don't Copy That Floppy” by Software Publishers Association feat. MC Double Def DP from a goofy 90s campaign against piracy, which plays at the beginning and end of the song and at the end of the chorus. It also includes a sample of Nixon saying, “I am not a crook,” remixed from The Watergate Tapes before the hook starts to wrap up. The use of these samples in this piece adds even more layers of sarcasm and bitterness toward the relationship and all the things he’s lost and won’t ever get back. 

     I’ve always been interested in samples since I’ve listened to music; I’ve heard many fantastic songs I otherwise wouldn’t know about. I’ve been listening to TV Girl since 2021, and I always return to them occasionally since they’ve become one of my favorite recent indie bands. I think how they reuse and incorporate songs and sounds and reinvent them into new yet nostalgic, dreamy-sounding pieces about love is fascinating; in an AMA Reddit post, Petering said he “never gets tired of seeking out old and obscure music. I listen to lots of music and I find my loops and sounds that way." All their music sounds chill and smooth, and they’ve frequently reminded me of the relaxing songs that play during adult swim bumps. You can listen to them on Spotify (Here), Apple Music (Here), and on Soundcloud (Here)!

Artist Spotlight: TV Girl

Review by Alana Jordan

eminemt
Album Review-3.png

Album Spotlight: Music To Be Murdered By

Review by Angel Skeen

     People love to hate on newer Eminem music. People love to hate in general. And
sometimes this hate is correct, perhaps even warranted. However, when it comes to Eminem’s newest album, Music to be Murdered By the haters are wrong. Eminem’s Music to be Murdered By album was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s spoken word album Music to be Murdered By, which was released in 1958. Eminem’s album includes samples of Hitchcock's spoken word. Eminem even mimics Hitchcock's cover art.

Eminem-Releases-Surprise-Album-Music-to-Be-Murdered-By-_–-Side-B.jpg

     The album has a spooky vibe, much in tune with typical Hitchcock productions. I think the ominous tone bodes well with Eminem’s unhinged writing style. Eminem frequently raps about controversial topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, rape, and murder. This album is no exception as he raps about murdering his step father. Hitchcock was also famous for speaking on dark topics, blending Hitchcock's style with Eminem’s causes suspense and thrill in the album.

     One statement frequently made by Eminem haters, is that Eminem’s music isn’t as good
as it used to be, that he cleaned up his act and his art suffered because of that. However, Music To
Be Murdered By
disapproves these false claims, by bringing a very old school Eminem feel.
Stepdad is a detailed song about him murdering his step father in response to the step dad

kicking his Chihuahua. Eminem also takes a jab at his actual father in the song, "Leaving Heaven"
when he says, “you know, I should dig your motherf***ing ass up, just to spit in your f***ing
face”. These themes and comments are on brand for Eminem, controversial, provocative and
violent rap is what brought him fame and controversial, provocative and violent rap is exactly
what Eminem delivers in Music to be Murdered By.

     Another topic that Eminem frequently raps about is toxic relationships, like the one sung
about in his box hit "Love The Way You Lie" with Rhianna. So, for the fans who love to sing along
to a toxic relationship, be sure to listen to "Never Love Again", "In too Deep", and "Farewell".
"Farewell" starts off super aggressive saying “for what it’s worth, you were a slut at birth, if the
world had a di** you’d fu** the earth, I try to get over you, it doesn't work, you’re still a cu**,
I’m still a fu**ing jerk”. Who does not want to scream that? What’s not to love?


     The main accomplishment most people highlight from Music to Be Murdered By is
Eminem beating his fastest rap record, by rapping 222 words in 30 seconds. Whether you love,
or hate Eminem, that's pretty impressive. Whether you love, or hate Eminem, he's still incredibly
rich and successful. Whether you love, or hate Eminem, Music to be Murdered By absolutely
SLAPPED. The only critique is that it was released in January, rather than around Halloween.
Lucky for you, it's near Halloween now.


Listen Here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaZcYAgpdq2Mt2DvCTfZwx2yA3-3c8cuq

scarlt
scarlet poster music note final (2).png

Album Spotlight: Scarlet

Review by Alana Jordan

     Doja Cat has been creating music since she was 16 years old in 2013, and she has continued to grow to the point that she has become the 7th most listened-to artist on Spotify as of October 2023. I started listening to her before the pandemic when “Say So” got played so much that it felt inescapable and inevitably got stuck in my head and refused to leave, which led to me listening to the rest of the Hot Pink album and enjoying how fun and disco-ish the album is to listen to. Since then, I’ve enjoyed her other albums and many of the songs she’s released, too. Scarlet is her most recent album, released last month (on September 22, 2023).

     Although Hot Pink and Planet Her are lighthearted pop albums that are just meant to be fun to listen to in the background, they don’t feel genuine for the most part. However, Scarlet comes across as more authentic and as if she’s starting to rediscover her passion for music and find the drive for the music she truly wants to create again. The album begins with “Paint The Town Red,” which is the lead single from the album that fuses jazz and rap by sampling Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By.” This song has been the catchiest song on the album for me, and it made me excited to hear how the rest of the album would sound before it got released. This song has a very similar meaning to “Demons,” by which “Paint The Town Red” is followed. “Shutcho,” “Ouchies,” “Skull and Bones,” and “Attention” all also address the same topic: each song addresses the criticisms and insults she has heard, including insults to her and her appearance, and claims that she’s demonic and sold her soul for her fame. However, they’re also all about her embracing and being happy with herself despite all of the things she’s been told and has gone through and how she’s now starting to do what she loves to do for her own sake.

     Each of these songs all express similar messages, but the three singles that were released before the album’s release especially stand out to me: “Paint The Town Red” and “Attention” both combine soft jazzy music with her hip-hop vocals, with “Attention” featuring a lovely harp that plays throughout the song but is especially noticeable during the chorus, while the music and vocals in “Demons” are faster and sound much more volatile than the other two songs. "Demons" is the most aggressive and intense song on the album, which as a result also made it the most dynamic sounding song on the album. These three songs were my favorites off the album, although I think “Shutcho” (Which samples 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love” at the start of the song) and “Go Off” sound the most attractive and memorable compared to the rest of the songs on the album besides these three singles. 

     “Go Off,” “Agora Hills,” “Can’t Wait”, and “Love Life” are all love songs, except “Go Off” and “Love Life” are not romantic love songs. “Go Off” was written to be an homage to her hairstylist, and the music sounds slow and subtle but has a distinct and catchy rhythm to help portray the woman’s personality alongside the lyrics. “Agora Hills” samples Troop’s 1989 hit “All I Do Is Think Of You,” and this song and “Can’t Wait” both address all the ways that she wants to experience life with and constantly be with the man that she’s in love with while also showering him in as much love as possible, showing him off to everyone, bragging about him, and marrying him. “Love Life” is all about how grateful and happy she feels for almost everything in her life, no matter how small or what it is that she’s grateful for, and the vocals and music sound extra soft and sweet to express her gratitude for every good (and bad) thing she’s gone through and how it all helped her grow and change and be content with who she is and the way her life has turned out.

   Scarlet does not sound very much like the songs on her previous albums Amala, Hot Pink, or Planet Her; many of the songs on this album are slower, less catchy, and less memorable to me than her previous albums were, but I feel that’s because she meant for them just to be catchy pop albums. This album shows how she has changed quite a good bit since her last albums, and wants her lyrics to be focused on more rather than on the sound. Even though she’s been frequently associated with controversies for about as long as she’s been famous, this album is mostly all about her expressing how happy she is with herself and appreciative for most everything going on in her life right now despite that. 

You can listen to her on Spotify (here) and Apple Music (here)! 

nckelbck
Concert review.png

Concert Review: Nickelback

Review by Ivey Charles

PSA before we start- The Nickelback slander will not be tolerated.

     If you like country, a little bit of rock and country or just straight rock and roll then this concert was perfect for you. I bought tickets about six hours before the concert was set to start and that was one of the best impulse decisions I have ever made. The concert took place at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte so it was not a far drive which made it a perfect Tuesday night event.  There were three sets and the main one, one of my favorites, was of course Nickelback. The concert started off with an up and coming singer named Josh Ross. While I did not know that he would be starting things off, I am glad he did because a bunch of songs have now been added to my playlist.

     He was your very typical country singer but had a lot of good songs. One of my favorites was a song called “Red Flags” which was really good and I enjoyed the vibes of it. I believe that he will be one of the next big country stars and I am so glad I get to say that I saw him before he got big into the music industry. The next singer was Brantley Gilbert and he has always been one of my favorites since I was young. He is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll which I really enjoy. He started off with one of his popular songs called “Kick it in the Sticks'' and the rest of the setlist included “The Weekend, “My Kinda Party”,“You Don't Know Her Like I Do, “Bury Me Upside Down, “Small Town Throwdown, “Son Of The Dirty South, “Blue on Black, “Country Must Be Country Wide, “One Hell of an Amen, “Bottoms Up, “Take It Outside” and “Read Me My Rights”. I absolutely love every Brantley Gilbert song but “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do" is my all time favorite so I was in awe the whole time he was singing because I was so excited to hear it live. His cover of “Blue on Black” is also my favorite so I was very excited to hear him sing this as I did not know if he would sing this or not. Brantley Gilbert did so well that I forgot we still had another band to see. They did however save the best for last as always.

     As the lights dimmed and the sound of drums and rock music started the crowd went wild and Nickelback took the stage. They started off with “San Quentin" which is a newer song just being released last year and then went into more of the older popular songs. Their set list included “Savin' Me”, “Far Away”, “Animals”, “Someday”, “Worthy to Say”, “Figured You Out”, “Hero”, “Copperhead Road”, “This Afternoon”, “Photograph”, “Rockstar”, “Those Days” and “How You Remind Me”. They covered the Steve Earle classic “Copperhead Road” and Nickelback covering Copperhead Road was definitely not on my 2023 bingo card so that was very much a treat. As the night went on we heard many of the Nickelback classics that I have been jamming to since I was just a kid chilling in the backseat of my moms car.

     

     They said goodbye but the show was not quite over as they came out one more time for an encore and ended with the songs “Gotta Be Somebody” and “Burn It To The Ground” which was amazing and then said their final Thank You and Goodnight. This was one of the best concerts I have ever been to and the energy was so amazing that Chad Kroeger himself said “are you sure this is a Tuesday night crowd because y’all are making it feel like a Saturday night crowd.” I would recommend this concert to anyone and I am so glad I decided to go. 

bottom of page