The Music Note

By Alana Jordan

bowie review poster (1).png

Artist Spotlight: David Bowie

 

     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

 

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

hozier poster (2).png

Artist Spotlight: Hozier

 

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