Tag Archives: music review

Album Review: Folklore – The Quarantine Has Allowed Taylor Swift to Put Out Her Most Mature And Personal Work Yet.

Folklore; Taylor Swift

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan./

Taylor Swift – cardigan (Official Music Video)

Folklore hit like a surprise, both in how it was released and the contents inside it. The 16-song album was announced with little fanfare just a day before its release. “Most of the things I had planned for the summer didn’t happen,” she wrote in a statement, “but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen.” The way Taylor Swift tells it, folklore arrived in a rush of inspiration. “It started with imagery,” she wrote on Instagram. “Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity.” Less than a year after 2019’s Lover, it marks a departure from the sharp, radio-friendly pop music that Swift spent the past decade-and-a-half building toward.

And this truly album is truly unlike anything Taylor has put out in the past. It is quiet, somber, introspective and very moody. There are no headbangers here, designed to make white girls go crazy in a party, these songs are way more personal and packs a much bigger punch. Her usual collaborators like Jack Antonoff and recording engineer Laura Sisk return in album, but she has also ventured out in look for other more intriguing and indie Collaborators.

There is the song exile, with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver co-writing and lending vocals, which one of my favorite songs Taylor Swift has ever produced. The National: drummer Bryan Devendorf and multi-instrumentalists Bryce and Aaron Dessner, with the latter co-writing or producing 11 songs. As a result, this is the most raw Taylor Swift has ever sounded, and blunt and subtle delivery on the lyrics and songs that are very much indie-folk.

Now, I’m not gonna do a deep dive into the lyrics on each song, trying to decipher every little detail about Taylor’s personal life. To be honest, I don’t really know much about her personal life and don’t really care, and also there are so many entertainment sites doing just that. So if that’s what you want, maybe you should check them out. But, this the most mature lyrics Taylor Swift has ever written, analyzing themes without her heavy pop filter. Don’t get me wrong, these are still songs of white girl problems, Americana, and nostalgia for the past and it has also the style and flair we associate with Taylor, only now, with more weight to them.

I have feeling that without quarantine we wouldn’t have gotten this album out of Taylor. The sort of isolation from the industry and fact she will not have tour with these songs or do numbers on charts, allowed Taylor to take a risk, and put out something has was immensely personal to her. For all the bad things corona virus has brought to us this year, Folklore surely isn’t one. I highly recommend this album, even if you aren’t really a fan of Taylor.

Fav tracks: //the 1/ cardigan/ the last great american dynasty/ exile/ my tears ricochet/ epiphany/ hoax//

Least fav track: //betty//

Album Review: Women In Music Pt. III – The HAIM Sister Are Up to… Something.

Women In Music Pt. III; Haim

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan./

Haim – The Steps

The Haim sisters are known for their love of LA and taking walks on the sunny streets of the city, and it is also the feeling that carries on into their projects – little happy/sad sunny pop songs that go perfect with the mood of driving around Los Angeles on a summer morning. I really enjoyed their first album but to be honest I was kinda disappointed by their second as it really really didn’t have much to offer except the unique bright style the band has cultivated. This is where Women in Music Pt. III really succeeds, while it is still a collection of sunny happy/sad songs, it is also much more. With this album, it feels as though the Haim sisters are finally up to something – a big exploration of themselves and their journey.

The videos to accompany their third album, Women in Music Part III, nod to the strolls of the past and add in a few new twists. In “Now I’m in it” directed again by the master Paul Thomas Anderson, bassist Este and guitarist Alana carry Danielle (lead vocals, production, guitar) on a stretcher; when Danielle is revived and joins her sisters for their signature walk, she casts a knowing glance straight to camera. In another video, they’re followed by a gloomy saxophonist ; in another, they stand rooted to their spots. These videos show the evolution of Haim, whose songwriting on WIMPIII is likewise more nuanced, more self-aware, and frequently darker than ever before.

The biting satire of the album’s title is something of a red herring for its explicitly personal content. In interviews, each sister has described a personal trauma that she brought to the studio. Alana has spoken of the grief she suffered when a best friend passed away at age 20, and Este has talked about the low points of living with Type 1 diabetes. Most felt is Danielle’s deep depression; she traces its origin to when her partner (and co-producer) Ariel Rechtstaid was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015.

Historically, Haim’s lyrics have been conversational and straightforward: emotionally incisive, sure, but usually vague enough that you could easily place yourself inside them. On WIMPIII, though, Danielle writes in vivid scenes, pulling you inside her personal depression fog. She blinks awake and finds herself at the wheel of a car; she watches TV and stares at the ceiling; she goes to the boulevard and can’t stop crying. On the stomping country-rock of “I’ve Been Down,” she sings about taping up the windows of her house, adding sardonically, “But I ain’t dead yet. Elsewhere, the sisters cut and paste the most offensive interview questions they’ve faced from music journalists (“Do you make the same faces in bed?”) into a candid folk song that channels the spirit of Joni Mitchell.

Danielle was also inspired by André 3000’s solo album The Love Below, an exploratory record that sewed together disparate genres with uninhibited slapstick humor. While WIMPIII is more theatrical than Haim have been before—there’s the gasp that opens the underwater rock song “Up From a Dream,” the “you up?” voicemail skits on “3 AM”—the most obvious similarity is in the band’s newfound musical fluidity. With signature production touches from Rostam throughout, these songs shift gears, often eschewing Haim’s usual summery rock to find the right genre for the mood, sometimes containing different shades within the same track. “All That Ever Mattered” peppers Danielle’s vocals with distorted screams and a mumbled interjection of “fuck no, before pirouetting away into a glam-rock guitar solo. “3 AM” and “Another Try” flirt with falsetto-driven funk and R&B, and “I Know Alone,” a song about depression-scrolling and sleeping through the day, contains dusty echoes of UK garage.

Not every song feels like a pioneering event. “Don’t Wanna” could have lived on any of Haim’s three albums: a tight pop-rock song built around an irrepressible guitar lick and an oblique story of a relationship in trouble. But their most exciting trips go off the beaten path, like the crystalline sad banger “Now I’m in It”—a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Taylor Swift’s Lover. This may be the first Haim album that steps out of its retro groove long enough to draw parallels with other contemporary pop music, specifically Rechtshaid and Danielle’s recent work with Vampire Weekend. Having long since proven their chops when it comes to writing a breezy 1970s-style rock song, they now sound comfortable enough within their niche to push beyond it.

WIMPIII is bookended by two songs about L.A., both featuring a saxophone and wistful “doot-do-do” backing vocals. On the first, “Los Angeles,” Danielle describes falling out of love with her hometown. But in the final song, “Summer Girl”—while its melody hits a similarly melancholic vein—she interpolates Lou Reed as she sings about the relief of coming home to L.A. from tour to be with her partner. She’s anguished when she sings that she’s “thinking ’bout leaving” the city, but hushed and reverent on a later line when she reflects on how much she misses it: “L.A. on my mind, I can’t breathe.” Placed beside each other, the two songs take on new dimensions. It’s Haim as we haven’t quite heard them before: not just eminently proficient musicians, entertainers, and “women in music,” but full of flaws and contradictions, becoming something much greater.

Fav Tracks: //The Steps/ Up from a Dream/ Gasoline/ Don’t Wanna/ Leaning on you/ Man from the Magazine/ FUBT/ Bonus Tracks- Now I’m in it/ Hallelujah//

Least Fav Tracks- //Another Try//

Women In Music Pt III review

So what did you think Haim’s new album?

Do let me know in the comments!

Album Review: Chromatica – Lady Gaga’s Lukewarm comeback is tamed escapism.

Chromatica; Lady Gaga

Rating – //meh..// (but do listen if you’re a fan)

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Singer, songwriter, record producer, (and also an actress now) Lady Gaga is back with her sixth full-length studio album, a glittery glossy electronic pop record that has been promised to be this big Comeback of sorts for Gaga. While, the album does feel much more grandeur and elaborate in it’s scope, with loud stretched out dance pop routines and lengthy butt-thumping electro-beats, the end result is just a generic and underwhelming record that just feels like a repackaging of the old stuff.

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me

Gaga’s career over the last few years have been a little lackluster. Coming from the pop queen sensation that she became upon her debut, her recent albums have lacked that edge and also the popularity among her fans. The only big hit Gaga has delivered in recent years, is her ‘Star is Born’ soundtrack, a movie which she starred in and earned her multiple Grammy and Oscar nominations, along with her chart topping duet with Bradley Cooper -‘Shallows”. But that was all Ally from the movie singing, it isn’t a Lady Gaga record. So, when Gaga announced this project and with it, her comeback to her glamorous image that she made for herself, fans got excited. And while Lady Gaga sure blasts out all horns here (literally), the result is quite mixed.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

The album was designed and remixed right till its release with even the corona-virus pandemic affecting the direction of the album somewhat, as Gaga revealed herself. But thematically, this album is so out there and it talk about so many different things that it was hard for me follow, and its not like that the things she’s trying to say are some profound new ideas but rather cliches sold as LSD. “Earth is cancelled. I live on Chromatica,” Lady Gaga told Zane Lowe. OK, cool, but what the hell is Chromatica? According to Gaga, it is neither a fantasy nor fictional planet, but a perspective, an opportunity to re-frame pain into positivity. That said, the imagery of Chromatica is undeniably futuristic. The video for “Stupid Love” begins with a post-apocalyptic prologue: “The world rots in conflict. Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica.” Again, big ideas and probably something interesting to explore through music, but when the whole theme of the song is explained in an opening exposition, followed by Gaga dancing with her minions in a short bright-pink dress to uninteresting catchy tunes, it’s hard to take the message seriously. As per traditions, there are tons of Gaga-isms sprinkled around in the album. I don’t mind them, I know that they are purposefully cheesy and I do love me some weird Gaga-ism in between songs, but then again it makes it hard for me to take the ‘big theme’ that she’s trying to convey seriously.

Lady Gaga, Blackpink – Sour Candy

Chromatica is an album that takes Gaga back to her fun pop roots of her early work, and while nothing on here is quite a banger like those early albums, her experience and vulnerability gives this albums the extra edge needed. While Gaga has long represented empowerment in pop, she often acknowledges that healing can be an uphill battle, especially when faced with physical or emotional trauma. Several songs on Chromatica seem to address her ongoing struggles with depression and PTSD. “My biggest enemy is me, ever since day one,” she sings, almost robotically, in the chorus of “911.” “Every single day, I dig a grave/Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave,” she coos on the booming “Replay.” But Gaga loves a triumph-over-hardship narrative, which Chromatica offers on songs like “Rain on Me,” “Plastic Doll,” and “Free Woman.”

Lady Gaga and Blackpink

From a production standpoint, Gaga goes all out on this album – each song has this get-your-ass-on-the-floor beat to it that is very in Gaga’s style. But the production is just way too loud for my taste, with songs that feel like are trying to poke your heart with the bass-thumping choruses. Especially. in the song ‘Stupid Love’ – it was torture to my ears, I recommend you to not listen to that songs with your headphones on. The albums has some big features on it too from her contemporary Ariana Grande, popular South Korean group Blackpink and even Elton John – and for the most part the features are big highlight for this album. I don’t necessarily love the song with Ariana – ‘Rain with Me’ – but the songs with Blackpink and Elton John are two of my favorites here.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

So, while it might not be the dreamy comeback Lady Gaga promised it is sure an improvement from her last few albums. There are good songs in there with decent beats to bob along, and considering the ties we are living – it is the perfect sugary escapism that you might need right. But if you’re a stan, you’re probably gonna like this album anyway, because it essentially takes Gaga back to her pop origins. But, what I’m more interested to see is, how Lady Gaga evolves from here in the future.

Fav Tracks: //Plastic Doll/ Sour Candy (with Blackpink)/ 911/ Sine from Above (with Elton John)//

Least Fav Track: /Stupid Love/

Album Review: Notes on a Conditional Form – The experimental new record from the 1975 is truly an album for our Generation.

Notes on a Conditional Form; the 1975

Rating – “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Notes on a Conditional Form begins, like all other the 1975 albums, with a track named ‘The 1975′ which samples audio from a Greta Thunberg speech. Greta talks in her melancholic voice about climate change and the human species’ losing battle with nature, as a really sombre piano piece is played in background. She urges people to perform civil disobedience and rebel against any sorts of politics that is keeping us from bringing about a change. But there lies the irony. You see, the 1975 are often criticised in the rock and roll music community for not being “rebellious” or “edgy” enough for an alternative/indie rock band. They are typically known to make clean synthesized ‘white girl’ music for teenagers with Matty Healy’s charming laid back observations of modern relationships. While, I don’t agree with those accusations, if you’re someone who believes them – you’re in for a surprise.

THE 1975 – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Notes on a Conditional Form is not your typical the 1975 album. Like I said earlier, they make it very clear right from the very first track that they are trying to explore something deeper on this And the theme they are trying to explore is our generation’s modern life and struggles. Matty says the reason Greta’s speech was sampled into the album was because they wanted to give her some sort of pop culture relevance for being the voice of our generation’s eco friendly demands. The theme is nothing new The 1975 though, their last album ‘A brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ dealt with similar themes. In fact ‘Notes on a Conditional Form ‘ is a sequel to that album, in their third release cycle “Music for Cars”. Originally supposed to come only months after the first album, the production of the album got delayed and after a long recording sessions in 16 different studios, the album has has finally arrived more than a year after it’s initial release date. But that long stretched production has given this album a sound you couldn’t have imagined otherwise. This with out a doubt, the most experimental the 1975 has ever been. From hypno rock to elctro-dance pop and even heavy metal, this album is mixture of sounds from variety of genre – all distorted but still connected to form a really meaningful experience. I completed listening to the album and instantly went back again. The album consists of these very ambitious àmbient music that is really exceptional all guided by the 1975’s classic books to lift them up. Also there a a couple of alternative post rock tracks sprinkled in this record, and those were just some of the best listening experiences I have had this year.

the 1975 – Guys – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Matty’s laid back vocals with his observational song writing are still here on this album, but it’s much more introspective here. You can surely break them apart individually and find beautiful meaning in them. Matty said in an interview that the genesis of this album came from a time he watching watching Netflix alone in his room and immediately wanted more episodes as soon as the season ended. While that might not be a good analogy to explain the theme of this album, the theme of isolation runs throughout it. But the band’s secret weapon remains drummer and producer George Daniel, who has grown increasingly adept at matching Healy’s every whim as a songwriter. It’s easy to take for granted by now that, no matter what style the 1975 attempt, it will at least sound great. A slapstick country-emo travelogue? Go for it. A shoegaze snippet with Auto-Tuned ad-libs? Why not. A lush, futuristic Americana story-song? Fetch the pedal steel.

From a production stand point this is their most ambitious and intricate work yet. If the lyrics don’t tell a story, the music is telling an unified story in itself with its strange transition and sudden blows. The music packs a punch, you don’t know what to expect next as the 1975 change from one song to another. Which is ultimately my one gripe with this album, due so many unique sonic directions sometimes it feels lost and unmotivated. The songs don’t flow into each other naturally. But the tracks are finally bound together by a deep sense of isolation, which makes them great individually. For all its sonic experiments, Notes is filled with these quiet, self-affirming moments. If the 1975’s early work felt like pop music compulsively interrupted with provocations and footnotes, then Notes takes an inverse approach: It is a long, messy experiment that just so happens to peak with some of their sharpest songs. Yes, they have expressed some of these thoughts more succinctly in the past; and yes, the tracklist could be condensed so that you don’t have to clear your schedule to get through it. But when everything clicks, their work has never sounded so patient, so personal. And in the last song of album ‘Guys’, where it Matty sings about their early days and friendship among the band mates, all the societal and personal themes come together to form one beautiful mess.

In all of it’s experimentation and observational lyricism, Notes on a Conditional Form is truly an album for our Generation- with all the perils of of our times. In the song –  “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know),” a late-album highlight and their highest-charting single to date in the UK. Evolving from a slow-building intro into a mechanical chug, it is the record’s closest thing to a typical 1975 song—a glittery ’80s arrangement, a ridiculous saxophone solo, a charmingly sleazy hook. Matty sings about his obsession with the cam girl of his dreams – how he’s drawn towards the laptop every time and seduced into the screen by a girl he can’t meet. “I need to get back, I gotta see the girl on screen” Matty sings with bravado, and you’re left wondering if this is what the meaning of love and connection has come to in our digital age.

Fav Tracks – //The 1975/People/Frail State of Mind/Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America/ Straming/ Roadkill/ The End (Music for Cars)/ If you’re too shy (let me know)/ Having no Head/Me and you together songs/ I think there’s something you should know/ Don’t Worry/ Guys//

Least Fav Track – Shiny Collarbone

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jason Sheldon/Shutterstock (10567289o) The 1975 – Matty Healy The 1975 in concert at the Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, UK – 25 Feb 2020

You can listen to Notes on a Conditional Form by the 1975 here – https://open.spotify.com/album/0o5xjCboti8vXhdoUG9LYi?si=crfp7HfXSG2iCRoJ6ZuhFA