Tag Archives: Pop

Reminder to Breathe

Finals are over!! It’s finally summer!! I should not be as stressed out as I am right now!! Regardless, it was super convenient that I took entertainment reporting and writing with the one and only Holly Gleason this semester, so I have a record review written for you already — and bonus: it’s been graded.

Album: Lungs
Artist: Florence + The Machine


Atmospheric might be one adjective you could use to describe Florence + The Machine’s debut; forceful, another. Frontwoman Florence Welch shows her fantastical side on Lungs, and she has enough talent to make it worth listening to. Her fantasy worlds create floating sensations, but her voice keeps listeners grounded as she sings about death, violence, and lonliness.

Though other female artists of her caliber prefer heavier sounds — Amy likes horns, Adele is partial to piano — Welch prefers harps, chimes and bells. The airiness found on Lungs could easily pull listeners out to a darker version of Neverland with Peter Pan, but use of heavy drums and Florence’s pipes keeps her audience on the ground wishing instead.

Lofty though the album may be, Welch’s lyrics tend to tell twisted stories. The Jack-White-esque single “Kiss With A Fist” is a stand out sonically, but it sets the lyrical tone. It seems easygoing enough, but lines like “A kick in the teeth is good for some, but a kiss with a fist is better than none,” make light of a tumultuous relationship as an angry Florence sings about mutual domestic violence.

The morose “Girl With One Eye” is an even better example. The track, the majority of which is comprised with a lone, echoing electric, deep drums and cymbal work, hovers above listeners as Welch slurs about cutting out some bitch’s eye for pissing her off.

Musically lighter tracks like “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” provide the perfect gust of wind to sustain wishful flight, though. Sleigh bells accompany light piano to open the track, and a harp joins in at the chorus to complete the atmospheric feel. In “My Boy Builds Coffins,” Welch crafts a dark story that brings listeners to a faraway fantasy world, while the band’s use of rolling guitar riffs, light harp runs and airy cymbal work creates the scenery.

Welch’s stories wouldn’t be so captivating if not for her voice, but that’s something Welch knows. The effect found on Lungs isn’t something many bands can craft successfully, but Florence + The Machine play to their strengths to create a strong debut.

Honorable Mentions: Dog Days Are Over, Howl, My Boy Builds Coffins, Hurricane Drunk


Interview Series: Will Carpenter on Ships Have Sailed and the Upcoming Year

I love how social media connects people with similar interests. If there’s one thing we can thank it for, it’s that right there. It’s especially great for music. There have been so many bands I’ve discovered lately just because of social media.

One of these bands is called Ships Have Sailed.

Ships Have Sailed is an indie pop duo based out of L.A. I’d liken them to Snow Patrol meets Walk The Moon. They’ve got an upbeat sound and a really positive outlook for their project, which while not unusual, is still very refreshing.

The official duo themselves consists of Will Carpenter on vocals and guitar and Dan Hange on bass. They’ve had a few lineup fluctuations since the project started, but currently they are touring with a drummer named Art Andranikyan.

The band’s initial release was an EP titled Someday, and their full length album Moodswings was released in March 2015. They’ve picked up a lot of steam on social media recently and their fans can be found in L.A. to Australia and everywhere in between. Not to mention, they’ve been making waves in the festival scene, playing South by Southwest in Texas, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, an CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. They really are very passionate about the project, which was evident when I spoke with Will Carpenter about his music, the band, and their ambitions for 2016.


Maddie: Well just to start, can you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Will: Yeah, my name is Will and I front an indie pop project from L.A. called Ships Have Sailed. I sing, play guitar, do our songwriting, do our production. We’re just building our following, making some music, having a good time.

Can you tell me a little about your band mates as well?

W: Yeah, absolutely. So as a permanent fixture, it’s just myself and our bass player Dan, who’s been a good friend of mine for a really long time. Dan plays bass; he also sings backing vocals live. And in addition to that, when we play live, we also play with another very good friend of ours, Art Andranikyan, who is a session drummer. We started playing with him earlier this year and we’re just letting that relationship develop naturally. We don’t want to pressure anybody into becoming a full time member but we love playing with him. He’s a great guy, great friend, and super super talented.

Great! Can you tell me how Ships Have Sailed got its start?

W: It might be a little bit of a long story, but I’ll try to condense it a little bit — CliffNotes version. Basically, Dan and I were in another band, and it was a rock/hip hop project. Very very specific genre wise, and I’ve always been a songwriter. I’ve written in all sorts of different styles of music all my life. So I found myself with a growing group of songs that were not a fit for the current project, and I also didn’t want to let them go. I didn’t want to shelf them, I didn’t want to pitch them for other artists. I kinda wanted to sing them myself. So I just started some preproduction in my home studio and Dan was one of the first people that I called over, and showed him the rough sketch outlines of the songs to gauge his reaction and his reaction was basically, ‘Okay, cool, they sound great. What are we gonna call it?’ And so that was pretty much it — that was the start of it.

Let’s talk about the Someday EP for a minute. What kind of attention did it get when you first released it?

W: So my goal with the Someday EP was really just to put some songs together — obviously there was another motive for me, I just really connected the songs and I really just wanted to do them and get them out there into the world — and it was just kind of like, ‘Okay, let’s see how this does. Let’s see who likes it, who doesn’t, let’s see if somebody hates it. Let’s just see how people react.’ And I was really pleasantly surprised to find the reaction was really, really positive overall. From there, we started noticing that our social following was growing. Honestly, at the time we hadn’t even played a live show yet, so we put this together, worked on the production, got it out there, and we started getting fans on Twitter and Facebook and whatever. Journalists started taking notice and reviewing the EP and we started selling a few units. It was a really nice surprise and it kind of pushed us into the next phase of the project, which was ‘Alright, well we need to be able to translate this to the stage, so that if people come out and see us it doesn’t seem like it’s our first day.’

So what was your inspiration for the material on the EP? I’ve listened to both the EP and the album and I feel like the EP is a little bit different.

W: The EP kinda does have a theme to it. I feel like at the time I was sensing an oncoming transition in life, and I was kinda speaking to that and the different types of conflicting emotions that come along with a transition — any transition, good or bad. Even a good transition can be scary. It can be nerve wrenching and whatever. So even if it’s the best type of transition, you’ll have some negative feelings that go along with that because it’s a change and a lot of people don’t really do all that well with change all the time. So I feel like the EP was sensing that coming before it really even happened. Like a premonition almost.

Well how would you say your actual, physical sound has changed between the two?

W: Honestly, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I’m working a lot more on my production. Moodswings — I’m 100 percent happy with how that record turned out. If I was able to go back in time, and recreate Someday, I probably would have done some things differently. With Moodswings, it’s exactly how I envisioned it. That’s the big difference. When you really invest the time to hone your craft, that’s when you start being able to execute things exactly the way you want and not having to compromise. I guess from a short perspective, I would say that the difference between tMoodswingshe two sonically is that Someday is a little bit more rough around the edges and Moodswings is a lot more polished. But that being said, I think that that was an organic progression where we just honed in a little bit more on the direction we wanted to go creatively, and really spent the time to beef up our production chops. I think that is the distinguishing difference between those two records from a sonic perspective.

Who would you say are your musical influences? Who did you listen to growing up?

W: This is an interesting question and I feel like I have to give a different answer every single time because both Dan and I have really, really wide musical tastes. Everything from classical and jazz all the way through to melodic death metal and everything in between. Classic rock, The Beatles, 90s grunge, the poppier side of 90s music to a certain extent, and then moving through into the 2000s, theres a lot of really really great emerging artists right now. Some of my favorites on kind of the less huge monumental side, some of the ones that are emerging that I really like are Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, who just came out with his debut EP this year, and then CHVRCHES have been around a little bit longer.


W: Yeah, so it’s a really good time for music right now. So, I don’t like to give the same answer to that question because we have so many influences, it’s an easy one that I can just give a different answer every time and it’s always truthful because we like a huge span of art over time, over decades, and genres. That’s the cool thing about being musicians is that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into listening to one thing or playing one thing. If you like it and if it sounds good, then you like it and it sounds good.

Well let’s move on and talk about where you guys have been playing. If my readers wanted to see you live, where could they go? What kind of shows are you playing?

W: Again, we are doing this on the indie track right now, so we book our own shows… The one thing that we did notice over the past year, trying to get out and about nationally, it really made it difficult for us to focus on studio work. And so I think this coming year we may actually — I don’t want to say the word hiatus, because that’s not exactly what this is — but I think we may be focusing a little bit more on some local shows and really getting back into writing and creating some more music because one of the things about your following starting on the internet is that your fans are everywhere.  And litShips Have Sailed 2erally for us now it’s impossible for us to get everywhere that our fans are. It would just be physically impossible. So Dan and I have been talking about this a lot because we really do value the people that value our music and we don’t want to say that we’re not gonna play live if festival opportunities come up and the numbers make sense and the logistics makes sense we definitely will travel for those. But we also don’t want to short sell the folks that are across the world and waiting for us to release new music. So we’re trying to figure out the balance for that and I think 2016 is going to be a little bit lighter on the live shows and especially the ones that we have to travel for, and a little bit heavier on getting back into the studio, writing some new music, releasing some new music, maybe doing some online live performances.


“We’ve been trying  very, very hard to figure out the balance between being out on the road and being able to be productive in the studio.”


What has been the biggest challenge the project has faced so far?

W: Honestly I think I just touched on that. We’ve been trying very, very hard to figure out the balance between being out on the road and being able to be productive in the studio. And so it’s an ongoing challenge and I would say that’s the biggest one to date. And then obviously lineup changes and that type of thing. That’s always a little bit of the struggle as well. But I think that’s more of a typical challenge whereas this challenge of balance is an interesting one. It’s a new one for me specifically, so it’s been interesting trying to find a solution for that.

But your single “If Only” has seemed to have attracted a lot of attention worldwide. Last time I researched you back in October, there wasn’t nearly as much out about you guys but now it just seems like you’ve taken off!

W: Yeah, I mean we have to be really thankful about that and I think it comes down to songwriting at it’s very basic form. Like if you can write a song that connects with people on an emotional level, that’s what you’re looking for. That’s what — as an artist — that’s what we’re all looking for. We’re looking to connect to people on that emotional level and we’re looking to speak our own feelings the way other people kind of feel their own feelings, if that makes sense. And so yeah we’re really fortunate that so many people have been connecting with “If Only.” And actually a lot of the other tracks on Moodswings as well. But you’re right, “If Only” definitely is the standout, has the most streams on Spotify, et cetera. We’re really thankful for that.

Have you noticed the pick up in attention or has it been more gradual?

W: Honestly within the past few months there’s been a really noticeable uptick. Up until that it’s been very gradual. When you’re looking at this stuff everyday, it’s kind of like — so I used to go to the gym a lot in college. And I’ve always been rail thin and really, really it’s hard for me to put on weight. I was always the scrawny kid in high school and so in college I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna put on some muscle.’ And so I went and I started working out every single day. And when you’re working out every single day, regardless of how you try to see the change from a day to day basis, you never see it. It’s only when you look at a photo of yourself from like six months ago and compare it side by side with a photo of today that you’ll notice that difference and it will be a huge difference, but day to day you won’t notice it — and that’s kind of how it’s been for the past couple of years. It’s been a really slow, steady build, which I think organically that’s you want. From a day to day perspective it hasn’t been as noticeable until the past three months and then we really have been noticing our numbers on social media going up and it’s been really a pleasure to see.


“Sometimes it’s all about the energy and the vibe that you can create in the room and it doesn’t matter if there’s 20,000 people in that room or 20.”


Well what has been the best experience you’ve had since you started Ships Have Sailed?

W: It’s a two part answer: …We made it up to Canadian Music Week this year, which is a really big deal and was a great conference. That being said, our showcase ended up being at exactly the same time as the Death Cab for Cutie show, so that’s a little bit of a hard act to compete with. We wound up with maybe about 20 people in the crowd at our show. As an artist going onto a stage in a room that can hold like 200 people, and seeing 20 people in the crowd, it’s not always the best thing for your ego, let’s just say. But at the same time, you have to go up there. Every single one of those people is just as important as if there were 200 in the room. That’s always been my take on the matter. So we got up there and we played an incredible show and towards the end — we have a song called “Summertime”… — we started playing it and the chorus hit and everybody in the room came up to the stage and started dancing with us. It was just so incredible and it just goes to show that numbers really aren’t always everything. Sometimes it’s all about the energy and the vibe that you can create in the room and it doesn’t matter if there’s 20,000 people in that room or 20. If you’re all having good time and you’re playing a good show and they’re enjoying what you’re doing, that is what it’s all about.

Exactly. Well, just a few more questions to wrap up. How have your attitudes about the band changed since you started?

W: It’s interesting. I think the biggest struggle for me in that area is managing my own expectations. Because at first, this was really just like hey I want to put these songs together and I’m just going to throw them out into the air and then see if anybody likes them and see how people feel. And there’s not a whole lot of expectation that goes along with that. Then once people start to react, then you’re like, ‘Oh, this is going somewhere,” and then you get swept away into these expectations around goals and milestones and what you should be doing. You know that can be dangerous. It’s a little bit — it’s easier to get disappointed that way, it’s easier to feel a level of frustration about the project. I guess what I’m trying to do over the course of how this project has developed, is manage that feeling of expectations, and just let myself — I mean it’s ok to have some expectations and it’s ok have goals — but it started out as purely about the music and so over time I feel those expectations getting heavier than maybe they should, I just try to remind myself that it really is about the music… To me I guess it’s less about how the attitude has changed; it’s more about trying to make sure it doesn’t change too much, if that makes sense.

So you’re starting work on another EP correct?

W: Yeah.

Any idea when we can expect that?

W: Again, a tough questions because I don’t want to set expectations… Internally we had some milestones we wanted to hit for this EP, and we are woefully behind, I’ll just tell you. Myself, I wanted the EP to be basically production all done by now so that we could release it in February, but that unfortunately is not a reality at this point. And it has a little bit to do with the amount we traveled for live performances last year… But definitely, I would say safely sometime in the first half of 2016.

Alright, last question: where do you think you’ll be this time next year?

W: Okay, well you know that thing that [Facebook] started doing where they show you your memories and it’s sometimes a little weird and and little awkward and you’re like, ‘Holy crap, that was only 12 months ago!” and now life is totally different. Ya know what I mean? So I am nervous to predict where I’ll be in a year but what I can say is that I will still be making music in twelve months from now. I’m not looking to stop. There’s no clock on this project. It’s not like, ‘Okay if we don’t sell a million records by 2017 we’re done.’ That’s not what we’re about. While selling a million records would be amazing, it’s not our primary goal. We’re here for the music and we love what we’re doing. We have no intention of stopping. We’ll still be releasing music and annoying our fans online twelve months from now, guaranteed.


Ships Have Sailed can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Will is great about interacting with his fans!

They also have their own website in which you can sign up for their mailing list if you’d like to stay updated about the band’s upcoming projects.

Be sure to check out the band on iTunes and Spotify!

*All photos were pulled from Ships Have Sailed Facebook page. They do not belong to me.


Sometimes First Is Best

Yeah yeah yeah. I missed Wednesday. I’d ask if I should officially make it Saturday, but hey I missed that too. But you know what? Yesterday was stressful and the Oscars are today so I gotta get this off my chest before I kick my sisters ass in guessing who gets the awards. Who am I kidding? She’s gonna beat me like she always does.

Point is, I’m pulling out an old favorite this week.

Album: Songs About Jane                                                     Artist: Maroon 5


Ok, so if you know me, you know how I feel about Maroon 5. I’ll try not to say anything too mean here, but basically everything they’ve put out since It Won’t Be Soon Before Long has NOT been up to par. And by that I mean they sold out (What? Who said that?). Generally I try not to accuse artists of “selling out” because it get’s thrown out too often any time a band — dare I say it? — changes their sound. Just because a band decides to experiment a little does not by any means mean that they’ve completely forsaken anything they’ve ever believed in to make a little cash.

But Maroon 5…. well I guess they just disappointed me.

Songs About Jane was Maroon 5’s debut album, and boy was it good. Released in late June of 2002, the album climbed it’s way into the top sellers in basically about a million and a half countries. With good reason.

Sputnik Music’s (let’s be honest, I don’t know what his name is but his profile is here) summed up my feelings about the album pretty nicely when he said he had never loved/hated an album so much. It’s a great album, even if I sort of despise the band who put it out.

The thing about music is it’s always changing, and there are always a few key artists who influence those changes more than others. I am 100% willing to argue that Maroon 5 was one of these artists (for better or for worse) when they put out Songs About Jane. I mean, this was the early 2000s, and this album managed to capture that late 90s transition sound while completely bringing in something new. This is what early 2000s pop was meant to be.

I think one of the important things about Songs About Jane is that it is far less produced than any of Maroon 5’s other albums. Even It Won’t Be Soon Before Long was starting to border on over-produced. Adam Levine’s voice is much less annoying on this album. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it isn’t annoying at all. Sure, it’s the same voice, but it’s darker and more honest on Songs About Jane — and his voice isn’t the only thing that’s different. I think what I like most about this album is that it IS a pop album, but for the love of all that is good and holy you can hear real instruments. I mean, I’m not denying they don’t exist on any of the band’s newer stuff, but let’s be honest here: James Valentine is a very talented guitarist and you would never know it if you didn’t listen to this album!

The sound on this album pulls from all kinds of influences — there is so much variety here! From the somewhat Stevie Wonder influenced “The Sun” to Michael Jackson-esque vocals to the alt-meets-funk rock of “Not Coming Home.” It’s all there.

And really, it’s hard to hate this album while Levine croons dark and twisty love songs at you from your computer speakers. The lyrical content on this album ranges from the sultry “Shiver” to the upbeat yet cynical “This Love.” And not to mention the slow honesty found in “She Will Be Loved.” I’m not saying the lyrics on this album are going to go down in history as the most beautiful words ever written, but hey. They aren’t bad for such a cliché.

So, there you have it. My absolute favorite most hated album. Until Maroon 5 admits to secretly loving this album and starts writing it’s equivalent, my personal vendetta will continue. And this album will be playing on full blast.

Thoughts? Share here, Facebook, or twitter! Until next week, keep listening! And because posting YouTube videos is extremely fun, watch Adam Levine and Jimmy Fallon have some fun!

**Side Note: If you watch The Voice (which I don’t, but I’ve seen a few episodes) or ever seen Adam Levine in an interview, it’s really hard to hate the guy, which only strengthens my inner Maroon 5 conflict…

***Also, Sputnik Article referenced above is here

The Experience: Part 2

How perfect is it that my first update day is exactly a week into January? I love it when things work out. This week, I bring you the JT post I’ve been promising for forever and a day, and it’s probably gonna be sub par but whatever.

Album: The 20/20 Experience (Part 2)                                    Artist: Justin Timberlake


So let’s start off with a recap. The 20/20 Experience (Part 1) was JT’s third album, and it came a long while after his second. It received generally favorable reviews (and rightly so) and it had some wonderful songs on it (i.e. “Suit and Tie”). Well, apparently Part 1 wasn’t enough, because only months later, Part 2 was on the market.

Undoubtedly both parts are very similar; Timberlake manages to keep his experimental sound in Part 2, though if you listen back to back there are some pretty distinct differences in the albums ranging from overall beats to lyrics to emotions. According to critics, Part 2 wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor. Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork called it an “unwarranted glut” and claims that it “points to a much more stunted spectrum of creativity” (Find his review here!).


Imagine how people who didn’t like Part 1 felt. Personally, and this could totally be my naturally pessimistic personality, I like Part 2. Admittedly, it’s probably a little more offensive than its senior, but it’s also a little more angry (which is what I like). Even though Dombal thinks that anger doesn’t really fit JT, I disagree. If you go back to some of his older work, you can hear that same aggression in “What Goes Around Comes Around,” except it’s a little more angsty there. Regardless, I don’t think that The 20/20 Experience (Part 2) is just an album you can write off.

Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone seems to agree. He gave the album 3 and 1/2 stars out of five, but he seems to appreciate the overall work more than Dombal (his review is here).

But what do I have to say about the album?

I think the album originally won me over with “Only When I Walk Away,” a track that Dolan obviously appreciated as well. It’s seven minutes of a rolling guitar riff reminiscent of the 70s (think Led Zepp) and some heavy (and somewhat angry) beats provided by Timbaland. Admittedly, the laser show that JT performs the song with helped the track’s cause. Or maybe it was “Drink You Away” that originally hooked me. This song is distinctly different not only from the rest of the album, but JT’s work in general. The track merges Timberlake’s hip/hop roots with some obvious country influences. It’s much better than country music in my opinion, but obviously Timberlake is very familiar with his Tennessee beginnings.

The album also features some guest spots from not only Jay-Z (who was on Part 1 as well), but also Drake. Neither feature disappoints, though I don’t claim to know anything about rap music so maybe it does. Who knows?

Ultimately, the winning track is hand’s down “Amnesia” (in my opinion, at least). The opening string arrangement sets a wonderful start and it’s continued throughout the song. It’s lofty enough to capture the whimsicality of the album and impressive enough to leave the listener wanting just a little more.

Now, the album admittedly has a few busts, if you will. “True Blood,” while certainly interesting, just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s kinda fun but sorta weird and I could do without the howling. But hey, to each their own I guess. And, with regards to the singles, my feelings remain the same as they did for Part 1. They just aren’t the best the album has to offer. But they’re catchy, which is probably why they were chosen for the radio (I had to jab at it just once).

If I had to pick? Unlike most critics I think I’d pick Part 2. While I enjoy Part 1 and think the album was overall more innovative, Part 2 is just more listenable. I’m surprised that Pages just told me the “listenable” was a word. But my point is, despite the fact that Part 2 also continues the seven minute song trend, I think it just flows a little better. It’s a little more exciting. Sue me.

How was that for a post? Not only did I actually write about an album, but it was much better than my Part 1 post (but that isn’t saying much). Find that here.

Thoughts? Leave them here, Facebook, or twitter! And as always, keep listening!

2014, It’s Been a Good Run

Well, here we are! It’s the end of 2014, and so starts another year. I’ll admit, I’m very proud of myself for making it this far with the blog. I honestly didn’t expect to find myself still blogging at this point. With that being said though, I would like to take a moment to talk about some changes for 2015!

This year, I’m going to be a full-time student, teaching swim lessons twice a week or maybe more, and training for a triathlon. My weeks might be getting pretty busy from this point forward and I MIGHT end up switching my update day — just a heads up so you can watch for that. I also have made some changes to my page. I’m really going to try to post a playlist on the sidebar at some point.

But I also want to talk about 2014 (I was going to update on Christmas Eve, but we had no internet *surprise surprise*, so I think a New Year’s post is appropriate).

In 2014, I went to a total of thirteen concerts. Not bad, if I do say so myself. That comes out to about one a month (which Alexandra and I were totally doing for almost six months). But which concert was the best? Here is my definitive ranking of the top 5:

5) Frank Turner


So, I sort of had a hard time with this one. I was going to say The 1975, because it was totally sick and Matty Healy is Matty Healy and I’m not afraid to fangirl about it, but then I remembered White Arrows/The NBHD. That was just an amazing show. The energy at that show was amazing and I discovered a really awesome band called White Arrows. But then I remembered Frank Turner. I was going to go with The NBHD anyway, but I ultimately decided on Frank Turner for one reason: he really cares.

Frank Turner 2At one point in the show there were a few kids who wouldn’t leave him alone or start heckling and he went off and had them thrown out. Ultimately, it kind of seems like a jackass move (sorry for the sketchy language, Mrs. Clupper), but after the show it almost seemed like he felt bad about it. But in the moment, he wanted to share his thoughts and his feelings that he pours into his music with the audience and these kids weren’t very respectful of that. Also, at the end, during “Four Simple Words,” he brought three kids from the audience on to the stage and gave them tambourines. So yeah, Turner wins.


4) Local Natives

Local Natives 1 Local Natives 2






I have no words. I wish I had words. But I don’t. I still can’t listen to Local Natives without being overcome with PCD. The emotion and excitement of the concert are still so alive, and I saw them in April. I mean, forget about that group of kids that stood in a circle at the front and talked the entire time. The rest of us were so involved in the music and the atmosphere and the lights and the emotion. It went from upbeat to slow and emotional to excited and everything in between. I highly recommend.


3) DMB (That’s Dave Matthews Band for anyone not in the loop)

This picture 100% belongs to the band's instagram page.... I was WAY too far away.
This picture 100% belongs to the band’s instagram page…. I was WAY too far away.

DMB will always make the list. They can go out there and not sing a single word and still make the list. The music is what matters at a Dave show. You make so many friends, and Dave fans are pretty die-hard. Dave shows unite thousands of people, the music is always good, you can dance like no one is watching, and the energy of the band really translates to the crowd. There’s nothing like yelling “YEAH” at the top of your lungs during “#41” with hundreds of other people. So really. Even if it isn’t a good show, it’s a great show. Everyone who can go see DMB should go see DMB.




2) JT

JT1JT2 JT3Honestly, I haven’t been to a show like JT’s before. Like, holy crap does this guy have talent. And the setup — I mean the stage FREAKING MOVED. I don’t even want to know how much that costs. Regardless, it’s really refreshing to see a pop artists with real instruments to accompany him. Plus, he brought out Garth Brooks at our show so we were basically winning as an audience. Would I go again? Probably. Could I afford it? Hell no.






1) Fleetwood Mac


I saved the best for last. I truly mean it was the best. You know how you see these bands that were super cool in the 70s and 80s, but now they’re just sad and they should probably stop (*cough*KISS*cough*)? Fleetwood Mac is not one of those bands. They haven’t lost anything. And let me tell you, Christine McVie KILLED it. Like, she sounds exactly like she did in the 70s. It’s amazing. And despite the fact that Lindsey Buckingham takes himself way too seriously, he’s super talented. They all are. I won’t even lie about it, I totally cried when they came out and started playing. I have nFM1ever been so overwhelmed by greatness. I have never been in the same room with such greatness. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I’m seriously considering going by myself to the show in Knoxville, despite the fact that it will more than likely empty my checking account. It was that good.



So there you have it. These were my top five, and if you get the chance to see them, I highly recommend it. What were your top five concerts on 2014? Let me know in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Twitter! You can also follow me at @notreallyindie on Twitter for updates on the music scene!

As always, keep listening 🙂

Also, if the picture placement is odd, I apologize.

70s? Try 80s.

Wow. Long time no see, or rather read. Or write. Whatever it is. I know I promised The 1975 last week. I also know I went AWOL. You see, there’s a story behind that. Once upon a time, a girl started her first semester in college, and one of her professors assigned three things that she had all semester to do. So naturally, she waited until the day before they were due to start/finish them. That day was last Wednesday. In my defense, one of them was about The 1975 concert, so I kinda wrote my blog without actually writing my blog.

I also know that I promised some other music for this week. It will be coming Saturday. I’m setting big goals for myself. After crushing my finals in a frenzy of stress, caffeine, and last-minute-study regrets that involved very little sleep, I’m ready to return to the blogosphere with a new and improved vigor. Ha. Just kidding. I’m still waiting until the last minute to write these. Onto the music:

Album: The 1975                                                                            Artist: The 1975

The 1975

Almost every review I’ve read (and granted — it was only two that I read start to finish) began with a touching story of a band called something or other that was just about to make it before they fell off the face of the earth. That band was The 1975. I’ll give you the shortened version: The 1975 has gone through like a million and a half band names. Their latest (before The 1975, obviously) was just about to make it with their EP single “Sex,” and then they suddenly disappeared and the accompanying video was removed from the internet. Later, they reappeared as The 1975 and released a few EPs before finally releasing their debut album, The 1975, in September of 2013.

There — now you’re caught up. The 1975 was a pretty ambitious debut. Most bands don’t start with 16 songs on their first album. Of course, several of these songs were released on a few EPs before the album, but they were all revamped during the recording of the album. Now, in my opinion, this is one of those bands that you’ll either fall in love with, or blow off after one listen. To be honest, I was almost in the latter category, but Alexandra’s a little obsessed and thanks to the song “The City” I didn’t blow them off. Not to say that I didn’t think they were good, but they were just… unexpected.

Unexpected sounds like a bad word. It’s got a negative connotation. I guess what I meant is that I expected them to be darker, for lack of a better word. They film a lot of their videos in black in white. A lot of their pictures are in black and white. They wear leather jackets and have cool haircuts. Brit pop was literally the last thing I was expecting. But seriously, it’s like Duran Duran meets The Arctic Monkeys but Matty Healy’s accent is like Alex Turner’s on crack and the 80s sound is that of Boy George. Ok, maybe not that bad. But back to the accent — I actually had to google some lyrics for once, and it was an odd experience because let me tell you: the lyrics I made up did NOT match the ones on the page.

But before I talk about the actual music I want to talk about what other critics had to say. Some critics loved it. In fact, Ryan Gardner of absolutepunk.net called the album “timeless already” and gave it a 9.5. I mean, I liked it. But a 9.5? That leaves no room for improvement! On the other end, some hated it. Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone gave it 2/5 five stars and said that “The 1975 could use some enunciation lessons and an editor.” Harsh, really. I guess it’s not as bad as 1/5, though. (Links to reviews are at the bottom of the post).

I guess if you were to ask me, I’d fall somewhere in the middle but on the more positive end. I think I’ll go with a 7. Here’s why:

I’ll start with the good things about The 1975. For one, the band was incredibly ambitious and I think it definitely payed off. I think the album manages to keep it’s audiences attention despite the length, because their straight up 80s beats are incredibly catchy and make you want to dance in odd ways and Matty’s voice is wonderful. Yeah that’s right. I’m going to fangirl a little and call him Matty.

Secondly, I think Healy’s writing is pretty clever. Admittedly I can’t say it about all of the lyrics found on The 1975, but I would go with about 80%. The lyrical content mostly focuses on sex, drugs, and depression, but The 1975 knows exactly who they are. In “So Far (It’s Alright)” Healy sings “You just write about sex and killing yourself and how you hardly ever went to school.” I think it’s exactly what the band is going for though. A lot of their songs came out of their formative years and they’re very honest about where they came from and what they were doing back then.

I also think that the band is at it’s strongest when it goes for the more upbeat. Don’t get me wrong here, I love “Robbers” and other slower songs on the album. They’ve got a lot of emotion that I think is lacking from most music you hear today, but tracks like “Chocolate,” “Girls,” “Heart Out,” and “Sex” (among a million others I could keep naming) are where they seem the most comfortable.

But for as catchy and wonderful as this album is, there are some cons. Like I mentioned earlier, I think we can expect more from this band. The overall sound of the album doesn’t change much. For the longest time, in my head I would merge “Heart Out” and “Settle Down” in my head and realizing they weren’t in the same song was one of those earth-shattering moments. And that’s my point I guess — they all kind of run together (with a few exceptions of course). I also think that Healy has room to grow as a song writer, not that he isn’t doing a great job already. I admire their ambition and I’m excited to hear what comes next.

Until Saturday, keep listening peeps. Sorry I’ve been gone for so long 🙂

Honorable Song Mentions: It’s all good. I guess if I had to pick some, I’d go with The City, Sex, Girls, She Way Out, and Robbers (but only AFTER you’ve seen the music video — it’s sad).


I Love Pop/Wait What?

Sometimes I think I should move my update day to Thursday. But because I’m me I know that won’t work because then I’ll just start updating on Friday. So alas, Wednesday it stays. And by Wednesday hopefully you all realize I actually mean Thursday.

Album: FutureSex/LoveSounds                                                   Artist: The one and only JT


I choose F/L for several reasons this week. 1) I’m seeing Justin Timberlake in December and I have to gear up, 2) I watched Friends With Benefits last weekend and so I was feeling some JT this week, and 3) I actually really love this album and I’m saving 20/20 part two for December.

So I’ve mentioned before how much I love JT and how willing I am to jump on the bandwagon. So let’s elaborate on that, because most of you know how I generally feel about pop music:

FutureSex/LoveSounds dropped in 2006, four years after JT’s solo debut Justified. Timbaland once again produced the album (with the exception of “(Another Song) All Over Again” which was produced by one of my favorite producers Rick Rubin) and this album seriously revolutionized pop in the mid 2000s. In fact, the album was created with that idea in mind. You see, JT decided to record another album once he realized the “sad state” of pop music. That information was taken from Wikipedia so I can’t certify it’s accuracy, but Wikipedia hasn’t failed me yet so I’m rolling with it. Anyway, this “let’s fix the genre” attitude is part of why I love JT. Justin Timberlake always releases something with the idea of art in mind — not just going with what sells. It’s about the music, not about the money. And if I’m wrong, please let me just believe I’m right because I want to love JT.

F/L was really unique in the mid 2000s. It not only features several other artists, such as will.i.am, T.I., and The Benjamin Wright Orchestra, but it also pulled influence from my favorite genre: rock. Yeah, you heard me. David Bowie, The Killers, Radiohead. And not to mention the other obvious influences like Prince, Stevie Wonder, and The King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

But what about the influence the album itself had? Well for one, F/L really impacted not only Timberlake’s career but also Timbaland’s. Think back for a second: remember how many artists Timbaland produced back in the mid 2000s? This album is why. I mean just think about how many artists were influenced by Timberlake and Timbaland’s sound — there’s Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” Timbaland’s own “The Way I Are,” (admittedly my jam), and of course “Apologize,” OneRepublic’s hit single that Timbaland remixed and was played on the radio for literally forever and a year. I mean, these songs kinda defined the era. At least, that’s how I remember it. I was in like the fifth grade so maybe my memory is skewed. Except, wait. It’s not because I’m right.

Really, from the insanely catchy “SexyBack” which I’m pretty sure is the reason people even say “I’m bringing sexy back” (because, yes, JT is) to the strangely insightful (and depressing) “Losing My Way,” FutureSex/LoveSounds delivers. Much like The 20/20 Experience (which I’ve already written about here) these songs aren’t just your average pop songs. They really show the kind of experimentation and innovation Timberlake isn’t afraid of. Many of the songs on the album do the whole 6-minute sort of two songs in one thing that JT and Timbaland do quite a bit, but it’s not bad. It adds flow. Every song has a place on the album and there’s a continuity that makes the album just seem natural. And once again, the JT you’re hearing played on the radio isn’t the JT you hear on the album.

Of course, the same complaint I had with 20/20 stands: I don’t need to listen to a minute and a half of “my love” repeated over again, but once the transition happens it makes you forget about the transgression. The album is just fun. You can really hear exactly what JT pours into it just like you can his other music. And the best part about it? A lot of it was demoed from improv. So if that’s not talent, I can’t tell you what is.

So give this one a listen, even if you generally don’t like pop music. Or maybe you generally do like pop music, in which case you need a musication (music education) and this is where to start. And until next week (or whenever I update these days), keep listening.

Singles (because by god there were a lot): SexyBack, My Love, What Goes Around Comes Around, Summer Love, and LoveStoned/I Think She Knows

Other Honorable Mentions: FutureSex/LoveSound, Damn Girl, Losing My Way

What’s The Fuss About?

Once again, I’m cutting it close (and by close I mean late), but my suit mate has made it her personal goal to keep me on track despite the fact that she doesn’t read. Oh well. This week is kind of an important one, so if you don’t know any of these songs you probably should go listen to them now.

Album: Hot Fuss                                                                           Artist: The Killers

the killers

So lets talk about The Killers for a second. But before we do that, let’s pause for just a moment to appreciate that their name is The Killers because I like it. Like are they murderers, or are they just killing it all the time? (I know, I’m being so lame but it’s also midnight).

ANYWAY, Hot Fuss was The Killers’ first album, and was produced by a British record company called Lizard King Records. But what was that? They aren’t British? I won’t lie, I actually did think that The Killers were British for a long time (I mean, Flowers’ fake accent isn’t that bad) mostly because they played the UK seriously before the US and they record in the UK, etc… but they are in fact from Las Vegas. Not Los Angeles, Las Vegas. I know, I know. Not the stereotypical California you’d expect. I mean who would ever guess Nevada? But that isn’t the point.

A lot of this album was put together with Jeff Saltzman (who I do believe is a former manager for Green Day) as demos, but most of the demos from their earlier days made it onto Hot Fuss, which dropped in 2004. I think a lot of people my age and older certainly remember the singles “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me,” because I know I sure do. I actually really associate The Killers with my older sister’s swimming days because I remember these songs playing in the car when I was little and we drove her to and fro. Again, not the point though. The point is this is an excellent album, especially for a debut.

The album opens with “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine,” which is an upbeat, pop/rock funky mix that starts the album off pretty aggressively, but man is it a good song. The fist time I listened to Hot Fuss all the way through I remember getting about halfway through “Jenny” and thinking, “Yeah. This is gonna be a good album.”

The Killers’ sound is the perfect combination of that 90s rock n’ roll I love so much and everything that was good from the 80s. Between the funky bass, the 90s guitar riffs, and Flowers’ keyboard, it’s the perfect 80s/90s lovechild. There are heavy influences from the likes of Duran Duran and The Cure (to name a few), but also that late 90s sound of The Strokes and arguably the Smashing Pumpkins. And it just works. There’s a lot of talent in The Killers, and the members seem to mesh well together.

In fact, Hot Fuss actually makes for great running music. Most of it’s tempos are held fast, the best example of this being “Somebody Told Me.” The music seems to fly by, even as Flowers pleads “Pace yourself for me/I said maybe baby, please.” And overall, I find myself pretty impressed with Brandon Flowers’ lyrics. I mean, we can all admit it: some of them are kind of cheesy (example, “Smile like you mean it”), but then there are lines like “Save some face/You know you’ve only got one,” found in “Smile Like You Mean It” or the somewhat gospel-like anthem “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier,” found in “All These Things That I’ve Done.”

Hot Fuss has it’s slower moments though; “Andy, You’re a Star” opens with a somewhat raunchy guitar riff, but turns into a pretty impressive ballad and “Everything Will Be Alright” is a kinda creepy synthesizer anthem with strangely beautiful lyrics.

I guess what it all boils down to is this: Hot Fuss was kind of a big deal. It made not just one, but two of Rolling Stones’ top 100 lists (including Top 100 of the Decade and Top 100 Greatest Debuts). The Killers are the perfect example of how pop and rock can mesh together to make good, mainstream music that isn’t trash. If you ask me, we need another band like them now.

Any suggestions? Leave them here, Twitter, or Facebook! Until next week, keep listening 🙂

Honorable Song Mentions: Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, Smile Like You Mean It, All These Things That I’ve Done, On Top, Midnight Show

A Message for the Fans: I Love You.

Well, for everyone who was wondering, Alexandra is a very good co-pilot. She managed to keep me awake the whole time I was driving 😉 I already mentioned what I planned on writing about this week, so I’ll jump right to it!

Album: I Love You.                                                                      Artist: The Neighbourhood

I love you

For those of you who haven’t heard of The Neighbourhood, I’ll introduce them as the guys who play “Sweater Weather.” I hate that that’s the way I have to introduce them to most people, but let’s face it: they aren’t that big yet.

The Neighbourhood is a southern California band, and a lot of their music pays homage to their home state. I don’t have much to say about their history as a band or any previous music, because I Love You. was their first LP, but Jesse Rutherford, the band’s lead singer, has musical roots found more in old-school hip hop rather than rock. He had a brief solo project before The Neighbourhood. I haven’t listened to any of it, but it definitely wasn’t rock from what I understand. The rest of the band has more of an alternative background, however. Combined, it makes for a pretty interesting sound that the band describes as “dark pop.” I’d say that’s less true about I Love You. so much as it is their new stuff, but you can still hear what they’re talking about.

I Love You. dropped in April 2013 to very mixed (and that’s being nice) reviews. The album was criticized through a variety of reviews for the bass lines, for the guitar sounds, for the vocals, for the lyrics, for the drum beats, and really everything. I guess you can ultimately sum up reviews by saying that the lyrics are angst ridden (which apparently is very disliked), the guitars are too distorted, and the overall sound is too pop for a rock band.

I’m here to put these criticisms into context for you.

I’ll start my review with this: The Neighbourhood isn’t for everyone. I will also tell you that a lot of the EP’s preceding I Love You. were, in my opinion (and critic’s tend to agree here) better than I Love You.

I’m not saying that the album is bad — I listened to it on repeat for like a month straight, so obviously I enjoyed it, but I guess my biggest problem with I Love You. is that a lot of the songs sound the same. They all, and I do mean all, have the same formula: a pretty simple beat that Jesse can work with (remember, he has a background with rap), slow, distorted guitars, and a fairly repetitive chorus. But it isn’t necessarily a bad formula. I can’t criticize them for sounding too much like a pop band because they are a pop band. No one in the band ever claimed to be anything else.

I can move past the similar sound quality found in all of the tracks though. It really isn’t a huge problem for me here, despite the fact that I can’t stand it when bands do it. Why can I move past it so easily? Because it’s a sound that no one else is using, and they’re moving to perfect it. At least they’re doing something different, which is something critics seem to be missing.

Honestly, it really bothers me that the only song that seemed to get a positive review on the album was “Sweater Weather.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me some “Sweater Weather.” But it’s not the band’s best song. Alexandra and I were even talking about this on the way to the concert (which was amazing, by the way). “Sweater Weather” was a good song and I really am happy that the band is getting some recognition for it, but I might go so far as to say it’s one of the weaker songs on the album. The lyrics are much weaker than you find in tracks like “Staying Up” and “Female Robbery” and the sound is a little more mindless.

What I mean is, why listen to something you’ve heard before when you can explore the rest of what the album has to offer? Admittedly, Rutherford has written some better lyrics than what is found wholly on the album, but there are quite a few songs that go beyond the surface of California and sex. And, like I said before — they’ve got a sound that I have yet to find from someone else. It’s a little bit haunting and a little 90s reminiscent (and you all know how I feel about the 90s) and it’s got the what I like to call rock band basics: guitars, bass, drums (instruments that are lacking in a lot of today’s music) Like if Destiny’s Child and some weird 90s alt band got together. Again, not for everyone; but it’s managed to appeal to a young audience.

Ultimately, this is what I have to say about I Love You.: It’s not the album of the century. It’s not the album of the decade, and it’s not the album of the year. The band has a long way to go before they get there. But they’re on their way. They’ve got an interesting sound and lyrics that, despite their angst, manage to pull in a pretty large audience, and they are great with their fans.

In closing, The Neighbourhood reminds me a lot of Maroon5. This comparison has been mentioned a lot by others, and I totally get it (despite the fact the band says they hate it). Back in the early 2000s, Maroon5 put out a really good album called Songs About Jane that received mixed reviews and it was nothing like what anyone else was doing — and everyone waited to see what they would put out next. It was sad really, cause Maroon5 could have been a great band (if you know me you know my opinions on Marron5). And here we are with The Neighbourhood: they put out a decent debut that is nothing like what anyone else is doing, and everyone is waiting to see what they’ll put out next. Their new music has the kind of variety that is lacking on I Love You., which makes me really optimistic for the band’s future.

Questions, comments, snide remarks? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this album! Do you agree with critics? Or do you think they were too harsh? As always, keep listening!

Honourable Song Mentions: (see what I did there?) Staying Up, Float, Female Robbery, W.D.Y.W.F.M?, Let It Go (and Alexandra would say Flawless but I don’t necessarily agree with that)

Concert experience:

The Neighbourhood puts on a great live show. They played old songs, new songs, and everything in between. Their new drummer is quite talented, and what I like about their live music is larger role their drummer has to play — it isn’t as quite as formulaic as it sounds in the studio versions. Another great thing? Rutherford improvises the lyrics, which is something bands these days just don’t do enough. It’s great to hear in a live show because it keeps things interesting.

Also, after the show we got to meet the band’s frontman who is super nice. He managed to at least take a picture or sign something with everyone waiting (and there were a lot of people waiting), and he seemed genuinely appreciative to everyone who came out to the show. He even signed my ticket “Happy Birthday.”

We had so much fun that we bought tickets to see another show not even 10 days later. It’s honestly one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. Photos below!


This Week’s Experience

Wow, has this week been nuts. We just moved and unfortunately we get no internet or cable until like June 9th or something like that. I don’t have a laptop, so I can’t go to Starbucks or something to get wifi, and my iPad capabilities are limited when it comes to WordPress (and pre-orientation college information, too). My original plan for this week was to write about a Frank Turner album, but as I have no internet, I had no way to buy/download/stream/listen to it and I couldn’t find a hard copy. So that plan went out the window pretty fast. My dogs ended up saving my butt again, as I had to drive to Cleveland to pick them up, and on that trip I ended up listening to some JT. Therefore, I give you (hopefully before midnight)….

Album: The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)                                Artist: Justin Timberlake


And what an experience it is. A Justin Timberlake album is unique in that it’s designed for the listener. If you’re going to listen to a JT album, you have to commit and listen to it, because you don’t get the full experience if you don’t.

The 20/20 Experience was Timberlake’s first album since FuterSex/LoveSounds which came out in 2006, so I think everyone was wondering what to expect from his epic return to the music industry. Well, it’s an experience to say the least. The album features ten songs that average about six or seven minutes each, which seems abnormally long for a pop album — but this isn’t just any pop album.

I won’t deceive you — I’m totally on the JT bandwagon, and let me tell you why. I think Justin Timberlake is very innovative, something that has been pretty apparent. Together with Timbaland as his producer, JT hasn’t disappointed me yet. The 20/20 Experience has a lot of interesting sounds, and pulls influence from what is undoubtedly some old school funk and pop, and maybe even some classic R&B. It’s a very artistic album and every song has quite a few rhythm and melody changes. In short, the JT you hear on the radio is not the JT you hear on the album. I mean, they aren’t gonna play eight minutes of experimental funk on the radio, as cool as that would be. Side note: this is why I went totally hipster and just quit listening to the radio.

Back to the point, the artistic aspect of his albums is what makes JT one of the better pop artists of our time. The 20/20 Experience has the upbeat pop you would expect from Justin Timberlake, the sexy lyrics you’d expect from Justin Timberlake, and the ultimate class you’d expect from Justin Timberlake, but it’s also completely different from anything you’d expect from Justin Timberlake.

I think the best example of this is not found in “Suit & Tie” or “Mirrors” (both good songs that were very overplayed by the radio), but in songs like “Pusher Love Girl,” “Don’t Hold The Wall,” and “Spaceship Coupe.” I guess my point here is that if you think you know JT, you don’t know JT until you’ve sat and listened to the art that he puts out. When discussing the origin of the albums title, Timberlake quotes a friend of his who described it as “music you can see.” Honestly, that’s the best way to describe it. My only major criticism for the album is the length of each track. At some point, in the eight minutes that is almost every single track, there is a repetitive nature that does get a little old on say, the eight listen. To me, this isn’t the album I’d leave in my cd player for days on end, but rather something I’d like to put on when I’m doing chores or just want to have my own private dance party.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the album, and I recommend you sit down and listen to it straight through at least once. Make sure you have a good chunk of time if you choose to do so. Hopefully I can get to Part 2 some time in the future. Until that happens though, keep listening!!

As always, comments or requests are appreciated!

Honorable Song Mentions: Don’t Hold The Wall, Spaceship Coupe, That Girl, Blue Ocean Floor