Trending Songs, Albums

Was Imagine Dragons’ Debut Album Night Visions Ahead Of Its Time, Or Just Directionless?

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve sadly spent a grossly unnecessary amount of my career both as a musician & as a writer trashing Las Vegas-born Pop Rock band Imagine Dragons, going to great lengths to discredit their fame out of jealousy, disinterest & a generally misguidedly elitist mindset that somehow saw them as inferior songwriters who preyed on mainstream formulas to produce exceptionally-generic tunes audiences absolutely adored, essentially putting a stain on my status as a credible source for musical opinions since I couldn’t feasibly separate my prejudices from the hard facts of their incredible successes. Perhaps I was angry that they’d broken through to the waning MTV generation through what I believed to be sellout-level techniques, or maybe their initial promotional material left a bad taste in my mouth that prevented me from exploring the rest of the unknown tracks on their albums, but a casual playthrough of their latest record Origins piqued my interest as I found genuinely compelling compositions amidst its track-list full of anachronisms & progressive techniques worthy of my attention, persuading me to go back & thumb through their earlier entries in case there was something I’d been missing all this time – Naturally, I figured the best place to start on this adventure would be the very first studio album Dragons ever released, the nondescriptly-titled Night Visions from 2012 which sealed their fate as the industry’s replacement for aging Pop Rockers Coldplay, displaying in full their methodical application of music theory techniques learned at prestigious schools like Brigham Young University & Berklee College Of Music scientifically-proved to satisfy the vast majority of modern listeners. Coincidentally, I’d actually been exposed to & already-spiteful of the band by the time this record released after having learned of their existence whilst living on the East Coast & witnessing their decidedly-spineless promotion of Sharpie products on a FuseTV commercial, clearly contributing to my harsh criticism of the group as the scene I was involved in back then was all about integrity & the pursuit of narrative expressionism through music rather than Pop-centric ideals. As such, I went into this analysis with an open mind, hoping my maturation as a listener would help me appreciate Night Visions for the double-platinum certified, 2,500,000+ record selling behemoth that it is – Unfortunately, or perhaps delightfully, my hard-headed opinions would soon be validated by the utter lack of cohesion Imagine Dragons enacted in this album, confirming the 53% Metacritic rating it has so-rightfully earned by others in the industry; Still, as reaffirming as it may be for my own sense of pride, no musician truly finds pleasure in pouring salt into old wounds that’ve already suffered enough pain in the past.

Written by camjameson  / Mar 15, 2019

    Some Fantastic Synth Pop Skill Are Wasted On Backstreet Boys’ Comeback Album DNA

    Go ahead & call me old, but I can vividly remember girls singing “Quit Playin’ Games (With My Heart)” & swooning over the different – though actually pretty identical – members of Backstreet Boys as I waited in the cafeteria line back in what was likely 2nd or 3rd grade for my nineties-ass, my friends & I forced to compare ourselves to these seemingly-perfect men from an incredibly early age, a scenario I’m certain influenced my more feminist-leaning ideals as I progressed in life. These guys have been a mainstay in Pop culture ever since, with everyone in my generation holding their particular brand of Bubblegum Pop goodness up as gospel, the differences between them & *NSYNC being the mainstream-equivalent of the West Coast/East Coast battles happening in Hip Hop at the same time; As such, I was genuinely intrigued when they’d announced a new album was dropping at the beginning of 2019, with DNA being their first album in nearly 6 years & the first one anyone actually cared about since 1999’s absolute banger Millennium, feeling like it was about time they’d made their return to the radio, especially considering how stagnant the mainstream Pop market had become in their absence – Well, you can colour me fooled, as this album not only misses the mark by a couple of years in terms of current musical trends but also makes me retroactively hate my youthful obsession with them back in the day, realizing they’ve always been a bit behind the times in comparison to their contemporaries.

    Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

      Dua Lipa (Deluxe) Is The Album That Liberates Pop From Years Of Mediocrity, Due To Lipa’s Ability To Nail Precise Sounds And Styles

      I don’t have much of a personal story related to Dua Lipa, but a couple observations. Such as – when she first hit the scene, I was immediately struck, not by her absolute beauty, but by the fact that she had brown hair. Not colored blonde or seafoam rainbow. But natural. And what else was natural, besides her look, was her voice. Not even the faintest wobble of autotune support. Just raw soul laden over Pop tracks. I assumed this breath of fresh air would somehow dissipate in popularity for some trivial reason, and above all, I assumed in a cynical fashion that the very young singer would not have much more depth than the couple of singles that I had heard. Boy, was I wrong, as song after song, there was something very ‘old head’ about the girl, like she had actually physically experienced the various music scenes that all had their heyday before she was born. What’s more, these weren’t simply retro takes, but rather brand new patches freshly stitched into a rich sonic quilt. More than just another Synth Pop song or piece of Tropical EDM Pop with no sense of musical possibility, a New Wave brilliance of romance and funk shape a clear bop called “Genesis”, priming me for the precision sound of the whole album with this first track. There are tons of older New Wave influences throughout, recalling the sound of Prince collaborators Andre Cymone and Jessie Johnson, or Prince himself for that matter, but even in this, there is an appeal to contemporary Pop convention which help cement Dua Lipa’s mass appeal too – ultimately though, Dua Lipa is a perfectionist and well versed in the multiverse of sounds and influences that are just begging to be incorporated into new Pop music by the ones willing to take risks. Even “New Rules”, arguably the most popular song on the album, is risky, because in many places, the formulaic elements present could have taken over, yet instead, the song serves as an introduction to a whole world of trippy beats and funky tricks. Lipa in my opinion is the best Pop Artist in the industry now, and her strengths are not one-note; she simply can’t be summed up by lines like ‘oh, she is so soulful’ or ‘oh, she understands real House music’ or ‘oh, she knows how to make Reggae Fusion not sound so typical.’ Rather, I have a theory that any style of music would be fair game for such a keen musical mind.

      Written by taylor  / Mar 22, 2019

        Dancing Queen Improves ABBA In The Only Conceivable Way – By Adding Cher To The Mix

        Would you ever stare at the beautiful masterpiece Italian visionary Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel & say to yourself “meh, interesting but it could really use some improvement around the edges”? Do you spend your days excavating entire mountainsides in the Swiss Alps under the misguided belief your puny human hands could ever reshape them into something as breathtaking as the natural splendor the Earth created over hundreds upon thousands of millennia? The simple answer to these questions, of course, is a hard & well-defined ‘no,’ as modern culture has instilled a deep reverence within human beings for things of true beauty, the collective consciousness of all living creatures agreeing that there are certain things you just can’t touch, their sacred properties as valuable as life itself – Naturally, then, if I were to ask you if any of the myriad hits Swedish Disco legends ABBA have released in their career needed any sort of improvements, you’d likely tell me to shut my mouth & take a seat, as their compositions are pure perfection & require nothing more than a working pair of ears to appreciate; Then again, if you’re someone as prolific as Pop diva Cher, the mere addition of your voice to any musical arrangement is proof enough that miracles truly do exist, as evidenced by her fantastic cover-album of ABBA’s works aptly named Dancing Queen – Yes, Our Lady Of The Immaculate Dancefloor has returned once again to achieve the impossible, determined to halt the progress of modern hatred by utilizing her powerful vocal prowess & larger-than-life persona to bring back some of the world’s most impressive jams with a sleek new coat of paint, taking care to stay true to the source material wherever possible whilst injecting that tantalizing dance energy only she has the moxie to wield, showing that age is nothing but a number when you’re absolutely brimming with latent musical ability. I went into this record thinking it was just going to be another run-of-the-mill cash-grab like the lifeless cover albums you typically get from acts like Mariah Carey & Josh Groban, but the minor changes in tone & narrative rearrangement she provides really do change this experience into something unique enough for even the most die-hard ABBA fan to enjoy, unable to be scrutinized in the same way as her inferior contemporaries – Let’s break down some of its finer moments, shall we?

        Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

          HARDY Lovingly Harnesses That Old Country Sound On Where To Find Me - EP

          Hot on the tails of last year’s This Old Boy – EP, HARDY makes his second entry into the music industry with yet-another EP titled Where To Find Me, improving upon the already-captivating Traditional Country aesthetics he employed on the last record & proving that the more home-grown sensibilities of the aging demographic are still alive & well with today’s younger artists, giving hope that we might yet escape the rather unimpressive Electronic & Dance aspects of the Country Pop machine – As someone who has no more than a fleeting interest in Country music as a whole, you can trust me when I say this is some of the most refreshing material to hit the airwaves in quite some time, not nearly as niche as the Outlaw Country jams Chris Stapleton presented only a short few years ago yet far-removed from kitschy acts like Little Big Town & Kane Brown who represent the extreme fringe of Country teachings, what with their rather generic storylines & overwhelmingly bubbly anthems that seem to water down just what it means to be a proud southerner in today’s incredibly competitive but wholly uninspired music market; Hell, I’ve even adopted the Where To Find Me – EP into my weekly rotation of kickback tunes, something that doesn’t come easily for someone who values Metal, Punk & Detroit Techno above all other genres, quite possibly the best recommendation I could give for the up & coming musician.

          Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

            Hold On To Your Butts: Rival Sons Are Here To Wreck Shop With Feral Roots

            Tell me – Do you love pure, unadulterated Rock’N’Roll music? Do you yearn for the bloodthirsty attitude & gut-wrenching riffage of bands like Wolfmother & the legendary Airbourne? Well, let your unmet desires be fulfilled, as Rival Sons are the band for you, releasing what’s easily their best record to date with 2019’s stupendous Feral Roots – Winding things back a bit, it goes without saying that true Rock’N’Roll music has barely had a tangible mainstream presence worth talking about since the Hard Rock & heavy Metal renaissance of the mid-noughties back when bands like Velvet Revolver were restoring modern audience’s faith that Rock still had a leg to stand on, although this was soon usurped not only by the massive wave of Emo & Indie groups of the time but the decidedly demure sounds of Folk Rock that gained widespread popularity around 2010; Since then, the last decade has seen the general image of Rock fall further & further into formulaic Pop territory, with bands like Imagine Dragons somehow topping the Rock charts while heavier bands like Badflower & Pop Evil continue to get snubbed by mainstream listeners, despite being much more authentic to the inherent personality of Rock itself – As if sent by Lord Lucifer himself to undo the damage caused by years of songwriting stagnation & commercialism, Feral Roots’ latest record kicks down the doors of conformity with a fire in its heart, delivering nothing but raw, disgustingly raunchy Rock’N’Roll noise with a vengeance.

            Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

              BLACKPINK’s Much Older SQUARE TWO – EP Stirs Bright Memories I Didn’t Know I Had

              For the majority of the early-teens up until 2016, I had a fairly fringe understanding of just how spectacular K Pop music could be, never really succumbing to the Korean music machine that so many had fallen in love with largely due to how disappointed I was at the rise & eventual fall of J Pop music in the early-noughties. Being a heavy consumer of Anime & Japanese culture through much of my youth leading into my later years, I’d been let down time & time again by how much time I’d devoted to watching J Pop grow, my dreams of it being the next big thing squandered as public reception waned so much so that you almost never hear anyone mention that they actually like the genre unless they’re talking about the opening credits for a series like My Hero Academia or Naruto; As such, I naturally strayed away from the popularity K Pop had garnered in the last decade, thinking it too was going to just be another fad that would die in time, but to my surprise some of my favourite acts recently have been of the K Pop variety, notable groups being NCT U with their fantastically bombastic Dance numbers & GOT7 with their astonishingly soulful nineties-R&B revival aesthetics, spawning a newfound love for the impressive musicianship of the burgeoning Korean music scene. It goes without saying, then, that I’d missed out on a lot of prominent acts earlier years, generally writing off the 2010 to 2015 period of K Pop as nothing more than kitschy Idol Pop music with a slight EDM vibe running through every song’s chorus, an opinion I so unrightfully applied to one of the groups I hold so near & dear to my heart today, BLACKPINK – Yes, I actually got my first taste of how spectacular they were with their most recent release SQUARE UP – EP towards the latter end of 2018, a thrilling album that not only touched on the anachronistic origins of female-led K Pop music but did so with more authenticity & true skill than the vast majority of contemporary K Pop groups, instantly achieving crush-status as I swooned over the group’s delightful personalities & incredible vocal prowess that just seemed to stand apart from the rest of the crowd. Imagine my surprise, then, when I find that SQUARE UP – EP was actually the third in a trilogy of EP drops from these ladies, each more impressive than the last & packed to the gills with dancefloor potential I can’t help but shake my butt to every time I press play; More importantly, I realized I’d actually been hearing their music for years in the most random of locations, from Korean Barbeque joints down here in Los Angeles to commercials on various music platforms before I’d started working for VIBBIDI, the tracks within their second EP drop SQUARE TWO – EP – sometimes packaged as SQUARE ONE & SQUARE TWO together – being of particular splendor, giving me a sense of recent nostalgia I had no idea I was connected to already – So let’s jump in & see why this album is so overwhelmingly enticing, shall we?

              Written by camjameson  / Mar 20, 2019

                Album O.N.I.F.C. Can Be Tied To A ‘I-Made-It’ Mind Set, But Commercialism Has Its’ Creative Costs

                Wiz Khalifa has said of the album title O.N.I.F.C. that it is an abbreviated meaning for ‘Only N-word In First Class’, and this swag infused phrasing is supposed to celebrate Khalifa’s success up to that point in 2012, from a career that began totally differently in around 2005. The abbreviation is made both in jest, but also with pride, because one can imagine that a tatted up young black man who hits the airport most likely smelling like Khalifa Kush (his brand) would sort of make an impression in first class – but he certainly can pay many times over for his first class seat while being himself – which is I feel the point being made. Admittedly, I’ve never been a super duper fan of Khalifa’s music, yet when his songs hit, they really hit for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped one of his funkiest slappers ever – “The Kid Frankie”, off his best album, 2010’s Kush & Orange Juice. This is the classic era I most enjoy from the MC, but truth be told, I’ve never been so enamored with his style or aura that I really got into all of dudes’ albums, yet this whole time, I did definitely notice how often Khalifa would adapt his flow to whatever was trending at the time. I remember the debates that would be had during occasional smoke-out sessions with friends and associates about how he was ‘selling out’ etc, yet if only these folks knew that the whole industry would more and more begin to sell out in the same manner, and Khalifa was just someone who was committed to switching up in order to maintain success and stack cash. To compare “The Kid Frankie” to Fast And Furious 7’s “See You Again” is a night and day in terms of cool factor, but the later was the type of music that would make him an international star and also plug him for serious financial reward, as the sappy track became, as of July 2017, the most viewed YouTube video in history, and all told, Khalifa would end up with a net worth of 45 million. Such success defines Khalifa for me more than whether or not he is an amazing rapper – because his flow can have its moments, but honestly, can come off annoying to me just as easily depending on the track. I have never liked that inconsistency I feel about him. O.N.I.F.C. has a mix of regional beats and flows, and serves as an album where I definitely can instantly separate the tracks I love to bump from the ones I don’t.

                Written by taylor  / Mar 18, 2019

                  Rudimental’s Toast To Our Differences Explores Every Corner Of The Electronic Music Industry

                  Love it or hate it, the last five or so years of the Dance & Electronic music industry has produced some of the most influential songwriting styles of the modern era, broadening the mainstream appeal of each market by permeating every other tentpole genre with their aesthetics nearly as much as Trap lyricism has; While not nearly as iconic as the House, Trance & Techno compositions that took the world by storm in the late-nineties & early-noughties, Future Bass, Tropical House & EDM became heavy-hitters you couldn’t avoid in your wildest dreams, accounting for the vast majority of radio hits in recent memory so overwhelmingly that they’ve reached peak-concentration, driving the rest of the industry mad as listeners & artists-alike struggle to find more compelling music styles in 2018 & 2019 – As a member of the continually-innovating UK Dance scene, Rudimental always found a way to break through the noise with some of the best compositions around since their inception, but the latest record Toast TO Our Differences shakes things up considerably with an unofficial retrospective of the Electronic industry’s growth in the last two decades, presenting listeners with a staggering collection of top-tier tunes from every possible iteration of the genre, tapping the talents of every modern icon you can think of like the brilliant Jess Glynne & the somehow still-relevant James Arthur for what is one of the most accessible records in modern history.

                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                    America’s Country Girl Heads Off To The City In Taylor Swift’s First Pop-Leaning Album Red

                    If I’m being honest, to say I was a fan of Taylor Swift in her early days would be a bold-faced lie: When she first hit the scene in 2004, I was admittedly impressed with how gifted she was for a 16-year old artist in a world that had become increasingly-obsessed with prepubescent acts like Justin Bieber, my lifelong training in classical music theory – on top of having a world-class touring singer as a father – giving me the technical comprehension to acknowledge she was a truly-skilled performer, but her particular brand of songwriting was clearly designed for a different audience; She was so unbelievably naïve for someone only two months younger than I & her cheerful compositions lacked the emotional depth & inherent personality of my rather Emo Rock-leaning sensibilities, making it hard to find any value in her body of work at the time – Fast forward about seven years, I’m dating a die-hard Country girl from North Carolina who’d modeled her own musical persona around Swift’s, making it virtually impossible to ignore the blonde icon’s upbeat tunes when they were literally being played on a daily basis alongside the Jonas Brothers & Katy Perry. I’d been constantly bombarded by my then-girlfriend’s fanaticism & was aware Swift had a new album coming up called Red, but it wasn’t until that fateful performance at the 2012 VMA’s that I realized I’d fallen for the Country starlet hook, line & sinker thanks to what would become her first true Pop performance, kicking off an incredibly rocky love-hate relationship with her music – & said-girlfriend – going forward.

                    Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                      ‘Burn The Ships’ Is Modern Christian & Gospel Music That Might Be Able To Reverse The Stressors On Your Spirit

                      It has been a long long while since I have been to church, but for me it has often given me a boost in my life when I do participate in Sunday service. Yet these days, when I’m really stressed out and I need to get my mind off of the nuts and bolts of my existence, sometimes my only option is to take a drive in my car and put on some Christian radio to calm down, which I think for now, is an activity I still prefer over signing up for another tour of organized religion. I surely have a spiritual appetite or else I wouldn’t hunger for what’s unanswerable. Recently, I really needed to hear something meditative and encouraging, and so tuned to that oasis of a radio channel, where after a few songs, there was some promotional interview clip or excerpt setting up the song “God Only Knows” for a band who I would soon discover was named for King & Country. I’m not sure which member was speaking, but whether or not it was Joel or Luke Smallbone, I found the speaker’s words to be very wise, as he explained that he is constantly practicing love as much as possible, even when he gets a crazy hateful stare from some stranger intent on intimidating him, conceding that in actuality, he has no clue what this upset individual must have gone through in life in order to, in that moment, exhibit such unprovoked animosity. This is not really a turn the other cheek policy – but more of a spiritual empathetic gesture, where all the singer can do is practice positivity in light of such negativity, because from his perspective, “God Only Knows” what the guy has been through. The station then played the actual track, and while the lyrics were a little less obvious, the chorus really captured this sense of empathy for another’s unique frame of reference. I figured, ok, I need to hear this band’s album sometime, because this isn’t, so far, your average Christian & Gospel music. The track had a great sound, with wisely decisions on the notes and their placements, plus a bit of a kick to the drum section, yet not overloud for the sake of being overloud, per convention. By comparison, listening to the singles from Hillsong UNITED, the songs sound decent enough, but they are all way too similar to each other for my tastes, using the same wall of sound, the same drums, and not differentiating their sound, track to track. A couple weeks after my little meditative drive, I copped the newest CD for KING & COUNTRY, entitled Burn The Ships, without hearing the other songs beforehand, endeavoring to rely on my faith that the album would be of good quality and hopefully more internal variety than other albums on the market.

                      Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                        Pop Media Allowed Meghan Trainor To Become A Monster On Her Album Thank You

                        When it comes to Meghan Trainor’s so-called ‘follow-up’ record Thank You, it’s nearly impossible to describe it as anything but derivative garbage in comparison to what her contemporaries were producing around the same time in 2016, not only delivering what is arguably her most problematic album yet but one of the industry’s largest steps backward in terms of integrity, a half-hearted cash-in on industry trends that made previous Caucasian Pop appropriators like Taylor Swift look like absolute angels in hindsight; There’s no need to fake it, this is simply a bad album from tip to toe – As someone who has a soft spot for truly-inspired Pop music & whose classical training in music theory can acknowledge melodic skill when it’s present, I’ve no qualms with dragging this record through the mud as it represents everything wrong with mainstream media, going to great lengths to shamelessly adopt current trends without putting in the effort to deliver a cohesive musical journey you can actually get behind, essentially giving those still stuck in the eighties-era mindset of ‘what’s Black is mine’ a reason to continue feigning ignorance for little more than a quick buck. Thank You was initially presented as somewhat of a transformative career move for Trainor, pushing her sound even harder into the whole ‘I’m an infallible goddess’ aesthetic with a blatant display of fake-feminism only the most uneducated listener could possibly stomach, putting a heavy strain on the progress other more-effective female artists had made towards gender-equality & doing so in the name of self-centered stardom, making everyone within earshot a party to the downfall of Pop music’s integrity.

                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                          The Chainsmokers Continue To Present Pop That Can Be Both Cringey And Creative

                          It was suggested that I listen to The Chainsmoker’s new album because they have a newer, more original production value, relying on some organic instrumentals and more of the pop duo’s vocal contributions. First of all, I commend DJs and producers who take up the challenge to offer more than collaborations and remixes – and on this point, The Chainsmoker’s work hard to put themselves up front and center on tracks such as “Beach House”, “Sick Boy”, “Everybody Hates Me”, and “You Owe Me”, while numerous other tracks will find them sharing some singing duties with the feature artist. I think that they do possess, as a singing duo, a basic ability to get their melodic messages across – yet, their sound is not only derivative of Pop or Alternative artists such as Gnash and Twenty one pilots, respectfully, but on specific tracks, the quality of their vocalization is so unbelievably whiney and nasally that I shudder to listen to the whole song. Hey, I don’t mind a nasal delivery if it is backed by some Soul – Stevie Wonder, who has a basically universally agreed upon dynamic style, is in itself more nasally than others, and I can remember having a hard tie conceptualizing the worth of his voice whilst arguing with a Rock fan who simply hated his out-of-the-nose belting. But that’s real singing. The Chainsmoker’s never said they were singers, but they are ‘producer extraordinaries’ to the ears of the Pop scene – are they not? So how come that can’t hear how unattractive they sound? If you can’t sell it, find someone who can – is what I say.

                          Written by taylor  / Mar 11, 2019

                            ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ Arrives At Its Classic Destination Thanks To Familiar Yet Fresh Songwriting

                            A newer Country fan like myself searches for the classic sounds more often than the contemporary ones, and if there is ever a new artist adhering to the old ways, I’m all the way there for him or – in this case, her; Ashley McBryde is not new on the scene per se, but clocked quite a few years on the road, developing her style while penning albums 2011 Elsebound, which featured the great track “Break It Fast”, and her 2016 album Jalopies & Expensive Guitars, which by the title alone already suggested a dedication to music over luxury. It included fantastic tracks such as “Redemption” and “Bible and A .44.” This latest gem of a record, Girl Going Nowhere, is a deceiving title for a woman I think is clearly going places -and far, thanks to her traditional musical prowess. The genre, as I have come to know it, is well respected by McBryde, from a vocal, instrumental, and songwriting standpoint. It doesn’t get more old school than this, yet within this flashback to the past, very subtle elements ground her work in the modern day, be it a contemporary chord which updates familiar ones, the hard rocking overhaul on many a track, or the patient administration of just the right amount of modern backbeat. Plus, you can just tell there’s a story behind all of these tracks, as her biography cites that she has been on the road for a long time, dive bar to dive bar, probably seeing a thing or two. Just looking at all her tattoos, I have a feeling these dives were of the ‘Biker’ variety. As well, there are great detours, like “Southern Babylon”, which contains a sexy jazz lounge shuffle that would totally work in a steamy, 50 Shades style movie, and “Livin’ Next to Leroy”, which can compete with the alternative nature of many songs by one of my favorite Country re-imaginers, Sheryl Crow.

                            Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                              The Secret To Wiz Khalifa’s Success In Rolling Papers 2 Is Bay Area Charm, But Not Much Else

                              Lemme level with you – Though he’d been making waves in the mainstream Hip Hop industry for years beforehand, I didn’t actually know who the hell Wiz Khalifa was until he teamed up with Charlie Puth for the Grammy Award-winning Pop tune “ See You Again” from 2015 made specifically as a tribute to actor Paul Walker in the film Furious 7 & even then he wasn’t necessarily unique enough to really grab my attention that much; I mean, shit, I didn’t even know he was popular until my mom spent the majority of the awards show gabbing about how endearing Khalifa was, continuously telling me she thought he was a charming man who showed promise for the future of Hip Hop music, even saying he reminded her of my brothers & I ‘cause he was a quaint light-skinned brother who just wanted to have a good time with respect to those around him. I’d spent years having absolutely no clue just how prolific he’d become, repeatedly believing such hits as “Black and Yellow,” “We Dem Boyz” & the incredibly relaxing “Young, Wild & Free” were one-hit wonders from Gym Class Heroes front-man Travie McCoy, even confusing his incredibly straightforward vocalism with the lazy Rap techniques of white-buffalo lyricist Macklemore – As time passed by, I recognized that he was a major player in the new wave of Mainstream Rap idols, responsible for some of the biggest hits the industry has scene in the last decade alone, but he still existed somewhat in the periphery of my interests, a rather simplistic voice in a crowd of style-biters who were churning out the same exact SoundCloud-based Trap styles everyone else was doing, never quite giving me the old-school charisma or revolutionary genre evolution I needed for him to be a regular player in my weekly rotations; That is, until he released Rolling Papers 2, upon which a singular song with a decidedly old-school West Coast vibe was lighting up my pleasure-centers, reminding me of my days as a Punk-ish hooligan ghost-ridin’ the whip with my friends in Oakland at the height of the Hyphy movement back when I was just a teenager, piquing my attention & encouraging me to check out the rest of the album in hopes of finding similar material – Well, I finally took the plunge into Rolling Papers 2 in earnest recently, head held high & expectations turned up to the max, but almost all of my excitement was quickly met with disappointment as I discovered yet another middling-quality modern Rap album with nothing to say other than repetitive lyrics & unenthusiastic hype techniques that had already turned me off of today’s hottest trends.

                              Written by camjameson  / Mar 18, 2019

                                Clean Bandit Earned Their Spot In The Pop Royalty Pantheon With Debut Album New Eyes

                                There are few things I hate more in this world than being proven wrong about a long-held ideal of mine, especially when it pertains to musical opinion as I pride myself on having a decent grasp of what’s considered truly compelling music & what’s utter garbage worthy of critical evisceration. Regarding this line of thought, Clean Bandit’s phenomenal debut album New Eyes is easily the sharpest thorn in my side, as it goes against every single one of my prejudices against the English trio I’ve cultivated over the years, giving people on the other side of the debate some incredibly well-designed ammo to fire back whenever I voice any gripes about their most recent commercial & creative flops – To roll things back a bit, I’ve spent the last few years absolutely shitting on Clean Bandit as a band, in part for their role in popularizing the mid-teens Tropical Pop revolution that spawned directly from Reggae Fusion & in another for their seeming inability to escape this decidedly-profitable subgenre on 2018’s What Is Love?, shamelessly selling out & following mainstream trends rather than using their immense fame to produce something truly original that could inspire the next generation of Electronic performers to break away from accepted formulas; It seemed every single time you heard the group’s name in the news, it was always attached to an incredibly generic Caribbean-inspired Dance Pop tune that sounded eerily similar to everything else on the radio, generally receiving such critical acclaim for the inclusion of up & coming celebrity artists who were popular with the young’ns, thereby perpetuating the cycle of Pop music’s current monotony by refusing to evolve in any tangible way. I’m sure much of my disdain came from jealousy, as every boring Pop artist with a formulaic style tends to grind my gears when there’re so many brilliant bands out there with incredible understandings of musical theory just waiting to be discovered, but I quickly grew to despise the trio whenever I heard their names, turning the act of trash talking into a somewhat pleasurable hobby I engaged in whenever possible – Well, while modern songs like “Solo” with Demi Lovato are undeniably corny & others like the Sean Paul & Anne-Marie collaboration “Rockabye” still make me want to slit my wrists, I’m pleased to say I’ve gained a newfound respect for Clean Bandit’s earlier days after making a return trip to New Eyes as it’s chock-full of stellar hits I’d previously had absolutely no idea they wrote, the vast majority of their driving compositions accounting for some of my favourite House jams of the last decade. Though this directly conflicted with my fervent hatred, it was actually an astounding revelation of both good & bad implications; On the one hand, it meant Clean Bandit were actually pretty magnificent musicians at one time who’ve surprised me in spectacular fashion, though on the other it means their recent quality has fallen at an exponential rate to a comparably inferior level, validating my current criticisms of their unsatisfying follow-up record wholeheartedly – So, yeah, I guess you could say New Eyes is the gift that keeps on giving.

                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 15, 2019

                                  Ticket to L.A. Is A Surprisingly Refreshing Take On The Country Pop Format

                                  In the late-noughties, Country Pop had developed into this amazing new frontier that did away with the stigma of Country music’s redneck, Honky Tonk sensibilities, opening the genre up to a more Pop-centric demographic & bridging the gap between the previously niche market & the rest of the music-loving world, especially with Folk & Indie music making such a big splash around 2010; It was suddenly cool to like Country music, leading to many a heartthrob jumping into the fray for one reason & one reason only – Girls. The sensitivity of Country Pop meant all these big burly dudes could flex their stuff whilst appealing to feminine audiences, but this would be their downfall as the scene quickly devolved into a cesspool of generic chord progressions, boring narratives & tired tropes – Then along came Brett Young, flashing an endearing smile & delivering soundscapes overflowing with genuine love & character, turning the industry on its head & giving his contemporaries a run for their money.

                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                    Looking Back At The Luke Bryan Album That Changed My Perspective On Country Pop

                                    I’m not gonna sit here & pretend like I’m not a hater, ‘cause I absolutely am in every conceivable way, previously priding myself on musical elitism back when I was but a young lad studying Jazz theory in the early-noughties. Other than dating a few southern belles in high school, I’d never really found a place in my heart for Country music in my earlier years as my only real exposure to the genre was acts like Gretchen Wilson & Big & Rich who were so damned hokey it could turn anyone away; I mean, as a mulato individual, it’s notably difficult to champion redneck culture when they’re the exact sort of people trying to vote away my rights as an American citizen. Over time, though, I found myself softening to the Country genre as a whole when certain Scotty McCreery tunes or Megan Morris joints hit my ear, catching my attention with their bouncy melodies & inspiringly wholesome vocal narratives, though to my surprise the album that really turned my head was Luke Bryan’s 2017 record What Makes You Country – Now, it may seem counterintuitive that the most generic of the bunch turned me on to a genre I had previously ignored, especially when there’re acts with far more talent like Chris Stapleton & Midland churning out nothing but solid gold these days, but something about this album made it incredibly clear to me that people – even those on the wrong side of social movements – really can change for the better in a market as politically-competitive as the Country space, with Bryan going from Honky Tonk conservative with a slightly-problematic stance on underage girls to someone who’s now actively promoting cultural equality & the end of gender discrimination within the tunes on this record, something I never thought I’d see coming from one of the older musicians in the market – Just like that, I was hooked on Country & found myself exploring every corner of the genre itself in the next couple years, making my sonic life richer in the process.

                                    Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                      Trapper A Boogie is too in love with his singing voice on Hoodie SZN.

                                      Anybody talking about A Boogie wit da Hoodie having his own unique flow is on that shit. Stop lying to yourself. Much of his cadence and delivery sounds like the female singer-rapper Dej Loaf – on mommas. It’s not the purpose of this rant to do a side-by-side comparison between these two artists – you already know. What we can do is glean any gems that might exist on Hoodie SZN, a tedious experience that is pretty much the same throughout most of its duration, with similar sounding trap ballads such as Voices in My Head, Just Like Me, and Love Drugs and Sex adding fat to the body of an album which also includes some lean standouts in Pull Up, Demons and Angels, and Beasty.

                                      Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                        Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Is A Delight, More Skillful & Artistic Than Initially Thought

                                        No matter how young or old you are, there’s just something so unmistakably endearing about the music modern R&B maestro Bruno Mars produces, as he’s able to capture the trends of today’s music industry whilst sparking a fire of nostalgia within your heart for the iconic sounds of yesteryear, casting the widest net of sonic tastes imaginable to satisfy virtually any type of listener alive today – It feels a bit strange yet also fulfilling to say this, ‘cause it goes to show how far Mars has come since he first hit the scene, taking an incredibly longue route to discover what sound actually defines him but doing so with the utmost efficacy. You see, at the release of Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Mars was somewhere between a happy-go-lucky Roots Rock performer like Jason Mraz & a barebones Pop idol with no integrity whatsoever, churning out painfully generic tunes such as “Grenade” & “Just The Way You Are” that lacked a sense of personality, so clearly designed to appeal to young, typically-female mainstream audiences that he was more of a joke than someone you’d actually want to spend your hard-earned cash on; I mean, I certainly couldn’t stand a single track he released until I heard him cover Mark Ronson’s “Valerie” as a tribute to Amy Winehouse at the MTV Video Music Awards – Of course, with fame & status came identity & comfort for Mars, using his platform to shell out music that aligned with his interests growing up, suddenly introducing modern millennial audiences to New Jack Swing, R&B Slow Jams, Funk & all manner of Soul jams in the subsequent years, thus turning him into a powerhouse of personality you couldn’t bring yourself to look away from, culminating at long last with his most recent album 24K Magic which is by all standards the best record he’s ever put into the ether; It’s a collection of songs that are wholly unique to this day & age whilst simultaneously championing the greatest subgenres to have ever hit the classic R&B scenes, educating contemporary listeners & bringing a smile to the faces of old-heads such as myself in the best of ways. Even so, it’s not without its faults, as it’s one thing to take inspiration from the past but it’s another entirely to attempt fusing such techniques with today’s ideals, a feat he certainly accomplishes for the vast majority of 24K Magic but that quickly becomes a detrimental crutch on a handful of numbers throughout.

                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 25, 2019

                                          Jack & Jack Transition From Web Sensations To Radio Contenders On A Good Friend Is Nice

                                          So, here’s something weird: Apparently the Teen Choice Awards are still a thing that happens. Normally, I wouldn’t give a damn about something like this, but I was absolutely dumbfounded as to why Vine stars Jack & Jack scored a performance on the show, thinking only big-name acts & celebrity artists had a chance of making their way onto the primetime awards show – Well, turns out I’m starting to get old, ‘cause not only are kids like this running the world these days, their social-network App contributions are cause for widespread acclaim across the industry, with the two identically-named performers gaining such mass appeal from their ‘comedy’ channels online that they’ve actually started to be taken seriously as musicians as well, not only landing the Teen Choice gig but featuring on many of the hottest artist’s tracks in recent years as cameos, the most notable one being Jonas Blue’s 2018 jam “Rise” among others with Shawn Mendes & even Steve Aoki! So, alright, now I’m genuinely intrigued in what these guys are producing & just my luck, they’ve released a brand new album in 2019 called A Good Friend Is Nice, giving me the perfect opportunity to see what all the hullabaloo is about & if it’s even worthy of the unbelievable praise all these music outlets have been showering upon it. I had originally planned on passing it up entirely seeing as I have no interests whatsoever in radio-friendly Pop music – especially arrangements coming from the Zennial audience – but something about the quirky album art & striking first track got me hooked instantly, sending me on a journey I hate to admit I thoroughly enjoyed…err, for the most part.

                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                            For Better Or Worse, There’s Still Nothing Quite Like Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour

                                            In a time when revealing your innermost insecurities to the world in sonic form had generally fallen from favour in popular music – following the decline of mid-noughties Emo music – & LGBTQ+ representation amongst mainstream artists was seemingly few & far between, English singer-songwriter Sam Smith found success as a much-needed breath of fresh air within the industry, hitting audiences like a ton of bricks with his overwhelmingly melancholy ballads & soothing vocal timbre that made you feel a deep sadness unlike any other. Aside from fellow Brit idol Adele, no one in Pop music had the confidence to illustrate just how unfathomably terrifying the pursuit of love could be in today’s day & age, typically opting to write narratives of undying passion or silent adoration which expressed nothing more than fantastical ideals of romantic attraction rather than presenting the harrowingly difficult nature of love itself, so when Smith hit the scene it was as if we’d climbed Mount Olympus to receive enlightenment from a mythical soothsayer who had our best interests in mind, unlocking the full potential of our emotional proclivities to expose a brilliant new world of Pop we’d long overlooked; He was a voice of reason cutting through the noise of Club culture that had so suddenly taken control over our radios, asking us to look into our hearts & see if we were truly happy with the progress we’d made in life or if we were merely going day to day searching for the lowest-common-denominator of affection, filling the void inside with meaningless one-night-stands in an ever-pervasive hookup culture that would ultimately lead us nowhere down the line – Naturally, most people are fairly hesitant to admit they’re not as romantically-fulfilled as they’d like to be in their dreams, but the sheer scope of Smith’s popularity following the release of his debut studio album In The Lonely Hour proves just how impactful his presence was in the progress of modern Pop music, literally changing the lyrical structures & acceptance of sensitivity in songwriting ever since; I mean, you could easily throw a dart anywhere on the map of popular acts these days & find yourself confronted by an artist whose bread & butter consists of gloomy Synth Pop jams about mental instability, depression & regret for potentially-romantic encounters not taken, all of which became common topics shortly after Smith struck songwriting gold on In The Lonely Hour, mainstream artist like Lorde, Khalid & FKA Twigs being noteworthy examples from very different genres – However you slice it, this album is far more important than most would care to admit, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it is without fault, as with extreme fame also comes the risk of overexposure, turning once-captivating tunes into the very bane of audiences’ sonic existence.

                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 15, 2019

                                              Discover All The Hoopla Of Country Pop Sensation Kane Brown By Visiting His Musical Roots On ‘Chapter 1 – EP’

                                              Full disclosure – being mixed myself (Black and White), I have rooted on a purely ‘relatable’ level for the similarly bi-racial Country artist Kane Brown. Why on Earth would any of my interest be based off of race? Because Kane Brown’s ascension is tied to a genre of music that is not without its bigoted moments. Yes, we have the classic success of Charley Pride on the one hand, and the more modern success of Darius Rucker holding Country down while being black, and I actually wouldn’t want to know if any of these two artists hit road blocks because of their ethnicity along the way. All of our mottos should be ‘If it sounds good, enjoy it.’ But being an American, and knowing what Americans are capable of, man, you never know how someone really feels based off of skin color and vernacular. So hell yeah, whether I’m wrong or right, I naturally wanted Kane Brown to succeed, for what could be coined as the progressive movement. I’m all for people of different backgrounds exploring more musical genres than those which are associated with their groups, feel me? When some white dudes truly shine at Funk, or even inadvertently fool the world into thinking that they are a different ethnicity through their sheer respect for the source material (look on the internet for black folks who assumed caucasian Bobby Caldwell was a black singer), by the same theory, black folks with a love for Country can tackle it in with the same respect to its source material. Here, even on this debut album Chapter 1 – EP, Kane Brown resists incorporating your standard R&B Soul vocalization or vernacular, instead choosing to sing low, deep, and twangy just like your favorite old fashioned Country singers. You would never know this young man’s specific background without the accompanying images. He is committed to Country tradition, at least vocally, yet, I am pretty sure that anyone who doesn’t dig him is not responding to anything trivial such as his race, and more so for the very Pop-ified nature of his core songwriting. I actually can stomach these 6 songs when I compare them to most of the trite music I hear within the successful sub genre known as Country Pop, yet, I would be lying if I did not admit that there is something a little shallow about the formulas here on display. Still, for a first effort, this is a noble effort, finding its audience, and paving the way for an already successful career. Old fashioned voice aside, this is the music of now.

                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                Going Against The Grain Of Teen Country Pop Of The Era, Kasey Musgraves’ Debut Album Same Trailer Different Park Is Harbinger Of Talent To Come

                                                The year was 2013 when Same Trailer Different Park, a popular time for artists such as Taylor Swift (her Country Pop album Red came out in 2012), but there is a definite difference to the sound of Kasey Musgraves album that connects it to Country rather than an overly Pop version of it. Running the gamut from soft acoustic and harder Rock edge, there is something for every taste found on Same Trailer Different Park, and what is most charming as I listen is the inventive notes that find purchase out of nowhere, and the overall traditional way in which this artist sings. It’s not the twangiest voice I’ve ever heard, and certainly not high pitched or anything like Dolly Parton of old or new Margo Price, but rather warm and somewhat husky from time to time. I’d say, it is definitely the voice of a girl, but infused with some tomboyishness which ends up really covering all vocal bases at the end of the day. Apparently, she is someone who has been singing and writing since a very early age (performing for the first time at 8 I heard), and it is this mature know how that accompanies each track on the album, elevating it beyond the generic or Pop pandering elements that Country Pop was undergoing at the time – especially with female artists. In fact, it is less like young girl material, and a bit more like the exploratory songwriting of Sheryl Crow – with a similar rockier vocal whine as well. It is too much fun when I get my hands on an album where all the songs sound great – and knowing how creative Musgraves has musically become since, it was exciting to hear how it all started.

                                                Written by taylor  / Mar 18, 2019

                                                  Michael Bublé Gives A Masterclass In Artistic Reinterpretation On 2005’s It’s Time

                                                  In today’s music industry, audiences are privy to some pretty spectacular acts across the board, with the level of talent increasing year over year as recording techniques improve in addition to the incredible exposure the internet has given us to areas we would’ve otherwise overlooked just a decade or so ago, but even so it’s often difficult to separate the true artistic ingenuity from those who’re just following along with modern trends to make a quick buck. Obviously, we all have our favourites in terms of genre, style & cultural aesthetic, but there’re few artists around today who we can actually rely on to be consistent in quality across their entire careers, the last batch of such artists seemingly fading out of the mainstream conscious with the rise of the ever-invasive Pop machine in the last five years – Despite this, one of the only artists who has managed to transcend genre-boundaries & demographics to appeal to literally every audience available is a man determined to hold on to the foundations of popular music itself, endeavouring to keep the classic stylings of American music alive for generations to come by reimagining the works of his forefathers to the benefit of modern listeners, universally praised as literally the only male performer worthy of the title ‘America’s Sweetheart;’ I’m speaking, of course, about the sultan of song himself, the buttery-voiced angel of modern Jazz, Mr. Michael Bublé. Though it’s easy to dismiss him as that cliché Pop singer you buy on a whim whilst waiting in line for your venti-triple-americano at Starbucks during the Christmas season, knowing full-well your mother will absolutely adore the gesture if you buy her such a generic gift, the fact he’s made such a phenomenal living off updating old Jazz Standards from the Great American Songbook is a testament to how powerful he is as an artist, essentially churning out a basic cover album year after year that he somehow makes palatable to even the most vehement critic of ‘old people music’ like Jazz & Swing. I was once one of these vocal haters, finding it peculiar he’d found the golden formula to success in Jazz music when even-more talented professional musicians such as my father were struggling to make an impact on the market, but as time has progressed my prejudices have waned, allowing me to go back over his library & appreciate it for what it is – Pure genius. Let’s take a look at this nearly 15-year old album with fresh eyes & try to pin down what made it so spectacular.

                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                    Collecting Many EPs Into One Experience, BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA Collects All The Bops Of K Pop’s Most Popular Girl Group

                                                    In the world of K Pop, it is amazing how quick time flies, with acts popular one year and then gone just as fast as they arrived. I speak from a little bit of experience I would say; about two years ago, I began to consume a lot of K Pop daily on music variety shows playing on MBC, a South Korean TV channel, and I would have to say my favorite girl bands of that era (only a couple of years ago mind you) were TWICE and AOA – and while I never became a super fan of anybody, I noticed from watching the devoted fans on the show that almost every group playing had some sort of amazing support group, whether they were brand new or even a returning act looking for one more chance at a comeback before packing it in. My attentions shifted, plus I lost access to cable TV – and sure, I probably could have been watching Youtube all this time to keep up with trends, but as far as I can tell, both TWICE and AOA seemed to me to have fallen off the radar in the short time that I have been away from the genre, replaced in popularity by this super successful group BLACKPINK, whom I was never super familiar with. Though they formed in 2016, around the time I started watching those music showcases, I don’t remember them much, if they played at all. My first experience with them was not listening to the album BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA, but rather, it was listening to this awesome collaboration between BLACKPINK and my favorite Pop singer at the moment, Dua Lipa. The song “Kiss and Make Up” was a real bop, with a Reggae Fusion beat and pretty seamless transitions between Lipa’s English vocals and the rest of the group’s Korean language singing. I really enjoyed the song enough to check out BLACKPINK’s musical output, and while most of the EPs featured part of the songs, BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA is a little different in that the language is English and Japanese and all their tracks are collected here for maximum listening enjoyment. What I noticed though right away was that the music here was nothing like the Dua Lipa collab. On the one hand, it sounded surprisingly dated, featuring concepts that I felt have already been explored in K Pop’s previous phase. Furthermore, the album is much heavier on Rap elements, and the lead rappers, Lisa (Laila’s Manoban) and Jennie Kim, were some of the best rappers I had heard from a girl group in the K Pop genre. Don’t get it twisted, female rappers who specialize in real underground sounding K Rap are still ahead of the game because they concentrate on the craft and classicism more, whereas the aforementioned rappers here seem to just be mimicking the more obvious popular styles of Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea. A wise choice, as most mainstream audiences crave such a style. Yet, from a critical standpoint, I began asking – ‘is BLACKPINK’s music too derivative of overused mainstream concepts in general?’

                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                      The Aging Reggae Fusion Scene Finds A Light To Follow In Quinn XCII’s Latest Album

                                                      The other day, my brother & I were engaged in a pretty lengthy conversation about the state of modern Pop music, during which the name Quinn XCII came up as I described to him how peculiar it was that Reggae Fusion & Roots Rock music was still finding footing in today’s industry despite being such anachronistic sounds meant for a niche crowd who barely even show their faces in public anymore. About halfway through the conversation, we suddenly realized he’d been thinking of Charli XCX the entire time, as evidenced by his comments on her recent hit “1999” & the clever visual effects employed to pull off the fantastic music video that accompanied the banger, to which he then said “wait, who the hell is Quinn XCII then & why is his name like that?” As I pulled up the Wikipedia page & read how Quinn prefers his name to be pronounced ‘Quinn 92,’ my brothers eyes glazed over, clearly showing his disdain for the naming convention & this generation’s constant nomenclature trickery with no remorse, followed up by a question as to why today’s artists are so obsessed with weird names in the first place; I mean, first we had the whole //a e s t h e t i c// scene at the beginning of the Synth Pop revolution 6 years ago, then came all the Witch House bands like Glass Teeth & Ritualz who stylized their names as GL▲SS †33†H & †‡† respectively, finally followed by roman numerals & Greek lettering in more than a handful of modern acts like LOOΠΔ – Clearly, not only genres themselves but names are evolving alongside internet culture these days, with younger groups trying everything they possibly can to differentiate themselves in SOME way from the crowd now that the internet has flooded audiences with countless iterations of the same trends over & over. But that got me thinking: If all these name styles coincide with very distinct sonic profiles supported by fans who uphold the lifestyle with an iron fist, does Quinn XCII sound anything like the myriad artists he shares a text-style with? I’d only really heard what his music sounded like through secondhand accounts of fans who enjoy him, so I thought I knew exactly what I’d be getting into by giving him a try, but to my surprise he wasn’t a Dance Pop vixen, a ‘woke’ SoundCloud rapper or a brilliant electronic DJ in the least, rather he’s some kind of Macklemore type I had no interest in consuming whatsoever – Still, for the sake of argument, I dove into his latest album From Michigan With Love to see if I could glean some reason for him to associate with the Roman & Greek lettering lifestyle, finding some pretty surprising results within.

                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                        Boundless Talent Needs Somewhere More Dynamic To Go On Anna Clendening’s Waves - EP

                                                        After singing “Hallelujah” to great acclaim on America’s Got Talent in 2014, Chapel Hill North Carolina native Anna Clendening garnered a huge multi million person fan base, and was able to maintain her social media following while developing and polishing off the music which would culminate in the Waves – Ep, an album that does a few things right and a few things wrong in my opinion. What is mostly right is probably what is most important; Anna Clendening has a decent voice, with plenty of strength, even when set to ‘subtle’, plus, she creatively and effortlessly transitions from more Pop worthy styles to R&B to rap singing cadences. That is an absolutely necessary vocal toolset in modern Pop, as artists reflect their love for multiple genres, ad especially those of the Reggae Fusion, Hip Hop, and R&B worlds. In fact, while I love the fact that Pop now draws upon many influences, at the same time I can be annoying that since everyone does a prerequisite style and includes it on their EP or album, all albums end up sounding mostly the same. Which makes the merit of Waves – EP such a tough call. It is more than fifty percent good, which means that Anna Clendening has a future. With that said, there isn’t a ton of speciation to separate her work from that of so many others. Even her ‘legend’ is common in today’s sympathy grabbing climate. Her story is she was diagnosed with anxiety disorder at 14, and through music and very public posts, she communicates her struggles and success with mental health, of course inspiring especially those who are going through the same thing, yet – this is absolutely the most common backstory in the music industry by now. I am of the opinion that one’s mental health story has been overly commodified, and that opening such a door gets in the way of making really great music. This is not really great music. Similarly, other artists who don’t make really great music tend to put much more energy into the their mental health status updates than to great songwriting. By the way, Pop music should not be impervious to great songwriting just because it is supposed to be light and feel-good. And besides, with all these songs being made about anxiety woes these days, the Pop rules have changed, from songs about mindless fun to songs about misery of the mind. To Anna Clendening’s credit, her video diary updates are casual and truthful, and the things she goes through, such as being unable to clean her room because of anxiety, are embarrassing yet educational insights which I see absolutely resonate with other sufferers who say ‘omg, that is so true and relatable.’ Those fans are on lock, unsurprisingly, but for an outsider like myself who keeps my milder mental issues to myself and between the people close to me, I am only interested in the music. My opinion is that audiences today overlook the actual music in favor of connecting with personalities. Of the music on Waves – EP, there is some promise, and even a couple great tracks, but the talented Anna Clendening could take it even farther with more interesting subject matter and less pandering to expectations.

                                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 12, 2019

                                                          Meghan Trainor Unleashes The Talent She’s Been Hiding Away With New EP THE LOVE TRAIN

                                                          Listen, y’all: I’ve been going in hard on Meghan Trainor’s declining relevancy as a Pop icon in my last few critical Narratives for her most recent records, doing everything in my power to convince the masses she’s been on a one-way trip to the bottom of the barrel ever since releasing her ‘first’ mainstream record Title, but I might’ve spoken too soon as her latest surprise EP drop THE LOVE TRAIN seems to have taken everything I said & turned it on its head to make me look like an absolute idiot – Coming just in time for everyone’s most-feared corporate holiday Valentine’s Day, Trainor’s newest entry improves upon every criticism I had with room to spare, dropping the more problematic melodic elements of her studio-perfected persona to produce what is easily the most original record she’s produced to date; Gone are the vast majority of her culturally-appropriating personality traits that made her feel like an American equivalent of the UK’s most culturally-insensitive Pop star Anne-Marie & much of the boring, formulaic, faux-Alternative R&B aesthetics which plagued her previous albums have likewise found their way into the trash bin, instead delivering a fairly-compelling collection of soothing Pop crooners & groovy Dance Funk jams that show off who she is as a musician for the very first time. It’s not the long-awaited second-half of her upcoming TREAT MYSELF record as many fans had been expecting, but it’s almost better that way as we don’t have to sit through her less-entertaining compositions just to get to the good stuff, replenishing what little faith I had that Trainor possessed any artistic integrity at all – I wouldn’t have believed it myself a mere two weeks ago, but THE LOVE TRAIN might actually be a good record, leaving me flabbergasted in disbelief after such a long string of literal trash informed her career hitherto.

                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                            There’s Only Room For One British Heartthrob & Calum Scott Hopes It’s Him On Only Human

                                                            To be frank, I’d pretty much given up on the prospect of primetime reality singing competitions ever producing another popstar after Kelly Clarkson won the first ever American Idol back in 2002; The whole production model just didn’t seem sustainable to me & every time I watched another season ‘America’ would send home my favourite artists who so clearly had the most talent of the bunch, resulting in me losing faith entirely in the brand when other shows like America’s Got Talent or X-Factor started popping up here & there – Now, in my ignorance, I’d stopped paying attention to the British side of these shows which is undeniably where all the best talent comes from in these shows, a la One Direction & Little Mix, so when singer-songwriter Calum Scott made his mainstream debut on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2015 I had absolutely no idea who he was for the longest time, easily confusing him with Liam Payne & purposely staying as far away from his music as I possibly could. To my joyous surprise, though, I stumbled upon his 2018 album Only Human whilst doing some research for work, finding myself pleasantly taken-aback by how absolutely brilliant his compositions were, flipping my expectations on their head & giving me a newfound respect for a musician I’d so easily written off mere months before.

                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                              Alan Walker Finally Brought Us A Different World, But Could We Maybe Get Another?

                                                              One of the biggest sensations in the Dance music market’s last three or four years has been Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, an electronic artist who shocked the world at just 14 years old by being one of the most talented new voices in the scene. His compositions were big & bold with a unique sonic presence all his own that mixed Trance, Hardstyle – at least in tone, not pace – & Tropical House aesthetics together, putting him in the same boat as Marshmello & Martin Garrix as one of the bright youngsters who would propel the electronic industry forward into the future – As time went on, he started building his World Of Walker, giving us incredibly high-budget music videos & bombastic mixes with the promise of a major plot payout for those who stuck along with his viral marketing, but now that Different World is actually out, it’s starting to feel like audiences were duped in another Kickstarter-style scam, failing to deliver entirely.

                                                              Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                Metalcore’s Favoured Children Live On In FEVER 33’s Seminal Work STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS

                                                                As someone whose teen years were spent playing in touring Metalcore, Hardcore, Emo & Tech Metal bands across California back when Myspace culture ruled everything within arm’s reach of the internet, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t over the moon when FEVER 333 first announced they were a band in late-2017, as they embody everything about the music scene I was heavily involved with fused beautifully with the late-nineties Hard Rock sounds that influenced my sonic identity growing up. Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler from the prolific Post-Hardcore band Letlive, Night Verses drummer Aric Improta & the phenomenal guitarist Stephen Harrison of probably the best Southern Mathcore band ever The Chariot, this band was pretty much destined for greatness from the get-go, pulling in elements of all their respective subgenres whilst injecting new, inventive instrumental themes & a heavy Poli-Punk narrative energy into the mix to produce a wholly-unique vibe that’s simultaneously familiar to those who ran the scene in the mid- to late-noughties – I had initially approached the band with a bit of conservative skepticism, feeling like nothing the current Metal-adjacent scenes have come out with in recent years brought me the same sense of adolescent fury & overwhelming angst I felt as a reckless teenager, but their first full-length record release STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS refused to let me down in any way, shape or form, delivering a spectacular display of musicianship & vocal ingenuity that raises the bar for contemporary acts to a refreshing new echelon of talent.

                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                  Dan + Shay grows up with accessible Country Pop for the masses

                                                                  With their first two albums, 2014’s Where It All Began and 2016’s Obsessed, the modern duo Dan + Shay do what they want with the genre, adding Justin Bieber styles riffs and runs, modern effects and a country-ness that takes somewhat of back seat, piping in with the occasional emphasis of a banjo riff or isolated twangy drawl. Now one could say the young, hipster looking duo are more grown up contextually, from their original emphasis on young love, now concerning themselves with the superior magic of each of the songwriters’ newly minted marriages.

                                                                  Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                    Margo Price’s “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” Evokes Both A Small Town And Big City Country Vibe, Plus So Much More

                                                                    Is there anything this gifted girl can’t do? She sings, writes, plays acoustic guitar, piano, and drums. She even has a dancing background, but switched gears to concentrate her singer-songwriting efforts, through a band called Buffalo Clover with husband and guitarist Jeremy Ivey, and also Margo and the Pricetags, yet after building her name in the East Nashville scene and becoming known especially for her distinct voice, it seemed the time was write to really show the world her distinct spin on old fashioned music, be it Country, Country-Soul, Outlaw Country, and Americana, replete with biting social commentary about life’s hardships – in line with her reoccurring interest in the tough subjects, political and otherwise. I like this artist very much because she wants to make a progressive difference as much as she wants to revisit the sounds of the past, which is actually most evident in her newer album All American Made, which deals with the inherit inequality and hypocrisy displayed in gender relations. But on to the one that got it all crackin’ – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is phenomenal, and while a Country layman like myself might think Price’s voice lies dead smack between Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, Margo Price has cited her biggest musical influences as being not only those aforementioned megastars of female Country singing, but musicians like Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, and Bobby Gentry. Margo Price is from Aledo Illinois, which is on the other side of the state opposite Chicago, which qualifies the album title Midwest Farmer’s Daughter – and she certainly comes from a super small town, population 3460, which gives this record and it’s fabled content an authentic vibe. With that being said, through out the album, I feel that Soul, as in Country-Soul, is the standout style as far as I’m concerned. On a song like opener “Hands of Time”, I am swept up by the R&B leanings, which pervade lots of this material, even if certain tracks percussively lean towards bumping honky tonk arrangements. I wouldn’t say that Margo Price is attempting the same rough bluesy soul of Bonnie Raitt here, but she absolutely has something soulful going on.

                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                      Just When I Thought I Was Out, Maren Morris Pulls Me Back In With Her Latest Album GIRL

                                                                      In a move that certainly confuses my girlfriend to no end, I’ve developed an incredibly unhealthy obsession with the music of Maren Morris, a love affair that started just a few years ago when I first heard her fantastic contemporary Country Pop jam “80s Mercedes.” At the time, I had just started exploring the newest wave of Country artists who were trying to bring the genre back to its former glory as artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson & Midland defiantly fought back with astounding compositions hearkening to the older drifter tunes of the eighties, giving me hope that my opinion of Country could expand beyond my prior prejudices to give me a new appreciation of modern music. I’d come around to the idea of not feeling embarrassed by my newfound love of the genre, but then Morris came out of the blue with a phenomenal performance on Saturday Night Live that made me absolutely lose my shit, delighting me in ways I really didn’t think Country ever could. This track – along with “My Church” – was so exceptionally crafted, utilizing some of the best recording techniques & compositional structures to make a tune that felt simultaneously anachronistic & futuristic, what with its killer blend of epic Gospel vibes, classic New Wave electronic instrumentation & fiercely driving chord progression which filled my bones with such satisfying warmth I couldn’t put it down for weeks; It certainly didn’t hurt the track at all to have a wonderfully imaginative music video with some eye-catching visuals, aiding the entire piece in showing me that the upcoming generation of young musicians really do have something of value to behold in the face of so many cookie-cutter clones elsewhere in the Pop industry, thus solidifying Morris as an act I’d love to continue following for years to come – Sadly, much of this popularity led to her inevitably partnering up with artists like Zedd for the Dance Pop tune “The Middle,” which by all means is a thrilling Synth Pop number in its own right but seemed to indicate that Morris was taking a sharp left turn from the solid showing she’d produced only a year or two before, essentially signifying that the Pop machine had taken its hold & that we’d never get such inspiring Country Pop tunes from her in the future. Combined with her less-charismatic persona following her shotgun marriage soon after, I’d pretty much written her off from that moment on as another victim of mainstream media, doomed to go down the same route of generic banality the previous Country queen Taylor Swift did once the fame went to her head, but like a shining ray of hope for humanity Maren Morris persevered just long enough to drop yet another top-tier album in 2019 with GIRL, a home-run of a production equal to & even surpassing the magnificence of her last record – If you’re reading this, I doubt you’re not already familiar with how dope this album is, but just in case let’s take a look at some of its high & low points.

                                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 21, 2019

                                                                        Americana is boundless when listening to Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You

                                                                        For a first time listener who has truly enjoyed Brandi Carlile’s work here, it is hard to pick a favorite aspect of her music tendencies, be them the emotional belting out of folk chops, her slick arrangements, or her constantly surprising notes that thrill from out of leftfield. Already having tackled a variety of styles on years of past albums, By The Way, I Forgive You has an Americana focus which you will want to mine again and again for additional layers of magic that you may have missed whilst caught up in its already robust sound.

                                                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                          While Undoubtedly Formulaic, Kygo’s Kids In Love Captures The Spirit Of Youth Brilliantly

                                                                          Norwegian DJ Kygo is a major part of the Tropical House revolution that took place from 2015 to 2017, sitting as one of a handful of influential artists who shaped electronic music in the mid-teens whilst somehow managing to stay on top despite all the shameless replication the scene was & still is experiencing. Though the sound has begun falling off as more prominent DJs return to the classic Diva House & underground Techno sounds of yore, he’s kept the flame burning for the joyous subgenre, delivering blissful soundscapes full of vim & vigor that inspire wanderlust & pure romanticism in his audiences – When Kids In Love dropped, it appeared as though Tropical-inspired music was finally taking its graceful bow, but he proves in grand fashion that there’s life in the popular subgenre yet.

                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                            These Songs Served As Soundtrack For A Marvel Movie. What Does Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) say of the original albums?

                                                                            So check it out – I am huge Sci Fi fan – more so than even a Marvel fan, and I have some dreams that I intend to turn into reality; where I commit my Hard Sci Fi and Space Opera material to the screen, or perhaps at the very least, I turn my ideas into a series of novels. But back to the screen; I have often felt that mixing some modern day music in a totally future setting would be so awesome, so long as it made sense, either thematically, or plot-wise. It looks like a Marvel film beat me to it though. The fantastic thing about the Guardians of the Galaxy series is that it manages to satisfy both of my requirements, as its soundtrack serves both thematic and plot functions. In the story, an Earthling’s mix tape travels with him to far off cosmic places – a reminder of home that just happened to be his only earthly possession after being abducted by the Ravagers. These tapes and their importance take on new, more diabolical meaning in the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., as the music itself thematically mirror specific scenes happening, or entire character arcs. The compilation itself is chock full of throwback music that would be popular in the year 1980 - the time when character Ego met and romanced Meredith Quill, protagonist Peter Quill’s mother. This music would become tied up in that legendary union which would have dire consequences for Peter Quill’s life. The songs, billed by some as one hit wonders of their day, are all singles that are solid works of art by today’s standards. Running the gamut of Power Pop, Soft Rock, Hard Rock, and even Funk courtesy of Parliament, and I have to say that the tracks here all Rock, irregardless of their categorization. With the genesis of this album’s concept out of the way, I would much prefer to treat each track as a special one, irregardless of whether or not there is a one hit wonder factor attached, because at the end of the day, the songs here are ridiculously good in their own way, and what is more, they are each attached to a real album that, dollars to donuts, are probably good albums that you need to know about. So let’s dispense with the fandom and the trivia of what song was playing in what pivotal scene during this Marvel franchise, and instead look at what is most important of all here – the actual music.

                                                                            Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                              Imagine Dragons’ Are The Heir Apparent To Stadium Packing Sound Like Creed, On ‘Smoke + Mirrors’, But Formulas Hold It Back From True Glory

                                                                              On the heels of their mega successful debut studio album Night Visions, Las Vegas natives Imagine Dragons deliver more of the same, albeit with a little bit more eclecticism with second studio album Smoke + Mirrors, which continues the trend of catch-all anthemia, a boon for Imagine Dragons fans everywhere, yet a challenge for a discerning music fan like myself who tends to be underwhelmed by the formulas present here, however layered or bombastic their individual sound designs. What this band is good at is making tracks loud and concussive and exciting in the most obvious of ways. Many folks are pleased with their style, and even moved to tears by certain concepts and sentiments expressed lyrically – words supercharged by all of the kinetic instrumentation at hand. I will offer, by way of comparison, that the Post Alt Rock band Creed was also, at one time, the most popular Rock band of its time. Ask any music fan – or even music layman, about the relevance of Creed now, and I would say they are not as cool, or as boundlessly talented in our collective perceptions, as they were in their highly advertised heyday. By the way, I should say, I saw through the commercialism back then, to the core of what that band was – basic songwriters with a spiritual, redemptive power which was as appealing then as it is now with Imagine Dragons, who likewise seem to avoid complicated notes and black keys in favor of easy and expected melodies and writing. They just happen to incorporate many more influences than Creed, ranging from Synth to Hip Hop beats to Revivalist Soul to Folk, against Creed’s strictly Hard Rock and Alternative output. Despite various influences fusing into one loud and bold sound, Imagine Dragons are consistently categorized as Pop Rock, because, under all that noise, the notation is all Pop – exhibiting a disinterest with reinventing anything or challenging its listener artistically. What Imagine Dragons do have to offer is great instrumentation and fantastic vocals from front man Dan Reynolds.

                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 20, 2019

                                                                                Weak-Ass Rappers Beware: JID Has The Power To Eviscerate Your Careers On DiCaprio 2

                                                                                As much as I may hate to admit it, I’m 100% one of those old codgers you’d find making bold claims like “music way so much better back in my day,” staunchly holding on to the belief that most – though not particularly all – new music is hot garbage designed to appeal to the widest audience possible without maintaining a level of artistic integrity worth celebrating. I grew up in the golden age of Hip Hop, getting to experience obvious heavy-hitters like 2Pac & The Notorious B.I.G. back when they were alive but more-importantly acts like Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde, Dilated Peoples, A Tribe Called Quest & so many other legendary lyricists who’ve yet to be usurped by anyone of the modern age – While I was certainly entertained by the more Club-centric sounds of mainstream acts like T.I., Ludacris & Jay Z, I never really felt like any of this was true Hip Hop, as it didn’t carry the same level of intellectual intimidation or the narrative heft of rappers from years prior who made you scared to walk the streets at night. For the longest time, I couldn’t bring myself to value anything coming out of the American Hip Hop scene as it was either pure garbage or just boring mumble-rap bullshit, with the best underground stuff hailing from Canada – not you, though, Drake – & the UK, but like a bat out of hell JID has suddenly graced us with some of the best lyricism I’ve heard in ages, completely embodying what was so exhilarating about the old borough-defined Rap mixes from back in the day by giving the same sort of poignant storylines & heavy street personas you’d wanna make a rad skate video to – Sure, that’s a bit specific, but those who know just get it.

                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                  Boogie’s Lengthy Everythings For Sale Serves Up A Curveball To The Hip Hop Industry

                                                                                  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: Today’s Rap offerings are nowhere near as creative, compelling or even emotionally-substantial as they used to be, consistently landing somewhere between monotonous Club Banger sensibilities or repetitive lyrical structures that’re indistinguishable from the competition, a problem that’s especially prevalent in all the Trap music that spawned from the SoundCloud demographic. It’s not like there aren’t a fair share of genius acts out there, wordsmiths like Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak & Mozzy giving the industry a run for their money, but the vast majority of rappers who get their start on Worldstar Hip Hop lack any sense of personality that’d warrant their obscene mainstream success, standing so many levels below the varied Hip Hop voices of the nineties & early-noughties, back when you needed no more than two bars of any song to instantly recognize who the rapper was by their voice & flow alone – In the latter-end of 2018 & especially the fantastic beginning of 2019, the Hip Hop industry has really done its due diligence to bring much of this artistic creativity back to the scene much as the House & Techno markets have started shunning Tropical compositions in favour of the more percussion-heavy arrangements of the late-nineties Diva House persuasion, enriching the market as a whole & replenishing the dominance Hip Hop once held over audiences. Among many other artists who’ve restored my faith in today’s scene, Compton, California native Boogie – not to be confused with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – has thrust himself to the forefront of public reception with his latest Everythings For Sale album, assuring the iconic sonic profile of the southern California Bloods gang would persist into the future, showing all the wannabe-gangbangers of the Florida rap scene what true streetwise flow is all about.

                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                    Cat Power’s Wanderer is intimacy is unmemorable

                                                                                    On her last album, Sun, Cat Power’s musical motifs therein were varied and complex, yet this time around, a stripped down intimacy is the theme. Ten albums into her career, much territory has naturally been covered already, though, after exploring the sound of several songs on the new offering Wanderer, one gets the sense that an intimate affair opens itself up to more scrutiny if the songs themselves are not the strongest ones an artist can offer up. This is that type of affair, where no one track holds your complete attention, and where few especially stand out as moving or memorable.

                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                      5 Seconds of summer leave rock behind for good on Youngblood, and deliver a pop album all the way.

                                                                                      When 5 Seconds of Summer ditches their guitar noise and drummer Ashton Irwin’s rocking rhythms, synth takes over on Youngblood, with some big hits, and quite a few throwaway tracks, which suffer from having no identity of their own. 16 tracks is kind of a tall order for a Pop album, which this surely is, and the derivative, sometimes repetitive offerings here bloat up a record, which should have repped Australia’s natural propensity for excellent Pop music, from the newer Empire of the Sun to the older stalwarts, INXS. Thankfully, the tracks that do work are quite memorable.

                                                                                      Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                        Honest To Betsy, Summer Walker Is The Neo Soul Goddess We Didn’t Know We Needed

                                                                                        When I was first put on to Summer Walker’s freshman outing Last Day Of Summer, I wasn’t necessarily motivated to jump into it right away, initially expecting it to be another generic Alternative R&B experience akin to the dirge of Trap-adjacent R&B albums we’ve been overwhelmed with in the last three or four years; Whether it be the artsy, purposefully-amateurish album art meant to evoke a sense of adolescent whimsy – what with its washed-out photography & non-descript design – or the fact her name was Summer Walker, a fairly basic name without the artistic pizazz or truly captivating status to give me the impression she was an act worth remembering, nothing incited an emotional response within me powerful enough to rush into the record, resulting in me putting it in my queue for nearly three months before finally setting aside the time to scrub through it – To my surprise, not only was Last Day Of Summer a delightfully intriguing sonic experience, it’s was also evocative of all the R&B aesthetics I love, producing genuinely heartwarming storylines over incredibly relaxing beats that instantly put you in a positive mood, washing away the banalities of the mainstream Alternative R&B machine to give you nothing but auditory bliss in the best of ways, barring a few creative decisions one could easily let slide seeing as this is literally her first ever record. If you’re up for it, come along as I break down just what makes this such a compelling adventure.

                                                                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                          Shinedown’s ATTENTION ATTENTION Flips The Script On Hard Rock Banality

                                                                                          If you were born in the late-eighties or early-nineties, you’d have been alive long enough to remember the assault of Grunge & Hard Rock which ruled the Rock music airwaves at the time, including its evolution into the form of Alternative Rock during the later-nineties that saw Rap Rock & Butt Metal reach unprecedented levels of mainstream appeal; Suddenly, everyone wanted a chain-wallet, a soul patch & some JNCO’s to look as tough as possible – While sad for some, many were thankful when these genres were usurped by Emo, Electro Pop & Indie as the noughties went on, erasing every existence of these Hot Topic-adjacent bands from the market. The silence came, enveloping the industry in cheerful Folksy “HEY!” chants & stripping everyone of the brooding rage they all held inside – But then, right when you were least expecting it, Shinedown appeared with a new look, a new energy & a fierce attitude unlike any other.

                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                            Falling For Khalid’s New Romantic Inspired Ballads Is Even Easier On 2nd Album ‘Sun City’

                                                                                            It was a challenge for me to dig most of Khalid’s previous effort, American Teen, and while I recognized that the young singer was doing a something a little different and cool with his voice, over some fresh New Romantic era material, the plethora of songs on his debut album didn’t really hold my attention because they sounded redundant too my ears. Reading up on the superstar, I discovered that he had a super strong following in his adopted El Paso, with basically the whole school of Americas High behind him, therefore it was determined at the time to slap together his surplus of music to capitalize on the buzz caused by hot national singles like “Location.” This, I suspect, is the reason why I felt some tracks were decent while others were lukewarm – because of this need to rush and get him out there. The culture and critics were fine with it though, and he garnered a bunch of Grammy noms as a result. I remained unmoved – then I gave Suncity a listen and it changed my mind completely.

                                                                                            Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                              Minimal And Trending Trap Pop Continues Unabated With ‘Unfortunately, Terror Jr’

                                                                                              I never noticed Terror Jr standing out in the crowded Pop pantheon, and now that I’ve noticed them by digesting not only this latest effort, but some past records, I still would not be able to tell you what is special about the duo. The front-woman is a blond girl named Lisa Vitale who sings with auto-tune and adheres to hedonistic Trap styles made famous by ATL Rap, beats created and mixed with an emphasis on minimalism, thanks to the stewardship of David "Campa" Benjamin Singer-Vine. I guess beat artist Felix Snow left at some point, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the music, since all the Eps basically sound the same, though fortunately, Unfortunately, Terror Jr benefits from a bit more polish and range. I say a bit, because these songs are boring man. I can’t relate to them much because I feel it’s mostly culturally appropriated bad girl music made for IG models who seesaw between drug highs and endorphin depletion, the type ‘champagne problem’ scene that I can barely stomach. But damn my personal feelings – if the music is awesome, then I eat it up, yet alas, I can’t applaud mediocrity dressed up as minimalism. What I can applaud are the joints that work, while admonishing the tracks that just lay there.

                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 14, 2019

                                                                                                Kenny Chesney Tones Down His Anthemic Quality To Provide More Intimacy On ‘Song for the Saints”

                                                                                                Kenny Chesney is a very easy artist to get along with, as the Rock and big anthemic hooks he normally incorporates are generally solid and enjoyable – and while he has sometimes been labeled as too commercial and arena-orientated in the past, I always felt that he was the type of Garth Brooks talent to pack a stadium while at the same time possessing an understated side, just looking for the right moment to glow. That moment seems to have been preempted by environmental catastrophe, as Chesney’s world view was deeply effected by 2017’s Hurricane Irma, which devastated his beloved town and residence of Caribbean island Saint Martin. The title track of the album, “Songs for the Saints”, is a ballad with a quiet Rock ferocity that encapsulates this lament, with a dust-yourself-off spirit – “this brokenness will heal, this weakness will be strong / let's lift our voice together as the saints go marchin' on.”

                                                                                                Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                  Treat Yourself To Meghan Trainor’s Last Shot At Relevance With 2019’s TREAT MYSELF

                                                                                                  It’s not always easy to pick yourself back up after a devastating loss, especially when it comes to being a Popstar in today’s industry, but sometimes all it takes is a quick dye-job & a drastic stylistic shift to regain the trust of all those fans you’d disappointed in the last round, knowing audiences are fickle & are eager to consume whatever noise you can put out to help them disassociate from the relative darkness we call life. This was Meghan Trainor’s basic path when she created TREAT MYSELF, pulling a Bruno Mars & moving a step ahead of industry trends by overshooting the whole eighties-inspired New Wave Synth Pop revival entirely for more of an early-nineties Freestyle & Dance Funk aesthetic that felt totally unique at its time of release, announcing to the world that she’d learned from her past mistakes & was ready to become the radiantly-shining Pop idol she was destined to be all those years ago had she not squandered the faith her followers had supplied – With such heightened expectations, one would assume TREAT MYSELF was a massive improvement over the artist’s prior works, which it certainly shows signs of being at times, but it’d come with its own range of missteps & poor performance choices that’d only serve to prove why no one should support Trainor as an artist in the first place, the first issues arriving even before the album was even live when she moved the original August 2018 release date to January 2019 which itself has yet to be met. Time & time again Trainor has shown she has no interest in growing a backbone throughout her career & I for one am getting tired of feigning interest in what she has to offer, as I’m always let down by the promise of each new song’s instrumentation the moment she opens her mouth & begins singing.

                                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                    ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’: Another Muddy Outing From Halsey, The Polarizing Pop Princess

                                                                                                    My biggest gripe about Halsey is she seems inauthentic to me, though one could argue, very successfully, that I don’t know her like that. So then I move to the actual music, from vocals to arrangements to ‘concept’, and to the folks that think I have an attitude problem or something, if any of the three points I illustrated were in fact impressive to me, I would be right out there with y’all, completely leaving any argument about authenticity out of the equation. At the end of the day, I never ‘got’ the hype about Halsey, and watching a recent SNL performance of hers singing the single “Eastside”, I could tell that whatever I thought, her activities such as painting ‘live’ while singing were resonating with her audience in a major way. In this performance, she does a decent performance painting within the pre made boundaries of a sketch, yet her voice seems too effortlessly delivered, while physically crouched and clearly distracted – leading me to analyze her mouth more than the materializing work of art. Now, I would never fault a singer for lip syncing while painting, as doing the two things would be a tall order for any mutli-talented artist. In a tweet, she claimed that she was singing, which reinforces her ‘stanning’ fans’ defense of the performance, enough to certainly make them happy – which is all that matters really. My only thing is, I’ve seen lip syncing in action; it looked like lip syncing in action, she was constantly bent in one of the most unforgiving positions to sing with the range she exhibited, she doesn’t really have said range to begin with in a live setting, the backing track and vocals were pumping overtime, and her face and body language really leans more towards audience engagement and completing the painting in time, with hardly a trace of visible strain at trying to hit her notes. I’m not calling bullshit, but I’m just sayin’. The fact that she says ‘no, I was singing the whole time’ doesn’t hurt her in the eyes of her fan base who already defended her from incredulous minds like mine. All of the sudden, I thought, hey, this song is not terrible – it’s a collab between herself, Khalid, and Benny Blanco, but it wasn’t phenomenal either, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s be real. So having heard the previous album BADLANDS and being very disappointed with its content, I thought that perhaps in the couple of years hence, her album hopeless fountain kingdom (Deluxe) might possess, at the least, a balance of immature and mature songwriting. A fifty fifty experience is what I was aiming to hear.

                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019
                                                                                                    • #Halsey
                                                                                                    • #HopelessFountainKingdomDeluxe
                                                                                                    • #Pop
                                                                                                    • #SynthPop

                                                                                                    Listening To Brett Young’s Self Titled Album, You Can Almost Feel The Play By Play Of A Couples’ Romance Come To Life

                                                                                                    Whether he is going big on sound, or instead applying a tender touch to the arrangement, Brett Young’s debut album is a decent effort with enough romantic music to fill a two hour date movie. Whether your in love, or out of it, and mores specifically, trying to rekindle it, then this may be the Country album for you. And on the notion of genre conventions, this album is lighter on Country, closer to a sound that Brett Young creatively calls Caliville than Nashville. Born and raised in Orange Country California, the man infuses a distinctive twang that keep things Country of course, but his light-drawl is not excessive, and he is just as interested in incorporating elements of Pop, R&B, and Rock. In terms of Pop writing, while some tracks fit the market, others have their generic moments, which show the limitations of the Country Pop genre – yet, personally I would much rather listen to an album with this style of Pop over a Bro-Country album which sounds too lame and blowhard to me. That is why Young should be given a chance at the end of the day – as he is not trying to cash in on some overly-cliched sound just because it is trending. In fact, many of the songs on this album were co-written by Young and are thus authentic experiences, where he is singing about what he knows – and in this case, that would mean romance.

                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 20, 2019

                                                                                                      Ella Mai Sneakily Steals The R&B Crown With Her Fantastic Self-Titled Album

                                                                                                      For anyone who’s paying even the slightest bit of attention the music industry, the R&B scene has been long overdue for a complete makeover. Back in the nineties & early-noughties, $&B music reigned supreme across the board, with even the weakest performances still generating thrilling soundscapes full of pure emotion, excellent musical theory & some of the most compelling dance grooves around – Once Alternative R&B hit the scene, the whole genre as a whole seemed to devolve into this lowest-common-denominator realm wherein everyone’s out to sell records instead of truly believing in the music they’re producing. Thankfully, Ella Mai aims to stir the pot, tapping into the teachings of her predecessors to create quite possibly the best R&B record of this decade, the Mary J. Blige of the new generation.

                                                                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                        Avril Lavigne Struggles To Pick Up The Pieces Of Her Shattered Career In Head Above Water

                                                                                                        When you think of Avril Lavigne, there’re typically two images which pop up immediately in your head; The generic but absolutely enrapturing faux-Pop Punk era of her career with the iconic Teen bops “Complicated” & “Sk8er Boi” – the latter of which ruled my eight grade summer – or the annoying, self-absorbed, culturally-insensitive garbage of her third album when she was trying to make the whole ‘I’m a fucking princess” gimmick stick in songs like “Girlfriend” form her horrendous third record – After The Best Damn Thing dropped in 2007, it was pretty much unanimously decided that the mainstream music industry would excommunicate Lavigne as a person & a musician, nipping things in the bud in order to prevent her from causing further damage to the Pop music realm, an act that for all intents & purposes actually seemed to work in subsequent years as she faded from all popular media altogether. Her next few records barely made a splash outside her immediate circle of followers & the world seemed genuinely pleased with her absence as the industry continued to shift away from Club Dance & Pop Punk sensibilities, some even going so far as to claim she’d committed suicide in various conspiracy theories to explain her irrelevance in the modern age, but a short stint with Lyme disease would soon thrust her back into the limelight, softening everyone’s harsh criticisms & building hope that her forthcoming record Head Above Water would be the one to break the cycle, presenting audiences with a more mature Lavigne who’d learned from her missteps, prepared to reintroduce herself to the masses in a major way – Well, I’m not one to discredit the absolutely devastating effects of life-threatening diseases, but it seems we might’ve given her far too big a benefit of the doubt, as this record is once-again a heaping pile of filth no amount of sympathy could wash clean.

                                                                                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                          The Tale Of How Florida Georgia Line Reshaped Country Music As We Know It

                                                                                                          In popular media, there’ve been countless instances of underdogs facing insurmountable odds to change public opinion of a certain genre, from Trap instrumentation invading all manner of music to become the hottest sound in the industry to once-sidelined pre-teen musicians suddenly ruling the market with an iron fist in the internet age, proving you’re never too young to leave your mark on this world in a big way, but perhaps the most astonishing curveball was how quickly Country music erased its stereotypical redneck image in the early-teens to become one of the most profitable & critically-acclaimed genres of the modern era. For what must’ve been decades, Country existed as this niche genre you only listened to if you were born on a farm or lived in the red-belt of America, every Tom, Dick & Nancy who claimed to be an open-minded audiophile confidently stating ‘I listen to every genre of music…well, except Country, of course’ as if that somehow gained them entry to the cool-kids club; I mean, I can distinctly remember driving with friends on exceptionally long car rides through the more rural parts of California where acceptable radio stations were few & far-between, said companions willingly deciding to listen to the Regional Mexican radio channels if their only other choices were Country or static, illustrating how vehemently people in the noughties kept their distance from the genre for fear of looking like an inbred simpleton who supported the Republican party. All of this changed in 2012 when Nashville, Tennessee natives Florida Georgia Line dropped their first formal studio album Here’s To The Good Times, forever cementing Country Pop as a genre capable of appealing to mainstream audiences with gusto thanks to a focus on feelgood vibes, genre-bending crossover tracks & a less-stereotypical southern charm that actively sought to break away from the hoedown aesthetics of their predecessors – You could undoubtedly make the argument that prior Country Pop acts had already done much of the heavy lifting from 1995 to 2007, as Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson & Big & Rich essentially spawned the whole ‘we get down & dirty but can be sensitive at times’ aesthetic, but as these groups aged & audiences turned ever-more-youthful we started seeing an aversion to cowboy hats & side-mouthed twang since it typically represented old-world ideals steeped in misogyny & hatred, a vibe millennials were having absolutely none of once their voices were formally recognized as the driving force of the internet generation, giving Florida Georgia Line the perfect opportunity to shake up the system with a formula more attuned to modern, sexually-liberated, disenfranchised youth culture. While this saved Country music from imploding upon itself at the start of this decade, the band aren’t without fault as they simultaneously birthed a movement that would almost destroy Country once again come 2018.

                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                                                                            Check Your Ego At The Door – Josh Groban’s Bridges Is Worth Every Minute Of Your Time

                                                                                                            Much like his contemporary equal Michael Bublé who also made his bread & butter in Pop media by creating updated covers of classic music, Josh Groban has been a staple for mainstream listeners on the radio for decades now, finding a particularly ravenous audience among people waiting in line at Starbucks who like to peruse the last-minute gift ideas placed in front of the cashier. He’s an undeniably talented performer, literally changing the face of Opera music forever by making it much more approachable to modern listeners through the sheer power of his voice & his conventionally appealing looks, but with great mainstream success also comes immense criticism, especially in today’s day & age where popularity is often conflated with mediocrity, a cheap opinion listeners use to feel like they’re ‘in’ on the joke for the sake of camaraderie – More often than not, individuals who think themselves better than the Pop machine will happily shit on everything Groban has created, as anyone capable of remaining positive & hopeful in a world as cruel as ours is clearly a sellout who’s shamelessly shilling good vibes just ‘cause that sort of generic worldview performs well with your run-of-the-mill middle-American person, right? I know this because I was one of those haters not too long ago, constantly tearing down any sort of positive review he received ‘cause I thought he was somehow inferior to the seemingly magnificent musicianship I enjoyed in my own sonic interests – You see, I once dated a girl from North Carolina who identified herself by three specific things: The popular ABC dating show The Bachelor, everyone’s favourite Disney trio the Jonas Brothers & – you guessed it – Josh Groban. She equally idolized the completely unrealistic expectations of romance all three promoted, but it was Groban in particular who she just couldn’t get enough of, playing his lofty, often monotonal & undynamic Opera numbers on repeat for days at a time no matter how embarrassing & completely uncharacteristic it was of the person she presented herself to be when we first started dating; This unfortunately tainted my perspective of his music for years after we broke up as I associated his music with hours upon hours of tedious replays that bore away at my very soul, literally embodying how exhausting our relationship was right up until the bitter end, so I was never able to really appreciate his fantastic skill as a musician considering he represented something so foul – Thankfully, time has broken down many of those ill-placed barriers, allowing me to approach his latest record Bridges with open eyes & I’ve gotta say, I absolutely love what I see & wish I hadn’t been such a defensive prick all these years whenever someone said they actually liked his music.

                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 18, 2019

                                                                                                              Like A Bunch Of Out-Of-Touch Dads, Weezer Release Yet-Another Dud With The Teal Album

                                                                                                              When I was growing up in the nineties, there was nothing more beneficial to my ragamuffin adolescence than the introduction of Alternative- & Garage-Rock techniques in the Rock music space, this new breed of heavily-distorted, Punk-adjacent music beautifully summing up what it meant to be a kid in the age of baggy-panted skateboard culture. Bands like The Verve, Blur & The Smashing Pumpkins gave the subculture-obsessed youth of the time a sound of rebellion to voice their discomfort through, giving way for Hardcore, Emo & Hard Rock to bloom into the magnificent creatures they would become in the early-nineties – Of this melodic selection, Weezer stood above & beyond their competition thanks to the absolutely riveting basslines of Matt Sharp & the self-deprecating lyrics Rivers Cuomo would sling in each narrative, making for the perfect mix of angsty sensibilities & driving Power Pop tunes to really get your emotions burning at a fever pitch, but after their freshman self-titled Blue Album & my definitive favourite record Pinkerton, the band slumped into a decades-long period of monotony that never quite caught the magic of their earlier work, due in large part to the departure of Matt Sharp & Rivers’ increasingly enlarging celebrity ego; Suddenly, they were no more original than their contemporary Pop Rock brethren OK Go, upsetting die-hard fans like myself whilst assuring we’d see nothing but disappointment in the years that followed – Over time, they started leaning into the jokiness of their existence, delving into straight up Pop on albums like Raditude & conforming to Tropical industry trends on the much-maligned Pacific Daydream, but their more recent Teal Album takes the cake for cringeworthy songwriting, forfeiting originality in favour of appeasing the internet’s ravenous desire for them to become a living, breathing meme, quickly eviscerating any integrity they had lingering in the margins.

                                                                                                              Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                Oh The Memories, As I Glean My Favorites From Best of ‘Every Great Motown Hit Of Marvin Gaye’

                                                                                                                With a title like Every Great Motown Hit Of Marvin Gaye, that shit better be true, the devil on my shoulder says, but the angel’s voice of reason counters that this particular record was put out in 1983, and since then, we have had an even longer time and even more generations discover the various aspects of the Marvin Gaye songbook, making determinations of their own on what are his greatest Motown hits. Personally, my greatest hits are not so much the earliest or earliest material, a period which starts with album How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By You and seems to end with the Tammie Terrell duets. No, for me, it all really begins with the pivotal progressive Soul album What’s Going On, given to me by me father when I was 14 or 15, which was the biggest trip of all, because my Dad, even though he is a working musician and performer, never really gave me albums growing up, which I suppose could be surprising. I’m a film buff, and I expect to hip my kids to all the dopest cinema, but I also understand – when you work in music, the last thing you’re thinking is propagating that music. What’s Going On blew my mind, and it’s exceptional music is represented on Every Great Motown Hit Of Marvin Gaye with the tracks “What’s Goin On”, “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler), and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” That is the start of my real involvement with Marvin Gaye, and then I would dive deeper with the exceptional albums I Want You and Let’s Get It On. Fun fact – I don’t ever listen to the song “Let’s Get It On.” I have always felt that it was overly commercial and, with respect, an old folks versions of something sexy. It will be more than hilarious when my grand children turn up their face at the sexy sounds of a Prince ballad that I drop for them, saying that it is an ‘old folks’ version of something sexy – but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there. This current compilation album starts with the sixties stuff that I have mostly ignored, travels through the seventies, and mostly ends with the dynamite tracks on album Let’s Get It On, which is just as well, because by time of the album Midnight Love, separating the meat from the fat on such an album was an ordeal. Therefore, I would offer that this is a pretty good best of.

                                                                                                                Written by taylor  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                                                                                  Selena Gomez’ Solo Debut Stars Dance Is A Jarring Reminder How Big Eurodance Was In 2012

                                                                                                                  With how far Selena Gomez has come as an actress & musician in the last five or so years, it’s quite easy to forget how incredibly turbulent the earlier portions of her melodic career was, both now & at the time of her mainstream inception, as the lens of time distorts things to epic proportions when it comes to her whole schtick – As I went into on my Narrative about her follow-up record Revival, she was very much a product of the Pop machine when she first broke free of Selena Gomez & The Scene to start her solo career with Stars Dance. Before this, she fit in somewhere along Demi Lovato’s more Rock-heavy style with a band that was solely focused on fun, quirky Teen Pop with a slight Punky edge, her compositions typically aligning with the then-popular trend of adolescent heartbreak borne of the Myspace generation’s Emo days, never quite capturing the attention of radio listeners in the way a former Disney star would probably have hoped. Suddenly, with Stars Dance, we saw her diving straight into the rising trend of popular artists releasing Dance Pop albums, particularly of the Eurodance variety, what with their driving electronic soundscapes packed full of abrasive Club Hit-style synth melodies & repetitive vocal patterns meant to express a lust for the dancefloor, something everyone can somewhat vibe with without having to sit through highly-specified narratives about personal experiences or the like – As far as Gomez’ music is concerned, I can genuinely say I was not a fan of her entries whatsoever, finding them to be cheap knockoffs of much more talented artists & completely underdeveloped for someone with the amount of funding she had on hand, but in retrospect I’m realizing she was actually doing a much better job than I’d initially determined; Only problem is, she’s so clearly chained to the whims of her studio producers that you never feel like you’re actually receiving an artistic expression of who she is as a performer, rather it’s a checklist of required elements the label knew would appeal to younger, less-engaged audiences.

                                                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                    Learn Why BTS Are The Reigning Champs Of Boy Pop With Album Love Yourself ‘Her’

                                                                                                                    Arguably the most popular boy band from South Korea at the moment, 2018 was certainly the year of BTS, and progressing into 2019, their music is still relevant because of some smart stylistic choices which makes their music very modern to my ears. While I would have preferred a bit more of a New Jack Swing style on some of the tunes, I concede that that fad may be over in Korean music for the time being, and themes are probably going to lean more towards Hip Hop and Urban for the while – yet album Love Yourself ‘Her’ isn’t an aggressive sounding album by any means. The digital Trap elements are modest, and the bass lines are not intimidating, but rather chill. While I found that I dug, as a whole, more of the songs on previous album Love Yourself ‘Tear’, for their sheer Neo-Soul R&B power, Love Yourself ‘Her’ has some truly excellent music too, but in general, it leans more towards a popular instrumentation that marries electronic elements with Pop writing (on the ballads at least) and perhaps a little Soft Rock instrumentation here and there which makes the music sort of middle of the road and uber crowd pleasing, like that of Maroon 5 – but nonetheless, it’s all really well executed. And when it’s not a ballad or a dance groove but rather straight up rap song like “Outro: Her”, I swear to god – the rapping is ridiculously authentic – but more on that later. This was a successful listening session for me from a successful international megastar group, and obvious proof for why these 7 gentlemen have legions of ultra loyal fans. I don’t know if BTS moves me so much that I would want to start stanning with everyone else as a full fledged ARMY member (as the fan base is known), but I can absolutely understand the demand for their music – thanks to a mix of BTS’s attention to musical detail, and, though I do not speak Korean, I am of the understanding that the lyrics are much more open and meaningful than your average group’s output, as they wrestle with themes of anxiety, mental health, and the balancing act of personal freedom versus career obligations. BTS has always been known to be a band that is more open about their individual lives and struggles, whereas other K Pop bands have historically had to operate under contracts which aim to restrict personal expression, for ‘fear’ of muddying the carefully groomed ‘idol’ façade. A looser media relationship with the public allows for BTS to be more forthcoming lyrically, and for that matter, more truer musical artists.

                                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 25, 2019

                                                                                                                      Three Days Grace Earn An Astonishing Level Of Prestige With 2018’s Outsider

                                                                                                                      If the incredible selection of Hard Rock-revival albums which came out in the latter-half of 2018 are anything to go by, we may very well see a resurgence of flavour-saver soul patches, chain-wallets & baggy cargo-pants on the horizon, as nearly every single group of this genre released damned-near perfect 10-year anniversary albums over the course of the year, exceeding prejudiced expectations & proving that Rock music has one of the most engaged fanbases of all established genres. Likely spawned by the increasing Pop-ification of Rock personified by bands like Imagine Dragons & 5 Seconds Of Summer, pretty much all of the late-nineties & early-noughties mainstays of Nu Metal, Rap Rock & Hard Rock who’d previously gone underground have made incredible comebacks, flooding the market with fringe-culture interests the likes of which haven’t been seen since the relatively-niche second-wave Emo movement of the late-noughties took the world by storm via Myspace & Tumblr – Why is this important, you ask? Well, while such genres once delighted vast swaths of Rock audiences who’d grown up on the edgy sensibilities of nineties-era comic book culture, almost all of these groups & their respective followings had been rendered jokes of the music industry as the market shifted towards a more sensitive aesthetic, myself included in those who looked down on the perceived douche-iness of the scene, so the mere fact these albums are able to prosper at all in today’s highly-refined Electronic atmosphere shows just how eager audiences have been for a new style. Of these acts, Three Days Grace have perhaps moved me in the most substantial manner, going from the easy Nickelback-like joke of a band I thought they were in my youth to genuinely causing my head to nod along in delight, their updated sound coming across rather mature & far more in-tune with the melodic progressions spearheaded by the Metal scene in the last decade than the admittedly-embarrassing edge-lord compositions they produced ages ago for their Hot Topic-loving outcast fans once upon a time – In what comes mostly as a shock to myself after having shit on this band more than a handful of times, I’ve found myself admitting out loud that I actually like this album for what it represents, even if that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d spend my own money on it.

                                                                                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                                                                                        Metalcore Finds Its Stride Once Again In Unearth’s Brutal Extinction(S)

                                                                                                                        Okay, let’s level with one-another for a minute – If you clicked on this article, chances are you’re between the ages of 28 & 40, have a closet full of mostly black crew-necks or band-tees & think Beatdown Hardcore is aurally pleasing, not abrasive & demonic; As such, you likely have a firm understanding of when Metalcore hit its peak & likewise agree that the scene has been nothing but over-processed nonsense ever since 2012 when Bring Me The Horizon went mainstream & the genre lost its appeal altogether – After nearly 14 years passing since their best record The Oncoming Storm, Boston, Massachusetts natives Unearth have surprisingly come out of the woodworks to reverse this devolution, bringing the Metal scene the guttural screaming & overblown amps they’ve been craving for years & doing so with style.

                                                                                                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                          Michael Bublé Gives A Masterclass In Artistic Reinterpretation On 2005’s It’s Time

                                                                                                                          In today’s music industry, audiences are privy to some pretty spectacular acts across the board, with the level of talent increasing year over year as recording techniques improve in addition to the incredible exposure the internet has given us to areas we would’ve otherwise overlooked just a decade or so ago, but even so it’s often difficult to separate the true artistic ingenuity from those who’re just following along with modern trends to make a quick buck. Obviously, we all have our favourites in terms of genre, style & cultural aesthetic, but there’re few artists around today who we can actually rely on to be consistent in quality across their entire careers, the last batch of such artists seemingly fading out of the mainstream conscious with the rise of the ever-invasive Pop machine in the last five years – Despite this, one of the only artists who has managed to transcend genre-boundaries & demographics to appeal to literally every audience available is a man determined to hold on to the foundations of popular music itself, endeavouring to keep the classic stylings of American music alive for generations to come by reimagining the works of his forefathers to the benefit of modern listeners, universally praised as literally the only male performer worthy of the title ‘America’s Sweetheart;’ I’m speaking, of course, about the sultan of song himself, the buttery-voiced angel of modern Jazz, Mr. Michael Bublé. Though it’s easy to dismiss him as that cliché Pop singer you buy on a whim whilst waiting in line for your venti-triple-americano at Starbucks during the Christmas season, knowing full-well your mother will absolutely adore the gesture if you buy her such a generic gift, the fact he’s made such a phenomenal living off updating old Jazz Standards from the Great American Songbook is a testament to how powerful he is as an artist, essentially churning out a basic cover album year after year that he somehow makes palatable to even the most vehement critic of ‘old people music’ like Jazz & Swing. I was once one of these vocal haters, finding it peculiar he’d found the golden formula to success in Jazz music when even-more talented professional musicians such as my father were struggling to make an impact on the market, but as time has progressed my prejudices have waned, allowing me to go back over his library & appreciate it for what it is – Pure genius. Let’s take a look at this nearly 15-year old album with fresh eyes & try to pin down what made it so spectacular.

                                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                            Meghan Trainor Invades Our World For The First [Noteworthy] Time With Title

                                                                                                                            Though it feels like she made her grand entrance into the mainstream music space nearly a decade ago, Meghan Trainor first graced – or cursed, depending on your stance – us with her presence a mere five years ago with the original EP version of her breakout record Title, charging into the mainstream consciousness with an unrelenting charm that hit all the right spots as far as listeners were concerned – As if part of some super-secret underground marketing campaign that’d be planned for months, she seemingly gained her overwhelming notoriety in a matter of days upon the record’s release, playing on a loop alongside Sia’s fantastic “Chandelier” & Nicki Minaj’s bombastic “Bang Bang” as if she were the second coming of Christ, giving her one of the most outstanding freshman entries anyone had seen in years from a relative newcomer to the scene; Of course, this ultra-refined persona would soon be outed as a studio-exec’s pet project designed specifically to appeal to the masses, seeing as she literally deleted her entire library of previous albums from music distributors like iTunes & Spotify to give her new image an air of authority by distancing herself from the happy-go-lucky ukulele teen she was before, selling out to the nth degree & removing any sense of artistic integrity whatsoever – It goes without saying that this marketing treachery should’ve warned us from the get-go how problematic the young artist would become in the subsequent years, but the wool had already been pulled over our eyes, convincing everyone – even a typically-judgmental prick like myself – that Title was the bee’s knees, an album worth blasting when you wanted a moment of levity in a music industry besieged by an endless assault of Reggae Fusion vibes. Oh, how wrong we were…

                                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                              Coming A Out A Year After His Self Titled Album, Kane Brown (Deluxe Edition) Adds Four More Tracks For Your Modern Country Enjoyment

                                                                                                                              While I’m not blown away by the sounds of Modern Country, I feel like giving my brotha Kane Brown another spin and revisiting his self titled album now that it adds several songs to the experience. The deep baritone is still intact, and while I have heard some commentators complain that the young man sounds pretty flat here and there, I would say that in the low register where he is most powerful and compelling – and that is his whole modus operandi anyways listening to his catalogue. Vocally speaking, of any of the new artists on the scene, I actually find Kane Brown’s to sound very traditional and masculine, and therefore don’t understand some of the hate, saying he is not Country, etc. Hell – are they even listening to this cat’s serious cowboy drawl? Sometimes it can sound borderline caricature, like actor Sam Elliot singing in a Coen Brothers’ western themed dark comedy. Of course, there are plenty of alternative examples of Kane Brown going the other direction depending on the demands of the track; on “Hometown”, the energy is explosive and club-worthy, with the singer aiming for higher notes on the celebratory hooks which better match the distinct mix of Electronica and Rock rhythm. And on an even poppier example “What Ifs”, Kane Brown can be heard employing both singing high and low styles on one individual track – which may not be my favorite arrangement on Kane Brown (Deluxe Edition), but is definitely a worthy example of his exciting brand of Country Pop. Mind you, this isn’t the type of music that I would personally bump, even if I had a Tacoma truck, but I can certainly see it’s mainstream appeal, as in this regard, most of the tracks get the job done.

                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 18, 2019

                                                                                                                                Job Bellion Wows Audiences With The Most Unique Sound In Decades

                                                                                                                                Back in the day, the music industry seemed to innovate on existing genres every couple of years, with two of the best periods for artistic growth coming in the mid-nineties & early-noughties Hip Hop & Electronica scenes. Strangely enough, right around 2009 we stopped seeing much of this creative development, with the mainstream market becoming completely overtaken by Pop sensibilities & Club Hits, every scene since then slowly fusing with the same Tropical House & retro eighties ideals with the advent of social media as artists try to adapt to what’s hot on the web – It appeared as though the more creative & experimental side of Pop, Rock & Hip Hop had disappeared entirely, but Jon Bellion absolutely threw everyone for a loop by releasing Glory Sound Prep, one of the decade’s most spectacular compositions yet.

                                                                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                  Avril Lavigne’s Debut Album Let Go Will Forever Be Her Best & Only Noteworthy Album

                                                                                                                                  In the years since she first captured the hearts of mainstream audiences everywhere with her delightfully Alternative attitude & approachable Skater Punk aesthetics, Avril Lavigne has more or less fallen down the rabbit hole into a nightmarish world of mediocrity, delving further & further into monotony with every subsequent album. In Under My Skin, she seemingly dropped her streetwise persona altogether in favour of a more Liz Phair sort of kitsch-iness, she regressed into a self-centered snob of a pre-teen performer in The Best Damn Thing through which she not only insulted Japanese Kawaii culture several times but also created a brand new standard of garishly bratty behaviour for young girls to identify themselves with in the Teen Pop romp “Girlfriend,” followed by two consecutive albums – Goodbye Lullaby & Avril Lavigne – that were so banal nobody even remembered they came out, too focused on her relationship with Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger to give a damn about her music; This, of course, culminated in her wholly underwhelming 2019 release Head Above Water that saw her adopt a faux-Christian persona after a short stint with Lyme disease in an attempt to ‘reinvent’ her public image, a move that only served to prove how devoid of character & integrity she is as a musician – Looking back, then, it’s understandable that her breakout album Let Go still sits atop the list as the singular most important piece of media she’s ever released, figuratively overflowing with personality & capitalizing on the very essence of adolescence at the turn of the century, youngsters looking for any sort of mainstream outlet for their furious angst that could delight the senses whilst straying far away from the overwhelming positivity of the Teen Pop acts who’d ruled the airwaves in the years prior. It was & still is a picture-perfect representation of just how awkward the transition from child to teen can be in the American scene as you struggle to find your place amidst the hormonal changes of puberty, trying on different personas & finding cliques of like-minded individuals through which your unbridled angst & apathy can be channeled for good. There wasn’t any concern for grandiose thought experiments or introspective analyses of life’s purpose, just a bunch of entertaining Pop Punk numbers with a feminine touch that made every teen want to find a girl just like her, showing that you didn’t have to be some blonde bombshell or the most talented singer in the world to be noticed so long as you had some raw emotions boiling in your heart & a counter-culture attitude that said ‘fuck the system.’

                                                                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 18, 2019

                                                                                                                                    Kodak Black gives a long overdue album to his fans amidst trials and tribulations

                                                                                                                                    Hailing from South Florida, Kodak Black has struggled to juggle a huge career with continuous legal trouble. Google some of the charges and you will see that they are not to be taken lightly. It was in this climate that the delayed album Dying to Live finally saw the light of day in December of 2018. Honest testimony flows from these mostly satisfying tracks, proving once again why the rapper is hard to forget – and after the murder of fellow artists XXXtentacion, he arguably has cemented his roll as the regions most iconic talent.

                                                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                      For A Better Balance Of Pop and Country Conventions, Listen To Luke Bryan’s Early Albums Like ‘Tailgates & Tanlines’

                                                                                                                                      Luke Bryan is one of those artists that seems to have something for everyone. The general Country fan consensus though is that he used to be closer to his Country roots, but switched his style up, album by album, towards a Pop pandering style, which garnered him more and more success, but at the possible detriment of losing not just authenticity, but his a true sense of cool. Add to this the fact that he started becoming a real sex symbol with the ladies in the mid 2010s, and therefore, the music took on more electronic club worthy elements and pick-up artist phrasing – you know, to excite the female fans and sell more CDs and concert tickets. My biggest issue is that this catch all sexy attitude is hard to pull off unless you really have the gift of gab – and unfortunately, artists cut from Luke Bryan’s cloth more oft than not sound moronic when trying to say cool or sexy things. Yet I must concede, he is getting a response – yet I would have to honestly say the type of fans who don’t become flush with embarrassment at such lamely-delivered game don’t know the sound of true game in the first place. Alas, they are happy with the big anthem sing along spirit, and happy to be amongst like minded folks who enjoy the sexy party attitude offered up, uninterested in being critical about such anemic commercialized cool being voiced song after song, a vernacular which just would not pass in side by side comparisons with artists from other genres who slang sex in a more authentic and attractive way. Which is why I find Luke Bryan a very talented man yet one who too often throws these sayings and terms out blindly with the hopes of some of it sticking to the walls, causing me to cringe more often than not, even in the middle of song I might have been sort of digging. You can’t pretend to say stuff in a cool way. Especially in recording, you are blessed with the ability to perform multiple takes, so if you can’t get it right with all that production support behind you, and something cringy makes its way on to the actual track, then it becomes a question of taste. Searching for Luke Bryan’s true sense of taste, since I feel he has lost quite a bit in the pursuit of modern crossover hits, I investigate a popular transition album circa 2011 called “Tailgates & Tanlines”, where the instrumentation is still mostly analog, and the sexy-cool-guy lines are more confidently delivered and closer, I speculate, to Bryan’s authentic self.

                                                                                                                                      Written by taylor  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                                                                                                        Want to reach your mountaintop? Dierks Bentley’s new album can help.

                                                                                                                                        Dierks Bentley’s music in the past has been what some could classify as a mix of neotraditional country and arena sized explosiveness, and on The Mountain continues this tradition, with special attention made towards the stories of downtrodden listeners who could rely on these new tracks to boost their mood and even inspire them to tackle life’s bigger issues. Meeting these types while on the road apparently shaped the title’s metaphor; mountains are the tallest barriers on earth, but to master a beautiful summit is to master whatever had you down at it’s base in the first place.

                                                                                                                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                          The Spirit Of Femininity Is Stronger Than Ever In Lula Wiles’ What Will We Do

                                                                                                                                          Over the last handful of years, I’ve become increasingly inspired by the creative expression found within Country music, discovering a deep romanticism & technical prowess buried deep within the confines of Outlaw Country & Neotraditional that has started to peek its head out from under the admittedly generic sounds of Country Pop that’ve governed the industry in the last decade. As has been the case with pretty much all of the Indie Rock, Electro Pop & Neo Soul music I’ve consumed in my twenties, I’m particularly delighted by the wave of powerful female acts out there in the lesser-explored corners of the music industry, finding overwhelming joy in the expression of womanly desires & the oftentimes mesmerizing harmonies found in this specific sound as you’re almost guaranteed a more emotive, imaginative listening experience from these sort of acts – As far as Country & Folk are concerned, groups like Pistol Annies & Haim have made a considerable impact on my enjoyment of their respective genres, giving me the fierce attitude & intriguing narratives I desire over some of the best instrumentation available that proves all you need to have a good time are some stellar guitar riffs & a passionate drive for storytelling, which is something I got in full-force on Lula Wiles’ fantastic sophomore album What Will We Do.

                                                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                            An Unrestrained Live Performance Brings A Whole New Perspective To Sam Cooke’s Music

                                                                                                                                            Across the last century of popular media, there’ve been a handful of musicians so prolific that they’ve earned themselves legendary titles amongst listeners, whether it be Michael Jackson’s ‘King Of Pop’ moniker, Funk visionary George Clinton’s well-deserved ‘King Of Funk’ title or the colloquial term of endearment ‘The Boss’ attributed to the spirit of American Rock music himself Bruce Springsteen, but only one royal entity comes to mind when you hear the term ‘King Of Soul,’ that being the infallible Sam Cooke, Motown & Soul’s short-lived guardian angel of the fifties & sixties music scene. Cooke was a legend amongst his peers, paving the way for such prolific acts as Marvin Gaye & Aretha Franklin, but – unsurprisingly – the majority of those who recognize his music have absolutely no idea how impactful he was as an artist & personality as his decidedly African-American-leaning sensibilities were painstakingly downplayed by industry execs who wanted him to pursue a more mainstream Pop identity, his producers literally white-washing his music for the sake of record sales instead of capitalizing on the extreme power he had to move Black audiences to action with his intimately-relatable performances & lyrics; I mean, if you were to poll mainstream listeners from the last three decades, they’d likely all describe him as being nothing more than a quaint little Diner-Pop performer whose music you’d find in cheery period-pieces about wholesome sixties-era ideals, as his legacy has been watered-down to present only the most idyllic character who aligns with mainstream interests – One glaring example of this effort to de-Black-ify Cooke is his incredible 1963 record Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963, a record his label refused to release until 1985 because RCA Victor “viewed the album as too gritty and raw and possibly damaging to his Pop image, quietly keeping the recordings in their archive.” Cooke’s ability to capture the unspoken anguish of the African-American existence & his intoxicating stage-presence drove the audience wild, the raucous event creating much more auxiliary noise & astonishingly-disruptive behaviour than most execs had ever seen in a live performance before, thus leading them to deem the entire ordeal to be unfit for the Pop audiences they’d been aggressively marketing his more-restrained Pop music to – In no uncertain terms, the label’s prejudiced perspective of Cooke’s mesmerizing presence led them to shelve his music out of fear it would affect their bottom-line, such blatant racism even persisting up through its second-pressing as part of a 2000 box set wherein the audience was turned-down to negligible levels to maintain the softer sound the industry had advertised him as, in essence removing the very soul of this Soul musician’s work. Luckily, the 2005 remaster remedies this atrocity by giving audiences the raw, frightfully-enchanting Cooke we all deserve, culminating in a collection any classic audiophile would absolutely love to have propped-up on their night stand, a gem of an album deserving of the utmost respect for what it had initially set out to achieve.

                                                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                              Chameleon Of Sound, XXXtentacion Also Brings His Inner Truth With The Iconic Album 17

                                                                                                                                              Just when I started to really peep how much rapper XXXtentacion represented the future of the new generation of Hip Hop, the life of this prolific 20 year old artist was cut short in a robbery. He made a huge impact on his fans, and even outsiders looking in such as myself. I had never sat down to listen to a whole album such as 17, but I had heard his singles plenty of times, and noticed the explosive, Punk energy of his particular brand of Trap – and in this South Florida rap scene, one could argue that nobody was more iconic than XXX and Kodak Black – yet in the spirit of true Hip Hop, I love the fact that these two great Artists sound nothing like each other – a rarity in this copycat Soundcloud Rapper industry. X’s personal style is influenced by Punk, R&B, Nu-Metal, and obviously Hip Hop, but actual rapper influences are hard to pin down exactly. In contrast, one could at least say that Kodak Black is influenced by a combination of Lil Wayne and heavy regional vernacular. These two icons did influence lots of other rappers though, possible tens and hundreds of them – though XXXtentacion I feel is the one who had the most diverse voice and beats – and those who followed in his footsteps subsequently adopt his guitar R&B and often cinematic arrangements. On the subject of the clear musical prowess heard in his music, this is due to him being a self taught guitarist and pianist, plus his ability to sing quite competently through a combination of Alternative Rock emotion fused with Soul. But it is not just technique that XXXtentacion is known for – his songs and lyrics are designed to represent his actual being, as he himself invites the audience to enter his mind on intro track “The Explanation”, all but instructing millions of young fans to listen only if they agree to accept him and swear loyalty, creating a ‘Cult of the Depressed’ whose leader talks in a husky yet innocent sounding voice.

                                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 21, 2019

                                                                                                                                                The Made-For-Movies Soundtrack Industry Lives Again Thanks To Kendrick Lamar

                                                                                                                                                2018 was a fantastic year for more than one industry: Comic book movies represented two of the year’s must-see events, African & African-American stars helmed one of the most successful films in decades & Hip Hop reached a new plateau of artistry – Oh, plus all of that happened within a single movie; Cool, right? Black Panther presented a whole new frontier for Black representation in film, but one of its most astonishing achievements is the revival of mixed-media relations in the cinematic market, namely the development of custom soundtracks recorded specifically for & to represent a work of film. Kendrick Lamar, one of the most – if not the most – influential lyricists of our time lent his voice, production skills & vision to writing an entirely unique album of original music for Black Panther, changing the way the industry treats movie tie-in music altogether whilst simultaneously inspiring a movement of self-discovery.

                                                                                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                  Country’s Most Beloved New Popstar Kacey Musgraves Has Been A Sleeper Agent For Years

                                                                                                                                                  Country music as an entity has experienced an unprecedented amount of critical acclaim in the last decade, with 2018 being home to some of the most successful mainstream releases of all time, delighting countless listeners across the industry regardless of their favoured genres & prior prejudices of Country itself. Of these iconic releases, Kacey Musgraves shook us in spectacular fashion, seemingly coming out of nowhere to produce a near-perfect album of exquisite Traditional Country numbers titled Golden Hour that rekindled the splendor of Psychedelia, progressive thought & analog instrumentation long considered absent from the scene, all whilst promoting feministic ideals that inspired millions in the wake of modern culture’s much-needed #metoo movement, shaking things up in a major way for the first time since Florida Georgia Line popularized contemporary Country Pop all the way back in 2012 – You’d be forgiven for thinking this album was a labour of love that miraculously graced us with its presence considering the vast majority of audiences had never actually heard of Kacey Musgraves before she so brilliantly thrust her charming ways upon us, but the Golden, Texas-born songwriter has actually been making waves in the Country space since she was a child, releasing her first original composition at the tender age of 8 & continuing to hone her craft all throughout adolescence, passionately venturing into the festival-circuit the moment she graduated form high school until she finally found success with her first solo album Same Trailer Different Park in 2013. From the moment this album dropped, she’d already begun showcasing her incredible competence as a musician by delivering empowering female anthems with a southern twang clearly influenced by headstrong women like Dolly Parton & Miranda Lambert, though seeing as the Country machine was still treating younger female artists like Teen Pop idols who had nothing of value to say a la Taylor Swift & Miley Cyrus, her innate talents were continuously overlooked & modified to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator of audiences, unfortunately rendering her nothing more than a basic artist with a cult following. Thankfully, this all changed when she dropped her second & arguably most divisive album Pageant Material, turning the southern-belle Popstar archetype on its head by satirizing Country music itself & pushing a far more progressive feministic agenda in each quirky number, separating herself from the pack by showing she was not only a phenomenal performer but a force of nature to be reckoned with who was unafraid to challenge the status quo, setting the stage for her follow-up album to absolutely mop the floor with melodic creativity the likes of which no one was prepared for.

                                                                                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                                                                                                                    Taylor Swift Leaves Her Country Identity Behind Like Another Bad Ex In 1989

                                                                                                                                                    If you’ve read my Narrative about Taylor Swift’s 2012 album Red, you’ll know I was wholeheartedly impressed with not only how compelling it was as a formative work of music in her career but how astonishingly-impactful it was on an emotionally-abusive relationship I was in around the time of its release, convincing me I had nothing to be ashamed about in ravenously consuming the record as it was a genuinely solid collection of tunes that put others in her demographic to shame; I found joy in its endearing lyrical content & plenty of material to jam to on long car rides from my now home of Los Angeles to my old stomping-grounds of San Francisco, believing this was the start of a beautiful relationship with mainstream media the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since the late-nineties wave of Alternative Rock & Electronica that informed my adolescence, but – regrettably – this period of acceptance would be short-lived when her follow-up record 1989 dropped, relegating her back to radio-only-listening for me as her sound fell into generic obscurity along with the rest of the industry – To dial things back a few steps, Swift had shown audiences with her last record that she was ready to grow up as an individual & as an artist, generating much more expressive compositions with a real sense of identity you could latch on to in some truly jam-worthy tracks you’d easily find yourself blasting on a weekly or even daily basis, proving she had what it took to making a lasting impression on the music industry as a whole in the years to come; She was no longer the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngster with a penchant for naiveté who couldn’t help but sing about her horrible celebrity dating track record, opening things up for a more engaging sonic experience for a wider audience than she ever could’ve achieved with a strictly-Country aesthetic, but the fame unfortunately went to her head like a silver bullet in a werewolf film, corrupting her aesthetic irrevocably with what is easily my least-favourite Swift record 1989, tainting her image moving forward & making me sad that my birth-year was associated with such derivative dribble – You may think I’m being a tad harsh seeing as this was easily Swift’s most critically-appreciated album, but if you search your heart on deeper analysis, you’ll find my words are nothing if not the truth.

                                                                                                                                                    Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                      Bring Me The Horizon Bring Their A-Game With Experimental Album amo

                                                                                                                                                      Back in the late-noughties, I was heavily involved in the Screamo & Metal scenes of the time, playing in multiple experimental Metalcore bands & frequenting shows in dank warehouses or rented-out church-centers, actively participating in the formation of a culture that defined the era. By the time then-Deathcore band Bring Me The Horizon started gaining traction across the sea, I had already grown tired of their entire aesthetic, only really finding value in their surprisingly competent composition skills considering how young they were; Sure, maybe I was just jealous that these guys could play better than me or maybe I was annoyed by how obsessed my younger friends were with a style my bandmates & I had already graduated from, but I just couldn’t get behind their music, believing it was too tonally inconsistent & full of strange pacing issues that kept their music from being more narratively compelling, falling into the same formulaic traps bands like The Devil Wears Prada & Job For A Cowboy had been ensnared by in the same period – While I generally passed on the opportunity to consume whatever noise they put out, I had always kept my hear to the ground to observe how they’d grow over the years, noticing the same gripes being shouted throughout the industry whenever their names came up; Apparently, the last decade has not been kind to them, with most listeners claiming the band hasn’t dropped a solid record since 2010’s There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret., citing their increased use of Pop melodies & overall decline in heaviness as a major deterrent towards their music. My interest was piqued, however, upon the release of their latest 2019 joint amo in which critics are claiming the old BMTH have made a triumphant comeback, one I just had to see for myself & to be honest, I’m thoroughly impressed with what I got in return.

                                                                                                                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                        While Not The Biggest Fan Of Lukas Graham’s Output, I Commend His Skillful Execution Of Introspective Pop On ‘3 (The Purple Album)’

                                                                                                                                                        I used to have a Danish friend named Sammi (I believe that is how he spelled his name), and my memories of him, besides the fact that he was a cool and stand up guy, was that his English was so ‘American’ in its delivery. I remember asking him, since he learned English in Europe, why his accent didn’t take after England, because of it’s proximity to his own nation. I vaguely remember that he said something to the affect of; American music and TV were heavily consumed by his culture, and folks like him rather admired the sound off my accent. Lukas Graham and crew are Danes who seem to subscribe to this view as well, as their vocals especially are pretty indistinguishable from that of American Soul accents – impressive enough to my ears to be a non issue, where I would have just assumed that the Pop act was from Los Angeles. Mimicry notwithstanding, the group is not trying to be the greatest R&B singers in the world, but rather, I feel that they are more interested in introspective, storied Pop, in the vein of Ed Sheeran, and the very successful debut album, Lukas Graham, seemed to me to be designed to chase Sheeran’s international dynamite success at that time. The second time around on 3 (The Purple Album), the theme is all about growing up, with several songs tackling fatherhood, since lead singer Lukas had a child between albums. Like the deep heartfelt songs on Lukas Graham, exemplified by the truly moving “You’re Not There”, which was about the absence Lukas felt by his father’s passing, he is equally deep and almost too hard on himself about missing pivotal moments in his new child’s life, due to the demanding schedule and pressures of a maintaining a successful music career. Therefore, after hearing only a few songs off of 3 (The Purple Album), I pretty much got the gist that this was a pretty fantastic album in its own right.

                                                                                                                                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 07, 2019
                                                                                                                                                        • #3ThePurpleAlbum
                                                                                                                                                        • #ClassicPop
                                                                                                                                                        • #LukasGraham
                                                                                                                                                        • #Pop

                                                                                                                                                        How Daft Punk’s Discovery Made Me A Kinder Person Today

                                                                                                                                                        It’s not very often a record comes along that speaks to you in such a way that it completely defines who you become later-on in life, shaping the way you think & influencing your personality as you grow; Sure, everyone will have their favourite albums & artist, ones that remind them of a special time in their formative years or maybe of a certain someone, but truly life-changing works of art are a rare occurrence – For me, that was Daft Punk’s incredible 2001 jamtacular “Discovery,” a record so perfect, so utterly genius that I wouldn’t experience anything as integral to my being until much, much later on in life, affecting every facet of my personality throughout middle- & high-school.

                                                                                                                                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                          Julia Michaels Finally Finds Herself With The Inner Monologue, Pt. 1 - EP

                                                                                                                                                          I’ve got to hand it to Julia Michaels, ‘cause she seriously altered my opinion of her career & her presence in the music industry with her latest collection Inner Monologue, Pt. 1 – EP, throwing out every negative thought I had of her previously. When she was first introduced to the masses back in the early-teens, she just felt like another in a long line of generic Pop singers who were hitting the scene at the time, perpetuating industry standards alongside Lorde, Halsey & even the reinvented Selena Gomez with a generic style that was predictable & beholden to the aesthetics audiences loved at the time, shelling out track after track of boring Tropical Pop dance tunes with the then-refreshing fuck-the-world youth mentality everyone desired. She’d go on to team up with Lauv & Clean Bandit on songs that felt lifeless & nondescript, her formulaic teen-heartthrob lyrics & generally relaxed demeanor turning me off of her compositions entirely as she blended more & more with the sounds of her contemporaries, but this disdain quickly turned to admiration when I laid ears this latest EP, convincing me she just needed a little bit of time to gestate on who she was as an individual as the industry began reconciling its creative issues – Now, as miraculous as it may seem for someone who’d rather listening to the blood-curdling screams of a Death metal song or the intense underground rhythms of a Berlin Techno tune, I can genuinely claim I’m a fan of the musician she’s become, aligning with my love of late-noughties Electro- & Teen-Pop unlike any of her contemporary acts have been able to do in years.

                                                                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                            Kelsea Ballerini’s Unapologetically Is The Taylor Swift We Never Got To Have

                                                                                                                                                            Though she probably hates the comparison many have suggested over the years, Kelsea Ballerini is one of the last holdovers of the more traditional feminine voice of Country Pop music, staying true to the more innocent, old-fashioned viewpoints on teenage relationships whilst advocating for better standards of living for women throughout the genre. Taylor Swift once held our attention in these circles of thought, providing endless jams with a lighthearted spirit & a youthful exuberance, but as she & other heavy-hitters like Kacey Musgraves & Lauren Alaina have tried to push their sounds in a much stronger, often delightfully-feminist direction, the more underappreciated aspects of Teen Pop within Country have fallen to the wayside, leaving younger audiences without that bouncy, willfully-ignorant sound they need to keep their formative years bright & jolly like it used to be – With Unapologetically, Kelsea Ballerini turns the tables, capturing that exuberant spirit we love & creating an album full of nothing but catchy road-trip bangers you’ll happily sing along to when no one’s around.

                                                                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                              Of All Pop Rock Bands, Imagine Dragons Have Set The Trend, Evidenced In The Satisfying Sound Of Album ‘Origins’

                                                                                                                                                              Imagine Dragons continue to be at the top of their game when it comes to writing and performing arena packers, just like a modern day Queen, and on Origins, the band may have even struck the same eclectic balance with respect to disparate genres that can be contained on one rock album, similar to Queen’s hit album The Game. Love them or hate em’, it has to be said that this successful Pop Rock band knows what they’re doing and what the widest group of fans will respond positively to. So, from a critical standpoint, it is always a challenge to assess an album whose clear design keeps their target audience in mind, over the artistic demands required through evolution. For instance, “Natural” is both annoying and awesome at the same time. This is Imagine Dragon’s “We Will Rock You”, and it is no surprise that it is a hit at halftimes across multiple sporting events since its release. The same-style slamming drums will motivate you to get back out on the court fired up, yet the hook, explosive as it may be, is sort of silly to behold. It strikes me as a swashbuckling way of delivering a chorus, with a fisted swinging up of the arms, in a ‘yo-ho-pirates-life-for-me’ affirmation. Dan Reynolds, a consummate singer, hits all off his rocky notes, but comes off extremely bratty and nasally – the type of aggressive expression that would probably make whomever it was addressed to roll their eyes, counting their blessing that they are no longer involved with such a man baby. The track pivots back and forth, typically, between low acoustic passages and these extreme, stadium-ready highs. This is designed to be ‘that’ hit, but its not nearly as cool sounding as previous titles such as the more recent “Thunder” – and rather, more like the structure of the annoying “Believer”. Which is to say, these cats keep making the same style ‘big’ songs.

                                                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                Twitch Streamer ‘Ninja’ Brings Soundtracks Back To The Pro Gaming World

                                                                                                                                                                In what is certainly one of the most peculiar developments in today’s electronic music market, the biggest push towards diversifying the industry in 2018 – also leading into 2019 – comes not from the scene itself, but from a completely unrelated outlier: Ninja, the Twitch streamer extraordinaire – In the past year alone, the 27-year old gamer has achieved unprecedented celebrity thanks to streaming himself playing the game Fortnite online, with all manner of advertisers & companies turning to him for endorsements, but the most important of these is the “first-of-its-kind” partnership he scored with production house Astralwerks, creating Ninjawerks, Vol.1, a custom soundtrack to Ninja’s gaming persona & by proxy the online gaming network as a whole, bringing us back to the good ol’ days of competitive gaming when those who created worlds with digital sprites & those who wrote electronic music worked hand-in-hand.

                                                                                                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                  Dan + Shay’s ‘Where It All Began’ Is Like A Country Starter Kit That Non Country Fans Will Probably Enjoy

                                                                                                                                                                  It is so cliché to say ‘I like all styles of music – except Country.’ How many of us have heard this line, or even uttered it ourselves? A true music aficionado like myself could never truly be so without conceding that Country music has a lot going for it – you just have to look in the right places. The classics are good, from George Jones to Willie Nelson, yet in modern times, I for one had a real problem getting down with what is considered popular and Country today. From former Country act Taylor Swift to the Bro Country of Florida Georgia Line, I decided ‘nope’, the new stuff has no listening value for me. Not to beat up on the aforementioned artists – but generally, the Pop conventions are what ruin it for me, and in the case of Florida Georgia Line, I really disliked the ginning-up of drawl and Country-ness I detected which I guess was supposed to counteract all the Pop party formula happening. Enter Dan + Shay, a duo I initially wrote off, assuming from a few singles and definitely their visual brand that they would be another sort of cheap shot party Pop duo – but after listening to their newest self titled album, boy was I wrong about them. I enjoyed their music enough to want to discover where it all began, which is why I would recommend any music listener, interested in decent Country Pop, should listen to their first album Where It All Began, which, like much of their catalogue, emphasizes true love and passion over the more usual tropes of drinking and tailgating.

                                                                                                                                                                  Written by taylor  / Mar 15, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                    She Might Call The Album ‘Younger Now’, But Miley Cyrus Is Officially A Very Mature Artist

                                                                                                                                                                    As of the late 2017 release of Younger Now, Miley Cyrus had established herself as one of the most mercurial Pop stars of her age range, certainly as ambitious as Lady Gaga, if not a little behind in a race that started before Cyrus was old enough to make mature musical decisions. This maturity developed quickly, and while she can be forgiven for the teen friendly Pop of her first several albums, it seems to me that things got halfway serious with the very commercially successful Bangerz, all the way serious with the risky experimentation but much more aesthetically complex Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, and undeniably serious, but in a drastically different way, on the Countrypolitan masterpiece Younger Now. I am a so-so Country fan as I often tell people, but am really passionate about the interesting chords and image conjuring power that neo-traditional versions can sometime possess. Cyrus’ efforts here transcend Pop, yet don’t completely bow down to a strict Country code, and rather, the Country Pop sub genre, if we can start from there as a classification, is turned on its head here through the infusion of Dream Pop, New Wave, Hippy Revivalism, Dance Pop, and Electric Rock. To be so young and to have mastered all these disparate sounds into one cohesive experience is quite a feat, one I am fully appreciating now.

                                                                                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                      Demi Lovato Shows Off The Confidence Of Having One Of The Best Voices In Pop On Album ‘Confident’

                                                                                                                                                                      Segueing from most of the Synth Pop and Bubblegum Pop on album Demi, Demi Lovato exudes confidence on the album Confident with impressive vocal deliveries, whether she is belting out some Gospel caliber performance, or getting urban with sing-talk cadences, and the proof seems to have been in the pudding, because the album was popular, and she foretold all of this in a statement made around its release; “I've never been so sure of myself as an artist when it comes down to confidence, but not only personal things, but exactly what I want my sound to be and what I know I'm capable of and this album will give me the opportunity to show people what I can really do." This apparently correlated with the positive fan response, as the album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, supported by a successful Future Now Tour with Nick Jonas, her long time friend and collaborator. Now, I am not the hugest Pop fan, and while I recognized that Lovato at the time was a pretty outstanding voice compared to her peers, I was only impressed with several of her actual tracks then, and my opinions have not changed much on a recent full album listen. It’s audio ranges from motivational Dance Pop, to some Synth Pop, and several joints in the categories of R&B, Soul, Gospel, Hip Hop and Pop Rock. A tall stylistic order, but a good portion of it is either too similar to the competition, or aimless in its songwriting, which should be laid at the feet’s of a hell of a lot of cooks in the kitchen, with a shortlist of writers including Julia Michaels, Steve Mac, Laleh Pourkarim, and Ryan Tedder. Writer-producer Max Martin seems to have made the most indelible contribution, thanks to his involvement on the two biggest critical and creative hits; both “Confident” and the genius jam “Cool for the Summer.”

                                                                                                                                                                      Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                        With ‘The Essential Billy Joel’, You Too Can Dive Into The Musicianship Which Made The Piano Man So Famous

                                                                                                                                                                        There are a few artists who were big at the same exact time which I have, for much of my life, overlooked, giving preferential treatment to one and not the other – but now is the time to stack all their music against each other. I have given Elton John a chance to wow me, but wasn’t exactly blown away like I thought I would be. Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Billy Joel, in my head at least, seem to be in the same songwriting camp – and I have always been much more of a fan of the piano pub era of Springsteen’s music – you know – songs like “Hungry Heart” where the piano plunks away and end up feeling instantly so damn working class, listening to hard luck tracks (yet always with a fire that is not truly extinguished) – and while Elton John’s music sometimes sounded that way for me, I would say that Billy Joel, from the songs I know, seemed much more like the Springsteen music that I already like. I suppose it’s an American blue collar spirit that I find charming to hear and to sort of recreate that experience – and so looking for some music like that, I had hoped that Billy Joel would provide more of it. The Essential Billy Joel seemed a perfect compilation to hear new music of this specific sub genre – and who knows how much of this style would be represented, or how many new styles and facets of Billy Joel would be discovered. I had a feeling that it would be of the lounge sort of vibe – perhaps Tom Waits without all the smoker’s voice. Don’t know why, but I’ve always dug the idea of a piano bar – and the melancholic piano player, and the barfly audience, and the general sad idea that the player should be a star, but ‘here he was’, loyally playing for the patrons who were loyal enough to show up every night.

                                                                                                                                                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 14, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                          Even By Eighties Standards, Mötley Crüe’s Shout At The Devil Is A Hilarious Heavy Metal Flop

                                                                                                                                                                          When you hear the name Mötley Crüe, chances are the first things that pop into your head are buxom blonde strippers with fried hair dancing on the Los Angeles strip, shiny leather getups of the S&M variety adorned with little metal studs & an excess of cocaine that epitomizes the whole Sex, Drugs & Rock’N’Roll culture, right? Well, while the contents of Girls, Girls, Girls would eventually come to define the band as the go-to choice for exotic dancers from 1987-onward, the band’s earlier entries were far from the image of Heavy Metal godliness you envision when thinking about them, their second record Shout At The Devil being one of their biggest flops in terms of sonic identity; It’s thematically directionless, compositionally messy 7 has some incredibly laughable lyrics that display in exquisite detail how adolescent the scene was at the time, making their steady climb to success all the more captivating when looking back at such numbers – But why, then, am I taking a stab at such a universally-panned record when everyone already knows how cringeworthy it is to return to? To be honest, it’s really nothing more than a curious itch of mine, as I’ve been venturing into the deep past of today’s most famous musical acts in an effort to see if my prior prejudices were warranted or not, the progress of time helping me be more accepting of anachronistic music from which the modern Rock scene has evolved rather than simply ignoring music people tell me to overlook. You see, I was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I was exposed to Punk music from a very early age & based my entire personality around being a crass individual with an anti-establishment mindset throughout the nineties & noughties, but I didn’t actually find a taste for Metal music until the early-noughties when music television channel VH1 started airing a series all about the greatest songs of Metal history, finding a world of magnificent demonically-themed music just begging for me to consume it over the course of a summer. In this series, Mötley Crüe accounted for a healthy handful of the tracks discussed, with their most famous pieces like “Kickstart My Heart” & “Dr. Feelgood” lighting up the pleasure centers of my Jazz Theory-trained brain, causing me to download as many of their tracks as I could off Kazaa & Limewire so I wouldn’t look like a fool when talking about Metal with my new hesher friends; Regrettably, I didn’t venture much further than their certified hits, leaving a major gap in my knowledge that has persisted until today, my interests leaning far more in the Black-, Doom- & Thrash Metal scenes of the overarching Metal genre since Glam- & Heavy Metal had long faded from popularity – So, without further ado, let’s take a look at one of the most unintentionally-comedic records I’ve ever lain ears on.

                                                                                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                            LOOΠΔ Raises The Bar For What Beauty K Pop Can Achieve In [X X] - EP

                                                                                                                                                                            Guys, I’ve been curating music as a living for the better part of three years now & writing about it for the last 14 months, toiling away for hours at a time to give my perspective on music both modern & vintage in an effort to understand what it is that makes the world’s most beloved music tick. Naturally, I have my own preconceived notions about what constitutes ‘good’ music these days & I try my best to be as objective as possible when analyzing albums I think are hot garbage that others might love unconditionally, but I’ve gotta tell you, I haven’t heard anything as refreshingly pleasant as K Pop breakout LOOΠΔ’s most recent album X X – EP in a really, REALLY long time – Over the last year or so, the music industry at large has moved forward with an inspiring sense of artistic growth, whether it be the utterly fantastic Self-Titled record of R&B powerhouse Ella Mai, the surprisingly intriguing work of Lennon Stella or the brilliant retro-revival tunes coming out of the new Country music scene from acts like Margo Price, but time & time again these genuinely-skillful artists are pushed back from the mainstage to make room for another round of generic albums from the world’s favourite celebrity personalities, as trendiness seems to have more to do with the success of popular music than true compositional skill. Thankfully, one genre virtually everyone can agree produces nothing but hits is the wonderful world of K Pop, going from niche subculture only a short 5 years ago with a very predictable sound to the hottest commodity in the industry back in 2017, refining itself so much in the years since that the majority of its releases throughout 2018 accounted for some of the best musicianship the industry has seen since the late-nineties; LOOΠΔ is no exception to this melodic progress, representing the pinnacle of Korean Girl Idol groups thus far with a production that’s jam-packed with absolutely breathtaking Alternative R&B jams with a sleek EDM sheen, breaking free of the kitschy genre gimmicks of K Pop’s past with a stellar sound all their own that pushes the genre forward – Sure, bands like NCT U, BTS & GOT7 all made some major strides last year, but with X X – EP, LOOΠΔ take things to a whole other level that helps cement the reality that K Pop artists can exist within other genres without having to specifically adhere to traditional K Pop conventions in their songwriting, making for a more homogenous listening experience for everyone involved.

                                                                                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 07, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • #AlternativeRnB
                                                                                                                                                                            • #Dance
                                                                                                                                                                            • #EDM
                                                                                                                                                                            • #Electronic
                                                                                                                                                                            • #Kpop
                                                                                                                                                                            • #LOOΠΔ
                                                                                                                                                                            • #Pop
                                                                                                                                                                            • #RnB
                                                                                                                                                                            • #SynthPop
                                                                                                                                                                            • #World
                                                                                                                                                                            • #XXEP

                                                                                                                                                                            Swallow Your Pride & Celebrate Life With Gone West’s Beautifully Cheesy Tides EP

                                                                                                                                                                            For years, Country music was regarded as the redheaded step-child of the music industry, a genre so niche & stereotyped that everyone but the most southern of southerners would constantly claim “I like every genre of music…well, except for Country” as some sort of badge that proved their sonic adventurousness; All of that changed in the early-noughties as Country Pop came into fruition, presenting audiences with a much more glorious depiction of backwoods romanticism thanks to bubbly vocal melodies, bright Soft Rock-leaning instrumentation & a pleasantly positive atmosphere you couldn’t help but love wholeheartedly, though this too would start to decline as the genre moved ever-closer towards a totally homogenous Dance Pop sound in the early-teens – Well, industry-veteran Colbie Caillat seems to have had enough of everyone’s guff, taking it upon herself to rejuvenate the scene with her new band Gone West & their introductory record Tides EP, showing there’s life yet in the decades-old heavy-hitting subgenre, giving listeners nothing short of melodic brilliance throughout its incredibly short runtime. Where others try their best to emulate this sound before ultimately failing as a concept, the tracks here express a loving respect for the anachronistic style, clearly pulling from her exposure to it at the beginning of her career as she constructs heartwarming soundscapes that make you nostalgic for the relative simplicity of the noughties-era Country scene.

                                                                                                                                                                            Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                              Ever The Polarizing Rapper, It’s Hard For Me To Determine If ‘Blacc Hollywood’ Is Better Or Worse Than Sophomore Album ‘O.N.I.F.C.’

                                                                                                                                                                              ‘C’mon Wiz. Whatchu doin man?’ At least that is what I would have uttered to the rapper had I shared an elevator with him in 2014. I would have been addressing the fact that the quality of this very famous and successful rapper was on the decline – too mainstream for my tastes, sure, but even in the mainstream ring, how could a heavy weight rap this boringly? Honestly, certain songs herein have maddeningly underwhelming flows – as if Wiz Khalifa is just phoning in his bars. Clearly by now, he has perfected the accent and cadence of the universal stoner, and from a social experiment standpoint, I can say that by sounding like an everyman smoker, his suburban fans must feel a special affinity for these verses, not because they were birthed by ‘a top 5 GOAT of all time’ as some have described Khalifa, but rather because ‘his’ accessible, annunciated sound can be ‘their’ sound as well, give or take a week or two spent in their bedroom with a decent microphone and Logic. Which is why Wiz Khalifa will always be polarizing – not just for me, but for other commenters out there – as his sound more often than not becomes blander and blander with each album, especially as he further cements his place in Hip Hop Pop. But I will go one step further. Has he ever been an amazing rapper, as denizens for devoted fans love to claim. I revisited even the earliest mixtapes, and I have to say, while they show promise, they all show the seeds of laziness as well, which, by the release of Blacc Hollywood some 9 years later, have reached new heights of ‘lazy.’ The first three tracks for instance – intended to be heavy hitters and also indicators of some sense of new direction, are themselves very bland: in terms of either rapping, singing, or wave-riding. “Hope” has a female hating premise which identifies any women in a career-rapper’s space as a gold-digger who isn’t looking for love in the first place, therefore, you better pop bottles and spend lots of cash because that is all she is responding to, i.e., giving her ass up for. Fine, I can get with that level of hedonism and am well aware that a groupie serves a very specific purpose, but my God, Khalifa’s annunciated syllable for syllable delivery is mind-numbing, over the most typical of brooding bell and Trap rhythms. “We Dem Boyz” completely bites off of the soul-killing Chicago Drill sound of Chief Keef’s 2014 output, relegating Khalifa to just another rapper in said scene, albeit one who, again, annunciates when the beat begs for a high school drop out gang land mumble. Not that one should fake something that they aren’t, yet, the miss matched result sounds idiotic and extremely in-authentic. Then, from the misogynistic music of the first track to a tender hearted slow jam with track three’s “Promises”, where the lyrics ask the girl to not get cold feet after an invitation of sex has been brokered, this song is designed with foreplay in mind, though I counter, however over-critically, that if women are typically gold-diggers as explained in the opening track, why on Earth would a girl in Khalifa’s orbit ever play coy, as described in the premis of “Promise.” Thus, already, there is nothing deep at hand going on with the album. We got misogyny, aggression, and a song for the ladies – check, check, and check. What other commercial obligations must be met before Blacc Hollywood can be considered complete?

                                                                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 20, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                Greta Van Fleet’s Fame Started With A Bang On Their EP From The Fires

                                                                                                                                                                                These days, it seems like you can’t open up a Rock magazine or even venture to a Rock-leaning website without seeing mention of Classic Blues Rock revolutionaries Greta Van Fleet in one form or another, be it kind words of praise for bringing mainstream attention to the more anachronistic side of Rock’N’Roll music or seething hatred at the notion a band so young could achieve such ridiculous fame from the very first moment they played their music, splitting audiences straight down the middle in every regard. In a little under a year, these guys went from niche bar-band group with a flare for retro musicianship to literally the biggest name in Rock music today, though somehow the more famous they get the more hatred they receive, as if they were pulling Maroon 5 or Fall Out Boy levels of sellout-ery, some even going so far as to claim they ‘stole’ their sound from legendary rockers Led Zeppelin & are thus riding on the coattails of their esteem into the hearts of less-knowledgeable young listeners today; While these claims may certainly hold an air of truth, as the similarities between the two bands are close enough you’d think Van Fleet had simply become dislodged in time & ended up here, it doesn’t negate the fact that they’ve singlehandedly restored the passion & drive that was so sorely missing from today’s Rock scene & for that alone they deserve at least a little bit of recognition – Whatever your opinion of them may be, we can all agree they had to start somewhere & that somewhere was their debut EP Black Smoke Rising in 2017…or was it From The Fires that they released a mere 5 months later? Honestly, this uncertainty is perhaps the most perplexing attribute of the group’s sudden fast-track to widespread fame, as the circumstances of their initial ‘discovery’ go so many which-ways that it’s hard to lock down just what they had to do & who they happened to have connections with to score such a sweet deal in the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                  A Poet Of Pop Rises To Stardom Off Skill, Rather Than Sex, With Her ‘Know-It-All (Deluxe)’

                                                                                                                                                                                  Having only heard certain popular Alessia Cara singles such as the phenomenal hit “Scars To Your Beautiful” and the lesser DIY hit “I’m Yours”, I had not had the pleasure to listen to the album Know-It-All until recently when I decided to check out the deluxe version – which is a win form me, since there is more material to digest, while I seem to detect it is a loss for some commenters on the web, for they have said that the bonus additions are somewhat underwhelming. Alas, I take the experience only as a whole one, and what is abundantly clear is that this is a Pop artists who circumvents the need to be objectified, in favor of being more – shall we say relatable to the average teen going through growing pains at the minimum, or even deep personal crisis at the apex of lyrical and melodic content. I do remember that when Alessia Cara hit the scene she dressed modestly, represented a youthful view of things, and tended to sing about more poetic, psychological happenings, versus the overly escapist or hyper sexual concepts which also flooded the scene from 2015 to now. We definitely need Alessia Cara’s on the scene, and together with veterans like Sia, and newer freshman like today’s popular Billie Eilish. Introverts are especially welcome here, as you will probably relate to Cara’s music more than anyone, whether is is up or downtempo.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Written by taylor  / Mar 20, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                    On Self Titled Album ‘Demi’, Demi Lovato Hits Her Pop Stride Over Superior Beats

                                                                                                                                                                                    I might be a bit of a grump when it comes to Pop music, bored to tears over the clichés and copycat nature of this particular genre, yet I am willing to admit when an artist’s sound improves from album to album, and in the case of Demi Lovato, I feel Demi is a great case of this happening, showing a talented singer starting out as a Pop Punker, de-evolving somewhat at her first stab as full fledged Pop diva on Unbroken, and then improving her style by ditching most of the terrible styles plaguing her melodies there while incorporating a bit of that Pop Punk spirit which she was already beloved for. 2013 was a huge year for Lovato – and she seemed to achieve what she was after – a seat at the table of big acts like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, plus she had huge Demi singles playing like crazy on the airwaves, such as “Heart Attack” and “Neon Lights”, though as big as these were, none were huger than a single on a soundtrack of a little ol’ movie called Frozen. You might have seen the movie, and if you did, you might have heard of its biggest song “Let It Go.” All of these were inescapable tracks – and while I didn’t dig them all that much, as it’s not my scene, I can certainly hear their blueprints for success. Taken as a whole, this album is definitely as good as anything from Perry or Swift – and I will always stick up for the fact that while Lovato might continue getting bronze medals, she is absolutely the superior vocalist on the podium, and besides, her fans, lovingly referred to as Lovatics, will always consider her the first place gold medalist.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Written by taylor  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                      Kill Paris Absolutely Shatters Expectations In His Future Bass Fusion Record Galaxies Within Us

                                                                                                                                                                                      Opinions: We all have ‘em & sometimes they can be our downfall as we vehemently defend them for little more than saving our own pride. I, for one, pride myself on the opinions I’ve gathered over the years, as they’re the result of my constant desire to gain more knowledge & better myself in the process, yielding to new information whenever present & making sure to back up my claims with hard facts so I don’t look like a straight-up asshole when debating a topic with others; Even so, I’ve been known to voice some pretty bold opinions from time to time, believing my own education is superior in ways that warrant my hardheadedness when the time calls for it, as is customary for a Scorpio if you subscribe to that sort of mindset, but never have I eaten as much humble pie as I did when listening to Future Bass DJ Kill Paris’ latest record Galaxies Within Us, easily the single greatest course-correction I’ve experienced in modern Electronic music in nearly a decade – For those who’ve read any of my other Narratives, it’s no secret that I’d lost faith in the Electronic music industry from 2015 to 2017, disheartened so by the massive success of a genre I didn’t believe warranted attention – Future Bass – that I’d begun trashing an entire culture I once held so near & dear to my heart, feeling as though younger DJs had lost their creative inspiration in favour of adhering to market trends that would gain them an audience with today’s simple-minded listeners. In one fell swoop, Kill Paris managed to not only pique my interest with a wonderfully-balanced arrangement of Electronic tunes but he also proved I’d been ignorant in writing off Future Bass & Electro house as worthwhile genres as literally every track on the his new album grabs me as a listener, making me want to bop my head along in delight to his highly-engaging arrangements as well as encouraging me to spend my hard-earned cash on supporting his career through a rare record purchase rather than simply illegally downloading his MP3 files or streaming freely from a bevy of easily-accessible online music platforms, inspiring me to put a day aside to explore the fading genres once more to see if anyone else of note had slipped through my radar – What makes this discovery valid is the fact that I’ve been analyzing music since I was a toddler, born into a musically-inclined family with various professional musicians who understand market trends & musical theory to an extreme degree, so the fact my opinion could be swayed at all means he’s genuinely produced something I consider to be top-tier music deserving of praise across the board, a feat in itself I respect wholeheartedly.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Written by camjameson  / Mar 11, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                        Turns Out 69 Is More Fun Than You’d Think In NOW That's What I Call Music, Vol. 69

                                                                                                                                                                                        Essentially mirroring the dialogue of my Narrative review for the most recent KIDZ BOP 39 compilation album, I’ve taken enough trips around the sun to have seen the inception of the now-iconic NOW That’s What I Call Music series within my lifetime, from its early days as the go-to music discovery tool for those who want to spice up their party playlists but don’t necessarily have the musical education to curate such hot-ticket items on their own to its inevitable place within the cultural lexicon as a shorthand for the most generic of mainstream music interests available. The major difference between the two properties though – aside from not relying on the underdeveloped talents of pre-teen performers – is that NOW That’s What I Call Music has virtually always gathered together the best that the radio-friendly popular music circuit has to offer, keeping its thumb pressed firmly on the pulse of mainstream culture & providing mixes that are tonally-balanced, universally-acclaimed by modern audiences & utterly devoid of duds within its track-list so long as that year’s respective genre trends weren’t complete trash; After all, just because a certain style was particularly popular on the radio doesn’t always mean it’s worth listening to on a regular basis – Yeah, I’m talkin’ about YOU Dubstep songs from the early-teens & Eurodance from the early-noughties. Though the UK-born compilation machine seemed to show no signs of stopping as it reached American shores in the late-nineties, eventually spinning into the massively-successful property it is today, the previously multiple-Platinum rated series started to hit a snag around 2009, with less than half of its subsequent releases hitting Gold-tier sales & everything from 2015-onward either sounding tonally-identical across each album – likely attributed to the overwhelming presence of Tropical Pop & Reggae Fusion at the time – or simply missing the hottest trends by months & even years at a time thanks to the ever-increasing speed at which the industry could move in a more heavily-connected internet era exemplified by low-cost music-streaming platforms like Spotify & YouTube; As such, the last thirty record releases in the series have failed to garner as much attention as their predecessors had, resulting in the NOW That’s What I Call Music name losing a lot of its flavour & audiences taking it about as seriously – read: not at all – as its younger sibling KIDS BOP, relegating it to an undeserved joke status moving forward – Thankfully, the music industry as a whole took some major leaps forward in 2018, with all manner of acts from Pop, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Latin, Folk & even the essentially-defunct EDM scene pulling all the stops to push their brands out of the doldrums of banality towards a more resplendent age of creative expression, the most recent NOW That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 69 being a shining example of just how far we’ve come in the last year alone.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Written by camjameson  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                          Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Volume 1 Singlehandedly Saved Retro Music

                                                                                                                                                                                          It goes without saying that as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, Guardians Of The Galaxy is the best movie of the franchise, not only taking a bold leap head-first into the incredibly difficult territory of cosmic-focused comic lore but doing so with such comedic perfection that audiences who had previously shown little interest in comic book movies suddenly switched their tune entirely, driven to consume every subsequent movie with ravenous lust from that point onward. Movies like Iron Man were undeniable hits & the logistical skill it took to bring our favourite heroes together in The Avengers was a feat unto itself, but Guardians took things in a completely new direction that proved you could make an accessible cinematic adventure with relatively obscure characters become an overnight success so long as your casting is on-point, your cinematography is solid & the story you’re telling is one that’s compelling & relatable to the average movie-goer – Of course, whether or not the film was going to be a smash hit didn’t actually come down to the star-power of the cast or the quirkiness of the story being told, rather it was the magnificent soundtrack & its utilization in marketing materials that cemented this picture’s greatness from day one, taking a sharp left-turn from the epic symphonic rigamarole we had grown accustomed to by presenting listeners & viewers with a brilliant curation of retro hits of Classic Rock excellence, taking a huge risk for the sake of style to produce what’s easily the best Original Motion Picture Soundtrack since the superb one which accompanied Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy all the way back in the year of our comedic lord, 2004. Suddenly, once-niche tunes from artists like Elvin Bishop & Rupert Holmes were household names, delighting younger audiences who’d grown up with over-processed Pop nonsense & showing that you can have a multi-million dollar blockbuster reach the top of the charts without relying on the expensive symphonic arrangements of well-known composers such as Hans Zimmer or Jerry Goldsmith; Not that we should be diminishing the value of their masterful talents, but the game changed immeasurably with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).

                                                                                                                                                                                          Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                            The First To Break Away, Zayn Has The Head-start On Individualistic Sound, Already Proving His Solo Worth On Second Album ZAYN

                                                                                                                                                                                            I totally missed the One Direction mania, which was akin to Beatlemania in its sixties heyday. Therefore, while I recognize the origins of such artists, blossoming from beloved Boy Band to solo efforts from every member now, it is as if I am discovering the merits of One Direction backwardly, and this research faze began with the first member to bolt – ZAYN. I have since learned that this guy was ready to leave his boy band obligation from the very first year – so it is no wonder that he should be the first to leave, with that much built in conviction, and possibly, dissatisfaction. Now, ZAYN is evolving as a young artist, though having been the first to leave One Direction in 2015, he has had perhaps a head start to develop his craft as a solo artist. This head-start equates to great creative results with his second album , Icarus Falls, a fantastic pop album with all sorts of different notes played across its hefty 27 track spread. The first track will put a loving smile instantly on your face; such is its sense of accurately dispensed romance. Finger snaps that don’t sound just tacked on. A vocal that isn’t in a hurry to get every single tome out. A laid back groove, but with twinkly bell rhythms that will make your hairs stand up on end. Yes, this is the way to start an album that runs the gauntlet of love that every young superstar is apt to experience - not every artists knows how to synthesize those feelings into some multi-genre bops quite like ZAYN here.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Written by taylor  / Mar 21, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                              From Waverly Wizard To Serious Pop Contender, Selena Gomez’ Revival Makes A Bold Impact

                                                                                                                                                                                              Seeing as she really only has two officially-released studio albums under her belt, it’s amazing how firmly Selena Gomez has cemented herself within mainstream culture in the last decade, riding the wave of success from her Disney days on the set of Wizards Of Waverly Place in addition to maintaining a steady fanbase from her prior Pop Rock band Selena Gomez & The Scene, somehow becoming one of the industry’s most-beloved Pop idols despite there being just as much negative criticism aimed toward her as positive when it comes to artistic talent – For the longest time, I was part of the crowd who instinctively bad-mouthed anything Gomez-related merely because she was part of the Disney machine, especially considering how childish & underdeveloped her previous band was, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by how exponential her growth was between the time of her hokey solo debut Stars Dance & her much more impressive 2015 album Revival. In just two short years, she’d gone from generic Taylor Swift surrogate with a Kesha-like Club Hits aesthetic – I mean, seriously, do you remember how terrible mainstream Dance Pop was in the early-teens? – to competent Alternative R&B performer with an identity all her own, championing the destigmatizing of female sexuality through her music & adopting much more expressive melodic techniques that felt somewhat unique to her voice, finally garnering my & so many others’ attention as an act to watch for the very first time; Sure, much of this was contingent upon the work of contemporaries like Ariana Grande & Demi Lovato who’d been trailblazing the whole ‘girls-have-sex-too’ movement in radio-friendly circles, but Gomez stepped up to the plate in a major way that convinced me Revival was worth a shot, at least in my free time.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Written by camjameson  / Mar 04, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                YoungBoy’s Realer explores that with thuggin’ comes tears

                                                                                                                                                                                                The young rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again happens to be one of the most prolific of 2018, releasing albums and mix tapes seemingly every couple of months, and while his latest work on Realer generally contains a hard hustlin’ attitude, the Louisianan also narrates with heartfelt sincerity, allowing us to feel for a thug whose tracks can just as often be provide a soundtrack for tears. For a myriad of reasons, folks turn to crime to survive, and while they may stay for the lifestyle, they wrestle with feelings which warrant attention, yet sadly are suppressed. And then there’s always ‘the fall’ to contend with. We root for this man because we know how easy it is for all to be taken away from him, either by the gun, or by the judicial system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Written by taylor  / Mar 06, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Florida Georgia Line Has Me Feelin’ Some Kind Of Way With 2019’s Can’t Say I Ain’t Country

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What the hell is happening to me? I used to take pride in absolutely decimating mainstream Pop music like this, finding it to be the bane of my existence & an industry-wide plague that was stagnating the creativity of far-greater undiscovered musicians out there in the market, but now I’m suddenly defending the very music I once thought to be utter trash. Am I just getting old & soft, weakened by years of monotonous mainstream radio performances? Was this music catchy all along & I was just too blind to see it? Or is it something else, like perhaps my progressed age has shown me how spectacularly entertaining it is to watch someone game the system entirely, knowing exactly how to tweak their sound to appeal to modern audiences whilst maintaining their individual schtick, thereby reaching the widest market & reaping the rewards monetarily? Whatever it is, it’s causing me to voice a very controversial opinion that goes against everything I’ve believe in for decades now: Florida Georgia Line are genuine geniuses of contemporary Country music, far more talented & impressive than we give them credit for – Yes, I’ve drank the fucking Kool-Aid & it’s incredibly uncomfortable for me. I know their first album Here’s To The Good Times… was influential & whatnot for how tremendously it shifted the Country Pop scene into the mainstream consciousness as a viable creative outlet & I get that artists should naturally improve their skillsets over the years like a fine wine aged in oak barrels, but their 2019 release Can’t Say I Ain’t Country has no right being as good as it is, literally living up to its namesake by delivering a stellar collection of backwoods jams that’re so clearly influenced by eighties- & nineties-era Country that you rightfully can’t pigeonhole the duo as being a bunch of braindead Popstars. Time & time again I find myself going into songs thinking ‘oh yeah, this is gonna be an absolute train-wreck,’ only to find that my expectations – typically based on their previous history of coopting Hip Hop culture for song names that have nothing to do with the actual lyrical content – were totally off-base, founded in stereotype with no confidence that Florida Georgia Line could actually produce anything worth shaking a tail-feather at, resulting in me eating crow more on this album than pretty much any artist I’ve reviewed in the last year who’s completely reinvented themselves as a sort of ten-year reunion present to today’s aging audiences – So, if you’ll humour me, prepare to uncover some of the best qualities about this album; You’ll likely be just as surprised as I was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Written by camjameson  / Mar 20, 2019