Enjoy Music With Narratives

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

    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

      On Album ‘Love Yourself ‘Tear’, K Pop Group BTS’ Music Sounds Much Like The West’s Various Mainstream, Hip Hop, And Neo Soul

      Perhaps switch out the Korean and Japanese language on album Love Yourself ‘Tear’ for English and you will have a standard mainstream album on your hands, incorporating familiar elements such as EDM Pop lite and international Latin Dance beats (think Despacito) and the infusion of certain Trap and R&B influences which have permeated into Pop. This is of course a smart business move from production company Big Hit Entertainment, with designs on world domination, and thus, there are plenty of expected flavors to choose from on this pretty decent album. I remain a little non-plussed though, not honestly on the same wave as everyone else out there, because at the end of the day, I’m less interested in albums designed by process of box checking what sounds various audiences will respond to. Alas, I’ll probably die penniless, whereas BTS will live a rich life indeed, already showing signs that they are currently the most popular and successful boy band since EXO. What works here are the slick and polished productions on each song, and additionally, the impressive rapping displayed herein. Vocals are pretty good too, yet perhaps unavoidably, there is some definite processing that can be heard here and there, plus the occasional unintentional comical phrasing of an English word which sort of snaps this American listener out of an almost seamless fantasy – which honestly would not even occur if K Pop groups would do the revolutionary thing and sing in all Korean, on all parts of all songs for an album. Now, would that even work, in an industry that is committed to being bilingual lyrically? On the subject of pronunciation, yes, BTS do a mostly fine job, but does anyone ever really stop and ask ‘why speak English’ and run the risk of not knowing what you are talking about, or, God forbid, mispronounce something pivotal which kills the vibe. I strongly feel I would like BTS and other K Pop groups even more if they would stop pretending so much to be something they are not and just give their own language a proper chance to shine in all its history and nuanced complexity. But it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, and rather, that musical content of this genre will just get more and more Americanized.

      Written by taylor  / Mar 28, 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

          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

            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

              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

                Finally, An Artist Who Understands Real R&B, Circumventing The Stale Present By Channeling Both The Past And The Future

                Maaaan, I was waiting to listen to this album just as much as I have been waiting for what I consider, and most folks my age consider – ‘real’ R&B – not what has been passing as R&B for the last several years, ya dig? No, the last years have been the era of rappers auto-crooning – where at the top of the castle I must give my utmost respect to The Weeknd – because, if you haven’t already checked it out for himself, he can sing as good as Michael Jackson just backstage warming up, and wouldn’t even need the auto-tune effects if it weren’t ‘his thing’ and in so much demand these days. I could give a damn about auto-tune though – what I truly loathe at the uncreative arrangements and melodies having come out of the R&B landscape for many years – and I should have known it was the beginning of the end the year (don’t really remember when) that Drake topped the R&B Billboard charts. I was like GTFOH. Now, you can find monotone NAV and barely singing Post Malone on the same charts, but there’s also technically good singers such as Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez representing the wave as well, except for the fact that all these artists still stick to either a wavy Toronto mode or within a Trap heavy Atlanta urbanity. Well, someone in Atlanta intends to change all of that, quiet as a quiet storm, and he name is Summer Walker. Having already immensely dug her first album, I was looking forward to this CLEAR -EP because it was to feature way jazzier exploratory grooves in the vein of Erykah Badu from the old school and Roy Ayers from the old-er-school. Walker delivered a lot of what is missing in the scene, and of course added her own modern flourishes – because rather than just looking to the past for solutions, our Soul music must also progress somewhere new.

                Written by taylor  / Apr 19, 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

                    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

                      DaBaby Clowns His Rivals With Cutthroat Humor On ‘Baby On Baby’, Yet His Rap Skills Are No Laughing Matter

                      DaBaby stands out for several reasons from others Southern rappers making a name for themselves in the mainstream. For one, he is from Charlotte, North Carolina, which is not known nationally as a Hip Hop hub. He is very funny and jester like in songs and music videos. He has a runaway motormouth flow, technical in more of a Lil Wayne way than a Gucci Mane nursery rhyme way or a Lil Baby melodic way. He actually has killed when so many others merely pretend to have killed – and in his case, it was clear self defense when a 19 year old tried to rob him with a gun in Walmart while DaBaby was buying winter clothes with his family. DaBaby had the quicker draw, so yeah, not to be f’d with. I was vaguely familiar with him before giving this album a spin, really liking a video he released last year called “Pull Up Music”, and I was instantly hooked by his confident and playful delivery over a wonky yet sort of seductive beat. In fact, I had noticed him even before this in an interview which actually featured more heavily Atlanta rapper and convicted drug lord Ralo – where DaBaby went by Baby Jesus and he was actually ‘just the other guy in the room’ – but in hindsight, Ralo was always a downgraded version of Young Thug – respected much more for his street power than his rapping ability – whereas DaBaby was always the talented one – yet don’t get it twisted – he seemed to also command a lot of street respect, and put his trap reality into his music. He is popular because he’s been grindin’ since 2015, and certainly because he represents the wacky yet technically proficient southern rhymer position that has been vacant since Ludacris semi-retired from Hip Hop. In fact, I find that Luda’s style fell out of favor when Chicago Drill music became a thing, and their nightmare version of Trap infiltrated other regional styles, and changed audiences tastes for many years. While 2 Chainz certainly is still funny and gregarious, it has been a long time since someone showed out in a clever and comical way for the newer generation. A really tough street dude with a sense of humor and proficient flow – that’s DaBaby.

                      Written by taylor  / Apr 04, 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

                          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

                            Swindell On His Debut Self Titled Album Takes Us On A Journey Where Love Comes And Goes, But Parties Always Rock

                            Of the Country Rock artists who lean towards warm Pop melodies, my money is on Cole Swindell. He just has the most crowd pleasing quality, and sounds quite talented vocally and instrumentally on his debut album entitled Cole Swindell – owning his sound by slapping his name on it. Swindell’s voice is his most powerful asset – rarely disappointing except in a couple instances here. With his authentic Georgia boy twang and boyish charm, it is hard not to like the guy, want to party with the guy, and not feel bad for the guy when his heart has been broken. He sounds both vibrantly youthful but also wisened and forlorn, and there is no note he can’t hit if he goes for it. There is a rough timbre to his vocals, but not overly so. Generally, I find that he has such an agreeable sound that I would hesitate to be too critical when the music strays into generic territory. Reading up on his personal life, I feel for the guy even more knowing that his father, without much warning, passed away in September 2013 just a month after Swindell released his first successful single “Chillin’ It”. How tragic that must have been to lose a ‘rock’ such as one’s father – and learning of this provided so much food for thought and insight for me. On the one hand, I am so happy that his father was able to see the first steps of Swindell’s career coming to fruition. On the other hand, it is a bit sad that he wouldn’t see his son’s career progress to the heights it is today – as he is recognized as one of the best names in the biz after major tours and three hit albums. That is life though – full of unexpected turns – and instead of wallowing in sadness, Swindell just ascended – I am sure partly because his father would have wanted him to.

                            Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                Mac Miller Really Hit His Stride With The Exceptionally Good The Divine Feminine

                                To say I’ve been hip to the charms of deceased rapper Mac Miller before this past year would be a bold-faced lie, but I couldn’t be any happier that now that I’ve actually given his music a chance – Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not merely his untimely passing that got me hooked on the Pittsburgh native’s body of work, rather a chance encounter with his music nearly two years ago whilst up late doing some data work for my job. You see, I’d been purposely avoiding his music for years before then, constantly getting him confused with NF, Logic, Macklemore, G-Eazy or any of those other up-n-coming white rappers who were starting to get big around 2013, finding all of their flows to be so incredibly banal & cookie-cutter-ish in comparison to the serious hood hooks I grew up with being raised in the Bay Area; Nothing any of these guys released ever caught me in a way that felt inspiring & I didn’t want to support the media machine who were simply praising them for being Caucasian rather than for the talents when there were so many underground rappers out there absolutely killin’ it, so I shut myself off entirely from what they had to say, ultimately lumping Miller into the same group like a damned fool – Boy, what a mistake that was. I liken it to being a picky eater as a kid who would only eat chicken-strips & fries for pretty much every meal; I was denying myself so many fantastic meals throughout my childhood, not only messing with my internal health but damaging my outward appearance ‘cause I was now known as that idiot who’d go out on a date & order the chicken teriyaki instead of something adventurous like maguro or unagi, proving to the world that I wasn’t mature enough to put aside my preconceived notions & try something new for once. Well, much like I’d eventually open up my palate to everything offered my way, becoming a professional chef who now tries to convince his girlfriend to eat outside her comfort zone, my musical prejudices would eventually lighten up in the last couple of years as well, with Miller’s The Divine Feminine being one of the many overwhelming surprises I experienced once I stopped being such an incredible hater – I’d like to say that the wait made his reveal that much better, but I can’t forgive myself for being such an incredible asshole all this time when he had so many dope rhymes to share with me when he was still around.

                                Written by camjameson  / Apr 12, 2019

                                  Looking For Consummate Pop From A Singer You May Have Totally Missed? Check For ‘Finding Fletcher -EP’

                                  In the vein of mid career Katy Perry, Sia at her height, and Alessia Cara at her debut popularity, I find the music of FLETCHER to be pretty well produced and the singer’s voice to be up there with such a group of contemporaries. Granted, here she doesn’t hit all of the more unique notes Sia can hit, or reach Demi Lovato’s more soulful deliveries for that matter, but in the case of showing up and showing out, I think she totally succeeds on Finding Fletcher – EP, especially since this is a debut that contains arrangements comparable with Sia’s big beat tribal drum aesthetic, and melodies that are so much more fascinating than Lovato’s to my ears. I think a few of these songs could have been hit Katy Perry melodies to sing over, and though Alessia Cara infused more of a downtempo introspective R&B with her debut work, the epic motivational sound herein is almost identical. This album came out in late 2016, so - right about the time of other similar explosive works, and upon listening to it several times, I am pretty surprised that there wasn’t a ton of fanfare to my knowledge, and I haven’t heard much about her in all this time. There are a ton of Pop artists competing for the same sound, so perhaps she will go another round soon, yet for a current playlist, I find that Finding Fletcher – EP is very deserving of attention.

                                  Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                      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

                                        High Quality Pop Gets All The Notes Right On BTS’ Flawless Album ‘Wings’

                                        The eclectic boy band BTS perhaps never sounded as eclectic as they did on the sophomore album Wings, where each member gets to soar on great solos throughout, and where I am completely satisfied with the attention to detail given to each genre of music tacked here. One of the most versatile boy bands, perhaps ever, show that they can take on any style and do it justice. Shoot, take the first track “Intro: Boy Meets Evil.” It comes on like a Wu-Tang Clan track before transitioning into an aggressive Trap EDM hybrid, definitely raising my eyebrow as the details are so finely executed. And then to go form this hype ass energy to “Blood Sweat & Tears”, which showcases Reggae Fusion that fits in a club and also in the bedroom (for it’s sexy parts.) This band will keep you guessing if you are not familiar with them already. Like, I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy “Begin”, really worried that it was going to barely stray from its hazy opening notes, but my impression was totally reversed by all the great criss-crossing elements, borrowing from The Weeknd on the one hand, but also some wholly original patterns that definitely paint BTS accurately as stylistic risk takers. This is both sexy R&B and something with a Drum n Bass complexity. The more adventurous the group gets, the more I want them to succeed, and this is how I think they gain so many fans. Their Pop is of super high quality.

                                        Written by taylor  / Mar 28, 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

                                          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

                                            Country Pop With A Lot Of Heart, Swindell’s ‘You Should Be Here’ Is Where You Should Be At

                                            It’s no secret that I generally have some pretty biting criticism for Country Pop as a genre, as it is so handcuffed to these rather annoying Pop conventions such as copycats hooks and notes, yet at the same time, when these conventions are handled with the right amount of care, I can easily be swept up by such formulas. Cole Swindell is one of the few Country Pop Artists that continues to win me over with both his carefree party numbers and also his ballads that have a hell of a lot of heart. Honestly, even if I know where such music is going by the time I’m a quarter into the track, I for some reason totally stick around and even sing along to karaoke ready anthems because Swindell has a very charismatic vocal quality. His is a rough timbre and his drawl is definitely one of the more present drawls out there, yet never does he sound like a caricature – in fact, it is Swindell’s authentic sounding voice that I am really buying. Albums and voices and instrumentations like these put me at ease and I tend to let my critical guard down and just go with the flow on these songs which won’t win any awards in my book, but certainly make me understand how the newer generation of Country music lovers feel about their scene. Swindell’s music is simple, relatable here and there, and enjoyable for me when I don’t listen too intently to the lyrics - I prefer to vicariously latch on to the moods being created. Still, listening to song after song about missed connections or a fear of not making enough of an impression on a girl can be a bit of a drag, as I am hearing more confidence issues than chivalry at play, raising my eyebrows each time a rather clueless passage is uttered.

                                            Written by taylor  / Apr 02, 2019

                                              Lovelytheband Attempts To Not Just Sound Like Another Indie Pop Band, But Is This Wishful Thinking?

                                              While lovelytheband sound talented and must have worked extremely hard creating a joyous synth pop experience for a listener like me to enjoy, they don’t have a terribly unique sound, as I hear influences from a slew of other artists and bands. Synth pop generally is a quite uniform genre anyways, and so bands must diversify one’s style, in terms of either joyful versus dark, or the fine tuning of electronic timbre per instrument to create a sound original to them or indicative of a nostalgic era, or making arrangements that lean towards say dance music or rock music. On album Finding It Hard to Smile, I hear a mix of Youngblood, 1975, Jamiroquai, and Empire of the Sun. Mind you, all these mentioned bands are either Australian or British, so it was a little surprising for me to discover that lovelytheband is American. I mean, their sound definitely leans towards the happy danceable pop of Australia specifically, and the British diaspora overall, and even their name is such an English thing to say; ‘lovely, this band, yeah?’ Inspirations intact, band members Mitchy Collins (vocals), Jordan Greenwald (guitars), and Sam Price (drums) are making waves in what ultimately is categorized more as the indie pop scene – and though not all songs thrill me due to some pretty canned formulas herein, there are plenty of songs to snipe some feel good jams to include on a LA Nights playlist. It makes sense that these guys are LA transplants anyways, because from the sound of it, Finding It Hard to Smile consists of 50 percent selling out and 50 percent aesthetically affecting music. I feel they are playing to win, therefore catering to the widest audience with ‘the formula’, vying for the same US mega success of Maroon 5, The Killers, Walk the Moon, and OneRepublic.

                                              Written by taylor  / Apr 19, 2019

                                                Discover Where Pop Prince Troye Sivan First Made His Sonic Splash On ‘TRXYE – EP’

                                                I discovered Troye Sivan a little out of sequence – having noticed several interesting singles on the album Blue Neighborhood, but not really appreciating his sonic stature until hearing the album Bloom. I appreciate his mix of tender balladry and club House rhythms – styles which he lends much emotional Soul singing power to, while the content, addressed towards male rather than female lovers, is compelling irregardless of whether listeners are heterosexual or LGBQT. That is the power of well executed Pop, and a big reason why Troye Sivan can delight all audiences while being unafraid to talk love and lust (sometimes with graphic analogies being made in the case of track “Bloom”) in reference to his ‘coming out’ and his on and off relationship music about men. Not since George Michael has there been a Pop artist who has been able to be ‘out’ whilst also achieving extreme marketability, though Michael’s sexuality only became known much later in his career – and likewise, society has thankfully progressed enough I feel where we can all watch a homoerotic music video like Sivan’s “My My My!” and concede at the very least – ‘damn, this is a hot video.’ Well, “My My My!” represents the confident sex symbol version of Sivan, but it all started perhaps more humbly in 2014 after this YouTuber, singer contestant, and blossoming actor released TRXYE – EP, a wavy and surprisingly well produced EP which I slept on at the time, though if I had been up on this 5 track album, I think I would have considered it some of the best Pop of that year. If memory serves, 2014 really sucked for Synth Pop, with an abundance of copycat acts. While TRXYE – EP doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of Synth Pop or Alternative R&B, what it does do is present real fresh melodic notes, great beat patterns, and very satisfying vocals from the dynamic Sivan, as he invites us to a sometimes dark, sometimes bright, but always seductive sound.

                                                Written by taylor  / Mar 28, 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

                                                    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

                                                      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

                                                        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

                                                          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

                                                            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

                                                              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

                                                                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

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

                                                                        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

                                                                          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

                                                                            Giddy, Danceable, Pure Electro Nostalgia Shapes The Magical Music Of Empire of the Sun’s ‘Two Vines’

                                                                            I had been meaning to sit down and listen to a full Empire of the Sun album for ages, but hadn’t gotten around to it until recently. It’s musical style represents the crème de la crème of various sounds from a time in my mid twenties when electroclash and indie pop and electro pop and the bazillion other classifiers of that certain style of synthesized dance rock was playing everywhere at bars and clubs (at least the ones I frequented.) That scene kind of died or so I had thought; one night in 2016, I was watching Jimmy Kimmel, and this band, which I had never heard of, came on with all such epic costuming and live production value, to play “High and Low.” I was completely enthralled with not only the cinematic energy of that performance but the sheer joy I felt coming from this hop along synth pop adventure I was hearing. It was house, trance, and old school new wave – plus, both happy and also wistful – not unlike the world of imagination I associate with late eighties movies such as “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” Does that make any sense? I was getting a nostalgic childhood vibe from the music, in the same way I remembered the sad yet hopeful elegance associated with Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, the theme song of that movie. Come to find out, this duo was Australian just like that movie production. I really think that there is a link there. While I did not continue on with their music then, it’s funny – I heard a few singles here and there and basically came to the conclusion over the last few years that this was one of the greatest combination of sounds and feelings out there – and so certainly, their albums ‘must’ be good I assumed. Well, I must have been on some other shit for all this time, but I was so happy when I finally gave this album it’s proper attention in 2019 – as it was everything I’d hoped it to be.

                                                                            Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                                                                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

                                                                                  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

                                                                                    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

                                                                                      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

                                                                                        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

                                                                                          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

                                                                                            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

                                                                                              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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                  Thomas Rhett Follows And Pushes The Trend Of Outside-The-Box Country On 2015’s ‘Tangled Up’

                                                                                                  With something like three studio albums under his belt, Thomas Rhett has made a lane for himself in Country Pop. Son of famous Country singer-songwriter Rhett Akins, instead of sticking with tradition like his Pop, he clearly is more interested in bucking it at every turn he can manage – which by the way – is awesome, so long as you replace what works with another thing that works, albeit in your own unique way. I find though that the engineers over in Nashville are a bit extra on the cliched sounds. I don’t even know if Rhett was produced in Nashville, but all I know is his music is as good an example as any of the very polarizing work coming out of the new Nashville Sound of the last few years, and sometimes it works, and sometimes - it don’t. This album Tangled Up is certainly a mixed bag of noise – but let me break down a couple things. Music such as this is polarizing because it skirts accurate classification and understandably has folks up in arms about what’s what. People tend to belly ache on what to call this; Country Pop, as opposed to Modern Country, whose latter classification more accurately represents the music of someone like Jon Pardi, who tends to play something fresh while relying on root sounds. Meanwhile, Rhett adds guitar and drawl and banjo here and there, yet he also sings over some pretty obvious electronic noises, applied, by Nashville engineers, in the most obvious way with literally no subtlety what so ever. While Rhett claims to want to think outside of the box musically, such a desire must be worked in tastefully, but as the several generic tracks heard on Tangled Up attest to, taste can be elusive. The team involved would do better to listen more carefully to their new influences and figure out what makes it all tick. Reverse engineer all you want, but make sure your new revolutionary music doesn’t end up sounding embarrassing to everyone but people who don’t know any better. Fans of the Pop and EDM tracks here clearly aren’t so discerning – and rather, are just swept up in the loud chaos and catch all styles. The core structure, content, and melodies seem to suffer the more crap you pile on top to beef them up – but here’s an idea – write the beef into the notes first, and then stretch the style. With that said, there are some unbelievable tracks where Rhett nails the quality of what he is going for, and ends up producing something that is only bashed because it truly has become something that is not Country, thus turning off those particular Country fans for the simple fact that they only listen to one genre of music. Whereas a multi-genre lover like myself whole heartedly applauds Rhett and his risk taking when he absolutely gets his genres right.

                                                                                                  Written by taylor  / Apr 02, 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

                                                                                                      Move Over America, Korea Has The Best Club And R&B Vibes With GOT7’s ‘Present : YOU’

                                                                                                      I am both an R&B and Club music fan, though I probably used to be a junkie. What made em kick the habit? Well, the music started sucking, and so I stoped going to clubs, buying CDs, listening to the radio, and making playlists related to any of the genres I used to like that had been now taken over by bastardized versions of their former glory. Things change, understandably, but a band like GOT7 is bringing those vibes I miss back in a big way. The talented members JB, Mark, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam, and Yugyeom all bring something special to the stage, as tends to happen with these manufactured Korean groups, and from electronica to R&B to Hip Hop, they have what it takes to compete with BTS, EXO, and others. While ‘Present: YOU’ is not perfect, it certainly contains some of the most amazing songs I have heard, outdoing even BTS and crew’s content from time to time. Still, a certain lack of polish here and there may keep them in the shadows, but that’s ok, since I’ll just enjoy the songs that I like, adding them to that Club Playlist when I get around to it.

                                                                                                      Written by taylor  / Apr 19, 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

                                                                                                          Rock With Kodak Black’s Vernacular, Or Not, He’s Still Gonna Illustrate His Way Of Life Best He Can On ‘Painting Pictures’

                                                                                                          It might be said that Kodak Black is realer than real – sometimes too real for his own good. I was watching a clip of him today, captured recently on IG, where the 21 year old rapper is overheard disrespecting the memory of recently slain rapper Nipsey Hussle and his widowed wife Lauren London by suggesting that when London was done grieving, Black would be interested in being romantic with her. Mind you, this is a verbatim translation – it was not such a sugar coated proposition. Mind you again, most of what he actually said on the recording was so ignorant, that the proud London would doubtless not even give the comments a second thought. The rap community on the other hand dragged Kodak Black all over the internet for the comments. He gave a very immature apology, which actually ended up doing more damage I think, but at the end of the day, whether he realizes he went too far or not, as of this writing he plans to not back down if anyone wants to see him about it in person. I have been rooting for dude because I saw that he was progressing despite prison stints, and despite coming from an extremely rough environment that he somehow rapped his way out of. I’ve seen enough interviews to see the charming and funny side of Kodak. But the street mentality seems to override all of that when it comes to young men saying dumb shit, and what’s worse, young men not being able to back down – even over some stuff where contemporaries are saying you’re in the wrong. Yet, I’m not one to boycott someone’s music because of what they say or do in public. I’d rather look at aspects of one’s psychology in the music – and if those details are not to be found (rap lyrics are not the most reliable source of truth these days), the general vibe of the music can usually paint the picture of what’s happening in that mind. I really liked album Project Baby 2 and the more recent Dying to Live, but realizing I had missed giving 2017’s Painting Pictures a listen, it was definitely time.

                                                                                                          Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                Confidence From The Jump Is What Carried Lil Pump To The Top: Album ‘Lil Pump’ Is A Culmination Of That Cockiness

                                                                                                                                Having heard the same singles over the last little while from Lil Pump, I decided to give his albums an actual spin, and I just assumed that I wouldn’t dig his debut as much as his sophomore album, which I just assumed would feature a more mature rapper. I was dead wrong. I found Harverd Dropout to be a pretty weak musical effort – and so working backwards, I assumed the self titled Lil Pump would be worse right? But it simply wasn’t. It’s actually a better album, with better production, and on the songs where Lil Pump actually tries to do more than repeat the same few words over and over, he does have a certain quality that keeps my attention. I am specifically vibing to his carefree annunciation, his humorous demands from women, his singular focuses on drugs and dripping. It’s both invention and reality, since, all of these things that he has rapped about from the beginning were a façade I’m pretty sure, but with progressive success, he ended up attaining the attention and the rewards he felt he deserved from day one. Dude’s psychic for telling it how it would eventually end up being.

                                                                                                                                Written by taylor  / Apr 04, 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

                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                      Indie Folk Haunted By Sharon Van Etten’s Lyrics And Harmonies, ‘Tramp’ Is A Mesmerizing Example Of The Genre

                                                                                                                                      I discovered Sharon Van Etten on the radio only a couple of months ago, blown away by what I considered to be a haunting new rock voice with the presence of Stevie Nicks during the Fleetwood Mac days, though Etten’s is her own distinctive style indeed – her own contralto which leans towards folk. When discovering somebody so new and exciting for me, I like to glance at their entire album catalogue and split the difference as to what I will listen to first. In this way, I find that I can establish a baseline of style, because the debut stuff is going to be one end of the spectrum, and the recent stuff the other. Listening to studio album number three, Tramp, I was somewhat surprised that it didn’t feature much electronic elements at all, like the newer songs I had heard already, such as “Seventeen” and “No One’s Easy to Love.” Tramp is indie folk, with some alternative rock edge that gets raw and weird in some great places. Some of that great energy is courtesy of producer Aaron Dresner’s deft hand at the controls (he is from a really exceptional band called The National.) I suppose during the 2010s when Tramp came out (2012), I for that time period was anti indie folk because I could not properly differentiate between so many artists doing what I felt sounded like the same depressing acoustic coffeehouse music, and probably would have not listened deep enough to an album such as this one. My tastes have changed to include all types of music and musicians from the genre (just also discovered Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes) and it has been quite a revelation to hear that they do all have an individual enough sound. Stacked against such talents, Sharon Van Etten is up there with the best of them.

                                                                                                                                      Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                          It’s Easy To Surrender To The Good Times, Sincerity, Rock, And Psuedo Funk Of “It Goes Like This” By Thomas Rhett

                                                                                                                                                          I want to believe. I want to join in. I want to have a blast. Yes, sometimes, even a hyper analytical mind like mine (not bragging – overthinking things has been a burden of late) needs to just detach from being so critical of music and people and movements and politics – and just surrender oneself to good times – like those found on this debut album from a Country Pop star known for his boundary pushing music – it’s time for Thomas Rhett and his freshman effort It Goes Like This. Here are pop arrangements to bounce along with and definitely shoot some whisky to, ranging in style from rock n roll to trap music to funky club grooves. And yeah, he raps like a fool on “Front Porch Junkies (Remix)”, but it is quite intentional and is definitely on some Kid Rock shit – I can hear the joint’s spiritual cousin in “Cowboy.” It seems that whatever Rhett has on his mind, he goes for, unafraid of how audiences will react to the variety of sounds per album. I should know, having tried to understand his place in Country music over the last years by listening to a couple of his more recent albums – but this is where it all started, and to my surprise, he has always been experimenting with various genres while presenting tracks that the Everyman can also clap along to.

                                                                                                                                                          Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 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

                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                    ‘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 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

                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                          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 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

                                                                                                                                                                              Khalid Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down On Second Album ‘Free Spirit’, Determined To Maintain His Status As Voice Of The Generation

                                                                                                                                                                              To show you how the music world works today, just realize that after only one album’s output, American Teen, Khalid was dubbed ‘Voice of his Generation’, when past artists who have held such honored titles have generally had to submit several albums and at least a few years in the biz to be recognized as such. Not in this fast paced society though. And more power to Khalid, who may or may not be in favor of such a bestowment – yet he certainly has not shunned the attention, and went forward with new material as an artist who knows what Generation Z wants to hear, even if ‘that’ sounds like the eighties coupled with some modern flair. Being a Millennial, I found past album American Teen frustratingly dull from a writing stand point, and I could personally give a damn about the lyrics, probably because the older I get, the less fucks I give about likes and texts. Plus I have never asked for a girl’s location – needy doesn’t even begin to describe such a request. Alas, such behaviors and emotions expressed through vocals and words are immensely relatable and resonate with audiences out there, whereas I find that I am more interested in the quality of the noise being produced, instantly recognizing that it was here that a ‘Millenial like myself’ could relate, and thus, I felt Free Spirit is a better sounding album, because its music is more adventurous, punctuated by moments of variety, and only a few redundant notes.

                                                                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Apr 19, 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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                      ‘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

                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                          Who Is The Next Big Girl Group Internationally: ‘[X X] – EP’ Has Me Thinkin’ LOONA

                                                                                                                                                                                          I can always count on the genre of K Pop to provide for me the greatest variety of music per album – you folks at home should really give South Korean music a chance. Play just about any album of hundreds out there, and you will find at least one song that speaks to you, even if you don’t speak the language. This is exactly what happened when I came across LOONA and their album X X – EP, all because I heard one single called “Where You at” which absolutely blew my mind – leading me to this exceptional girl group. Big announcement y’all – Western girl groups absolutely suck right now. K Pop is where it has been at for years – as they push the envelope by including a whole host of genres in their catalogue, mixing several genres in one song often, and always delivering very impressive vocal harmonies on top of that. What do we got in America or the UK? Fifth Harmony and Little Mix, respectfully? Is Fifth Harmony even together anymore? On hiatus right? Well, should they come back as Forth Harmony sans Camila Cabello, I am skeptical that their rather one-tracked R&B Pop could move me as much as LOONA’s diverse styles – not all 100 percent perfect mind you, but all noble efforts in an industry that has dozens of such girl groups also pumping out good music. I don’t see that type of industry competition happening in the West anytime soon – yet I’m happy just to redirect my attentions to Korean Pop if it is going to continue to sound this amazing – filling the void that has persisted since the absence of real nineties R&B girl groups such as TLC, En Vogue, Changing Faces, and SWV. These groups had a special romantic quality that a group like LOONA has clearly studied, if you peruse the sounds of their other albums, yet on X X – EP there is a bit less throwback instrumentation and a bit more modernity, such as Trap and Future Bass sounds. Whatever style they tackle though, I have been delighted by them even more than my usual go-to groups TWICE and AOA.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Written by taylor  / Apr 02, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                            Young And Talented Maestro George Ezra Brings An Old Soul To Indie Pop On ‘Wanted On Voyage’

                                                                                                                                                                                            I generally have a thing for oxymoronic cases – in this case, George Ezra looking like 18 but sounding like he is a weathered 50 year old. Have yet to hear dude speak in an interview, but he sure sings deep, and I gather that it is all deftly applied technique to hit such low, throaty, rounded vocals. The sound is nothing particularly new in Indie Pop Folk, with artists tending to go real high or real low, but Ezra’s is certainly the most listenable low throated voice I have heard in a long time, as he tackles charming singer songwriter pieces on 2014 album Wanted On Voyage. The Englishman is a lifelong fan of American music, having grown up on Bob Dylan, and through Dylan, seeking out more rootsy music in the Blues of Lead Belly and Howlin’ Wolf. So there you have it – he is channeling the past where he can. English artists, I find, love American Soul, and are quite adept at mimicking it’s tone and cadences, to the point where you wouldn’t know they are UK natives. And the UK certainly was feeling Ezra, as this debut hit number one on their charts – propelling him to super stardom. Somehow, I missed this guy’s rise, and caught instead Ed Sheeran’s – who is a force in his own right, yet I found instantly while listening to this record for the first time that I like Ezra’s style and arrangements a lot more. No missteps really here, except some eye rolling moments when the folk gets to commercial or joyous, but for the most part these songs are all well thought out and most importantly, Ezra’s voice never falters for me – which is a rarity with regards to my general feelings about Indie Folk vocalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Written by taylor  / Apr 12, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                              One Of The Voices Of Modern Country Doesn’t Sound Too Shabby On Fun Album ‘All of It’

                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m usually pretty disappointed by Modern Country, dissatisfied with easy hooks and easy notes, yet there is something about Cole Swindell that works for me, or rather – his Pop gets the job done and therefore I can totally understand his appeal with new generations of Country fans. I totally could raise a can of beer with the rest of the party to his music, and sometimes, that’s all that really matters. What is interesting about this album is that it opens with exactly the generic type of music I dislike, and I might have turned it off if it weren’t for track 2 making me stay. Cole Swindell wants “All of It” on the second tune and the album’s title track – where the vocals are tender, even if the lyrics are a little blunt. “I wanna see you in a pair of cut off jeans”, Swindell croons, as honorably as he can muster. The banjo syncopates softly and other acoustic guitars play in cyclical pattens, as the drum hits slam, creating a nice Soft Rock atmosphere. I don’t like how many words Swindell tries to dish out in the each stanza, where it would have been better to space things out for more emotional resonance and sexual tension. Still, already I was hearing progress.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Written by taylor  / Mar 28, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                A Decade Later, I Try To Figure Out Why I Loved Bring Me The Horizon’s Suicide Season So Much

                                                                                                                                                                                                Whenever I get into a conversation with people my age about the late-noughties period of Screamo & Metalcore that took the internet generation by storm, I typically receive a mixed bag of reactions that vary from utter disgust to incredibly strong nostalgia for the once-prolific genres. Some people – usually those who were directly involved in the formation of such genres – find immense joy in the bombastic instrumentation & guttural screams of the sound, claiming it allowed them to express their innermost angst in a pleasantly bold manner, but the vast majority of people I talk to claim it’s nothing but nonsense noise used for shock value that holds no melodic integrity whatsoever – As someone who spent years performing in touring bands from 2006 to 2014 promoting these aesthetics, I feel a distinct sense of alienation from anyone who says they don’t understand it at all since my contemporaries & I had such a heavy hand in the formation of the genres themselves, my ex-Hardcore & Punk brethren & I putting our all into the most aggressive arrangements we could to gain street cred, or rather internet cred, within the fading confines of Myspace, the social media platform where Screamo & Metalcore found its biggest audience in Scene Kids. This music was the best platform we had to express who we were, allowing us to find a niche culture all our own much in the same way Trappers on SoundCloud have their own unique subculture to champion in the modern day, yet I can’t help but feel like the massive strides we made in improving the genre are lost on today’s listeners who’ve grown up with a very polished & refined Rock music industry wholly informed by Pop media; You just don’t get the same sort of blood-curdling screams & poignant narratives of teenage insecurity now that mental health issues & depression are all the rage in mainstream Pop radio, so trying to observe what made these genres so delightful is incredibly difficult as you really had to be there to understand how amazing it was joining voices with a crowd of ragamuffins at Warped Tour throwing your fists around to a bunch of drop-C tuned open-chord breakdowns & shouting about how death is preferable to living in obscurity – Of all the bands in this scene, there’ve been hundreds of groups who hold a special place in my heart that’ve yet to see the fame they truly deserve, but perhaps the band who changed the public perception of Screamo & Metalcore – specifically Deathcore, in fact – is undoubtedly Bring Me The Horizon, one of the few remaining bands of the era who’re still driving audiences crazy today. They’re a far-cry from the band they were in my day, but their success can be directly linked to their second & most prolific album Suicide Season, a record which defined a generation & split audiences straight down the middle, fracturing the scene into two distinct groups of people who would either stick to their old-world mindset or continue to shell out clones of the sound until the current day, literally a curse & a blessing marking the end of the scene altogether.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Written by camjameson  / Mar 28, 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                    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