John Miller

@johnmiller

8 collected / 94 following / 2 followers

TRACKLIST

Collected by ”@johnmiller”

NARRATIVES

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A Short Album Full of Relationship Conflict

EP’s, or Extended Play albums, are gaining ground as a way for new artists to present themselves, especially in the streaming era. I usually tend to give these less considerations as something to which I would listen, since I favor the long form album and its ability to create and move through an entire concept, sort of analogous to a novel versus a short story or novella. But I decided to check out this EP by Hailee Steinfeld, one who is breaking into music after a stent on TV in some capacity that I admit not knowing much about, just because I am not of that particular age bracket. At least I assume she caters more to the late teen/early adult set, as her songs, at least 1 through 3 of the four on her EP, are full of angst and talk of a need to both be alone with oneself and enjoy the challenges of another. (I will confess to having no real idea what song number 4 is referencing. While her stuff is typically pop, which is to say loud, demanding of attention, and somewhat light on the scope of life, it does bring some interesting outlook to ways in which one might respond to a breakup. I suppose I liked it to some extent, though she has no real track that shows off any true vocal abilities or range. The closest to this ideal might be song number 2, “You’re Such A.” And because she apparently has little to no input in the writing, I am left wondering the degree to which she really feels these words, as opposed to simply singing them as something to get out there. That said, there is some snappiness to the rhythm, and if one was unaware of what was being referenced, (i.e. sexual pleasures, possible fighting and some unclear wrongdoing, one could enjoy the songs as feel-good dance tunes that pack an almost anthemic quality, especially seen in the first.

Jun 07, 2019

With Their Fourth Album, Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, Boyz II Men Get Metaphysical

Boyz II Men, with their tight harmonies and lyrics, became one of the most well-known band of the 1990’s. From their original hit “MoTown Philly”, which was to some degree an homage to the Motown era and a coming-out party where they introduced themselves and their intent to the public, to “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love To You”, still hallmarks of the slow-jam movement, this group has won fans the world over. By the end of the 90’s, however, Boyz II Men’s sound began to evolve, as suggested by their third album called Evolution. This newer, more mature vibe reached its zenith in 2000 with their self-titled album Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya. Admittedly, this album’s first four tracks are throwaways: fast-paced songs where one can hardly understand the lyrics or really distinguish any conveyed messages or feelings. And not much happens after track ten either. But those six in the middle are some of the best work this group ever did. From their soulful wedding song “I Do”, which works especially well in the first verse before the beat kicks in, to “Pass You By”, an encouragement for one to not get stuck in bad love, these songs demonstrate an impressive degree of lyrical and vocal diversity. They especially delve into the variables that affect a new relationship, from its possible inception through maintenance at a distance.

May 10, 2019

Dan + Shay’s Third Album Reaches The Pinnacle Of Art And Life With Marriage-Related Themes

In today’s popular music, we tend to hear basically the same songs and themes reproduced, to different beats, with slightly varying melodies, but largely built of similar substance. Dan + Shay, one of the trendiest acts of modern time, can be said to fit this mold. Many call them “Country Pop” which I think is an accurate description of the vast majority of what their three albums feature, with tunes that take me back to fast and free college days, into that, angsty period of early adulthood, and finally to the point of stability and marriage. Most of their tracks are full of lust and speak positively of romances, relationships, and the like, but I have found that their deepest contributions are those that address how it feels to break up. These tend to be slower, allow for a greater use of the voice, and are even easy for one to sing along. The faster tracks whip by in a rush that is meant to mimic a speeding car with the windows down, but present difficulties when trying to follow along. Dan + Shay, (said as Dan and Shay) two guys from Nashville, have a sound that reminds me starkly of Brian White, a mid-90’s artist whom some might also classify as Country Pop, and of course Rascal Flatts, who had their biggest hits in the early 2000’s. While I would imagine so-called Country purists might not have as much an appreciation for this sound it certainly helps to expand the appeal of Country music among the general public, and especially those who expressly do not enjoy the normal, twangier version. Their third, self-titled album reaches the pentacle of life progress as well as use of voice, most notably in the wildly popular song “Tequila” which compares a lost woman to that particular alcoholic beverage. Aside from that, there are many other tracks on this album that I enjoy. Dan + Shay take us on a ride into marriage, its beauty and sometimes its struggles. By using a rotating team of writers, they manage to approach similar topics with slightly varied takes throughout.

Apr 26, 2019

Alessia Cara Gives Mixed Advice About Finding One’s Way in Love and Life

Artists these days tend to write heavily about themselves and their own experiences, especially as they are affected by the massive changes brought on by the Internet and social media. Those in their late teens and early 20’s often reflect on the isolation, disinterest, and many other negative traits that occur in the online world and influence how they interact within offline (real-life) spaces. With her first album Know-It-All, released in 2015, Alessia Cara, a Canadian pop artist, takes this form to a new level. She also brings the angst of transition from adolescence to early adulthood in her upbeat hit “Seventeen,” and oh of course dropping in occasional encouragements to little girls who are bombarded by these sorts of messages. She admits herself, on her second album The Pains Of Growing (2018) that “Ms. Know-It-All can’t take her own advice”, a play on the first album’s title and a tacit understanding that people’s responses to any life event are likely to be muddled at best. I think few manage to capture the feeling of confusion that occurs when passing through that period of physical and emotional transition as well as Cara does. As an example, her song “Here” is a rambling question about why she has attended a party simply to fit in, when she feels so clearly out of place there and can barely participate in the activities going on around her. Probably more of us than will easily admit it can relate to this sentiment. I for one try to join such social events, but as the music played and the beat’s tempo shifts while Cara almost just speaks words to create that feeling of isolation and a strong desire to escape, I was almost overcome with a need to move on to the next track. Such was the strength of my own reflections on that feeling of a loss of control. She also has a song called “Nintendo Game”, wherein she plays with the listener’s mind by shifting beats, creating the feeling that they are playing with love as if it is a game, and no one will win. But my favorite track on her initial album is “Scars to Your Beautiful,” where in addition to hearing her fuller vocal range, she advises those (particularly women) who are struggling with body image to take pride in both their internal and external beauty, a particularly relevant message in this hyper-connected world.

Apr 26, 2019

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