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Album Reviews

Nine Track Mind: Charlie Puth
★★★★☆

 

There is no doubt that Charlie Puth became a fan favorite once he released a track with Meghan Trainor, and ever since their on camera smooch he has been all over the media. The best part about Puth is that he is a young artist who knows a lot about the industry but isn’t afraid to voice his opinion and transitions and he gets older. One of his first solo songs “One Call Away” has only been out for a few short months and is already sky rocketing on the charts. It’s a slower hit with some jazzy feel good vibes about being that super hero to someone you would risk your life for. “My Gospel” threw another curveball at me, having a pretty upbeat pace with catchy claps throughout it to get you moving. Puth uses the upper range of his vocals for this and its beautiful. The song has a sneaky feel, climbing up and down scales and pulling you in. My favorite lyric is “I’m not afraid to change your name, ‘cuz I’m crazy about you.” Hmm, Meghan Trainor where you at? This boy is ready to put a ring on it, get Beyonce on the phone for some side help. Charlie really taps into the feels with the next track “Up All Night,” embracing what everyone has been through. Ever cried for hours over someone? Reading old texts and rolling into a blanket burrito? He knows the feeling to, and he is not afraid to show some stellar vocals over the slow ballad to prove it. Another one that was not a favorite was “Then There’s You.” It’s a cliché song about finding a girl beautiful and sounds a little amateur and simple, something you might hear in a Disney movie. “Suffer” is SUPER bad ass, plain and simple. It starts off with a piano intro, and the crescendo and decrescendo really gives it an intense feel. The snaps and light drum in the background will give you chills, and the vocals are spot on. Such a simple pop-jazz song but may be my favorite overall. Once I caught onto the lyrics I was angrily singing along with him about past cold hearted lovers making us suffer. The album has a few other tracks as well, but the above is what truly stood out to me. I have to say, I am genuinely impressed. Charlie Puth really put his heart, soul and opinion into this album. There is a consistent jazz feel throughout but he knows how to twist it so the listener doesn’t lose interest. His vocals are incredible and this is just the start of his career. And let’s be real, he is love struck over Meghan Trainor, no if’s and’s or but’s. The only thing I didn’t love about this album was that he pulled a T-Swift: all of the songs were about love and loss, and although personal, I didn’t learn much about him besides that. Still a great album none the less!
Review written by:Nikki Lawrence

LoveJo2: JoJo
★★★☆☆

Most of us probably remember the days of watching Disney and Nickelodeon channel while singing songs from our favorite movies and T.V shows. One of these stars that was huge back in the early 2000’s was JoJo. JoJo was that girl that in the hot new movies and created our amazing summer jams. However not unlike some other younger celebrities, JoJo disappeared. Her name was not around as much as it used to and the newer faces were taking over the industry. One of the best news in 2015 was that JoJo was coming back into the music world. She has released a few E.P’s, one being LoveJo2. LoveJo2 is not very long but is a great selection of her talent. She has shaped her new songs to fit the popularity of today’s music with things like the techno-pop music and her strong vocals. Her song “Right On Time” was meaningful and felt powerful. I wasn’t so keen on the real love remix of her hot hit “When Love Hurts”. I feel the song is perfect just the way it was before. At first I thought her song “Thinkin Out Loud” was going to be a cover of the hit by Ed Sheeran but realized this was a JoJo original and was actually made before Sheeran’s song. I can tell that song was important to her. “Back2Life” has a very unique sound to it. I wasn’t able to tell if I liked it at first or not. It is mostly techno-pop with light lyrics in the background. It wouldn’t be my favorite to listen to but may be good for the club setting. All in all I think it was amazing to see JoJo come back into our lives. I cannot wait to see what she has to offer in 2016 and on.
Review written by: Shannon Reagan

Arc: Agoraphobic Nosebleed
★★★★☆

Arc

I haven’t been a huge fan of grind core but I do like this ep ‘Arc’. This ep is straight forward southern-fried metal. Critics have hailed the band for adding a third vocalist to the mix on this album. The new vocalist id ex Salome vocalist Kat Katz. The group takes not time with formalities. Within the very first song they take your feelinsg and put them through a paper shredder. The lyrics are so powerful/ "I am nobody / Not a daughter / My face, empty / Empty as your eyes when you asked me / To end you." Second track, ‘miscommunication’, is rather short the song lasts maybe ten seconds. Most of the song on the album are a minute or less. In the music video, after the music ends, two people are shown having a conversation in ASL. I believe that this is to go with the name of the song. Perhaps the most poignant song on the album is ‘deathbed’. This song is about not beign there when a loved one passes away. “"I cried your name / Forgive me / for not being there / Too late." I was deeply touched when I heard this song. It will strike a chord with you even if you have not been in this situation. This is by far my favorite track on the ep.
Review written by:Avery Sapetko

When It's Dark Out:G-Easy
★★★★☆

G-Eazy

Young Gerald is notorious for whiskey, weed, and wit. His newest album, When It's Dark Out, stays true to his gritty style while featuring artists from different genres and backgrounds. G-Easy is a 21st century artist who knows how to put together a complete album telling the story of his climb, can do attitude, and the rough patches he's hit on the way to top. The intro is reminiscent of a horror and western soundtrack mixed with a lullaby in a completely serious manner that very few can pull off. It's mystical and hypnotic pulling you in while keeping you on your toes. Random is anything but. It's a carefully crafted statement of his musicality and rhythm. Each bar proudly raises the middle finger to all those who credit a person’s success to “luck” or “statistics.” The silky smooth voice of Bebe Rexha is featured on Me, Myself, & I, which is one of the best songs on the album and was a pre-released single. The motley crew featured on When It's Dark Out includes heavyweights Big Sean and Chris Brown along with R&B artists Kehlani and Grace. The influence of these other artists can be felt in the music but somehow G-Easy maintains that special quality that we love. The smooth yet gritty, beautiful but dirty, aggressive and depressed sound that is specific only to young rapper makes Gerald a multifaceted talent. When It's Dark Out has it all; a great talent, fantastic featured artists, popping beats, and powerful bars. It is one of the best-produced albums of this year; with crisp, clear vocals piercing through the heavy fog of bass and beats that sit right on top without being too sharp and annoying. This is definitely a soulful album with a lot of heart and healing. Check it out, there's something amorphous about this album that makes it something everyone can appreciate.
Review written by: Morgan Murray

Wildfire: Rachel Platten
★★★★☆

Purpose

Rachel Platten has really taken the charts by storm with her hit “Fight Song” but that is just the beginning of what looks like it will be a very powerful music career. After years of hard work and dedication she has finally put out her new album “Wildfire” and the title describes it all. This piece of work is full of emotion, power and every song leads to an even better track. “Fight Song” teaches a great lesson of always fighting forward while having a catchy pop feel with a touch of beautiful girl power. “Hey Hey Hallelujah” features Andy Grammer and that duo is INCREDIBLE. Their voices harmonize perfectly, all while telling a story of pure bliss and happiness. “Speechless” is one of my favorites off of the album, having a little bit of a slower beat but still great none the less. It’s a love song expressing what it feels like to have that amazing someone take your breath away and sweep you off of your feet. “Beating Me Up” is actually the exact opposite of that. It has a catchy up beat tune to it, with harmonizing back up vocals. The story brings you through loving someone you know isn’t right for you, but your heart still aches with the pain of not being with them. “Better Place” is on the lower half of my priority list for this album. It’s a bit slower and has a good meaning about finding God or maybe a special significant other, but it sounds more like a church song and it isn’t my style. “Lone Ranger” is my absolute favorite from “Wildfire.” It is a pop song with alternative rock tangled throughout it, all while Rachel throws anger and extremely catchy lyrics about not needing a man on her side into the mix. There are a handful of other songs that are worth listening on the album as well. I highly suggest you listen to start off the new year with a good up and coming artist.
Review written by: Nikki Lawrence

Saint Cecilia : Foo Fighters
★★★★★

With a career spanning over 20 years, the Foo Fighters are a band that can pull off any sound. They create songs that top the active rock and alternative rock charts, but they can also pull off a basic acoustic song without a hitch. Recently, the Foo Fighters released a new EP titled “Saint Cecilia” and made it free for fans to download off their website. Front man Dave Grohl wrote a letter to fans on Foo Fighters’ website, saying that the original purpose of the new EP was to be “a celebration of life and music.” Following the terrorists attacks on Paris on November 13, Grohl stated that the EP had a slightly different purpose. Grohl stated in a letter that “Now, there is a new, hopeful invention that, even in the smallest way, perhaps these songs can bring a little light into this sometimes dark world. To remind us that music is life, and that hope and healing go hand in hand with a song.” This dedication struck the hearts of Foo Fighters fans everywhere as they flocked to the Foo Fighters’ website to check out the new EP. The title track off the EP, “Saint Cecilia,” is already starting to rise on the alternative and active rock charts. It has an infectious melody and is filled with lots of guitar riffs – a classic formula for the Foo Fighters. The chorus of “Saint Cecilia” will most likely get stuck in your head after you listen because of how catchy it is. This is a track to watch out for in 2016. A track off the EP titled “Sean” has a faster tempo and combines a punk rock and active rock sound. You could definitely get your adrenaline pumping to this song. “Savior Breath,” the third track off the EP, is fast, raw and unapologetically active rock. It’s a fast paced song that has a harder sound to it than previous Foo Fighters’ songs, but fans of the band will still be able to keep up with it. “Iron Rooster,” the fourth song off the EP, has an acoustic and somber sound to it. It has a haunting melody to it as Grohl sings of “being an Iron Rooster, cold and still.” It has a melancholy and nostalgic feel to it that will make you ache for something real in life. “The Neverending Sigh,” the fifth and final track off the EP, mixes alternative with active rock to create a unique listening experience for the listener. The melodies of the song combined with the active rock instrumentals make it infectious to the ear. Overall, “Saint Cecilia” shows just how versatile the Foo Fighters can be. They play around with different rock sounds on the EP, and all of them work in their favor. The Foo Fighters are a band that doesn’t need to be defined, and their dedication to their fans and the music industry is incredibly admirable.
Review written by:Kelly Kuehn

See What You Started: Continuing:Collective Soul
★★★★☆

See What You Started by Continuing is Collective Soul's newest of their nine studio albums, following a brief hiatus after their not-so-hot Afterwords album. See What You Started is a return to the bands original sound, a more rock guitar based alternative sound. The album itself has many strong songs. The singles This, AYTA, Contagious and Hurricane were well picked from an album where there is not a single song worth skipping. Every track offers a slightly different insight, one that only time can provide to a band with as much raw talent as Collective Soul. Track three, titled Exposed offers a unique twist into the active rock genre that exposes the diversity that Collective Soul has been trying to offer for the entirety of their career. The song takes a Foo Fighter-esque sound, adds a Pearl Jammy guitar solo and blends it all together with Ed Roland's classic vocals to introduce the new elements that the band discovered during their period of side projects and experimentation. The blending of old and new continues into what is arguably the best single, Contagious. The simple lyrics lend for more room to appreciate the true beauty in the guitar riffs in this mid-album track. Together this makes for a beautifully composed and skillfully performed power ballad that will go down in their best hits album without fail. Each song flows into the next so that the entire 38 minutes feels like one continuous masterpiece that never rests. Easily Collective Soul's best since 1993's Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid. Memoirs of 2005 brings us back to the sound that the group was trying to capture in the early 2000s, but with a much more skillful flair than the entire 7even Year Itch album had in all of its tracks combined. It took the sound that didn't work very well for them over almost a whole decade and brought it to life, intentions finally being realized and immortalized the way intended without falling slightly flat as so much of their work has. Points must be taken off because not any one specific song is catchy enough to carry the album, however both Contagious and This could, given enough radio play for it to catch on with the alternative music radio audience. A more catchy song is needed to push Collective Soul into the forefront of alternative music headlines going into 2016. Collective Soul may not be a new band, but this album leaves room for a long future that is worth keeping an eye on.
Review written by:Alison Maurer

Tell Me I'm Pretty: Cage The Elephant
★★★☆☆

 

Don’t listen to what people tell you about how Tell Me I’m Pretty sounds too much like The Black Keys simply because it was produced by Dan Auerbach. Frankly if it has to be compared to a group it was more similar to perhaps the last Arctic Monkeys album, mostly because of the similarities between Matt Schultz and Alex Turner, but really it’s just Cage The Elephant showing their natural sound. “Cry Baby” sets the tone for the album and really makes you excited to see what’s to come on the next nine songs. Mess Around, the lead single for the album does a great job of exciting the listener and providing a fun vibe for the album, as the second track. You can tell when listening that the band enjoyed making that song “Sweetie Little Jean” transitions nicely to a series of slower, more introspective sounding songs. In fact, with the exception of “That’s Right” the album is really a more mellow album, making the Black Keys comparison make even less sense. “Cold Cold Cold” and “Trouble” keep the pace slow and the lyrics introspective as well, giving the album a nice steady flow without jolts in tempo. When you get towards the end of the album it becomes apparent that it was very front loaded, with the first five songs being the best five, albeit with the possible exception of “That’s Right.” “Portuguese Knife Fight” leaves you with an odd taste to end the album The biggest issue facing this album is that, after “Mess Around,” it’s really hard to see where Cage The Elephant will be able to find another successful single, which could definitely hurt sales in the long run. “Cry Baby” or “Too Late To Say Goodbye” could see some airplay, but will not gain nearly as much momentum and will most likely not allow them to get their name out long after the album the way “Cigarette Daydreams” did. Overall a good album if you don’t expect anything groundbreaking and just let yourself enjoy the music. Will most likely make the top 10-15 albums of the year in alternative rock
Review written by:John Panetta

A Head Full of Dreams: Coldplay
★★★★☆

 

Coldplay’s new album, A Head Full of Dreams, released on December 4th, is an excellent release from the beloved band. Every track brings something new and reveals Coldplay’s growth as a band. They are clearly freed and liberated on each song, expressing their artistry in ways they never have before. The first single from the album, and recently performed on the American Music Awards, “Adventure of a Lifetime,” works Chris Martin’s rough vocals into a pop, electric undertone and catchy beat. Although this combination doesn’t sound like it would work, it most definitely does and makes for a fun track to listen to. The title track, “A Head Full of Dreams,” introduces the meaning of the album for the listeners- the opportunity to dream and live a free and exciting life. Martin sings “You can see the change you want to be what you want to be”, referring to the feeling you have with a “head full of dreams.” The whole album follows this philosophy, especially the tracks “Birds” and “Hymn for the Weekend.” These tracks are the both fun-loving, party songs that Coldplay has adopted so well on this album. “Everglow” discusses the pain that we all feel when we know we have to leave someone even if we still love them. “So if you love someone, you should let them know. Oh, the light that you left me will everglow”. The “everglow” is the feeling of warmth and comfort the person gives us, and even after they are long gone we will still have that feeling inside of us, reminding us of them. One track, “Fun,”features Tove Lo and she fits in perfectly with Coldplay’s new contemporary, electric sound. There are two interludes on the album, the first of a distorted Barack Obama, showing Coldplay’s political undertones, and the second mostly instrumental but with a couple more words from Obama. “Army of One,” the longest track on the album at six minutes, is a powerful anthem about strong love for another person. “My army of one is going to fight for you” is a common line throughout the choruses of the song, accompanied throughout with metaphors of traveling the world and trying to find something as amazing as that person but knowing it impossible. “Amazing Day” is a simple and beautiful song about just enjoying a day with someone special talking about life and wanting to stay there forever. I think this song is relatable to anyone who has had a deep conversation with someone and really felt a connection that they never had before. This album is a breakthrough for Coldplay, definitely one of my favorite albums of theirs thus far. I would highly recommend it to anyone, Coldplay fan or not.
Review written by:Kayla Green

Nine: Samantha Jade
★★★★★

 

Last month Australian singer Samantha Jade released a new album called “Nine.” The album is a nice mix for the pop lovers out there. One of her songs, “Always,” is faster paced while another one, “Naked,” is slower but still has awesome pop sounds to it. It is insane that she’s not big yet on the top charts but it is safe to say that the world will know who Samantha Jade is in the near future. She gives her pop music a beautiful twist. The intro for her song “Wait for It” sounded like whistling which was refreshing to hear. A great thing about her music is that it is fun to listen to, and each song has a different aspect of pop to its tune which can be hard to come by with other artists and music groups. Although “Only Just Begun” sounds like many of the pop songs out it was still nice to listen to. “Shake That,” which features Pitbull, is the perfect party song for the young crowd. One of the best songs on the album though was “Let the Good Times Roll.” This song is the type of song to bring back memories about anyone that means something to you. The beautiful sound mixed with the meaningful lyrics perfect for those times you need to reminisce. “Castle” is another very powerful song that Samantha Jade dominated. “Nine” has proven to be a powerful album and Samantha Jade has a powerful voice. If you like other artists like Rachel Platten, Ariana Grande, and Ellie Goulding, Samantha Jade is definitely worth checking out.
Review written by:Shannon Reagan