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Album Reviews

Somebody To You (EP): The Vamps
★★★★★

The Both

Although I’m not usually a fan of “boy bands,” I must say I enjoy The Vamps a lot. I heard one of their songs while watching tv one day and HAD to find it. The lyrics were stuck in my head and the music video was hilarious. This EP includes five songs, including one cover. “Somebody To You” is great because it features the one and only Demi Lovato and it tells a love story of wanting to mean something to someone you love. The song begins almost like a 5SOS song with chanting and echoes, something that’s perfect for summer. It has a great beat with an incredibly catchy chorus that includes lyrics to melt any girl’s heart. Although the song is good by itself, Lovato MAKES the second half with her vocals and emotions. “Wild Heart” is a cute song about falling in love with someone you just met. It features acoustic guitar and beautiful vocals with a great chorus. “Move My Way” is also acoustic and is a cute, romantic love song. The lyrics are adorable as it explains just what falling in love for the first time feels like. It features phenomenal vocals as well as great harmonized backup vocals. The last song on this EP is a cover of “She Looks So Perfect: by 5SOS, a great move on their part to cover a song by the now very famous band. It has an edgy feel to it, almost pop punk meets rock that sets a cool vibe and it a must to listen to. Overall, I loved this EP. I’m not one to admit it about a boy band but this one is worth listening to. I would recommend to anyone who likes 1D or 5SOS.
Review written by: Nikki Lawrence

Hypnotic Eye: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
★★★★☆

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After nearly 40 years in the music industry, one might assume that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had already peaked in their career. Yet decade after decade, they come out with new music that people cannot get enough of. Their newest album “Hypnotic Eye” holds true to this statement, as it is the first #1 album Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have earned over their career. It’s no surprise that this album is doing so well on the charts. Petty and the Heartbreakers sound as alive and creative as ever with “Hypnotic Eye.” Their distinct sound is present on the album and it is clear that they drew inspiration from the ‘70s rock music era for it. That influence can definitely be heard in the track “Fault Lines.” The song is not as laid back as some of Petty’s previous music, but it is still great nonetheless. There is an impressive guitar solo at the end that will make you feel as though you are back in 1975. “Red River” is another track to look to for heavy ‘70s influence. Petty’s voice is harsh and haunting as he sings “Meet me tonight at the red river and look down into your soul.” These lyrics really stand out to me in the song because it’s not often you hear someone challenging you to look into your soul. I like how Petty wasn’t afraid to sing those words and challenge all who listen. “Full Grown Boy” is a softer song on the album, but still trippy. The song takes you on a journey as Petty sings about finally finding himself as a full grown boy. It’s very reminiscent of the soft rock scene of the ‘70s. Something that strikes me about this album is the high level of emotion Tom Petty has when he sings these songs. “Power Drunk” is a hard, soulful song that displays Petty’s vocal talents well. The best song on the album is “Sins of My Youth,” a love song to which Petty proclaims he loves his love more than the sins of his youth. It’s a slower track on the album, which is good because it really emphasizes the emotion Petty is putting into the song. Overall, this is some of the best music I have heard from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Anyone who thinks that their peak has come and gone is greatly mistaken; these guys will be around for a long time to come. If they keep making music like this, that is definitely not something to complain about.
Review written by: Kelly Kuehn

Lowborn: Anberlin
★★★★☆

Everyone’s favorite Christian alternative rock band, Anberlin produces another album, Lowborn. Lowborn was released back on July 22. It’s definitely a bittersweet time and summer fans of Anberlin, it was announced that this would be Anberlin’s seventh and last album before disbanding. Anberlin didn’t leave their fans empty handed, they left them with an explosive and chaotic new album. Anberlin couldn’t have gone out a better way. It sucks that they are disbanding after one heck of a music career. Throughout Anberlin’s music career they have produced seven studio albums. I feel Anberlin is a much underappreciated band because Anberlin continuously kept outdoing their selves. Lowborn got a lot of positive praises from different music critics. I wouldn’t consider this one of Anberlin’s best albums, but what I will tell you is that this album is filled with power packed tracks. “Stranger Ways,” “Losing It All,” “Hearing Voices,” and “Armageddon,” I’d consider these four being my favorite tracks. “Stranger Ways” is one of the singles on this album; I like this song because it’s lyrically great and the instrumentals aren’t overbearing. It has a brilliant chilled tone throughout the song. The chorus in “Losing It All” is catchy, which makes it hard to dislike the song. I think the lyrics could’ve been better but that’s just my opinion. “Hearing Voices,” what’s not to like about this song, it’s lyrically great and the sound is amazing, well everything about this is amazing. If you haven’t already checked out Anberlin’s last album, I really do suggest you go and listen to it. I’m not a huge fan of Anberlin but I know fans will agree with me when I say, that this band will be missed along with their own unique sense of art and original musical style. I personally want to state that these 12 years have been incredible and explosive. I want to congratulate Anberlin on one heck of a musical career; your sound will be missed.
Review written by: Alan Taylor

Charmer: Tigers Jaw
★★★★☆

Tigers Jaw’s sound is a very satisfying mix between Fleetwood Mac and Brand New. In a way, it seems as if Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham are raging inside of “Charmer.” This is the Scranton band’s fourth album. Adam McIlwee, Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh’s harmonies have a glassy, disengaged quality and they’re accompanied with passionate emotions and turbid guitars. They're transitioning out of pop-punk and emo into straight-up indie rock, and they’re doing it smoothly, making it seem like they have been an indie rock band all along. The opener’s chorus, “It’s a cruel world, but it’s cool,” is backed up by great vocals and music, making it a pretty catchy song. “Slow Come On” brings forth a flurry of drum rolls and McIlwee’s vocals just nearing a scream. It’s a chilling example of a person revealing his true colors, telling someone who doesn’t turn him on about the kind of person who does—“I don’t even care how mean they are/ So I don't ever take your calls.” When McIlwee yells, “Why am I so cruel?” towards the end, it’s about as close as he gets to a confession or culpability, acknowledging himself as a man who wants the ones he can’t have, rejects the ones he can, and comes to the conclusion of loneliness. “What Would You Do” is a total outlier, detailing a sad hookup, while “Frame You” is just as candid—“You couldn’t leave me alone/ Because I was a wreck and you were the savior type.” These songs lead up to the lead single “Hum.” This is the sole track where Collins takes the lead. When she sings, “You left a permanent scar,” the passion behind his voice makes you feel the pain that he once felt. Though this album is laced with "Twin Peaks" references, “Charmer” ends up sounding like a very mature indie rock album.
Review written by: Nick Winger

Gyspsy Heart (Side A) EP: Colbie Caillat.
★★★★☆

The Both

I am pretty sure the majority of us know the new song from Colbie Caillat, “Try” and if you don’t I suggest going to YouTube and watching the music video. It is an uplifting song and video proclaiming everyone is beautiful the way they are. No makeup, no Photoshop, no fancy hair do, or stylish clothes, us as human beings are beautiful. The video portrays only girls but men can be beautiful too without all of that nonsense. We don’t have to try so hard to be liked, as long as we like ourselves. Now if you listened to “Try” and didn’t like it I can almost guarantee you, that you will not like the other four songs on her new EP. “Live It Up” is the first song on the EP. It’s very upbeat and the lyrics are motivational. It encourages you to do, exactly what the title says, Live It Up. “Blaze” is almost edgy for Colbie Caillat. Kind of like Live It Up, if you’re going to do something, go all out! Not horrible advice! “If You Love Me Let Me Go” is number three. To be totally honest, the beat and the lyrics don’t seem to mesh very well. It is very lack luster compared to the other songs on her EP. It can easily fade into the background and pass you without you caring to notice, unfortunately. The last song is “Never Gonna Let You Down”. It has a pure, angelic sound that can be familiarized with past Colbie Calillat songs, like Bubbly. The punchy pop instrumentals make this song a go to for a summer night anthem.
Review written by: Michelle Voorhees

Songs from the Couch, Vol. 1: Emblem3
★★★★☆ Ready Steady Go

 

As an unexpected album from the boy band whose fame began on a reality TV show, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Emblem3 but I can say I was pleased with the outcome. Songs from the Couch includes eight songs, three of which are new versions of their previous songs. This includes “Reason,” “Curious” and “Sunset Boulevard.” All three have the same reggae, Bob Marley sound to them with a slight touch of pop and rap with just a different chorus or verse added, alongside their catchy verses, choruses and of course their quick spit and clever lyrics. The only one of these three I disliked was “Reason.” I felt that this version lacked A LOT of emotion. I enjoy a song where you can tell the artist is enjoying it as well. I felt the emotion through this track was very dry and that I had more emotion just singing along. “Sunset Boulevard” will always be my favorite song by them. It was their first song that they sang for their audition on America’s Got Talent and was the cause for the launch of their career. “Indigo” has a very different tone to it. It features solo electric guitar and unison song vocals by the boys. It also has some pretty cute and romantic lyrics that could melt any girl’s heart. It has a PHENOMENAL chorus that tells a story of falling in love, or “Falling through the indigo kaleidoscope.” “True Friends” is a song that’s title says it all; a song about how true friends are scarce and to stick with them. It has a very cool edgy rock sound to it, different for Emblem3 but definitely a bold and great decision. It features heavy electric guitar with simple light verses and a powerful chorus. My two favorites from this album are “Tequila Sunrise” and “Riptide.” “Tequila Sunrise” is a bit slower than most of the other songs; quiet, dark, smooth and definitely sexy. The great vocals and sexy lyrics tie together nicely and build to an edgy rock chorus, which seems like a strange pair but it actually works out perfectly. “Riptide” is also a slower song with an acappella intro that features snaps and taps for an older sound. It’s a cool song about getting pulled into a night of lust and alcohol, like getting pulled into a riptide. The vocals are beautiful and the vocabulary is even better, with a simple verse that leads to an upbeat, fast spit rap chorus with a catchy beat throughout the background. Overall, I think this was a great album and I’m sad to see the lead vocalist leave the group. I believe this album could have been a little better seeing as it was the last before his departure and it lacked some emotion but overall I was pleased and would recommend to anyone who has been a fan or anyone who is looking for a cool, reggae rock band to listen to.
Review written by: Nikki Lawrence

Trouble in Paradise: La Roux
★★★☆☆

 

No one can deny the remarkable evolution of the EDM genre within the last 20 years. It has grown from a little-recognized genre to one of great significant to the current generation. EDM artists are usually the people in the music industry who are not afraid to do something different with their sound that will advance the genre even more than it has. Evolution is a key element in any form of music, and while La Roux’s sound has matured since being nominated for a Grammy a few years back, the sound on the pop act’s sophomore album “Trouble in Paradise” does not reflect the best work La Roux is capable of. All of the songs on the album sound too much alike to really grasp the listener’s interest. The album starts off with “Uptight Downtown,” an upbeat song that resembles a song from the height of the ‘80s pop scene. This is a solid track to start off with, but the next song titled “Kiss and Not Tell” sounds too much like “Uptight Downtown” to keep the listener’s attention. All the other tracks on the album sound a lot like the first two, but there are some songs that have a twist in them. “Cruel Sexuality” is more on the sensual side of the music spectrum as La Roux sings about finding herself. It reminds me of something I would hear from Abba during their fame in the ‘70s, which is a nice break from the rest of the songs. “Sexotheque” reminds me of something I would hear from Cindy Lauper. It is super upbeat and carefree. If you’re in need of a little TLC, I would recommend listening to this song; it will get you in a good mood. The best song on the album is “Paradise is You.” It’s upbeat and has a high energy associated with it. This is the song that resembles La Roux’s past hit “Bulletproof” the most. It’s a slower song where a loved one is being adored. If you want to tell someone you love them in a sensual, EDM way, I definitely recommend using this song. Overall, La Roux’s lyrics have definitely matured since their breakthrough with “Bulletproof,” switching feisty lyrics for more soulful ones. However, shaking up their sound every now and again would not be a bad thing. I expect La Roux to be an artist that creates a sound and owns it as their own. If their future work sounds anything like this album, however, I might have to re-think my expectations.
Review written by: Kelly Kuehn

Unstoppable Love: Jesus Culture
★★★★☆

The Both

For those fans out there who has been waiting for Jesus Culture to release their newest album, Unstoppable Love, well the wait is over. The Christian and gospel music group, Jesus Culture, released their newest album Unstoppable Love, June 3. Chris Quilala and Kim Walker are Jesus Culture’s main two lead singers. Jesus Culture is a band about helping people to be revived spiritually; this album is Jesus Culture’s best album yet. After listening to Jesus Culture’s Unstoppable Love you will be impressed by the quality and freshness of each track. Unstoppable Love is full of magnificent uplifting tracks. If you’re a huge fan of the band Jesus Culture, or even a person who loves good Christian music, there’s no doubt about it, you must buy this album. The richness and quality of the tracks featured on the album can bring some of you to a deeper intimacy with God. Unstoppable Love features 13 spiritually tracks, “Sign Out,” “We Will Run,” “Light of the World,” “Surrender All (Give You Everything),” “Unstoppable Love,” “Your Name is Glorious,” “No Other Like You (We Will Exalt You),” “You Made a Way,” “We Stand,” “Wide Open,” “Born of God,” “In Awe of You,” and “10,000 Reasons.” In my opinion “Your Name is Glorious,” “Sing Out,” “No Other Like You,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “You Made a Way” are the most heartfelt spiritual songs featured on this album. “Sing Out” is by far the best worshipping song featured on Unstoppable Love. The dulcimer on this track makes a huge difference in this song; it makes the song so much better. You can just feel the emotions and passion in “Sing Out,” driven by Quilala. Quilala digs down deep on this song; you can feel the passion drawn from his vocals. The Jesus Culture choir did a heck of a great job singing “You Made a Way.” If you don’t feel anything after listening to “You Made a Way” or any other song featured on this album you might want to check your spiritual pulse.
Review written by: Alan Taylor

Disgusting: Beartooth
★★★★☆

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Caleb Shomo's, former vocalist of Attack Attack!, new project, Beartooth, is totally misguided: The two bands sound nothing alike, and that's a testament to Shomo's seemingly bottomless well of creativity. “Disgusting,” like its extended-play predecessor “Sick,” was created from the ground up solely by Shomo. He played all the instruments, sang all the vocals and twiddled all the knobs, resulting in an absolutely exhilarating album, the kind of punk record a hardcore kid can back and the kind of hardcore record a punk kid won’t turn down. It’s the middle ground between the bombastic nature of A Day To Remember and the laid back swagger of Every Time I Die, with an elevated level of pop smarts absent from most newer heavy bands. The two-minute “Dead” is a guaranteed circle-pit starter, rotating through double-time passages, straightforward verses and plenty of breakdowns. The anti-suicide anthem, “Body Bag,” is a total rager, with four-on-the-floor drumming leading to Shomo bellowing, “One life, one decision!/Make sure it ends with you still living!” Many of Beartooth's songs carry strong messages; beyond “Body Bag,” there’s lead single “Beaten In Lips,” which tackles the topic of child abuse, where he encourages victims to “keep living loud and proud/They never can hold you down.” Closing track “Sick & Disgusting” seems to revisit similar lyrical ground, as Shomo repeatedly pleads, “Daddy, I don’t wanna be sick and disgusting,” through layers of feedback and his own tears, closing the album on an incredibly dour note. “Relapsing” and “I Have a Problem” deal with alcoholism; an issue Shomo has publicly commented on before. The moment in the latter song when the instruments drop out for Shomo to yell in a broken voice, “I don’t know about you, but I’m admitting now that I have a problem,” is chilling in its honesty. When you realize Shomo is only 21 and has been living the touring-band lifestyle since he was 15, you have to wonder how many more demons still reside in his head that he intends to work out through song. This album is great for any hardcore music fans, or anyone dealing with these issues who need something to connect to. Beartooth is on the rise to becoming a powerhouse amongst the music community.
Review written by: Nick Winger

Conversations With A Butterfly: Issa Gold
★★★★☆

The Both

Issa Gold, one half of the rap duo The Underachievers, grants us another reason to embrace this last month of summer with his new solo project Conversations With A Butterfly. The mixtape further excites fans for The Underachievers heavily anticipated album set to be released in August. The best thing about this project is that it’s perfect for the summer due to the “feel good” sound that it possesses. However each song on the project possesses more than just a catchy flow, as all of the songs tell a story or displays Issa Gold’s transitions in the relationships within his personal life. On your first listen you may just play the mixtape on max volume while cruising in your car on your cliché summer day; but when you actually sit back and listen to the words you will notice that there is substance in a number of songs. One thing fans can continue to appreciate within this release is that Issa Gold has his own unique sound that doesn’t get tiring. This is largely due to the distinct production and Issa Gold’s natural way of flowing differently from other rap artists. It is as if he doesn’t try to sound different, but simply is and embraces his own identity which allows this unique sound to develop. The production on this mixtape greatly compliments his style as every beat on the project doesn’t sound like something you’re used to hearing in the hip-hop genre. Many of the beats are a combination of different sub-genres in hip-hop combined with complete different genres such as jazz. Euphoric is the best way to describe the overall sound of the mixtape. Some of the best examples of this euphoric sound is displayed in the songs: “Aquinini”, “Musical Chairs”, and “Pesadillas”. Unfortunately this release is only 8 songs, but in return fans get a mixtape that has zero disappointing songs. Issa Gold definitely held his own on this solo project and delivered something definitely worth listening to!
Review written by: Tylre Phipps



Strong Museum of Play

Army