Fans haven’t heard a new Phantogram album since 2016’s emotionally heavy, Three (listen to “Answer” and “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore”) The NY natives recently announced their new album titled, Ceremony will be released on March 6. An 11 song track list was also revealed.
Leading the album is new single “Pedestal”. A raw story of a crumbling relationship while questioning a confirmation of love. Lead singer, Sarah Barthel belts on the chorus “Cause I was in love with you, is that what you’re supposed to do? When I put you on this pedestal.” The metaphor is so crystal clear while the song is flooded with classic Phantogram musical characteristics. Barthel’s vocals are poignant and indie as ever, while a heavy drum beat pounds through the chorus. The phrase “you can make a hospital lovely” is repeated throughout the song as another metaphor; a strong one at that. While the phrase is short and sweet, it speaks volumes to someone’s character.
“Simmer” begins with heavy breathing followed by a large exhale from Hayley Williams; the woman who has spent most of her life with a band of boys singing and performing pop/rock tunes. As a huge Paramore fan since my teenage years, I always thought Hayley would eventually venture into the solo world in order to take full control over what she wants to put out into the world. Did I think it would be in 2020? Absolutely not. I fully expected Ms. Williams to dive into her hair dye brand and take a good couple of years to live her personal life and pop in to complete some Paramore tasks on the side. But “Simmer” is here and has blown me away. It’s not what I expected, but is everything I wanted to hear from Hayley.
The song starts on a strong note with one simple line that seems to hold a lot of weight with the singer; “rage is a quiet thing”. In regards to the dark, angry tone of the track, Hayley told BBC Radio 1, “I have a lot of anger. I feel angry, like I’ve been through things that make me feel angry, I’ve witnessed things that are so not justified, and I’m angry.” In a way, “Simmer” is incredibly cathartic. It feels like Hayley pieced together journal entries from the past couple of years and created a concept that is relatable and meaningful to so many people. Throughout the rest of the song, one big question creeps to the surface in the chorus; “how to draw the line between wrath and mercy?”, which is such an interesting question to pose as it relates to anger. I’m sure being in the public eye can shift your mindset when it comes to processing anger outwardly for fear of ruining your image or the overall perception of who you are – which is something Hayley probably struggles with. The question itself stands up on its own in a powerful way.
When it comes to the musical DNA of “Simmer”, it has Taylor York written all over it. I’m so happy that Taylor was involved in the making of this song, because he truly knows how to create unique chords and medleys. A steady drum beat, haunting vocals, and a subtle bass line highlight this supercharged dark anthem (think Death Cab for Cutie meets Florence & The Machine). Not only is York a production maestro, but he is trusted by Hayley to bring her words to life sonically. “Simmer” feels like a walk down a dark hallway in the middle of the night. It doesn’t sound like Paramore in the slightest, which is a true testament to Hayley’s artistry and vision to make music she wants to make. Petals for Armor is an incredibly beautiful concept and I can’t wait to see the rest of her musicality come to life.
The album Petals for Armor is set to release on May 8
After delaying their upcoming album, Notes On A Conditional Form, The 1975 have given us a song to chew on while we wait for the big feast. After their latest politically charged singles, this track surprisingly turned out to be a love song…with a twist. Lead singer, Matty describes falling in love with a woman who doesn’t feel the same way about him. He sweetly sings, “I fell in love with her in stages, my whole life.” While the sentiment is somewhat sad, The 1975 manages to keep the beat bouncy and light – like a good pop song should be. Much like their older debut album tracks (“Sex”, “Chocolate”, “The City”), the guitar takes a front seat throughout the entire song – making it feel more punk and nostalgic.
The thing I love most about this track is how the lyrics are sung and woven throughout. Matty continues sentences for a whole verse making them feel poetic when they really should be choppy; not many artists can do this so cohesively. Incorporating a cheeky conversation into the song adds a fine layer of storytelling we don’t often hear in mainstream music; “She said my references were spot on (Spot on) ‘Can I take you for a drink?’ She said, ‘Oh God, I have to think because we’re mates, it doesn’t feel right'” I could listen to this song all day and not get sick of it.
I’m absolutely thrilled to hear more songs off the upcoming album.
2019 was an incredible year for music and especially WOMEN in music. Here are some of my favorite albums of 2019 (in no particular order).
thank you, next – Ariana Grande (February 8)
This year would’ve been nothing without this album… Not only did it spark an inspirational slogan for women fed up everywhere BUT gave Ariana Grande fans an even closer glimpse into Ari’s year of healing. Standout tracks: “NASA”, “needy”, “ghostin”, and “imagine”
Good At Falling – The Japanese House (March 1)
This album flew under the radar and I’m writing about it to hopefully bring it back to the people who might’ve missed it the first time. As always, The Japanese House have a sound similar to The 1975 with more alt-pop energy. Good At Falling is a huge emotional album pulling so many fan-favorites to the surface. Standout tracks: “Maybe You’re The Reason”, “We Talk All The Time”, “Lilo”, and “Worms”
Anonymous – Blackbear (April 26)
As usual…I’m singing Blackbear’s praises yet again. Another album that combines so much of Bear’s always captivating and melodic sounds. With 18 tracks, the album is bound to please any person who hits play. Standout tracks: “SICK OF IT ALL”, “CHANGES”, “LOSING YOU”, and “BURNT AF”
Heard It In A Past Life – Maggie Rogers (January 18)
Everything about this album is magical from start to finish which is why the Maryland-native was just nominated for a 2020 Grammy (Best New Artist). Exploring love, loss, and fame is all exposed on this album in the most beautiful ways. Standout tracks: “Overnight”, “Say It”, “Retrograde”, and “Burning”
Happiness Begins – The Jonas Brothers (June 7)
2019 was the return of our favorite boy band. I was thoroughly impressed with how well done this album was. You can tell they took the time to really curate something that is so uniquely them and I can’t wait to hear what comes next. Standout tracks: “Used To It”, “Don’t Throw It Away”, “Comeback”, and “I Believe”
Cuz I Love You – Lizzo (April 19)
Lizzo was everywhere this year from powerful quotes to fun music videos and an immense amount of praise from critics everywhere. Cuz I Love You is a massive soul album that will go down as one of the best vocal compositions in history. Standout tracks: “Juice”, “Jerome”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Cuz I Love You”
Don’t Feed The Pop Monster – Broods (February 1)
Broods is another band that often flies under the radar… but not mine! This album was so different from their previous albums. Obviously featuring more pop sounds along with even more lyrical diversity. Standout tracks: “Sucker”, “Too Proud”, “Life After”, and “Everything Goes (Wow)”
III – Banks (July 12)
Banks is known for always keeping her music personal and raw, and this album is no different. Through intricate productions and wildly eclectic stories, Banks proves her staying power in the music industry. Standout tracks: “Sawzall”, “Hawaiian Mazes”, “What About Love”, and “Contaminated”
Lover – Taylor Swift (August 23)
As a late contender to my 2019 list, Lover is indeed one of my favorite albums by Ms. Swift. Through the neverending industry drama, she somehow broke her own mold and made an album that feels entirely her. Standout tracks: “Death By A Thousand Cuts, “Cruel Summer”, “Cornelia Street”, and “Lover”
Everyday Life – Coldplay (November 22)
Coldplay never ceases to amaze me in so many ways. As a band that’s been together for as long as they have, it’s hard to believe Coldplay can still make such compelling albums. But the truth is, Coldplay never runs out of inspiration. Their motto goes beyond love stories and breakups – it’s the human experience, which is exactly what Everyday Life conveys. Standout tracks: “Church”, “Everyday Life”, “Champion of The World”, and “Daddy”
When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? – Billie Eilish (March 29)
I’ll always be a fan of Billie. Her sound is timeless in such a modern way. While she stays on-trend, she’s somehow always sticking out. Honest and rule-breaking is how I’d describe this revolutionary album. Standout tracks: “xanny”, “ilomo”, “i love you”, and “bad guy”
Charli – Charli XCX (September 13)
Calling this album “pop” is a fierce understatement. Through futuristic cyborg beats and laser hard vocals, Charli takes “pop” to a galactic level that cannot be reached by other artists. Standout tracks: “Gone”, “Next Level Charli”, “Thoughts”, and “White Mercedes”
Romance – Camila Cabello (December 6)
Now that Camila is established and prepared for success, she’s able to feel more comfortable in being vulnerable with the music she creates. Romance provides a variety of curated themes on one album with perfected vocals to style them effortlessly. Standout tracks: “Easy”, “Dream of You”, “Living Proof”, and “First Man”.
Fine Line – Harry Styles (December 13)
Styles was born to be a solo artist and Fine Line proves that once again, Harry Styles is filled to the core with musical inspiration far beyond his years. His continued musical success proves his name will be with fans until they are much older and can still find solace in his music. Standout tracks: “Golden”, “Cherry”, “Falling”, and “Treat People With Kindness”