Man Crush Monday: Post Malone

(Image via nme.com)

The 22-year-olds sophomore album titled, beerbongs & bentleys is jam-packed with an 18-song tracklist. Featuring a couple we already know the words to; “Candy Paint” and “rockstar”. Post Malone makes a rap album that almost doesn’t feel like rap at all.

Malone carries his own weight on this album; although he has some stellar features (Nicki Minaj, G-Eazy, YG, Ty Dolla $ign…) Songs like, “Rich & Sad”, “Psycho,” “Zack and Codeine,” and “Better Now” have that addicting Post Malone sound. Some beats are pop, while others are harsh hip-hop.

He’s unlike other rappers, as we hear on the acoustic ballad, “Stay”; which seems to already be a fan favorite. Malone’s wavering voice glides alongside a smooth acoustic guitar. He sings about the struggle to maintain a relationship; “Tell me that it’s all okay, I’ve been waitin’ on this all damn day, call me in the mornin’, tell me how last night went, I’m here, but don’t count on me to stay.” Never have I been able to listen to a rapper sing an acoustic ballad like this and still like it.

This album has been in the works for a couple years now. Malone tweeted in late 2016: “beerbongs and bentleys isn’t a song…. It’s a whole project. also a lifestyle and it’s coming.” Time definitely did this project justice. Full hip-hop albums are hard to love in their entirety, but Post Malone has managed to make each song stand on its own full of bubbly choruses and insanely cyclical beats.

According to forbes.com, beerbongs & bentleys already destroyed the record for the most streams of songs on an album in the U.S. All 18 songs were played 48 million times in just the United States.

 

To see Post Malone live, click here!


 

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The Curious Case of Hayley Kiyoko

(Image via teenvogue.com)

It feels as though Hayley Kiyoko came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, you hear the thudding beat of her lead single, “Curious” and it pulls you in right away. Who is this girl? And what is she doing to me?! Little did we know, Kiyoko was going to blow us all away with a debut album worthy of all the recognition in the world.

Opening with an enchanting overture, reminiscent of an M83 production, “Expectations (Overture)” leads the album into the extravagant and expressive work of art it is. Strings and chorus-like vocals add euphoric elements that feel almost church-like. Which kicks straight into the funky “Feelings”. A stand out single dealing with the transparency of human emotion. Kiyoko confidently sings, “I over communicate and feel too much. I just complicate it when I say too much.” While the song structure remains basic like any other pop song, the funky guitar adds a new groovy layer.

While the pop scene is supercharged with “boy crazy” female leads, Kiyoko remains true to who she is. She’s a lesbian, and proud of it. “I’m not over-sexualizing my music. I make out with women because I love women, not because I’m trying to be sexy. That’s not to turn heads — that’s my life” she tells Refinery 29. Teaming together with one of the most honest women in the pop/R&B genre proved Kiyoko can secure any song she wants (listen to the fun Kehlani assisted “What I Need”).

Songs like, “Mercy/Gatekeeper” and “Under the Blue/Take Me In” prove Kiyoko’s artistry in a genre that is so often saturated to the point of overconsumption. “Mercy” cranks out dramatic muffled vocals that almost feel like an inner monologue. “All I wanna do is cry and bang my head until I start to fly” spin out of Kiyoko’s mouth as she describes a turbulent time. The song feels like an emotional rollercoaster, up and down, as if she couldn’t decide how the song was going to end. Perhaps mimicking what she felt in real life. The words, “just give me mercy, cause I keep hurting, hurting” repeat throughout the song, adding to its raw honesty.

Each track feels different from the rest in a way that’s indescribable. “Molecules” and “Let It Be” close this album in such a delicate way. “Molecules” deals with a shift in perspective about a friends tragic loss. On Instagram, Kiyoko said “Let It Be” is about “Accepting the bravery to move on, and start a new beginning, even if it’s hard.” She then went on to say, “Sometimes good things come to an end and you don’t know why or how it happened. But there was a reason for that chapter in your life. You grew and learned to love. It’s hard to follow your heart and listen to your gut when you know things won’t work out.”

Expectations exceeded all my expectations. It serves a hot dish of fun, honest, and raw pop. Something the music industry should be admiring and honoring very closely.

The Sounds of Lord Huron

The words, “I will wait by the river, in the light of the moon,” sound like the beginning of an old poem; something Shakespeare would write to a far-away lover. She’d read it and shed a tear as the realization of his love for her finally became clear.

lord huron
Image via brooklynvegan.com

Lord Huron’s third single of 2018, “Wait by the River” is an enchantingly beautiful love song. Lead singer, Ben Schneider sings about all the things he’ll do to get this love back; “I will cry out to heaven,” “I will beg for forgiveness,” “I will wait by the river.” A slow drum beat keeps “River” at a romantic pace, while Schneider’s vocals itch higher and higher with piercing imagery to follow.

Their third album, Vide Noir, will be released April 20th. Spanning two years in writing and recording (in their Los Angeles studio), Schneider told Northern Transmissions what inspired Noir, “My nighttime drives ranged all over the city—across the twinkling grid of the valley, into the creeping shadows of the foothills, through downtown’s neon canyons and way out to the darksome ocean…” he continues, “I started imagining Vide Noir as an epic odyssey through the city, across dimensions, and out into the cosmos. A journey along the spectrum of human experience. A search for meaning amidst the cold indifference of The Universe.” It’s no surprise, the visual aspect of this album will be just as gorgeous as the mixed sounds on each track.

Listen to “Wait by the River” here:

 


 

Who You Need: EDEN

 

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Image via news.uic.edu

 

WHO: EDEN

WHERE: Dublin, Ireland

GENRE: Pop/Alt/Chill

TOP SONGS: “drugs”, “XO”

 

 

EDEN caught my attention with his latest song, “take care”. It feels almost too elaborate to consume in one sitting. “Care” takes on several different parts; some ominous, some angry, some empowering. Listening to the rest of his latest album, vertigo, I couldn’t help but analyze the album title more and more.

Vertigo: a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height.” This definition couldn’t be more fitting for the album. Songs like, “start//end”, “icarius”, and “gold” feel like a bit of a push and pull; an inner monologue finally floating to the surface. Think of early The 1975 minus the rock elements (think 2012’s “Antichrist”). Vertigo is like staring at a painting you’re a little confused about but somehow you find it so beautiful that you can’t look away.

EDEN recently opened up to Pigeons and Planes about his personal life and why he tends to keep himself under the radar. “I’ve always just done what I wanted to do…I see how some other artists use social media, and it’s just not for me. For a long time I didn’t even have my face on the internet because I just wanted it to be a music thing, not about me as a person…at one point I just updated my Twitter profile picture. I just decided to let go.” 

In a time where social media can carry someone’s image to a whole new level, EDEN is about to blow up. Especially after the immensely creative release of vertigo.

 


 

Q&A with Sure Sure!

 

SureSure - ZachBell[Friends]
Image via frontrunnermagazine.com

Sure Sure’s self-titled album is nothing short of cool. Each song somehow makes you feel content and inspired. Taking vintage sounds and making them modern suit these California natives quite well. Start to finish, an album that will surely be on repeat in my house for quite a while. Here’s what the band had to say about the album, inspiration, and future plans!

1.) Opening song, “Giants” is such a fun and relatable tune. What inspired the lyrics?

 “This song burst into existence during a Dungeons and Dragons session in which we were fighting a lot of giants (we are still on the same quest actually…). Mike started playing these really basic chords on a children’s acoustic guitar, and Chris started singing an off-the-cuff melody, and suddenly we were singing ‘Don’t let the water burn you baby…‘ together with our friends Scott and Chase and Hank. The lyrics sort of fell into place after that, taking the form of tongue-in-cheek yet sincere life advice. But the lyrics were also inspired by the feeling of being overwhelmed by the insanity of the world, and the reciprocal feeling of wanting to experience something simple and warm, like the sunlight on your skin or the touch of another human being.

 2.) How would you describe your sound on this album?

 “Warm and crackling and a bit breezy. End of summer/early fall. Sunny Radiohead”  

3.) The vocal unity throughout the album reminds me of the band Chicago. What other artists/bands do you look up to for inspiration? 

 “Nick Drake is a huge inspiration… Tame Impala, Radiohead, Feist, Steely Dan, Anderson .Paak, Talk Talk, Big Thief, George Harrison (and the Beatles of course), Andy Shauf.”

 

 

4.) Piano seems to be coming back in pop, alternative, and even rock music. What’s your opinion on keeping that “band” sound in music?

 “We just got really into capturing organic, acoustic sounds on this record.  This also probably had to do with the fact that we were listening to a lot of folk (Andy Shauf) and old Beatles (Help! / Hard Day’s Night) at the time. We still love synthesizers and modern crisp production, and you can actually hear a somewhat different production style on some of the older tunes on the album like ‘New Biome’ and ‘This Must Be The Place.’  But the bulk of the songs (‘Info Machine’, ‘Foreign Room’, ‘lowlife’, ‘K-Town’, ‘Friends’, ‘Giants’) were written and recorded quickly – each song took about two days – and we captured them in more of that traditional band style with layered acoustic guitars, upright piano, organ, and ukelele.”

5.) What song are you most excited to perform live and why?

“Oh boy… ‘Hands Up Head Down’ has quickly become our favorite on tour with Hippo Campus because we teach everyone the dance move and suddenly a thousand people are dancing like zombies while we play. It positively pops off.

6.) What does 2018 look like?

“Tour! On tour now until end of Feb with Hippo Campus, and then we have our own national headline tour in April/May. Meanwhile we will be recording new material whenever we are home in LA, as well as making live videos in our house. Gonna be a wild year.”

 

For more information on Sure Sure, visit their website!

 


 

Tove Lo’s Epic Sequel

 

billboard.com

Tove Lo’s latest album Blue Lips (Lady Wood Pt. 2) is her best collection yet. Keeping her refined edgy style with pixie pop vocals, the “Stay High” singer has finally found a sound that’s distinctly her own. A little more band-based at times, while still upbeat, pop, with a modern mix of alt/electro. She wraps up all of these sounds together, dumps glitter on it, and launches it into your eardrums for consumption.But, we hear more emotion on this album than we’ve heard in the past from Tove. “Bad Days” is about nostalgia and self worth. “you used to love me on my bad days, when the sun wouldn’t come out” she sings right at the top of the gorgeous track. “Days” is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard Tove Lo. “Cycles” follows suit with a slightly more upbeat feel reminiscing about life and the cyclical ways we become stuck; “I’m in a cycle, yeah I admit it, how can I change it when I don’t know that I’m in it.” A song so relatable, it hurts.

This Sweden native worked with pop mastermind Max Martin to achieve a curated sound she knew fans would drool over. Tove talks her emotional and sexual rawness on the album with TIME magazine saying, “It’s just being a woman, you end up having to defend yourself if you choose to sing about things that aren’t seen as a good example. But it doesn’t really matter to me if people don’t agree with it.”

But Tove has proved time and time again that she is more than her sex. Always standing up for women’s issues to fight for equality amongst the sexes. And she does it all with her boobs out (hence disco tits) which was a nickname her boyfriend gave her once at Coachella.

Blue Lips’ sound is modern yet distinctly vintage. Hit single “Disco Tits” triggered a discussion around the comeback of 70’s sounds into modern pop. A pulsing sex-fueled track you can’t help but swing your hips to, the beat is almost too good to be true. “I’m sweat from head to toe, I’m wet through all my clothes.” You either love it or hate it – there’s no inbetween. “Bitches” follows suit; another ballsy track with explicit sexualized lyrics. Each song packs a different type of punch.

It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of pop, but every now and then there’s an album that you can always go back to and sing every word; that’s Blue Lips.

 


Quinn XCII: More Than Pop

Quinn’s latest album, The Story of Us is pop shot to the moon and back. Nothing is off limits. The Detroit native proves his voice is one of the most unique in the industry right now. 11 tracks tackle a new element and by the end, you’re convinced he can do no wrong.

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Image via quinnxcii.com

Mixed beats lace each song while Quinn’s voice hijacks every syllable. “Don’t You” stands out as one of my favorites. Led by an acoustic guitar, the cutesy track quickly shifts into a low key R&B tune. Quinn doesn’t box himself in one genre, his verses are choppy yet mixed to perfection so the rhythm is NEVER off. The lyrics aren’t cryptic, he keeps it real and honest; “I’m losing my patience, swear she’s dating someone famous,” he spits out.

“Fake Denim” and “Straightjacket” are the catchiest off the album. Both keeping pop elements mixed with a slice of those R&B sounds he does so well. Quinn recently told Billboard that lead single “Straightjacket” is about, “Dating someone who acts one way in public but totally different (and crazier) behind closed doors, and the goal of ultimately exposing that true personality to everyone.” Both tracks have an underlying EDM vibe which parallels perfectly to his go-getter/confident attitude.

While most artists have albums that feel more like fillers, Quinn makes each song a hit single. The Story of Us is a wholesome album. I truly think there is something for everyone on it. I can’t wait to hear/see more from Quinn XCII in the future.