Album Reviews



Tunes for Ears: “Hurt Me” – Lapsley

Album Reviews, New Music, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

September 16, 2015

Photo by Harvey Pearson

With the voice of an angel, Lapsley will make your heart ache. “Hurt Me” is the latest track from the 19-year-old English singer. A medley of synth and piano introduces the song with the line, “can’t look at you the same way, anticipating heartbreak,” hooking the listener with the promise of emotion in a sort of remixed ballad. She sings she “heard these scars never go away” and now she’s “running out of ways to numb the pain,” building up to the premise of the song – seeing her heartbreaker and letting out the pain she’s been holding inside. Lapsley’s heartbreak is an open book, a raw bleeding heart. Each verse crescendos into the chorus, a direct address that feels a stab to the heart: “so if you’re going to hurt me, why don’t you hurt me a little bit more? / just dig a little deeper / push a little harder than before.” Through her beautifully crafted lyrics, she surrenders to her pain, delivering the melody with grace that shows her fragility and power that screams “no more.”

“Hurt Me” showcases Laspley’s talent as a singer and songwriter, leaving potential for her to step into the mainstream light as England’s next star.

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Tunes for Ears: “Easy” – Tiny Little Houses

Album Reviews, Indie Artists, New Music, Uncategorized

July 13, 2015

The other night when I was on the search for new music I came across this song that I had previously listened to long enough to give it a heart on SoundCloud. But the second time around it stopped my racing thoughts. The lyrics caught me off guard. I was grabbed by the incredibly raw and honest emotion in the lyrics – “I think that we are fine / not doing great but getting by / I guess we laughed right at the start but now I think I’ll cry.” It’s wanting a relationship to work out, but you know it’s over before it even starts. The instrumentals sharply contrast the emotional honesty of the lyrics with lo-fi electric guitar twang and ringing tambourine, creating an ever-lasting wonderland. Constant strumming of acoustic guitar, continuous beating of percussion and soft spoken verses wash over the listener like a novocaine-induced dream, making the pain in the lyrics feel fuzzy and warm. The 90s lo-fi production  only adds to the nostalgic emotions. Overall, the song is inexplicably happy, making this the sweetest sad song I never knew I needed.

“Easy” is the first release from Tiny Little Houses’ debut You Tore My Heart Out EP. With a handful of releases (mostly demos) on SoundCloud, it leaves me looking forward to see what the Melbourne, Australian band can do.

Facebook | bandcamp | SoundCloud

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The 1975


The 1975: Anything But The 70s

Album Reviews, Indie Artists, New Music, Uncategorized

October 15, 2013


The Band

Ask anyone about UK band The 1975 and you’ll hear the same thing from everyone: they are going to be the next big thing in music.

They’ve already taken over the alternative genre, and now the world.

The 1975 has been so successful in the UK that they played iTunes festival on September 8. In the United States, they made their first appearance at SXSW 2013 in Austin, TX. Since then they toured parts of the US in support of The Neighbourhood. This coming fall they are touring parts of the US again as a headliner act. (Tour dates here.)

The 1975 released their first self-titled album on September 3. It features popular songs “Chocolate” and “The City.” But the real surprise is the rest of their album, because their sound is so unique to them. It’s unlike anything else in today’s indie genre.

The Music

A prominent part of their basis takes sounds from 80s R&B artists and rock bands, which were a heavy influence in their teen years, and can be heard throughout the album.

Mathew “Matty” Healy, lead vocalists, described the album as a part of their life. The songs reflect a certain time in their lives.

Several of the songs feature lyrics that are actually a conversation between people. This is a style of writing that surprised me because I didn’t realize the frequency of these lyrics and the manner in which they were written, which is very subtle.

Title tack and intro “The 1975,” along with “An Encounter” and “12” are lyric-less instrumental riffs that, to me, feel like an idea in time, a happening, a soundtrack. They stand on their own without relying on the album to carry them, while at the same time connecting the songs on the album.

“Menswear” could also be considered alongside these songs, but lyrics surprisingly enter half way through the song. The lyrics, though, are solely a conversation stopped in time, which reinforces the idea that these songs were written about specific events in their lives.

‘Well I only brought 3, what you lookin’ at me for?’/ She’s dressed in white and putting off crying/ ‘Well you’re the best man, so what’s the plan?/ Why don’t you talk to Matty about it?’

Another point about their lyrics that impressed me is that they have a strange elegance about them. The obscure vocabulary Matty includes in the lyrics is unforseen, when considering the simple and shallow lyrics of some of today’s artists and bands.

Talk!” features the lyrics “Passing grammatical mistakes/ Totally wrecked and polemic in the way he talks/ Vocal sabbatical – delayed by churning out the same,” which caused me to do a double-take rewind of the song upon first listen.

Being from England, Matty has a very distinct accent when he sings (unlike other English artists who sing with an American accents). Although the lyrics are utterly unrecognizable at times, it does not discredit the band. Instead, it’s another factor that gives them personality.

(Side note: I highly suggest listening to the album while reading along with a lyric booklet or with the Internet’s aid. From personal experience, I can tell you that  the songs have different and deeper meaning when you can understand the lyrics.)

The Real Deal

In most ways, the album defines The 1975 and gives them a style to call their own. There are more of the poppy guitar pickups and melodies, like in their first radio hit “Chocolate.” But that is not to say all the album sounds like one 30 minute song. Some of their songs have melodic or harmonic ideas in common, which connect the album and gives is continuity.

My only objection is to “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You.” The slow and raw piano strip-down, accompanied by Matty’s vocals, closes the album with emotion. However, I wish that the song had more of a structure to it, because it feels almost free-styled. This is not to discredit the song, but I think for this album, a stronger statement would have worked better to close the album.

I love the raw passion in the album. The 1975 is not trying or pretending to be anything they’re not. This album is how they felt and how they were in a certain time and place in their lives when they wrote these songs. They’re not seeking acceptance from any record label or audience. There’s no management telling them how to sound or how to look. They are where they are today from simply being themselves, and their talent and innovative musicianship definitely doesn’t hinder them.


Album: The 1975

Band: The 1975

Jenna’s Rating: 4.5/5

Suggested Songs:Sex,” “Girls,” “Heart Out

Buy It: iTunes, Amazon, CD or Vinyl

Follow the Band: Facebook, Twitter, Website


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Debut Music: Smallpools EP

Album Reviews, Indie Artists, New Music, Tours, Uncategorized

July 16, 2013


Smallpools released their first four track EP on July 16 and thus began their world domination of the indie pop music scene.

Smallpools also embarked on their first tour with San Cisco on July 15. Scroll to the bottom for tour dates.

LA based band Smallpools popped out of nowhere in May when they released their single “Dreaming.” The song immediately received attention from online listeners and airplay from ALT Nation on Sirius XM.

“Dreaming” is one of those songs you hear and immediately know it’s going to be a hit.  Energizing combinations of guitar and synth give the song life while the lyrics give off a go with the flow vibe. It makes for a catchy and addictive dance song that you want to leave on repeat.

In the second song “Mason Jars,” Smallpools experiments balancing gang vocals and twangy guitar melodies for folk-like choruses with classic indie rock versus, incorporating syncopated drumming and clear guitar progressions. At times the song sounds like two separate songs that were smashed together to make a dizzying evolution of sound, yet Smallpools manages to pull it off smoothly.

“Over & Over” leads away from their synth-driven dance single. This is my favorite track on the EP because of the story line lyrics and the snappy guitar that lays somewhere between Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club. The chorus “I want to call you mine/ and never let you down/ I want to feel this ride over and over” creates a feeling of carefree endless summer nights spent doing crazy things with your favorite people.

“No Story Time” proves the extent of Smallpools’ talent. I hear elements of bands like Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Atlas Genius, and Two Door Cinema Club, but it doesn’t feel like anything other than Smallpools. The writing and production of this song feels like a band who has been doing this for awhile, not debuting their EP, and for that reason I see this band staying around for a long time.

Band: Smallpools

Album: Smallpools EP

Jenna’s Rating: 4.5/5

Suggested Songs: Dreaming, Over & Over

Buy It: iTunes

Follow: Twitter Facebook Tumblr

Tour Dates

7/16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
7/18 – Washington DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
7/19 – Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
7/20 – Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music Hall
7/22 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
7/23 – Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall
7/24 – Toronto, Ontario @ The Garrison
7/26 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement
7/27 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
7/28 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
7/29 – St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
7/31 – Minneapolis, MN @Triple Rock Social Club
8/02 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
8/08 – San Francisco, CA @ Popscene
8/09 – Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
8/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
8/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex

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Andrew McMahon


Andrew McMahon’s Pop Underground EP Review

Album Reviews, New Music, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

June 1, 2013

On April 30, Andrew McMahon released his first EP as a solo artist. The Pop Underground EP is his first published work since taking off time and the retirement of Jack’s Mannequin more than a year ago. This was a big step for him, as it is for many artists who choose to put out music under their own name.

Although the EP’s sound strays from McMahon’s previous alternative works, it still has the same genuine feeling found in his lyrics. This I have found to be one of his distinguishing traits. His ability to write lyrics and sing them in such an honest and real manner is unmatched.

McMahon’s first single “Synesthesia” opens the EP with a new sound of synthesizers, yet the guitar and drums give it the old alternative Andrew feel. The chorus breaks into a vibrant mix of synth and keyboard that is highlighted by lyrics “I see colors when I hear your voice.”

People may not know that Synesthesia is a rare disease that occurs when certain nerves in the brain don’t match up correctly, causing the sensation of seeing colors when you hear sounds or taste foods, although there can be other combinations of mixed senses.

Synesthesia is lyrically my favorite song on the EP. The lyrics in the verse  “yes, I never made a gold record/ and I’ve never been to mars/ but I’ve traveled around this world/ shooting fireworks and falling stars” exemplify what McMahon does best- write about real life and his personal experiences in a way that translates to so many of his listeners.

The song shows that “there’s more to life/ than singing songs we wrote/ while we lived in the shadow of the moon;” life isn’t about how good the songs you write are or your how successful you are, but the people in your life and the little things that make you happy.

The theme of this song carries into “Learn to Dance,” a quick-paced syncopation of drums and backing vocals that opens into a chorus with prominent piano and guitar, more like the sounds of People and Things.

“Catching Cold” received the most mixed reviews from fans; some hate it, some love it. This song was a bold move for McMahon, as none of his previous work even comes close to the programming work done on this song. It opens with a synth sequence that repeats through the entire song, which to me, resembles a video game theme song and makes me wonder if it helps the song. While the first verse is on the edge of questionable with its melodies and instruments, the chorus chimes in at the right moment to save the song. Overall, the song works as a catchy pop number to show McMahon’s new direction.

Critics also pointed out the use of auto-tune in the pre-chorus, but I see it as a voice effect for the purpose of enhancing the song. It is widely known that Andrew has an excellent voice and does not need the help of auto-tune.

“After the Fire” is my other favorite song on the EP. Everything about it is what a good pop song should be. My only objection is that the piano chord progression in the verse is on the simple and boring side. Still, the chorus is the perfect balance of synthesizer, guitar and drums.  It could not have been done any better.

Throughout, McMahon’s complex lyrics and honest voice remain constant and omnipresent, an important quality for any musician. I am happy to see that there are artists who respect the music enough to be able to reach out into the pop genre without throwing all of their methodology and unique qualities out the window. I applaud Andrew in his efforts and look forward to his future endeavors what ever they may be.

Artist: Andrew McMahon

Album: The Pop Underground EP

Recommended Songs: “Synesthesia” and “After the Fire”

Jenna’s Rating: 4/5

Purchase: Digital EP, iTunes, Amazon, Vinyl

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Ellie Goulding Releases “Explosions” Video

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 30, 2013

British synth-pop sensation Ellie Goulding released a tour video for her song “Explosions,” featured on Halcyon. The song is currently climbing to the top of the UK iTunes charts.

Goulding tweeted her reaction about the song’s success.

“Really very delighted to see that my unreleased track Explosions is climbing ITunes chaaart,” Goulding (@elliegoulding) tweeted.

The song shows off Goulding’s softer side with lyrics like “I’ve fallen from grace/ Took a blow to my face/ I’ve loved and I’ve lost.” With her personal lyrics accompanied by a choir and an orchestra, this song is sure to touch your heart.

“Explosions” is personally one of my favorite songs from Halcyon and it will be yours too after you listen to it once. It fits nicely on the album in between her other upbeat songs.

If you’re like me you’re probably wondering what exactly Halcyon means. It means a period of peaceful happiness or an idealistic time. Halcyon literally refers to a bird, common to the kingfisher, which in ancient legend would live by the sea and calm the waves during the winter solstice.

You can buy “Explosions” on iTunes and follow Ellie Goulding on twitter.

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Hot Chelle Rae is “Hung Up” on You

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 28, 2013

After Hot Chelle Rae’s big year of touring the world with artists like Demi Lovato, Cher Lloyd and Taylor Swift, they have gone back to the studio to record their next album. Hot Chelle Rae released their first single on Jan. 24 called “Hung Up.”

The song stays true to Hot Chelle Rae’s classic pop sound with simple and catchy melodies. However, this song also has a newer, fresher pop sound to it, like something you would hear on One Direction’s latest album Take Me Home. The sound Hot Chelle Rae has created on “Hung Up” is where I believe the future of pop music is headed.

“Hung Up” is sure to be just as popular as Hot Chelle Rae’s previous radio hits “Tonight Tonight” and “I Like It Like That,” so be prepared for it to be your new car radio jam.

Hot Chelle Rae is streaming “Hung Up” on Youtube and will be available to purchase on iTunes on Feb. 12.

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Action Item’s Resolution “Takes My Breath Away”

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 12, 2013

On Jan 1, Action Item released their second full length album Resolution. It debuted at #72 on Billboard’s Top 200 and #9 on Billboard Independent Albums.

Here is my track by track review of Action Item’s Resolution.

Track 1: Where We Left Off

This song is a really good intro to Resolution. It captures all the ideas and thoughts that brought Action Item together and to where they are now. So it makes sense that they opened the song with “Auld Lang Syne” which means “times long past.” This is their resolution to their fans and themselves.

Track 2: Good or Bad

Infused with the string instruments introduced in the previous track,  and mixed with pop-rock, this song does a good job of setting the mood for the album. It shows the new direction that Action Item has taken.

Watch the promo video for “Good or Bad” here.

Track 3: Brave

“Brave” has the classic Action Item sound that everyone loves. The lyrics “If you don’t try you’ll never fly/ but you gotta be brave” inspire listeners while the up beat tempo makes this every teenager’s anthem.

Track 4: Better Than Perfect

This song shows off Action Item’s fun side and will have you singing along in no time. It’s a flirty tune to let go and dance to. This is one of those radio songs you could jam to in the car while fun with friends.

Track 5: Lucky

The relaxed jazzy sound with piano riffs and funky guitar and bass sets this song apart from others on the album. The lyrics give it a sophisticated yet romantic feel that makes you want to fall in love. Lyrics “It’s a crazy life to live/ but through it all/ I think we’re lucky” are a perfect example of this.

Track 6: Bad For You

Opening keyboard and lyrics “You took my breath away/ and I don’t quite know if I want it back” sets up the mood of the song. The catchy rhythm and melodies go perfectly with lyrics “Girl I got it bad for you/anything you want me to/ I will do.” Co-written with The Ready Set’s Jordan Witzigreuter, this is another one of those great young-love dance anthems.

Track 7: Moments

To end the album, Action Item slowed it down with an acoustic song that will speak to a lot of their fans through lyrics “It’s beautiful how we all heal when it hurts/ Don’t ever stop fighting for/ what sets your heart free.” This song is a perfect ending to the album.

With Resolution, Action Item has taken a step forward in the right direction for their band. Progressive instrumentals, varieties of sounds, and lyrics that I could quote forever make the songs on Resolution a special collection. Action Item has set the stage for all bands and albums of 2013.

This is an album you don’t want to miss out on, so make sure to buy it on iTunes!

Artist: Action Item

Album: Resolution

Jenna’s Rating: 4/5

Suggested Songs: “Lucky” “Bad For You” “Moments”

You can see Action Item on the Resolution Tour right now along with Paradise Fears, Before You Exit, Hello Highway, and more! Click here for details.

Watch the lyric video for “Brave.”

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Paradise Fears Release New Single and Lyric Video

Album Reviews, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

January 5, 2013

Up coming band Paradise Fears released their new single “Warrior” along with a lyric video on Jan. 2. The track features backing vocals from The Summer Set’s Brian Dales.

This is the first song Paradise Fears has released since they hit the recording studio in September to record their sophomore album. “Warrior” shows off a new side of Paradise Fears that we haven’t heard before.

Although no information has been released about their new album, this single is a sign that we are getting closer to those details.

Lead singer Sam Miller (@samtwomiller) tweeted “#PFWarrior is my favorite song we’ve ever released. It’s my 10th favorite we’ve recorded in the last 3 months. ”

It sounds like fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming months from Paradise Fears. Meanwhile, you can see Paradise Fears play their new song live on the Resolution Tour with Action Item. Find more details here.

You can check back here for frequent updates and “LIKE” the Paradise Fears Facebook page for more updates or follow them on twitter.

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Album Review: Warrior

Album Reviews, Pop Artists

January 4, 2013


On November 30, Ke$ha released her second full studio album, Warrior.

The album explores many new sounds but still keeps the old pop-rock Ke$ha sound in songs “C’mon” and “Die Young”. “Crazy Kids” features a classic Ke$ha chorus but the verses change to heavy base and synth with rap style lyrics. One of the pop songs on the album is “Wherever You Are” which fits nicely in the album’s eclectic sound.

Warrior has shown Ke$ha’s improvement from her first full length album Animal where she used no trace of guitar. Although she hasn’t completely said good-bye to her auto-tuned, synth ridden songs like “Supernatural” and title track “Warrior,” she has taken a huge step in the right direction since her breakout single “Tik Tok” as she infuses different sounds with heavy influences from rock and pop of the 70s.

Ke$ha collaborated with a dream-team of big name producers and songwriters (Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Max Martin, Shelback, Cirkut, Ammo and more) as well as other song writers and musicians including Fun.’s front man Nate Ruess (Die Young), Patrick Carney from The Black Keys, and The Strokes. But it doesn’t end there. The 70s icon Iggy Pop is featured on track “Dirty Love” and guest vocals from Flaming Lip’s singer Wayne Coyne are on the bonus track “Past Lives.”

This album does take time to show Ke$ha’s softer side in tracks “Wonderland,” “Love into the Light,” and “Past Lives.” Her time between albums has proven her new outlook on life with lyrics “I know I’m not perfect/ I know I got issues” and “Maybe it’s about the perfect place/ to let go and forget/ about the hate” (Love into the Light) where she emphasizes the importance of letting differences go and accepting each other.

Although the album failed to break the Top 5 of Billboard’s Hot 200 chart, it is still a collection of fun pop-rock songs that fans will listen to on repeat. Whether you are a new fan or a returning fan, you will love this crazy pop album.

Artist: Ke$ha

Album: Warrior

Jenna’s Rating: 3.5/5

Suggested Tracks: “Thinking of You” “Wherever You Are” “Love into the Light”

Watch Ke$ha’s music video for “Die Young” here and click here to see the official “C’mon” lyric video. You can also buy Warrior on iTunes.

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