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October 2014
20
Interview with The Red Headed Indian

A couple of months ago, I interviewed country/folk-pop singer Sarah Jones, and she spoke to me about her newest LP, Music to My Dreams. One thing that appealed to me about the album, and herself, was how she was firmly rooted in “do-it-yourself” ideals. For that, I quite respect her, but I also enjoy Jones’ work a lot. She’s absolutely wonderful. I also really liked seeing her answers to my questions and just what she had to say, and to think, I came across her randomly on Facebook, through a “sponsored ad.” It’s amazing how one can find music online, and Facebook is just one medium. Another one is through websites that distribute legally free music, such as Bandcamp and Noise Trade. The latter is where I came across singer-songwriter Caroline Kingsbury, also known as The Red Headed Indian. I came across debut EP, Honey, on Noise Trade’s website, and had to give it a listen based on its description reading, “A force of Folk woven with Soul, The Red Headed Indian is debuting her 6 track EP, “Honey”. Influenced heavily by Ray LaMontagne and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars, her simple lyrics sung with soulful heat introduce a style rarely heard from female artists. “Honey” sings of heartbreak and hopefulness. A soundtrack for those wandering back home.” That alone really interesting me, especially since I had just written a review of Wisconsin indie-pop/folk/soul band Phox’s self-titled debut, which I absolutely loved. I downloaded Honey, and I was quite surprised with what I found. So much so, I went to Kingsbury’s Facebook page for The Red Headed Indian and told her how great her music was. I also found the EP quite fascinating, so I asked her if I could, well, ask her a few questions about it. I plan on reviewing the EP, but I’ve spent a few days with it already, so I thought I’d conduct an interview with Kingsbury before the review came out. Question #1: Hi Caroline! It’s nice to metaphorically “sit down” with you and ask you some questions about both yourself, The Red Headed Indian, and the Honey EP. For starters, just tell myself, and anybody reading this, your name and what you play and/or do in the band. Caroline Kingsbury: Hello there! I’m Caroline, and I am the red head, singer, songwriter, and the acoustic guitar of The Red Headed Indian.

Question #2: At what age did you realize you really wanted to sing and pursue music? Is there an interesting story about how you got into music? CK: While I was in middle school, my mom and I watched American Idol. And when I say watched, I mean that we adored American Idol and would participate in heated discussions about it regularly. At that time I wasn’t quite sure if I could sing, but I would print out songs I would hear on American Idol and sit in my closet and belt them out. My dad bought me an old Yamaha keyboard shortly after, and that first day, before I even knew anything about piano, I wrote my first song on a sticky note. After that, I never stopped writing. I eventually learned guitar and started writing obsessively. Back then, I wrote really annoying songs. I’m not being humble, truly, they were bad. Question #3: The description of the Honey EP on Noise Trade put the sound of both The Red Headed Indian and the EP itself best by calling it a mixture of folk and soul. That combination alone really intrigues me as those two genres don’t usually mix. Did you think about combining these two genres or did it just come about?

CK: I’ve always had a very soulful voice, but I write like a Folk singer. The marriage of the two genres is very passionate and honest, two things that I feel describe me. Question #4: Following the last question, what are some of your influences? Were you listening to anything in particular while writing for the Honey EP?

CK: The Civil Wars, The Head and The Heart, Ray LaMontagne, and a band from Nashville called Night Beds. While writing the record, I had Night Beds on repeat. His melodies are so haunting and beautiful. Question #5: One thing that really made me curious about yourself and the Honey EP was your “moniker.” How did “The Red Headed Indian” come about?

CK: Kind of continuing from the second question, after years of writing songs I never was satisfied with, I decided one day that I didn’t want to write that way anymore. The name was just a thought that came to me, but the symbolism of this project went far beyond the name. It was a turning point for me as a person and a writer. I began to write past what I was seeing and started writing about what I was really feeling, instead of trying to box everything into some metaphor I didn’t understand. Being 17, I started to feel and see things a little more complexly, and that translated into the way I started to write. Creating this project made me realize that writing and playing shows is my passion. It also gave me the courage to actually go pursue it. So I moved to Nashville, and it turned into what it is now.
Question #6: The lyrics of this EP are rather somber and downtrodden, but I really enjoy them, especially on tracks like the title track and “For Colorado.” What inspired the lyrics on the EP? Were they personal events, or just things you’ve observed throughout the years, whether it’s your whole life, or just the last few years?
CK: I’ve had a lot of heart break and disappointment. Especially with relationships. Everything I write is inspired by some event, whether large or small. The songs on the EP are based on events spread out through my life. Question #7: This isn’t necessarily about the music itself, but what made you choose Noise Trade as a way to get your music out there? For a consumer, like myself, I love how the music is free, but if we want to donate, we certainly can. Heck, before I wrote this, I ordered a copy of EP from your web store, because I decided I really wanted it.

CK: Ha! Thanks for buying the physical CD. I really enjoy sending those out. It makes me feel like people are actually listening to it when they buy a CD. Noisetrade is based in Nashville, and a lot of people know about here. It’s an incredible site. They have a ton of contacts on their email list, and they do email features for artists coming out with an album. They also give you a ton of data in exchange for having your EP on their site. People enter in their postal codes and emails, so you automatically get an email list and zip codes for where your album is downloaded from. For this EP, I wanted it to be available for every type of music consumer. From die hard music fan who purchases everything to a less enthusiastic listener that rather have it for free. Question #8: Do you have plans for a full length record at any point? The main problem I have with Honey is that it’s too short! I absolutely love the sound you’ve crafted, so just another single would be enough for me.

CK: A full length is definitely in the near future. I’m writing for it now, but it will most definitely be a little ways a way. I have to let people jam to these songs for at least a little while! haha Question #9: Since the EP just came out recently, have you gotten any feedback on it yet? Minus myself, of course, but with that being said, I do enjoy it a lot. I absolutely love it. And if you have, what have people been saying about it?

CK: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it lately. Actually, an overwhelming amount of feedback. I released it on a Tuesday, and by the end of the week it was #1 on Noisetrade, #19 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts, and had over 3,000 downloads. Then I had the hundreds of texts and calls from friends and family. I’ve never been good at answering texts anyway, and now especially I’m not good at it. haha. Those are very small victories, but they meant a lot to see the reaction be so great. I haven’t heard one complaint about the record yet, so I guess that’s a good sign. I’m looking forward to the first complaint though. I’m really looking for ways to improve, so some criticism would be helpful. haha.

Question #10: Something that fascinates me about artists and bands is how they deal with criticism, whether it’s criticism from social media, where fans publicly criticize someone or something about an album, song, etc, etc, or from a review. Some bands and artists will genuinely take a look at reviews and what fans say and improve from there, but others will throw temper tantrums and behave like children when someone says something “mean” about them, even if it’s constructive criticism. How do you deal with criticism, whether it’s negative feedback, or constructive criticism?

CK: Coming from the last question, criticism is the best thing I can receive right now. I’m just starting out, so I’m figuring out how to do all of this. If someone were to give me some constructive criticism I wouldn’t take it personally. I would read it over and over and decide how I can apply the criticism to become better. On the other hand, I know who I am as an artist and a writer. I’m not going to take what everyone says as absolute truth, but with a grain of salt Question #11: For my last question, it’s not really a question at all, but I like to end each interview by asking you to give a few words to your fans, family, friends, or potential new fans. What would you like to say to anybody reading this interview? I’d certainly like to say it’s been a blast writing these, and listening to Honey these last few days (I’m listening to it as I write this, actually).
CK: To my friends, family, and fans: thank you. Genuinely, thank you for listening to my record. I wrote all of those songs from such an honest place, and I appreciate your respect and admiration of that. I love doing this. I don’t know where this is going to go for me, but I’m going to love the process. The hard times and the beautiful times. Know that I need your support through all of this. I can’t do this alone. So, let’s do this thing together.
The Red Headed Indian’s debut EP, Honey, is out now, and you can purchase a physical  copy on her Big Cartel, download it from Noise Trade, or from iTunes. Along with putting those links down below, I’ll also include some links to her social media sites. Website: http://www.theredheadedindian.com/ Big Cartel: http://www.theredheadedindian.bigcartel.com/ Noise Trade: http://noisetrade.com/redheadedindianmusic/honey Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRedHeadedIndian Twitter: https://twitter.com/therdhdindian Instagram: http://instagram.com/theredheadedindian/ -Bradley

Interview with The Red Headed Indian

A couple of months ago, I interviewed country/folk-pop singer Sarah Jones, and she spoke to me about her newest LP, Music to My Dreams. One thing that appealed to me about the album, and herself, was how she was firmly rooted in “do-it-yourself” ideals. For that, I quite respect her, but I also enjoy Jones’ work a lot. She’s absolutely wonderful. I also really liked seeing her answers to my questions and just what she had to say, and to think, I came across her randomly on Facebook, through a “sponsored ad.” It’s amazing how one can find music online, and Facebook is just one medium. Another one is through websites that distribute legally free music, such as Bandcamp and Noise Trade. The latter is where I came across singer-songwriter Caroline Kingsbury, also known as The Red Headed Indian. I came across debut EP, Honey, on Noise Trade’s website, and had to give it a listen based on its description reading, “A force of Folk woven with Soul, The Red Headed Indian is debuting her 6 track EP, “Honey”. Influenced heavily by Ray LaMontagne and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars, her simple lyrics sung with soulful heat introduce a style rarely heard from female artists. “Honey” sings of heartbreak and hopefulness. A soundtrack for those wandering back home.” That alone really interesting me, especially since I had just written a review of Wisconsin indie-pop/folk/soul band Phox’s self-titled debut, which I absolutely loved. I downloaded Honey, and I was quite surprised with what I found. So much so, I went to Kingsbury’s Facebook page for The Red Headed Indian and told her how great her music was. I also found the EP quite fascinating, so I asked her if I could, well, ask her a few questions about it. I plan on reviewing the EP, but I’ve spent a few days with it already, so I thought I’d conduct an interview with Kingsbury before the review came out.

Question #1: Hi Caroline! It’s nice to metaphorically “sit down” with you and ask you some questions about both yourself, The Red Headed Indian, and the Honey EP. For starters, just tell myself, and anybody reading this, your name and what you play and/or do in the band.

Caroline Kingsbury: Hello there! I’m Caroline, and I am the red head, singer, songwriter, and the acoustic guitar of The Red Headed Indian.

Question #2: At what age did you realize you really wanted to sing and pursue music? Is there an interesting story about how you got into music?

CK: While I was in middle school, my mom and I watched American Idol. And when I say watched, I mean that we adored American Idol and would participate in heated discussions about it regularly. At that time I wasn’t quite sure if I could sing, but I would print out songs I would hear on American Idol and sit in my closet and belt them out. My dad bought me an old Yamaha keyboard shortly after, and that first day, before I even knew anything about piano, I wrote my first song on a sticky note. After that, I never stopped writing. I eventually learned guitar and started writing obsessively. Back then, I wrote really annoying songs. I’m not being humble, truly, they were bad.

Question #3: The description of the Honey EP on Noise Trade put the sound of both The Red Headed Indian and the EP itself best by calling it a mixture of folk and soul. That combination alone really intrigues me as those two genres don’t usually mix. Did you think about combining these two genres or did it just come about?

CK: I’ve always had a very soulful voice, but I write like a Folk singer. The marriage of the two genres is very passionate and honest, two things that I feel describe me.

Question #4: Following the last question, what are some of your influences? Were you listening to anything in particular while writing for the Honey EP?

CK: The Civil Wars, The Head and The Heart, Ray LaMontagne, and a band from Nashville called Night Beds. While writing the record, I had Night Beds on repeat. His melodies are so haunting and beautiful.

Question #5: One thing that really made me curious about yourself and the Honey EP was your “moniker.” How did “The Red Headed Indian” come about?

CK: Kind of continuing from the second question, after years of writing songs I never was satisfied with, I decided one day that I didn’t want to write that way anymore. The name was just a thought that came to me, but the symbolism of this project went far beyond the name. It was a turning point for me as a person and a writer. I began to write past what I was seeing and started writing about what I was really feeling, instead of trying to box everything into some metaphor I didn’t understand. Being 17, I started to feel and see things a little more complexly, and that translated into the way I started to write. Creating this project made me realize that writing and playing shows is my passion. It also gave me the courage to actually go pursue it. So I moved to Nashville, and it turned into what it is now.

Question #6: The lyrics of this EP are rather somber and downtrodden, but I really enjoy them, especially on tracks like the title track and “For Colorado.” What inspired the lyrics on the EP? Were they personal events, or just things you’ve observed throughout the years, whether it’s your whole life, or just the last few years?

CK: I’ve had a lot of heart break and disappointment. Especially with relationships. Everything I write is inspired by some event, whether large or small. The songs on the EP are based on events spread out through my life.

Question #7: This isn’t necessarily about the music itself, but what made you choose Noise Trade as a way to get your music out there? For a consumer, like myself, I love how the music is free, but if we want to donate, we certainly can. Heck, before I wrote this, I ordered a copy of EP from your web store, because I decided I really wanted it.

CK: Ha! Thanks for buying the physical CD. I really enjoy sending those out. It makes me feel like people are actually listening to it when they buy a CD. Noisetrade is based in Nashville, and a lot of people know about here. It’s an incredible site. They have a ton of contacts on their email list, and they do email features for artists coming out with an album. They also give you a ton of data in exchange for having your EP on their site. People enter in their postal codes and emails, so you automatically get an email list and zip codes for where your album is downloaded from. For this EP, I wanted it to be available for every type of music consumer. From die hard music fan who purchases everything to a less enthusiastic listener that rather have it for free.

Question #8: Do you have plans for a full length record at any point? The main problem I have with Honey is that it’s too short! I absolutely love the sound you’ve crafted, so just another single would be enough for me.

CK: A full length is definitely in the near future. I’m writing for it now, but it will most definitely be a little ways a way. I have to let people jam to these songs for at least a little while! haha

Question #9: Since the EP just came out recently, have you gotten any feedback on it yet? Minus myself, of course, but with that being said, I do enjoy it a lot. I absolutely love it. And if you have, what have people been saying about it?

CK: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it lately. Actually, an overwhelming amount of feedback. I released it on a Tuesday, and by the end of the week it was #1 on Noisetrade, #19 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts, and had over 3,000 downloads. Then I had the hundreds of texts and calls from friends and family. I’ve never been good at answering texts anyway, and now especially I’m not good at it. haha. Those are very small victories, but they meant a lot to see the reaction be so great. I haven’t heard one complaint about the record yet, so I guess that’s a good sign. I’m looking forward to the first complaint though. I’m really looking for ways to improve, so some criticism would be helpful. haha.

Question #10: Something that fascinates me about artists and bands is how they deal with criticism, whether it’s criticism from social media, where fans publicly criticize someone or something about an album, song, etc, etc, or from a review. Some bands and artists will genuinely take a look at reviews and what fans say and improve from there, but others will throw temper tantrums and behave like children when someone says something “mean” about them, even if it’s constructive criticism. How do you deal with criticism, whether it’s negative feedback, or constructive criticism?

CK: Coming from the last question, criticism is the best thing I can receive right now. I’m just starting out, so I’m figuring out how to do all of this. If someone were to give me some constructive criticism I wouldn’t take it personally. I would read it over and over and decide how I can apply the criticism to become better. On the other hand, I know who I am as an artist and a writer. I’m not going to take what everyone says as absolute truth, but with a grain of salt

Question #11: For my last question, it’s not really a question at all, but I like to end each interview by asking you to give a few words to your fans, family, friends, or potential new fans. What would you like to say to anybody reading this interview? I’d certainly like to say it’s been a blast writing these, and listening to Honey these last few days (I’m listening to it as I write this, actually).

CK: To my friends, family, and fans: thank you. Genuinely, thank you for listening to my record. I wrote all of those songs from such an honest place, and I appreciate your respect and admiration of that. I love doing this. I don’t know where this is going to go for me, but I’m going to love the process. The hard times and the beautiful times. Know that I need your support through all of this. I can’t do this alone. So, let’s do this thing together.

The Red Headed Indian’s debut EP, Honey, is out now, and you can purchase a physical  copy on her Big Cartel, download it from Noise Trade, or from iTunes. Along with putting those links down below, I’ll also include some links to her social media sites.

Website: http://www.theredheadedindian.com/
Big Cartel: http://www.theredheadedindian.bigcartel.com/
Noise Trade: http://noisetrade.com/redheadedindianmusic/honey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRedHeadedIndian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/therdhdindian
Instagram: http://instagram.com/theredheadedindian/

-Bradley

October 2014
20
Concertjunkies Presents: Monday’s Mixes
Playlist by: Eden Kittiver (edenkittiver)
Title: Really Good Vibes
Track List:
In The End by Green Day
Snack Attack by A Great Big Pile of Leaves
The Cops by The Front Bottoms
The Exit by Lydia
Things I Can’t Change by The Story So Far
Deferral by Seaway
No We’re Not Actually by Dads
I Was Never Your Boyfriend by Tigers Jaw
I Just Don’t Understand What All These Kids Dig About Him by Dikembe
My Friends Over You by New Found Glory
Magazines by Brand New
Book Club by Arkells
Parking Lots by Light Years
Wasting Time by Blink 182
L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whale
Shit for Brains by State Lines
"The Take Over. The Breaks Over" by Fall Out Boy
Heated Swimming Pool by Joyce Manor
Over and Over by Neck Deep
Elevated by State Champs
Your Back Porch by Knuckle Puck
Tread Lightly by Four Year Strong
Cannonball by Diamond Youth
You can listen to this playlist HERE. 

Concertjunkies Presents: Monday’s Mixes

Playlist by: Eden Kittiver (edenkittiver)

Title: Really Good Vibes

Track List:

  1. In The End by Green Day
  2. Snack Attack by A Great Big Pile of Leaves
  3. The Cops by The Front Bottoms
  4. The Exit by Lydia
  5. Things I Can’t Change by The Story So Far
  6. Deferral by Seaway
  7. No We’re Not Actually by Dads
  8. I Was Never Your Boyfriend by Tigers Jaw
  9. I Just Don’t Understand What All These Kids Dig About Him by Dikembe
  10. My Friends Over You by New Found Glory
  11. Magazines by Brand New
  12. Book Club by Arkells
  13. Parking Lots by Light Years
  14. Wasting Time by Blink 182
  15. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whale
  16. Shit for Brains by State Lines
  17. "The Take Over. The Breaks Over" by Fall Out Boy
  18. Heated Swimming Pool by Joyce Manor
  19. Over and Over by Neck Deep
  20. Elevated by State Champs
  21. Your Back Porch by Knuckle Puck
  22. Tread Lightly by Four Year Strong
  23. Cannonball by Diamond Youth

You can listen to this playlist HERE

October 2014
20

Live Performance recorded by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist/Band: Foster The People

Song(s): Houdini, A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon, Call It What You Want, Pumped Up Kicks, Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)

Location: Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL

Date: October 18, 2014

October 2014
20

Anonymous asked

Do you guys happen to have the setlist of Soko's performance from Oct. 18th?

Aw, no I’m sorry!! 

- Kayla 

#asks   #Anonymous   
October 2014
19

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Foster The People (fosterthepeople)

Location: Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL

Date: October 18, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

October 2014
19

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): SoKo (sokothecat)

Location: Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL

Date: October 18, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

October 2014
19
Lady Gaga – ARTPOPRecord Label: Streamline / InterscopeRelease Date: November 6 2013
Every now and again, I’ll start a review off with a hypothetical question or just a general idea to segway into the review, and this one is no exception. Have you ever listened to a record by any artist/band and didn’t care for it? Well, that question alone hopefully should garner a “yes,” because I haven’t met many people who like everything they hear. Heck, even people who claim to listen to “everything” must have a line where their taste ends. But for my follow-up question, have you ever listened to another record by the same band/artist later on in their career and really enjoyed it? For myself, two recent examples both exist in the pop world – Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I’ve made it clear in the past about how I enjoy pop music and with zero shame. Pop music can be really good, inspiring, interesting, unique, and great. You just have to look for the right stuff. About a month ago, Google Play was offering Katy Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism, for a free digital download for the week, so I decided to take a chance on it. I have a friend who enjoys her work a lot, so I downloaded it. I mean, free music, especially one from an artist like that, is good, and I couldn’t pass it up. I did have some reservations, however; last year, I picked up a copy of her debut LP, One of the Boys, and I really didn’t care for it. It was a very bland pop record with some interesting moments, but not enough to make me really want to keep listening to it. Understandably, I was a bit skeptical about Prism, but you know what? I was really surprised by it. Not totally blown away, but I still really enjoyed it. As for Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, I’ve had a similar experience. Earlier this year, I got a copy of debut LP, The Fame, and I didn’t care for that much, either. It was decent dance-pop that had some nice hooks, but that’s all it had. There wasn’t much that kept my interest, minus Gaga’s vocals. Fast forward months later, and I had to get a new iPod one day a few weeks ago. I updated my iPod Touch to the iOS 8, and it was glitching a lot, so I decided to get a spare iPod. In the meantime, I found a way to deal with it, but I figured I should get a spare, too. My iPod works fine again, thanks to the update Apple released recently to fix it, but when I was there, I managed to find a couple of records. First, I found a copy of Christian pop-rock/alt-rock group For King and Country’s new LP, Run Wild Live Free Love Strong. It was only $3, for whatever reason, so I checked it out. I noticed also that Lady Gaga’s third LP, Artpop, was on sale for $6.99 when the regular price was $15.99. A part of me wanted to check this out awhile ago, but I wasn’t going to be pay $15.99 for it. For $6.99, I’d gladly take a chance, since I had a feeling I would at least kind of like it. For how unique and interesting Gaga’s music is, I had a feeling this would surprise me.

And lo and behold, Artpop is a great LP. This album really surprised me, and more than Prism did. The problem I had with Prism is just that while Perry is a great singer (even if you don’t like her music, which is understandable, you have to admit that she is a great singer), and while I did like the instrumentation, the lyrics did get a bit bland and some songs were just straight up forgettable. The album did feel a bit long, despite only being around 48 minutes or so. But I am really happy that I got Artpop so cheap, because I absolutely adore this LP. There are a few problems I have with this LP, but they’re ultimately nitpicks, so let’s focus on what I like first, shall we? My favorite thing about this LP is simple – Gaga’s vocals. While I didn’t care for The Fame that much, I did somewhat enjoy her vocals, but on here? I absolutely love them. She is a great, great singer, and like with Perry, if you don’t like her music (again, I can understand why), you have to admit that she can sing. She does sound much better on the tracks, “Dope” and “Gypsy,” that are the two “slower” songs and more “organic” songs. The former is a piano ballad that has Gaga talking about addiction to substances and the former track is almost reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”, talking about how Gaga is living like a gypsy, going wherever the wind takes her. Even on tracks that are more pop-oriented, her voice is still nice, such as “Aura,” “Do What U Want,” “Jewels N Drugs,” and many others. I would call this her best vocal performance yet, but about a week after I got this, she released a jazz record with Tony Bennett, and her vocals are absolutely stunning on that record. The instrumentation on this LP is another thing I enjoy, and it sort of relates to the name of the record – Artpop. I interpret the name of the record as a genre of pop music that she’s going for, combining art and pop. This album is not a standard pop album, even though it does feature syth, vocal effects, etc, etc. The thing is, it’s not structured like a standard pop record. For instance, opening track “Aura” has a bit of a guitar in the first little bit of the track, and Gaga’s voice is rather distorted. It’s actually a bit strange and unnerving, but it opens the album on a very interesting note, that’s for sure. The album also does feature a lot of variety, and that’s a good thing, because the album is about an hour long. It better feature some variety, but this album really works. There are some pop tracks such as “Applause,” “Sexxx Dreams,” and title track, dance-pop tracks such as “Swine,” “Donatella,” and “Fashion!”, an R&B influenced in the form of “Do What U Want” that features R Kelly not saying anything creepy, and a hip-hop influenced track, “Jewels N Drugs,” that features a few rappers, TI, Too Short, and Twista, all of which do a decent job on the song.

Moving into the things I don’t like, there two nitpicks I have with this record, and they go hand in hand. Those are the lyrics, and how “shallow” they are. Before I talk about this, Gaga described Artpop as “a celebration and a poetic musical journey” and an exploration of the “reverse Warholian” phenomenon in pop culture, meaning that Gaga is trying to show people instead of pop culture and art being connected, they’re being separated again. If you like pop culture, you’re most often thought of as an idiot, rather than if you like art, you’re considered classy and intellectual. She doesn’t want that to happen, so she’s trying to blur the lines again, essentially. At least that’s how I look it, personally. She also said that it displays an intentional “lack of maturity and responsibility,” which fascinates me a lot, because the lyrics on this LP are quite shallow, such as “Sexxx Dreams,” “Fashion,” “Donatella,” and many others. The album is quite shallow, and that can certainly be a problem, even when Gaga herself said it’s intentional. It may be intentional, but is it good? Well, I don’t believe the lyrics on this record are god awful, and a handful of songs are very interesting lyrically, especially the singles “Do What U Want,” and “Applause,” the former being how the media can do whatever they want with Gaga’s body by posting it on websites and TV screens, but her mind, heart, and all of that is intact, while “Applause” seems to attack critics of her work, talking about how she’s become part of pop culture. While there’s nothing offensive or god awful here, the lyrics don’t have much meat on their bones and ultimately does bother me a bit. Not to the point where I hate this album or it really deters my enjoyment of it, but at the same time, it does bug me a little. I get that the album was intentionally meant to be shallow and superficial, but she does bring up some interesting ideas, and because of that shallow subject matter, she doesn’t explore them.


What does save this LP is the instrumentation and her vocals. Not to mention, there is a lot of variety on this LP, a lot more than I really expected. Albums that are over 50 minutes tend to drag on, for the most part, but this album surprised me a lot. It does help that Gaga does really want to rethink what pop music is and what it should do, and if there’s anyone who can craft an ambitious record, such as this one, it’s her, and I would say she pulls it off a nice amount. It’s just the lyrics can get a bit too shallow and superficial at times. It may have been intentional, but that it doesn’t mean it works. It does work, I suppose, but not perfectly. If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, you’ll probably like this fine, but if you’re not, I’d still say check it out. If you’ve never really listened to a full record of hers, and want to see what she’s all about, this isn’t a bad album to start off with. It’s got some meat on its bones, per se, especially in the musical and vocal departments, so I can imagine you’d get something out of it. This album is also very interesting to talk about, especially for the music itself. Lyrically, yeah, there’s not much to it, but that’s the point. There isn’t meant to be much there, but I can understand why someone would not be very into this. In the end, it’s worth a single listen, either way. It’s one of those records that’s utterly fascinating, especially for someone like myself, who does love pop music. Not many artists are willing to challenge the genre, and thankfully, Lady Gaga is just one of a handful that’s here to do that. Overall rating: 9.3/10
-Bradley

Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
Record Label: Streamline / Interscope
Release Date: November 6 2013

Every now and again, I’ll start a review off with a hypothetical question or just a general idea to segway into the review, and this one is no exception. Have you ever listened to a record by any artist/band and didn’t care for it? Well, that question alone hopefully should garner a “yes,” because I haven’t met many people who like everything they hear. Heck, even people who claim to listen to “everything” must have a line where their taste ends. But for my follow-up question, have you ever listened to another record by the same band/artist later on in their career and really enjoyed it? For myself, two recent examples both exist in the pop world – Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I’ve made it clear in the past about how I enjoy pop music and with zero shame. Pop music can be really good, inspiring, interesting, unique, and great. You just have to look for the right stuff. About a month ago, Google Play was offering Katy Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism, for a free digital download for the week, so I decided to take a chance on it. I have a friend who enjoys her work a lot, so I downloaded it. I mean, free music, especially one from an artist like that, is good, and I couldn’t pass it up. I did have some reservations, however; last year, I picked up a copy of her debut LP, One of the Boys, and I really didn’t care for it. It was a very bland pop record with some interesting moments, but not enough to make me really want to keep listening to it. Understandably, I was a bit skeptical about Prism, but you know what? I was really surprised by it. Not totally blown away, but I still really enjoyed it.

As for Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, I’ve had a similar experience. Earlier this year, I got a copy of debut LP, The Fame, and I didn’t care for that much, either. It was decent dance-pop that had some nice hooks, but that’s all it had. There wasn’t much that kept my interest, minus Gaga’s vocals. Fast forward months later, and I had to get a new iPod one day a few weeks ago. I updated my iPod Touch to the iOS 8, and it was glitching a lot, so I decided to get a spare iPod. In the meantime, I found a way to deal with it, but I figured I should get a spare, too. My iPod works fine again, thanks to the update Apple released recently to fix it, but when I was there, I managed to find a couple of records. First, I found a copy of Christian pop-rock/alt-rock group For King and Country’s new LP, Run Wild Live Free Love Strong. It was only $3, for whatever reason, so I checked it out. I noticed also that Lady Gaga’s third LP, Artpop, was on sale for $6.99 when the regular price was $15.99. A part of me wanted to check this out awhile ago, but I wasn’t going to be pay $15.99 for it. For $6.99, I’d gladly take a chance, since I had a feeling I would at least kind of like it. For how unique and interesting Gaga’s music is, I had a feeling this would surprise me.

And lo and behold, Artpop is a great LP. This album really surprised me, and more than Prism did. The problem I had with Prism is just that while Perry is a great singer (even if you don’t like her music, which is understandable, you have to admit that she is a great singer), and while I did like the instrumentation, the lyrics did get a bit bland and some songs were just straight up forgettable. The album did feel a bit long, despite only being around 48 minutes or so. But I am really happy that I got Artpop so cheap, because I absolutely adore this LP. There are a few problems I have with this LP, but they’re ultimately nitpicks, so let’s focus on what I like first, shall we? My favorite thing about this LP is simple – Gaga’s vocals. While I didn’t care for The Fame that much, I did somewhat enjoy her vocals, but on here? I absolutely love them. She is a great, great singer, and like with Perry, if you don’t like her music (again, I can understand why), you have to admit that she can sing. She does sound much better on the tracks, “Dope” and “Gypsy,” that are the two “slower” songs and more “organic” songs. The former is a piano ballad that has Gaga talking about addiction to substances and the former track is almost reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”, talking about how Gaga is living like a gypsy, going wherever the wind takes her. Even on tracks that are more pop-oriented, her voice is still nice, such as “Aura,” “Do What U Want,” “Jewels N Drugs,” and many others. I would call this her best vocal performance yet, but about a week after I got this, she released a jazz record with Tony Bennett, and her vocals are absolutely stunning on that record.

The instrumentation on this LP is another thing I enjoy, and it sort of relates to the name of the record – Artpop. I interpret the name of the record as a genre of pop music that she’s going for, combining art and pop. This album is not a standard pop album, even though it does feature syth, vocal effects, etc, etc. The thing is, it’s not structured like a standard pop record. For instance, opening track “Aura” has a bit of a guitar in the first little bit of the track, and Gaga’s voice is rather distorted. It’s actually a bit strange and unnerving, but it opens the album on a very interesting note, that’s for sure. The album also does feature a lot of variety, and that’s a good thing, because the album is about an hour long. It better feature some variety, but this album really works. There are some pop tracks such as “Applause,” “Sexxx Dreams,” and title track, dance-pop tracks such as “Swine,” “Donatella,” and “Fashion!”, an R&B influenced in the form of “Do What U Want” that features R Kelly not saying anything creepy, and a hip-hop influenced track, “Jewels N Drugs,” that features a few rappers, TI, Too Short, and Twista, all of which do a decent job on the song.

Moving into the things I don’t like, there two nitpicks I have with this record, and they go hand in hand. Those are the lyrics, and how “shallow” they are. Before I talk about this, Gaga described Artpop as “a celebration and a poetic musical journey” and an exploration of the “reverse Warholian” phenomenon in pop culture, meaning that Gaga is trying to show people instead of pop culture and art being connected, they’re being separated again. If you like pop culture, you’re most often thought of as an idiot, rather than if you like art, you’re considered classy and intellectual. She doesn’t want that to happen, so she’s trying to blur the lines again, essentially. At least that’s how I look it, personally. She also said that it displays an intentional “lack of maturity and responsibility,” which fascinates me a lot, because the lyrics on this LP are quite shallow, such as “Sexxx Dreams,” “Fashion,” “Donatella,” and many others. The album is quite shallow, and that can certainly be a problem, even when Gaga herself said it’s intentional. It may be intentional, but is it good? Well, I don’t believe the lyrics on this record are god awful, and a handful of songs are very interesting lyrically, especially the singles “Do What U Want,” and “Applause,” the former being how the media can do whatever they want with Gaga’s body by posting it on websites and TV screens, but her mind, heart, and all of that is intact, while “Applause” seems to attack critics of her work, talking about how she’s become part of pop culture. While there’s nothing offensive or god awful here, the lyrics don’t have much meat on their bones and ultimately does bother me a bit. Not to the point where I hate this album or it really deters my enjoyment of it, but at the same time, it does bug me a little. I get that the album was intentionally meant to be shallow and superficial, but she does bring up some interesting ideas, and because of that shallow subject matter, she doesn’t explore them.

What does save this LP is the instrumentation and her vocals. Not to mention, there is a lot of variety on this LP, a lot more than I really expected. Albums that are over 50 minutes tend to drag on, for the most part, but this album surprised me a lot. It does help that Gaga does really want to rethink what pop music is and what it should do, and if there’s anyone who can craft an ambitious record, such as this one, it’s her, and I would say she pulls it off a nice amount. It’s just the lyrics can get a bit too shallow and superficial at times. It may have been intentional, but that it doesn’t mean it works. It does work, I suppose, but not perfectly. If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, you’ll probably like this fine, but if you’re not, I’d still say check it out. If you’ve never really listened to a full record of hers, and want to see what she’s all about, this isn’t a bad album to start off with. It’s got some meat on its bones, per se, especially in the musical and vocal departments, so I can imagine you’d get something out of it. This album is also very interesting to talk about, especially for the music itself. Lyrically, yeah, there’s not much to it, but that’s the point. There isn’t meant to be much there, but I can understand why someone would not be very into this. In the end, it’s worth a single listen, either way. It’s one of those records that’s utterly fascinating, especially for someone like myself, who does love pop music. Not many artists are willing to challenge the genre, and thankfully, Lady Gaga is just one of a handful that’s here to do that.

Overall rating: 9.3/10

-Bradley

October 2014
19
The Beatles – Beatles for SaleRecord Label: ParlophoneRelease Date: December 4 1964
There comes a time in every artist/band’s career when they either need to experiment a bit or just “mature,” meaning that if they really wish to be taken seriously as songwriters and musicians, they need to step up their game in one way or another. The Beatles are a group that did that a few times. The British quartet is known for really changing music as a whole to some degree. I really think that they helped to make it commonplace for musicians to write their own songs and bands to thrive. Bands certainly existed before and during The Beatles’ rise to fame, but they were just getting started. Bands weren’t exactly popular in the mainstream, minus a few here and there. The Beatles were the first group to really get popular, and paved the way for bands everywhere. At least one of the first bands, anyway. But for the band’s first three records, their sound was pretty simple – rock and roll with some R&B/rock/pop covers thrown in, aside from their original songs. Debut LP, Please Please Me is quite enjoyable, despite being a bit rough around the edges, and sophomore LP does sound quite similar to that, just with better production and some improvements, especially in the vocal department. I just don’t find that album as interesting, especially in the songwriting department. The songs aren’t bad, and some songs definitely stand out, but as a whole, the album just doesn’t strike me as anything too interesting, especially compared to anything on Please Please Me, or their first few LPs that have that sound. And not to mention, With the Beatles is really the only Beatles album that doesn’t have any of the band’s biggest hits, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just that it isn’t as interesting, since there isn’t anything on that album that I can get from any of their other albums from that era.
Right after that, third LP A Hard Day’s Night does feature some of the band’s biggest songs, but it also marks the first time the band wrote an entirely original record, meaning only original songs. That wouldn’t happen again until 1965’s Rubber Soul, but it was still a huge deal. Fourth LP, Beatles for Sale, which is the record I’ll be covering is a very fascinating LP. While A Hard Day’s Night was remarkable in how it was an all original record, Beatles for Sale reverts back to having a handful of covers on it, but there is an understandable reason for it. See, in 1966, a couple years after Beatles for Sale was released, the band decided to stop touring and become a studio band, and Beatles for Sale was created out of the band having a hectic touring and promoting schedule. So Beatles for Sale was quite easy to make as it featured the band’s stage show at the time, along with a few new tracks. The album was also very quick, only taking a few weeks to record and it came out by the Christmas season. No band would do that now, especially one as big as The Beatles, but that’s what happened back in those days. 
Despite the band being so burnt out by touring and recording, this album is a progression for them in another aspect – they matured their songwriting a little bit, at least in terms of lyrics. The songwriting is still the same, to some degree, but it’s the lyrics that showcase what will come in later albums, and on songs like “Baby’s In Black” and “No Reply,” both written by both rhythm guitarist / vocalist John Lennon and bassist / vocalist Paul McCartney, and the Lennon solo track, “I’m a Loser.” These two songs are a bit more dark and not as uplifting or sweet as their earlier records. Sure, they had some sad songs, but “I’m a Loser” in particular is a very autobiographical in nature, and that was a first for the band. The album does feature one of the band’s number one hits, “Eight Days a Week,” and that song was written in mind with being the theme songs to a movie, but A Hard Day’s Night was written instead. They decided to use the song for this album, and that is one of my favorite songs from the group. Also the production a lot on this LP, utilizing a full mix, rather than just putting vocals on one speaker and the instrumentation on the other. Everything feels a lot more full, and the sound itself is a lot clearer and nicer. Lennon and McCartney’s vocals are great as usual, and heck, so are guitarist / vocalist George Harrison and drummer / vocalist Ringo Starr. Both of them take one track, each a cover song, the former taking “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” and the latter taking “Honey Don’t,” both of which are two of my favorite songs from the record. But the Lennon-McCartney originals are solid, too. 
I will admit that the album does feel a bit rushed, like there wasn’t much time to write it, but at the same time, the songs are still fleshed out enough to say it’s not uninspired. In the end, I wouldn’t say that Beatles for Sale more than The Beatles later work, but this is an album that showcases something new for the Fab Four, the addition of more “serious” lyrics, and life isn’t all love and happiness as the band’s lyrics have led us to believe. Their more cutesy lyrics are still enjoyable and innocent, but after awhile, they don’t sound as interesting. And it’s fortunate that Help would be the last album that showcased this sound, having a straight forward rock sound with some covers and originals. Rubber Soul totally changed the band from a young rock and roll/skiffle outfit to a band willing to experiment and try new things. The band went from a folk-rock group to a psych-rock band to a straightforward rock and roll band again for their last few albums, so their career has had many different shades, but it was around this LP that the band started laying the groundwork for those shades.
Overall rating: 8.8/10
-Bradley

The Beatles – Beatles for Sale
Record Label: Parlophone
Release Date: December 4 1964

There comes a time in every artist/band’s career when they either need to experiment a bit or just “mature,” meaning that if they really wish to be taken seriously as songwriters and musicians, they need to step up their game in one way or another. The Beatles are a group that did that a few times. The British quartet is known for really changing music as a whole to some degree. I really think that they helped to make it commonplace for musicians to write their own songs and bands to thrive. Bands certainly existed before and during The Beatles’ rise to fame, but they were just getting started. Bands weren’t exactly popular in the mainstream, minus a few here and there. The Beatles were the first group to really get popular, and paved the way for bands everywhere. At least one of the first bands, anyway. But for the band’s first three records, their sound was pretty simple – rock and roll with some R&B/rock/pop covers thrown in, aside from their original songs. Debut LP, Please Please Me is quite enjoyable, despite being a bit rough around the edges, and sophomore LP does sound quite similar to that, just with better production and some improvements, especially in the vocal department. I just don’t find that album as interesting, especially in the songwriting department. The songs aren’t bad, and some songs definitely stand out, but as a whole, the album just doesn’t strike me as anything too interesting, especially compared to anything on Please Please Me, or their first few LPs that have that sound. And not to mention, With the Beatles is really the only Beatles album that doesn’t have any of the band’s biggest hits, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just that it isn’t as interesting, since there isn’t anything on that album that I can get from any of their other albums from that era.

Right after that, third LP A Hard Day’s Night does feature some of the band’s biggest songs, but it also marks the first time the band wrote an entirely original record, meaning only original songs. That wouldn’t happen again until 1965’s Rubber Soul, but it was still a huge deal. Fourth LP, Beatles for Sale, which is the record I’ll be covering is a very fascinating LP. While A Hard Day’s Night was remarkable in how it was an all original record, Beatles for Sale reverts back to having a handful of covers on it, but there is an understandable reason for it. See, in 1966, a couple years after Beatles for Sale was released, the band decided to stop touring and become a studio band, and Beatles for Sale was created out of the band having a hectic touring and promoting schedule. So Beatles for Sale was quite easy to make as it featured the band’s stage show at the time, along with a few new tracks. The album was also very quick, only taking a few weeks to record and it came out by the Christmas season. No band would do that now, especially one as big as The Beatles, but that’s what happened back in those days. 

Despite the band being so burnt out by touring and recording, this album is a progression for them in another aspect – they matured their songwriting a little bit, at least in terms of lyrics. The songwriting is still the same, to some degree, but it’s the lyrics that showcase what will come in later albums, and on songs like “Baby’s In Black” and “No Reply,” both written by both rhythm guitarist / vocalist John Lennon and bassist / vocalist Paul McCartney, and the Lennon solo track, “I’m a Loser.” These two songs are a bit more dark and not as uplifting or sweet as their earlier records. Sure, they had some sad songs, but “I’m a Loser” in particular is a very autobiographical in nature, and that was a first for the band. The album does feature one of the band’s number one hits, “Eight Days a Week,” and that song was written in mind with being the theme songs to a movie, but A Hard Day’s Night was written instead. They decided to use the song for this album, and that is one of my favorite songs from the group. Also the production a lot on this LP, utilizing a full mix, rather than just putting vocals on one speaker and the instrumentation on the other. Everything feels a lot more full, and the sound itself is a lot clearer and nicer. Lennon and McCartney’s vocals are great as usual, and heck, so are guitarist / vocalist George Harrison and drummer / vocalist Ringo Starr. Both of them take one track, each a cover song, the former taking “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” and the latter taking “Honey Don’t,” both of which are two of my favorite songs from the record. But the Lennon-McCartney originals are solid, too. 

I will admit that the album does feel a bit rushed, like there wasn’t much time to write it, but at the same time, the songs are still fleshed out enough to say it’s not uninspired. In the end, I wouldn’t say that Beatles for Sale more than The Beatles later work, but this is an album that showcases something new for the Fab Four, the addition of more “serious” lyrics, and life isn’t all love and happiness as the band’s lyrics have led us to believe. Their more cutesy lyrics are still enjoyable and innocent, but after awhile, they don’t sound as interesting. And it’s fortunate that Help would be the last album that showcased this sound, having a straight forward rock sound with some covers and originals. Rubber Soul totally changed the band from a young rock and roll/skiffle outfit to a band willing to experiment and try new things. The band went from a folk-rock group to a psych-rock band to a straightforward rock and roll band again for their last few albums, so their career has had many different shades, but it was around this LP that the band started laying the groundwork for those shades.

Overall rating: 8.8/10

-Bradley

October 2014
19
The Beatles – With the BeatlesRecord Label: ParlophoneRelease Date: November 22 1963
Sophomore albums can either make or break a band, especially with a very stellar debut. This is something I’ve touched on before, but when talking about Liverpool rock group The Beatles, there’s a lot to talk about, a lot more than your average band. The Beatles were not your “average” band. They were a band that transcended time, and is still very popular and “relevant” even today. When debut LP, Please Please Me came out in 1963, it was a very interesting release. Compared to today’s standard, it wouldn’t be an interesting album at all, considering it’s just a straightforward rock and roll record with a bunch of covers, but the reason it was so monumental was because before that record, bands (including The Beatles themselves) would perform covers of popular songs of the time, so “originals” weren’t quite commonplace. But I’d argue that The Beatles took the idea of writing your own songs and brought that to the public. Sure, their early songs were about love and girls, but it was a start. It’s exactly what songs were about in that time, so it made sense to write about those sorts of things.
For The Beatles’ first few albums, they had a mix between covers and “originals,” mainly penned by rhythm guitarist / vocalist John Lennon and bassist / vocalist Paul McCartney, with the exception of third LP A Hard Day’s Night, which was all original. It was the first up until 1965’s Rubber Soul that featured exclusive material. And I’ll admit, these few records aren’t really my favorites from the Fab Four. Don’t get me wrong, they do feature some of the band’s best songs, but they all sound somewhat the same, minus some subtle nuances that can be heard every now and again. On sophomore album, With the Beatles, released just months after Please Please Me (back in that time, bands released albums pretty quick, often two in the same year), the band just sort of continued this sound. But I’ll have to admit, With the Beatles just isn’t as interesting as Please Please Me. Not because it’s bad, or anything, but this LP is the one Beatles album that doesn’t feature any of their biggest songs. The only exception is Yellow Submarine, but that’s a soundtrack record for the animated movie of the same name, and two of the songs on it, the title track and “All You Need Is Love” were already released. And that’s easily my “least favorite” Beatles album, just for that reason, but I gotta say that With the Beatles is right above that.
With that being said, this album isn’t bad whatsoever. It’s really enjoyable, but this album just doesn’t quite have anything that makes it stand out from other Beatles’ albums. There are a few highlights, such as “Please Mister Postman,” “Money (That’s What I Want)”, and the first solo composition from guitarist / vocalist George Harrison, “Don’t Bother Me,” but aside from that track, my favorites are covers. That’s certainly not a bad thing, since their cover of “Twist and Shout” from their debut is one of my favorite tracks of them. But at the same time, the Lennon-McCartney songs on here just aren’t that interesting, compared to other albums. And it’s not that the band went through a sophomore slump, because this is essentially just an extension of what Please Please Me was. It’s a logical progression, for sure, but it’s also not really too much of a progression. The songs sound like cuts that would have worked on Please Please Me, just with better production, and Lennon and McCartney’s vocals have improved a bit. The songs are pretty well done, and this album does have some great tracks on it, but I can’t say I really enjoy it as much as Please Please Me, or really any of their other albums. The replay value just isn’t terribly high. There’s nothing that I can’t really get from an album like Help, or A Hard Day’s Night that this one doesn’t have. It does have some interesting songs, nonetheless, but in terms of favorite Beatles albums, this one is on the lower end.

Overall rating: 8.3/10
-Bradley

The Beatles – With the Beatles
Record Label: Parlophone
Release Date: November 22 1963

Sophomore albums can either make or break a band, especially with a very stellar debut. This is something I’ve touched on before, but when talking about Liverpool rock group The Beatles, there’s a lot to talk about, a lot more than your average band. The Beatles were not your “average” band. They were a band that transcended time, and is still very popular and “relevant” even today. When debut LP, Please Please Me came out in 1963, it was a very interesting release. Compared to today’s standard, it wouldn’t be an interesting album at all, considering it’s just a straightforward rock and roll record with a bunch of covers, but the reason it was so monumental was because before that record, bands (including The Beatles themselves) would perform covers of popular songs of the time, so “originals” weren’t quite commonplace. But I’d argue that The Beatles took the idea of writing your own songs and brought that to the public. Sure, their early songs were about love and girls, but it was a start. It’s exactly what songs were about in that time, so it made sense to write about those sorts of things.

For The Beatles’ first few albums, they had a mix between covers and “originals,” mainly penned by rhythm guitarist / vocalist John Lennon and bassist / vocalist Paul McCartney, with the exception of third LP A Hard Day’s Night, which was all original. It was the first up until 1965’s Rubber Soul that featured exclusive material. And I’ll admit, these few records aren’t really my favorites from the Fab Four. Don’t get me wrong, they do feature some of the band’s best songs, but they all sound somewhat the same, minus some subtle nuances that can be heard every now and again. On sophomore album, With the Beatles, released just months after Please Please Me (back in that time, bands released albums pretty quick, often two in the same year), the band just sort of continued this sound. But I’ll have to admit, With the Beatles just isn’t as interesting as Please Please Me. Not because it’s bad, or anything, but this LP is the one Beatles album that doesn’t feature any of their biggest songs. The only exception is Yellow Submarine, but that’s a soundtrack record for the animated movie of the same name, and two of the songs on it, the title track and “All You Need Is Love” were already released. And that’s easily my “least favorite” Beatles album, just for that reason, but I gotta say that With the Beatles is right above that.

With that being said, this album isn’t bad whatsoever. It’s really enjoyable, but this album just doesn’t quite have anything that makes it stand out from other Beatles’ albums. There are a few highlights, such as “Please Mister Postman,” “Money (That’s What I Want)”, and the first solo composition from guitarist / vocalist George Harrison, “Don’t Bother Me,” but aside from that track, my favorites are covers. That’s certainly not a bad thing, since their cover of “Twist and Shout” from their debut is one of my favorite tracks of them. But at the same time, the Lennon-McCartney songs on here just aren’t that interesting, compared to other albums. And it’s not that the band went through a sophomore slump, because this is essentially just an extension of what Please Please Me was. It’s a logical progression, for sure, but it’s also not really too much of a progression. The songs sound like cuts that would have worked on Please Please Me, just with better production, and Lennon and McCartney’s vocals have improved a bit. The songs are pretty well done, and this album does have some great tracks on it, but I can’t say I really enjoy it as much as Please Please Me, or really any of their other albums. The replay value just isn’t terribly high. There’s nothing that I can’t really get from an album like Help, or A Hard Day’s Night that this one doesn’t have. It does have some interesting songs, nonetheless, but in terms of favorite Beatles albums, this one is on the lower end.

Overall rating: 8.3/10

-Bradley

October 2014
19
The B-52’s – Self-titled Record Label: Warner Bros Release Date: July 6 1979 I’ve said this a handful of times before, but going out of your comfort zone can be a great thing, especially when it comes to music. Most of the time, you can end up finding something that you at least enjoy, but there other two possibilities that can arise. The first one is a negative, but you can dislike something and know that it’s not for you. In a sense, that is a rather positive thing, since you know what to avoid next time you’re out shopping and/or just looking for some new music. But on the other hand, you can end up finding something you absolutely love. Heck, at the time I’m writing this review, I picked up Lady Gaga’s Artpop, and took a chance on that. I ended up enjoying that, and coincidentally, she just released a collaborative record with jazz/swing singer Tony Bennett entitled Cheek to Cheek where the duo perform a bunch of jazz standards. I’m not into jazz/swing whatsoever, but I decided to give this LP a chance, and I do really like it, just on my first listen. See, that’s a perfect example of when you give something a chance and it’s rewarding. But what happens when it is that first example, meaning you just like something? It’s not particularly overwhelming great, but not bad, either. It’s right in the middle. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s also not all that memorable. I say this, because I finally listened to Athens, GA new-wave/pop-rock group, The B-52’s. “You don’t seem like you’d listen to that band, Bradley,” I’m sure you’re telling yourself now, but dear reader, let me clue you in on something – not only is it a good thing to go out your comfort zone, but just because someone may not appear to look as though they’d listen to a certain group, doesn’t mean they can’t. But let me back up for a minute – there’s a reason why I decided to venture into the world of The B-52’s, the creators of such tracks as “Rock Lobster,” featuring in a throwaway gag on Family Guy, and their most famous track, “Love Shack,” which is the only track I knew before I even ventured into their work. At Barnes and Noble, not only do they have a big selection of “older music,” but in the section of albums on sale for $9.99 (which I like visiting, especially the $7.99 and $4.99 sections, because it’s good music for real cheap), they have a few multi-packs of records, which includes five “classic” albums (according to the packaging, anyway) of a group. I found one for The B-52’s, especially after seeing a couple of their records in the $4.99 section. Instead of just getting one record for $4.99, I thought I’d get 5 for $9.99. That’s about $2 per record, and that’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. I definitely knew a few songs from this band, and fortunately, out of the band’s seven LPs, the pack included their first five. I decided to pick it up, and I basically spent the afternoon listening to them, along with a few other things I picked up. I decided to first get into the band’s self-titled debut, so after listening to that for the last week or so, how is it? Well, remember when I said that sometimes going out of your comfort zone can result in something you end enjoying, but that’s about the extent of it? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this LP. I actually really enjoy the band’s later LPs a lot more, and those were just from a single listen. But I do like The B-52’s self-titled debut LP. It’s certainly a very memorable and interesting record, but I can’t say I really like or even love it. There are a couple of problems I do have with it, but the main thing I do really enjoy is the instrumentation. The band opted for a 60s surf-rock meets new-wave sound, and it’s very unique. It’s kind of weird, too, but it works quite well. Songs like “Rock Lobster,” “Dance This Mess Around,” and “6060-842,” really have a unique sound that captures this band in a very nice light. The guitar tones are crisp, but simple, and there’s a bit of electronic elements. The band does put more synth and drum machines into their records after this LP, and frankly, that does serve them a bit better, having more electronic elements in their south, making themselves even more unique, but this is still a nice sound to have. I can’t say the production is that great, and the production does get better throughout their records, so for being a debut, it’s kind of forgivable. And everything does sound clear and concise, at least, so it’s not a huge problem. But the instrumentation is fantastic, and that’s the main thing I come back to on this LP. Unfortunately, the biggest problems I have with this band are their lyrics and vocals. I wouldn’t say anything is “bad,” or awful, but I’m just not into their presentation. The B-52’s are even more interesting, because their lyrics are rather whimsical and silly, and their vocals are very unorthodox. They do have a unique dynamic of vocalists, using three vocalists, two female, and one male. The only weird part is, they don’t quite sing. They shout, if anything. It’s a more call and response style of vocals, where one vocalist shouts something, and the others reply. That’s true on songs like “Rock Lobster,” and “Dance This Mess Around.” Granted, the songs are memorable, and they are hook-driven, so it’s not like the songs are devoid of choruses or anything like that. But I just don’t find the vocals too interesting. The lyrics are also really weird, and very nonsensical. I get that’s the point of their lyrics, but I find nothing to invest myself in. It’s fun to hear “Rock Lobster” a few times, but the lyrics do kind of get old after awhile. The thing that does hold up quite well is the band’s unique style of instrumentation, and ultimately, if you are one who values lyrics, you most likely won’t get much out of it, but if you are willing to have a good time and just relax, there are some good moments here. It’s really fun, laidback, but just not terribly interesting, save for the instrumentation. For a debut record, it’s pretty good, make no mistake, but nothing really overwhelmingly great, either. Overall rating: 8.3/10
-Bradley

The B-52’s – Self-titled
Record Label: Warner Bros
Release Date: July 6 1979

I’ve said this a handful of times before, but going out of your comfort zone can be a great thing, especially when it comes to music. Most of the time, you can end up finding something that you at least enjoy, but there other two possibilities that can arise. The first one is a negative, but you can dislike something and know that it’s not for you. In a sense, that is a rather positive thing, since you know what to avoid next time you’re out shopping and/or just looking for some new music. But on the other hand, you can end up finding something you absolutely love. Heck, at the time I’m writing this review, I picked up Lady Gaga’s Artpop, and took a chance on that. I ended up enjoying that, and coincidentally, she just released a collaborative record with jazz/swing singer Tony Bennett entitled Cheek to Cheek where the duo perform a bunch of jazz standards. I’m not into jazz/swing whatsoever, but I decided to give this LP a chance, and I do really like it, just on my first listen. See, that’s a perfect example of when you give something a chance and it’s rewarding. But what happens when it is that first example, meaning you just like something? It’s not particularly overwhelming great, but not bad, either. It’s right in the middle. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s also not all that memorable. I say this, because I finally listened to Athens, GA new-wave/pop-rock group, The B-52’s.

“You don’t seem like you’d listen to that band, Bradley,” I’m sure you’re telling yourself now, but dear reader, let me clue you in on something – not only is it a good thing to go out your comfort zone, but just because someone may not appear to look as though they’d listen to a certain group, doesn’t mean they can’t. But let me back up for a minute – there’s a reason why I decided to venture into the world of The B-52’s, the creators of such tracks as “Rock Lobster,” featuring in a throwaway gag on Family Guy, and their most famous track, “Love Shack,” which is the only track I knew before I even ventured into their work. At Barnes and Noble, not only do they have a big selection of “older music,” but in the section of albums on sale for $9.99 (which I like visiting, especially the $7.99 and $4.99 sections, because it’s good music for real cheap), they have a few multi-packs of records, which includes five “classic” albums (according to the packaging, anyway) of a group. I found one for The B-52’s, especially after seeing a couple of their records in the $4.99 section. Instead of just getting one record for $4.99, I thought I’d get 5 for $9.99. That’s about $2 per record, and that’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. I definitely knew a few songs from this band, and fortunately, out of the band’s seven LPs, the pack included their first five. I decided to pick it up, and I basically spent the afternoon listening to them, along with a few other things I picked up. I decided to first get into the band’s self-titled debut, so after listening to that for the last week or so, how is it?

Well, remember when I said that sometimes going out of your comfort zone can result in something you end enjoying, but that’s about the extent of it? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this LP. I actually really enjoy the band’s later LPs a lot more, and those were just from a single listen. But I do like The B-52’s self-titled debut LP. It’s certainly a very memorable and interesting record, but I can’t say I really like or even love it. There are a couple of problems I do have with it, but the main thing I do really enjoy is the instrumentation. The band opted for a 60s surf-rock meets new-wave sound, and it’s very unique. It’s kind of weird, too, but it works quite well. Songs like “Rock Lobster,” “Dance This Mess Around,” and “6060-842,” really have a unique sound that captures this band in a very nice light. The guitar tones are crisp, but simple, and there’s a bit of electronic elements. The band does put more synth and drum machines into their records after this LP, and frankly, that does serve them a bit better, having more electronic elements in their south, making themselves even more unique, but this is still a nice sound to have. I can’t say the production is that great, and the production does get better throughout their records, so for being a debut, it’s kind of forgivable. And everything does sound clear and concise, at least, so it’s not a huge problem. But the instrumentation is fantastic, and that’s the main thing I come back to on this LP.

Unfortunately, the biggest problems I have with this band are their lyrics and vocals. I wouldn’t say anything is “bad,” or awful, but I’m just not into their presentation. The B-52’s are even more interesting, because their lyrics are rather whimsical and silly, and their vocals are very unorthodox. They do have a unique dynamic of vocalists, using three vocalists, two female, and one male. The only weird part is, they don’t quite sing. They shout, if anything. It’s a more call and response style of vocals, where one vocalist shouts something, and the others reply. That’s true on songs like “Rock Lobster,” and “Dance This Mess Around.” Granted, the songs are memorable, and they are hook-driven, so it’s not like the songs are devoid of choruses or anything like that. But I just don’t find the vocals too interesting. The lyrics are also really weird, and very nonsensical. I get that’s the point of their lyrics, but I find nothing to invest myself in. It’s fun to hear “Rock Lobster” a few times, but the lyrics do kind of get old after awhile. The thing that does hold up quite well is the band’s unique style of instrumentation, and ultimately, if you are one who values lyrics, you most likely won’t get much out of it, but if you are willing to have a good time and just relax, there are some good moments here. It’s really fun, laidback, but just not terribly interesting, save for the instrumentation. For a debut record, it’s pretty good, make no mistake, but nothing really overwhelmingly great, either.

Overall rating: 8.3/10

-Bradley

October 2014
19
Yellowcard – Lift a Sail Record Label: Razor & Tie Release Date: October 7 2014 Florida pop-punk outfit Yellowcard is one that I have very mixed feelings on; on one hand, I appreciate how unique they are with incorporating a violin into their sound, and if you listen to a record from them, it does sound cool. In a genre that’s very saturated with generic bands and bands that aren’t really that interesting or good, it’s breath of fresh air. And the band has been going for a very long time, and being they’re still “relevant” and still going, that’s also an impressive feat. On the other hand, however, I’m just not a big fan. It’s not that I dislike them, honestly, but all of their music sounds the same to me. What do I mean? Well, each album I’ve heard, and with the inclusion of new LP, Lift a Sail, sounds pretty similar. I’ve written about this band before, and how their sound is way too consistent. There’s a line between making records that have the same sound, but still being memorable, and just basically the same record over and over. Unfortunately, I don’t quite hear any overwhelming differences between each record I’ve heard from them. Maybe it’s because I haven’t dug deep into their work, or really listened to them a million times over, but there aren’t quite subtleties to differentiate each album to me. They all blur together, and that’s a huge problem for me. I want to listen to bands’ where each record sounds different, and well, Yellowcard isn’t one of those bands. If you’ve heard one of their albums, you’ve heard almost all of them. And to be honest, if you removed violinist Sean Mackin, you’d get a decent pop-punk band, and that’s really it. Yellowcard is not bad, and they’re sort of interesting, having a unique element no other bands do, but they just never do anything with it. The only album I really enjoy from them is 2012’s Southern Air, and that’s mainly because it’s the first album I’ve heard from them. I recently reviewed it during the summer, and I still really enjoy it. It’s a very energetic “summer” album, and it’s perfect for the summer months. It’s been a couple of years since that LP, but I’ll admit, I was slightly curious for what the band would do next. And that came in the form of Lift a Sail, the band’s ninth album, and first for Razor & Tie. The band left Hopeless Records and hopped into Razor & Tie, a pretty decent label with a few bands I do enjoy. The label didn’t quite matter, since it was sure that they would put out some quality music. Being that I didn’t quite enjoy their other records, I wanted to give this album a listen before I bought it, just in case I happened to not like it. Well, in all honesty, I gave Lift a Sail a listen through a stream on Pandora, of all places, and I’m glad I streamed in advance, because unlike Southern Air, which showcased all the best qualities of the band, this kind of showcases the “worst” qualities. The main reason why I was rather interested in this record was because the band kept saying they were going in a different direction, opting for a more 90s alt-rock sound. That could be interesting, right?

Well, no, not really. In theory, this sounds really cool, and for the first few tracks, I was kind of enjoying it, but as the album went on, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. And for two reasons – vocalist Ryan Key sounds totally out of his element, and the instrumentation is really bland. Key’s vocals are enjoyable for pop-punk, and well, that’s it. His voice is rather weak on this LP, and it’s actually somewhat humorous hearing him try to give off a grandiose vocal delivery when he has the vocal range of a potato. While I love pop-punk, a lot of the vocalists in the genre don’t have a huge range, but that’s usually okay, because the energy of the music itself makes up for it. That’s not the case here, because the 90s alt-rock instrumentation is utterly forgettable. It’s not horrible, per se, but it’s just so boring, it hurts. Even Mackin can’t say this album, because even he doesn’t get too many times to shine. As I was listening to this, I really couldn’t hear any memorable moments. Each song just ultimately blurs together, and it’s kind of a shame, since I was actually kind of interested in this LP. But all in all, this album and even this band just isn’t for me. I find Key’s vocals very underwhelming and frankly somewhat laughable, mainly because he’s trying to go for a sound that his vocals aren’t suited for, and the instrumentation is completely forgettable and each song sounds very similar to the last. The album basically blurs together, but I can see fans still liking this. I can see some fans getting upset that the band went into a different direction, but those are the dumb “elitist” fans. I certainly appreciate this album more than I like it, and I don’t really like it that much. It’s decent, but not an album I’ll purchase or really sink my teeth into. Every band does step out of their comfort zones to mixed results, and while I don’t personally believe Yellowcard really succeeded with this, it’s not bad, either. Maybe next time, guys. Overall rating: 6.8/10
-Bradley

Yellowcard – Lift a Sail
Record Label: Razor & Tie
Release Date: October 7 2014

Florida pop-punk outfit Yellowcard is one that I have very mixed feelings on; on one hand, I appreciate how unique they are with incorporating a violin into their sound, and if you listen to a record from them, it does sound cool. In a genre that’s very saturated with generic bands and bands that aren’t really that interesting or good, it’s breath of fresh air. And the band has been going for a very long time, and being they’re still “relevant” and still going, that’s also an impressive feat. On the other hand, however, I’m just not a big fan. It’s not that I dislike them, honestly, but all of their music sounds the same to me. What do I mean? Well, each album I’ve heard, and with the inclusion of new LP, Lift a Sail, sounds pretty similar. I’ve written about this band before, and how their sound is way too consistent. There’s a line between making records that have the same sound, but still being memorable, and just basically the same record over and over. Unfortunately, I don’t quite hear any overwhelming differences between each record I’ve heard from them. Maybe it’s because I haven’t dug deep into their work, or really listened to them a million times over, but there aren’t quite subtleties to differentiate each album to me. They all blur together, and that’s a huge problem for me. I want to listen to bands’ where each record sounds different, and well, Yellowcard isn’t one of those bands. If you’ve heard one of their albums, you’ve heard almost all of them. And to be honest, if you removed violinist Sean Mackin, you’d get a decent pop-punk band, and that’s really it. Yellowcard is not bad, and they’re sort of interesting, having a unique element no other bands do, but they just never do anything with it.

The only album I really enjoy from them is 2012’s Southern Air, and that’s mainly because it’s the first album I’ve heard from them. I recently reviewed it during the summer, and I still really enjoy it. It’s a very energetic “summer” album, and it’s perfect for the summer months. It’s been a couple of years since that LP, but I’ll admit, I was slightly curious for what the band would do next. And that came in the form of Lift a Sail, the band’s ninth album, and first for Razor & Tie. The band left Hopeless Records and hopped into Razor & Tie, a pretty decent label with a few bands I do enjoy. The label didn’t quite matter, since it was sure that they would put out some quality music. Being that I didn’t quite enjoy their other records, I wanted to give this album a listen before I bought it, just in case I happened to not like it. Well, in all honesty, I gave Lift a Sail a listen through a stream on Pandora, of all places, and I’m glad I streamed in advance, because unlike Southern Air, which showcased all the best qualities of the band, this kind of showcases the “worst” qualities. The main reason why I was rather interested in this record was because the band kept saying they were going in a different direction, opting for a more 90s alt-rock sound. That could be interesting, right?

Well, no, not really. In theory, this sounds really cool, and for the first few tracks, I was kind of enjoying it, but as the album went on, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. And for two reasons – vocalist Ryan Key sounds totally out of his element, and the instrumentation is really bland. Key’s vocals are enjoyable for pop-punk, and well, that’s it. His voice is rather weak on this LP, and it’s actually somewhat humorous hearing him try to give off a grandiose vocal delivery when he has the vocal range of a potato. While I love pop-punk, a lot of the vocalists in the genre don’t have a huge range, but that’s usually okay, because the energy of the music itself makes up for it. That’s not the case here, because the 90s alt-rock instrumentation is utterly forgettable. It’s not horrible, per se, but it’s just so boring, it hurts. Even Mackin can’t say this album, because even he doesn’t get too many times to shine. As I was listening to this, I really couldn’t hear any memorable moments. Each song just ultimately blurs together, and it’s kind of a shame, since I was actually kind of interested in this LP. But all in all, this album and even this band just isn’t for me. I find Key’s vocals very underwhelming and frankly somewhat laughable, mainly because he’s trying to go for a sound that his vocals aren’t suited for, and the instrumentation is completely forgettable and each song sounds very similar to the last. The album basically blurs together, but I can see fans still liking this. I can see some fans getting upset that the band went into a different direction, but those are the dumb “elitist” fans. I certainly appreciate this album more than I like it, and I don’t really like it that much. It’s decent, but not an album I’ll purchase or really sink my teeth into. Every band does step out of their comfort zones to mixed results, and while I don’t personally believe Yellowcard really succeeded with this, it’s not bad, either. Maybe next time, guys.

Overall rating: 6.8/10

-Bradley

October 2014
18

Diamond Youth (dmndyouth) and Prawn (prawnmusic) at Metro Gallery by Eden Kittiver (edenkittiver)

These photos are part of my Disposable Camera Project!

October 2014
18

A Great Big Pile of Leaves (agreatbigpileofleaves) by Eden Kittiver (edenkittiver)

These photos are part of my Disposable Camera Project!

October 2014
18

joycemanorband by Eden Kittiver (edenkittiver)

These photos are part of my Disposable Camera Project!

October 2014
18
Mike Bell and The Movies by Eden Kittiver
These photos are part of my Disposable Camera Project!

Mike Bell and The Movies by Eden Kittiver

These photos are part of my Disposable Camera Project!