(ya know who else is back? The 1975… but more on them later)
The past few months have been consistently busy for me. Never-ending work, went to California twice within a month, being more social than usual, and just living life has got me caught up. I take things day by day, because it’s easier that way. A surge of creativity has struck me recently and I just have the need to make something.
So here I am, creating this blog post.
I heard a song the other week that has contributed to this need to create. The 1975 is an absolute favorite of mine. Every EP and album they’ve released thus far is so good; simply put. Ironically I haven’t listened to them in well over a year for reasons too sap to write on here. However on June 1, the band released “Give Yourself A Try,” and suddenly the fangirl in me reemerged from hiatus.
Prior to the song being released, the band teased it by posting pictures and then the lyrics. I hastily read the lyrics and just knew this song was it. By “it” I mean I felt as though this song was presented at a time where I needed to hear something like it. The title itself gave me those feelings and then delving into it more, the themes of growing life and trying to believe in yourself were all so true to me.
As summer commences, I want to give myself a try more.
It’s not that I haven’t been, but I want to do more. Focusing on myself, my health, my goals, all of those things have been in the forefront for me for a while now. As a new season and month starts, why not take it as an opportunity for growth? I think these next few months are going to be exciting and a bit nerve wracking for me. I’m working towards a few big changes falling into place and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Right before my obsession with The 1975, The Neighbourhood introduced to me the thematic element of a band being seen in black and white. From their first music video, “Female Robbery,” the band has been rarely seen “in color.” Even during their live performances, they pretty much always used dark and dim lights on stage. Unlike, The 1975, The Neighbourhood has kept this up throughout the last five or so years. I was a fan pretty early on, when “Sweater Weather” was released and have bought albums, vinyls, merch, and have even seen the band around three times so far.
You’ve probably heard “Sweater Weather” at least once from the band my friend calls, “the upside down house band!”
Frontman, Jesse Rutherford has carried the band throughout its different phases. After the band’s 2013 debut album, I Love You.,a transition could be heard. In The Love Collection EP, released afterwards, a lot more influence from hip hop is shown and continues onto the #000000 & #FFFFFFEP. With features from rappers YG, Danny Brown, French Montana and G-Eazy, I was excited at what was coming into fruition. Mainly because two of my genres collaborated in what I think is a solid project. A year later in 2015, Wiped Out! arrives and it didn’t click with me right away. Lead single, “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” had the vibe I was looking forward to but just something put me off from listening to the whole album for a minute. I suppose with the band going “back” to more melodic sounds instead of this sing-rap thing Jesse does, it just went to the back burner for me. Eventually, I came around and still like majority of it. This same instance of where I didn’t automatically listen to the new music happened again with the releases up to The Neighbourhood. Between the latter half of 2017 and March 2018, we received three EPs: Hard, To Imagine, and Hard to Imagine.
I think there’s this perception around self-titled albums that it’s supposed to showcase the artist as they truly are; at their best. Being that this is the third album from The Neighbourhood I was interested to see what “their best” was like. I started listening this to while on a flight last week to California (how fitting). As a whole, I’m not mad at it! Prior to listening, I wouldn’t say I was excited. I was just like, oh they have a new album coming out. I think the band explored and experimented a bit but stayed pretty spot on with what is known to be their sound.
Out of the three EPs before the album, which all feature songs from The Neighbourhood, I listened to maybe two songs and saw one video. Before I showed interest in getting back into the band, they had announced the album and I figured I would listen to it all then. One of the appeals of this band is the imagery I get. In part because of the whole black and white theme, but also there’s this nostalgic feeling in general with their songs. After giving this album a few listens… I’m into it.
*pulls out NBHD merch from closet*
The album starts off vibrant with “Flowers and “Scary Love” giving listeners a nice upbeat sound to dive into. “Scary Love” is sooo good and I’m glad its the lead single. With this song, the music video presents something new for the band as well: color! The video was released last week and is the first one in color (which is a *big* deal). It shows that this is a new era for the band.
“Softcore” is hands down my favorite on the album. When I was half alseep on the plane, I remember when I heard it I had to open my eyes to see which song it was. The synths on it are playful and put me in a good mood. The usage of synths and more electronic sounds was new to hear but also makes sense at the same time. The Neighbourhood isn’t afraid to try new things; they just never stray too far away from their zone. Proceeding “Softcore,” you get tracks “Blue” and “Sadderdaze” that bring you back into it.
There really isn’t a defining moment on the album for me. There are songs I’m loving right now and songs I can see myself skipping over. “You Get Me So High” and “Stuck with Me” are standouts that kinda feel like a dream. A muffled, cloudy, black and white dream if you will. “Revenge” and “Too Serious” are ones that haven’t made too much of an impression yet.
Something I wondered about when listening was, is this all the band can do? It seems like people are criticizing the range of the band musically. How many more sing-rap type songs can you make that allude to California, the past, relationships, etc? Depending on your perspective, it could defer you away from this album for sure. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the album. Was it going to be the same stuff I’ve heard the past few years? On that same thought though, maybe that’s what makes The Neighbourhood the band they are. This is their sound and on their self-titled album they are confident in presenting that (at least I hope they are.) As a fan, this new chapter for the band leaves me curious. Curious to see how this album cycle will play out, how their live shows will change, and if they’ll ever garner the success they received from I Love You.
The band will head out on their US tour starting in April and you best believe I’ll be seeing them again. Give the album a listen below & let me know what you think!
Similar to last year’s list, if there was anything good about the wreck of a year 2017 was…it’s the music! Some anticipated releases for me in 2017 exceeded my expectations and had me constantly repeating albums from start to finish. Check out some of my picks from this year and if you’re into it you can listen to my favorite tracks on Spotify and Apple Music playlists I curated!
I See You– The xx
Listening to The xx is an experience. There’s this sense of nostalgia that makes me feel sooo many emotions. With the release of I See You, at the start of the year, I was just amazed at this new sound the band had found. When describing this album to someone once, I said that this is the loudest The xx has ever been. More profound vocals and louder percussion gave me what I didn’t know I needed from the band. Interestingly enough, I haven’t touched the album in a few months (with the exception of listening to the bonus track “Seasons Run” released over the summer). I almost want to leave that album in the time and place I was first hearing it in. I’m bound to listen to it again and when I do, I feel the experience will be quite like the first time.
About U– MUNA
My love for MUNA is endless. Discovering them a couple years ago and hearing their debut album for the first time was a *moment*. Not to be dramatic, but I actually cried listening to it for the first time. Featuring songs off of their Loudspeaker EP and a handful of new material, MUNA showcased their dark pop sound in a sweet way. In a time where wanting to express yourself and be your true self can be hard, MUNA resonates with these statements and makes music that will make you dance and subsequently, forget your worries.
Beautiful. Such a beautiful album. Only *kinda* knowing Sampha from a few features he’s done in the past, I didn’t really know what to expect with Process. My expectations were blown away with this album. Another album I haven’t touched in months because of the emotional ties to it, Process was just like this light that came about and immediately grabbed my attention. An absolute personal favorite, “Blood On Me,” still gives me goosebumps.
Little Lovely Lonely– The Maine
I’ve described The Maine as a band I’ve known about for a very, very long time but didn’t really start listening to their music until Forever Halloween and then more recently with American Candy. American Candy had me floored and so stoked when the band announced Little Lovely Lonely. There’s something about The Maine’s more recent releases that connect with me so much more. Little Lovely Lonely is in a way so delicate and comforting, yet still has its fun moments. Start to finish, the whole album feels so whole with only 12 tracks.
DAMN.– Kendrick Lamar
Coming off the wave and major success of To Pimp A Butterfly, a new Kendrick album just made me excited. How could you not be??? I knew that there was going to be a lot of force in the new album. I think that there’s so much Kendrick still wants to say and with DAMN., it definitely hits on this very thought. When this album dropped, I was in California at Coachella where Kendrick was headlining and tried to get as familiar with the songs as I could. While listening to the album, it wasn’t a surprise that I was in awe. That combination of hearing these new songs for the first time live heightened my love for the album a lot. KUNG FU KENNY DOES NO WRONG.
After Laughter– Paramore
For me, the timing of After Laughter couldn’t have been more perfect. An album that could speak so much to issues I was dealing at the time, actually helped me when I was at one one of my lowest point’s this year. Paramore is one of my all time favorite bands. With this newer, more pop sound they presented in the album, it only took a few listens before I had them on repeat as much as the older Paramore material. Lyrically, this album just hits me so hard. When I relaunched my blog in the summer, I wrote a post inspired by the lead single, “Hard Times.” Lyrics so bold and honest that felt as though Hayley Williams knew exactly what I was going through.
The anticipation of Lorde’s second album was soooo real. It’s been years since Pure Heroine was released in 2013. Being a fan since the Love Club days, I JUST NEEDED MORE MUSIC FROM LORDE. I actually had a really rough review of Melodrama that’s currently still in draft form (oops). I will say that this was easily one of my favorite albums to drop. Numerous parts of this album I can envision as if it were a movie. The composition of it is so enticing and captures emotions of love and heartbreak so well. Lorde’s music gets better every time and the effort she put in crafting this record really shows. I’m still bummed I missed her set at Coachella this year!!
Saturation I, II, & III– Brockhampton
If there was one group that completely blew me year this year, it was Brockhampton. It’s been a while since a hip hop collective impressed me so much upon first listen. The start of this trilogy the group created, Saturation, gives such a great presentation of exactly who they are. The various ten members, all have their moments on certain songs. With ranging personalities and styles, each song still comes together in the end. A mix of light and serious subjects, Brockhampton leave you wanting more music. Luckily, we received Saturation II and Saturation III all in the same year. I decided to group all three albums together because I want to further expand on my thoughts about each album in it’s own separate post. So in the meantime, listen to the albums (you won’t regret it.)
Loooooooveeeeee loooooveeee loveeee
When I tell y’all SZA gave me EVERYTHING in this album, she literally gave me LIFE. From the first few moments in the opening track, “Supermodel,” I was a mess. SZA knows, man. She knows what I’ve been going through and gave me more songs to belt out in my car. The varying themes on CTRL are all things I’m dealing with and relating to myself in some capacity. Whether it be relationships, self-love, finding yourself as a woman, SZA just preaches it all. I’m soooo glad I got to see her live back in the summer. I’m even more glad she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves!
Big Fish Theory– Vince Staples
I WAS UP LATE NIGHT BALLIN’ waiting for Vince Staples to drop this album over the summer. Not really…but the anticipation was real. I had spent the first few months of 2017 promoting a show of his and naturally increase my listening to him by 100%. So much so that Vince was my most played artist on Spotify this year (ha). Growing a deeper appreciation of his sound and lyrics, it felt like I counted down the release of this album. Notably, the production in this is crazy. The beats infuse a lot of electronic elements that I personally loved and it keeps the album interesting. Vince always seems to do that in his music. I mean the man intentionally had Ray J sing on a track and it was actually good.
Something To Tell You– Haim
Now this album really had to grow on me. As a Haim fan from the early days and loving Days Are Gone so much, I had high hopes for Something To Tell You. At first I was disappointed and it just didn’t mesh with me. I was listening to the songs but they weren’t hitting. However, over time, a gradual appreciation bloomed and by the end of the summer, this was in constant rotation. I feel/know that a part of why I like this album so much now is for the lyrical content. Touching on themes I know now too well, it struck a cord in me that had me crying but also singing along too.
Flower Boy– Tyler the Creator
Y’ALL THIS ALBUM. I love Tyler. Simple as that. Even outside of his music, I love this creativity in what he’s doing with fashion, Golf Media, Camp Flog Gnaw, etc. Tyler’s last album, Deathcamp, didn’t seem to win over fans as much as previous albums have done. It was a shift. A shift that I was here for. I felt that album was so under appreciated at the time and now with Flower Boy being out, Deathcamp is the perfect predecessor. You really get to feel and hear Tyler’s range in musically. The collaborations on this are amazing and they all just work so well together. There’s not one song that I don’t like. “911/ Mr. Lonely?”??? Easily a favorite song of the year. On top of that “November,” “See You Again,” “Boredom,” THEY’RE ALL SO GOOD.
All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell– PVRIS
First of all…what an album title. When PVRIS first started teasing this album and revealed the name, I was like, “Yoooooo it’s about to be good.” If you like alternative rock music and don’t know who PVRIS is, please get hip to them. One of my favorite acts in the genre right now, this was another album I highly anticipated. PVRIS’ music has darker tone that can be heard lyrically and sonically. When listening to the first singles, “Heaven” and “What’s Wrong,” I was IN. I knew that this album would be on repeat and months later…it has been! Similar to After Laughter, this album’s lyrics hit me so hard and took me to a place I couldn’t believe I was hearing. Lynn Gunn’s voice is perfection.
And if you needed MORE music, these were good too!
When I had learned that Kid Cudi announced a tour in support of Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ I was so hype! That hype quickly turned into disappointment when I learned he wasn’t coming to my area. I saw he was coming to D.C., but didn’t think too much into it at the time.
With me not wanting to stay home for too long, I knew I was due for another weekend trip. I was looking at different concerts/things to do and remembered the D.C. show. Unfortunately, I procrastinated in getting a ticket so I (for the first time ever in my concert going history!) bought a secondhand ticket via StubHub. The up charge made me cringe but I knew seeing Cudi would be worth it.
One of the main reasons I wanted to see Cudi was because I feel like this wouldn’t happen again. Cudi hasn’t toured too often in recent years and I figured this would be my one shot to see Mr. Rager himself. I’ve loved Cudi for a long time now— ever since A Kid Named Cudi dropped in 2008. He was an artist I always heard throughout high school and into college. Kid Cudi, in a way, represented who I was growing up. Kind of an outsider, more into the alternative scene, wanting to break out… I felt that in Cudi’s music. I LIVE for tracks like “Dat New “New,”‘ “Sky Might Fall,” “Mr. Rager,” “Red Eye,” the list goes on.
When Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin’ was released last December, it felt like a reemergence of Cudi. It felt like fans got the Cudi they were looking forward to back. One of my favorite albums of 2016, I was excited to finally hear some of these songs live!
Echostage in D.C. is a 5,000 cap venue I’ve only been to one other time (to see Twenty One Pilots in September 2015). I took an Uber to the venue probably less than an hour before door time and stood in the oddly humid heat (thanks climate change!). Once inside the venue, I grabbed a drink and was in the center of the pit. There was no opener for the show and after standing in the pit for a while, a group decision to stand in the back of the crowd was made. I was totally fine with that because it’s been a minute since I’ve watched a show in the pit and have had people crammed against me.
Once Cudi got on stage, the excitement just filled up as I tried not to spill my drink while jumping up and down. It was as though I tapped into whatever frequency Cudi was on and was vibin’ with it. A few songs into the set, I was able to get into the second floor VIP section. The view from that level and seeing the crowd was soooo nice! I watched the rest of the set from up there and heard some of my favorites. Cudi dipped into his catalog and gave us a set of 16 songs. When “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” transitioned into “Pursuit of Happiness,” it was truly a moment.
There were few times during the show where I was just thinking to myself, wow I’m really hearing this song live. I don’t know why, but it was overwhelming in a sense. These songs, both new and old, that I love so much were being performed in front of me and a sold out crowd. It’s crazy!!! It’s been a while since a show has had that effect on me.
Mr. Rager, Mr. Rager
Tell me where you’re going, tell us where you’re headed
I’d definitely see Kid Cudi again if I could. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long next time!
Thriving post concert Arby’s bag in tow semi soaked from the rain
If there was one good thing about this summer, it was the music. I’ve compiled a playlist of songs released the past few months that I was into. A varied mix of genres, I hope you discover something new! If there’s an artist repeated on the playlist that basically means you just need to listen to their full album. Thank me later.
Now it wouldn’t be right if I just left it as a playlist. I attended a bunch of shows this summer as well and here are just a few highlights!
Travis Scott | Portsmouth Pavilion | 5.4.17
When I tell you this show wore me out, I really mean it. So the day of the show I wasn’t feeling the best and post show I felt awful. Less than 24 hours later, I was in the ER. Very exciting times. Don’t go to shows when you’re sick kids. I went to Coachella this year and saw part of Travis’ set during weekend 2. However, I got to the set a bit late and didn’t have the best spot (not to mention the VIP section wasn’t as lit as it should’ve been). When I got pit tickets to see him in Portsmouth I was hype I’d have a much better view and would enjoy the set more. It’s been a minute since I’ve been in the pit for a show and once Travis came on I was reminded of why I’m not usually in the pit anymore (haha). Finally seeing La Flame perform was a good way to kick off the start of summer.
Glass Animals | The NorVa | 6.14.17
Glass Animals is one of those bands I constantly tell my friends about because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. They instill a lot of infectious beats in their music that just gives off this energy and when you hear their songs live… I’m convinced it’s hard not to like them. Round 4 of seeing Glass Animals did not disappoint at all!
Stand back and breathe
SZA | The National | 8.21.17
It is no surprise at all that CTRL has been on repeat for me this entire summer. It had ya girl in her feels and when SZA dropped these tour dates I was even more emotional. Composure was lost immediately when she opened with “Supermodel” (a personal fave) and the whole set I was teary eyed screaming lyrics. It’s been a few years since I last saw SZA perform and I’m glad I got to hear some older songs from the Z era.
Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?
A. Chal | Songbyrd Music House | 9.3.17
Being introduced to A. Chal’s music last year, I instantly loved his vibe. When I saw he was coming to D.C. on Labor Day weekend, I instantly made a quick weekend trip out of it. With the release of his album, On Gaz, earlier this summer, I knew catching A. Chal perform at such a small venue like Songbyrd would be worth it. I always love going to a small show (especially sold out ones) because you really get to see whose a fan of the music. Songbyrd is a hybrid music venue and record cafe (how cool?) and has a capacity of 200 people. The intimate space made the show that much better when everyone knew the lyrics. I hung out after the show and got the chance to meet him. Shoutout to our gold chains.
I’ve adored this band for years. Yes, ever since the “Pumped Up Kicks” days and when their debut album, Torches, was released in 2011…I’ve been hooked. A lot of memories come to me when listening to their music and I get this nostalgic feeling every time. Of course I was emotional, dancing, screeching lyrics next to my twin, Nicole; I needed a night like that to end the summer.
Embrace the day, like night
There’s so many good tours coming this fall, catch me at a show sometime!