Review: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell

Lana Del Rey is America’s queen. She’s an expert in mixing the modern with the retro. Her cinematic take on Americana remains fresh with each release and Norman F*****g Rockwell is no different. 

While initially very skeptical of Lana’s brand, these days, I call myself a die-hard fan. Born to Die came to me in a time where I was really desperate to branch out and I had started to really look at women in music and embracing artists like Marina Diamandis and Lorde. My background in music is very male oriented, and I listened to a lot of rock and indie bands – genres that, in the mid 2000s, were generally devoid of female talent. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become a personal goal that I openly support women in music. So I started listening to Lana Del Rey.

You can buy or stream Norman Fucking Rockwell on Apple Music.

My favorite thing about her music is how she seamlessly moves from genre to genre and era to era. She’ll have Jazz Age influences in one track and then in the next it’s like you’ve been transported to Woodstock. I’ve always had a thing for oldies, and the fact that she can pull it off so authentically has always intrigued me. With each album, I feel like we’re moving further in time, and with Norman F*****g Rockwell, we’re arrived in the late 70s, early 80s.

It opens with the title track, one of the softer, but no less hard hitting, songs on the album. Her goal with the album is to draw parallels, something she does through referencing pop culture. She said of the title in an interview with Vanity Fair that, “[She and Jack Antonoff, they] just joke  around constantly about all the random headlines [they] might see that week…but it’s not a cynical thing, really. To [her], it’s hopeful, to see everything as a little bit funnier.”

With that being said, the album isn’t necessarily lighthearted. I would argue that it’s her most personal album yet, from the line in “Mariner’s Apartment Complex” where she refers to an interview she did where the publication titled it, “I wish I was dead already.” To use such a statement as a way to get clicks isn’t fair, and the actual context of what she said has nothing to do with any of those sentiments. 

The album gets more personal about her career than any of the previous five albums before it, but it also pushes the envelope of that career more than the other albums as well. One of the singles, “Venice B***h”, is almost 10 minutes long, and is one of the best tracks on the album. I know I often say this about female artists, but she’s not afraid (and has never been afraid) to take control of her creativity. I feel like that’s because women have to work 50 times as hard to gain any artistic control at all, so the best way is to just keep all of your decisions close, and it’s something that, as unfortunate of a concept as it is, makes for the most authentic and raw music. She’s set the precedent of having complete control, which at the end of the day, gives her the most freedom.

This album is the culmination of everything she’s done up until now. From a little bit of the jazz influence seen in her first two albums, to the transparent lyricism from 2017’s Lust for Life, we have little pieces of each of her past releases showcased here. The closer, “Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have, but I Have It”, is the most poignant of all of her closers. She’s brought everything full circle. Throughout all the difficulties in her life and career she’s still always believed in her art and keeping her creative license. And that’s what makes Norman F*****g Rockwell explosive.

5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Jukebox the Ghost Jumpstart the Fun in Indianapolis

In college, when I became president of a student organization, I needed to collect around 75 phone numbers. To make the process of adding contacts less monotonous, I asked each member to send me their name and their favorite song of the moment. I listened to every song that was sent to me and responded with my thoughts; I had a lot of really fun conversations about music and made some new friends. Right away, though, the members of this organization knew two things: I like music, and I like to talk about music (good things to know, in all honesty).

And that is how I discovered “Girl” by Jukebox the Ghost.

Jukebox the Ghost

I was so excited to see Jukebox live. Their recent performance at The Hi-Fi in Indianapolis was a scream-every-word, dance-along, feel-good show; overall, a show I would return to again and again. I love Jukebox for their old-meets-new pop sound. They use keyboard settings that sound exactly like a classic piano, which feels both nostalgic and fresh in a sea of electronic-only pop.

The beginning of “Jumpstarted” is a perfect example; the huge keyboard build of the first 30 seconds culminates in a dance-worthy beat and high-flying vocals. Ben Thornewill (vocals and piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals and guitar), and Jesse Kristin (drums and vocals) tag-teamed noteworthy performances of “Everybody’s Lonely”, “Postcard”, “Time and I”, and “Stay the Night”. I wouldn’t say JukeBox’s lyrics are particularly groundbreaking, but the songs are so catchy. In my opinion, that combination makes great pop music.

It was fun to see a band doesn’t take themselves too seriously. While Jukebox has a discography that could easily fill entire set, they opted to cover some really fun songs. From Electric Light Orchestra to Shania Twain, I was always on my toes and had a great time dancing along. I particularly loved when Jesse, the drummer, stepped out from behind the kit for a cover of “Havana” by Camila Cabello.

Jukebox’s humor and self-deprecation was also a highlight of the show. The keyboard was out of tune, causing the band to restart mid-song at one point. Ben forgot a few lyrics during the encore; he took an audience suggestion of “Victoria” instead. The band members took all of these bumps in stride. It was refreshing to see them laugh and banter during a show in a way that’s not robotic, a risk of some long-term tour shows that can come off a little scripted late in the run.

The Greeting Committee

I also have to give a huge shout out to the opener, The Greeting Committee. I saw them live in Cincinnati about a year ago, and I was absolutely blown away by how much they have improved as musicians. I really appreciate the bands that don’t rest on their laurels, continually working to bring a better sound and show to the audience. Brandon Yangmi’s riffs were spot on and Addie Sartino voice brings an almost grungy, rough-around-the-edges sound.

While it did not make this particular setlist, my favorite song by The Greeting Committee is “Someone Else”. Judging by their newest single, “Don’t Go”, I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for their new album dropping at the end of this year.

by Katie Baird

kiel_hauckKatie Baird is a lover of music that firmly believes transitions between songs on playlists matter, albums are made to be listened to in order, and songs that don’t mention the title in the lyrics are just *better.” Her music obsession began with classic rock records and has evolved to include all genres, with a soft spot for alt pop. While she could talk about music all day, this is her first time writing about it.

Watch Halsey Perform “Bad at Love” on SNL

This weekend, Halsey made her first appearance on Saturday Night Live, taking the stage at 30 Rock to perform her hit single “Bad at Love” along with “Him & I” with G-Eazy. Since bursting onto the scene in 2014, Halsey’s profile has continued to rise, capped by the release of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom last summer, which peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. Check out the performance of “Bad at Love” below.

Halsey’s unique brand of synthpop offers thoughtful reflection on relationships and life, while often uprooting traditional ideas of sexuality and gender dynamics. As we noted in our Best Songs of 2017, Halsey’s feel for the pulse of modern pop sets her apart from her peers. If you like what you hear from her SNL performances, you can buy Hopeless Fountain Kingdom on iTunes.

Posted by Kiel Hauck