Review: The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

It took a long time for me to get into The 1975. I thought they were another record-company-manufactured English boy band because, if you recall, we were still in the age of One Direction when their first album, The 1975, released in 2013. It wasn’t until 2016 when their second album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it came out that the band caught my interest. Now, both albums are in heavy rotation for me, and I found myself excited for their third.

You can buy or stream a Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships on Apple Music.

According to every signal we got from the band throughout 2018, the album was slated for a release in the summer. We got a single instead, the first of several, and the album got pushed until now. They changed the title from Music for Cars to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The album is perfectly titled.

At the crux of this album is a picture of today’s society. We’re a generation rampant with social anxiety, and science shows that this is due largely to the presence of the Internet in our lives. We’re constantly within arm’s length of what’s happening in any part of the world, whether it’s positive or negative. Matty Healy and the other members of The 1975 have taken two-and-a-half years forming an album that’s really a plea for change in these habits. Heck, Healy even sings that we should be “going outside” in the lead single, “Give Yourself a Try”. He has seen firsthand the negative effects that fame and constantly being in the spotlight has brought him and is begging us to use responsibility in our social media habits and other personal spheres of influence.

Like the other two albums by The 1975, A Brief Inquiry talks a lot about heroin and other drug use. Healy has excitedly been clean and sober for some time now, but does talk about his experiences in some of the tracks – largely, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” and “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies”, as well as some smaller references sprinkled in others. Like any medical problem, addiction is so hard to recover from, and Healy tells us that it’s even harder when he is “…connecting with 10,000 people and then going to a hotel room by myself.”

The band prides itself in its creativity. They’re never one to do the same thing twice. Each iteration of the first track on each album, “The 1975”, is composed as an entrance into the world the album intends to transport us to. In their first album, we had songs about partying and doing drugs and other frivolous behavior. In I like it when you sleep, Healy went on a personal journey of introspection. There were songs about drugs and parties, sure, but there was also a song about losing his grandmother, and a song about fighting to find some faith somewhere. Healy had started the growing-up process.

This third album, though, is taking an outrospective look at what’s around him. He sees where he’s failed in relationships because of the intense need to be connected to the rest of the world. He looks at the political climate of the United States and is appalled at what he sees. He wrote a song about gun control.

Sometimes, an album can have such a great lyrical depth that the musical side is left lacking. Not so with A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The band has equally composed a soundtrack that very well may have gotten the point across even without lyrics. Where there are many electronic and computer-y effects toward the beginning, there’s a change in the middle, followed by songs like “Mine”, which is straight-up jazz.

One might say at first glance that the constant stylistic changes don’t work, but it’s The 1975. If they don’t care about what works, why should we? It took me a little while to get used to how the album flows – or rather, doesn’t flow. Each track sits well on its own, but the way it’s all tied together lyrically is enough to counteract how strangely it jumps from both genre to genre and era to era. There are some 80’s inspired synths, and then there’s “Be My Mistake”, a song I could see being performed at a Woodstock Festival.

I would be making a huge mistake if I didn’t draw special attention to the final track. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” starts like it could be the end-credits track to a sappy emotional movie, but it’s a great picture of how depression can cloud everything. A person who’s deep in that mindset can feel like it’s always been that way, that there’s never been a time they’ve been truly happy. But the truth is, it’s only sometimes. Healy is reminding us to remember the “sometimes.” I think it’s the most beautiful thing The 1975 has offered us, and it’s a perfect ending to an album that is imploring us to live life to the fullest.

Conceptually, the album is wonderful. It puts forth a strong message about how the world desperately needs to change. There are hard-hitting lines about politics, climate change, and even a spoken word about a man who falls in love with the Internet (a.k.a. all of us, in some way or another).

It’s a hard lesson to learn on our own, never mind when we’re being reprimanded for all of these bad habits by a band who we’ve generally just enjoyed the music of. Now they’re asking us to put effort into being present in our daily lives? Yeah, they are. Which is what makes The 1975 so great. They’re obsessed with pushing their own creative boundaries so much, that we’re forced to grow with them. So maybe we should close our browsers, but I think we should keep our headphones plugged in.

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.

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Review: Mumford and Sons – Delta

I thought Marcus Mumford was done. With the release of Wilder Mind in 2015, the band went in a direction that wasn’t overly popular with either their fans or, seemingly, the band itself. They barely toured the album, only playing festivals and small shows. I personally ended up loving the album, but I will admit I was leery at first. I had heard that they had put down their banjos and I wasn’t really ready for the end of the original Mumford incarnation. With their new release Delta, though, the band has shown that electric guitars and banjos can live together in harmony.

You can buy or stream Delta on Apple Music.

This fourth album is everything we loved about Mumford’s first two albums and the things we admired from their third. It’s still a totally different direction for the band, but in the way that you still have to go through some of the same routes to get back home after a cross-country road trip. Some of it is familiar, and some of it takes advantage of the new scenery and stops at the roadside attractions.

Delta is a geographical term for where a river and a larger, slower-moving body of water meet. This is a very fitting title for the album because thematically it deals with all of the major changes life can hold. There’s a song about death (“Beloved”), a song about divorce (“If I Say”), and a couple of songs about being happily in love (“Woman” is one of them).

Musically, the album is a perfect mix of their past works with some surprises thrown in. Marcus seems to sing at a higher register than he has previously; it adds a new dimension to the way this album feels as compared to their others. “Woman” features some synth-y backgrounds, akin to Judah and the Lion and Ed Sheeran, and it’s also my favorite track. There’s a heavy use of strings throughout the album, which provides a larger than life vibe. Mumford and Sons placed a high priority on uniqueness with this album, and it shows. “Beloved” featured what I’m pretty sure is a sitar, which is super fun and not widely used in American/European music. It also kind of ties in the concept of a delta: two different things meeting and becoming intertwined.

The first track, “42” is four minutes long, but I think of it more of an intro piece than really a track on its own because it ties so many of the album’s themes together. The next track, “Guiding Light”, was the first of two singles, the other being “If I Say”.

From a lyrical standpoint, this is easily the most personal release we’ve received from Mumford and Sons. Marcus sings about things that have happened in his life, in the other band members’ lives, and even about stories they’ve heard from people they’ve met. It’s accessible in a way that Mumford hasn’t really been known for, especially as a folk band. “Beloved,” in particular, speaks about death and ends with these lines: “And as you leave / See my children playing at your feet”. It’s a testament to both the innocence of childhood and also the legacy a family matriarch or patriarch leaves behind.

Their past albums use a lot of literary references, specifically Sigh No More, which alluded to (among others) “The Odyssey”, Shakespeare’s plays, and even “The Wizard of Oz”. In Delta, though, these are missing, except for the track “Darkness Visible” which is a passage from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I did miss those small touches, because I enjoy doing deep dives into lyrics so much, but I suppose the layers of personal details the band has substituted are equally as interesting, and also it’s not my album so I really have no say here.

This album is full of heart and soul. Mumford and Sons brings you into their experiences more than they ever have before. It’s great to see a band become so comfortable in both where they are in their lives and in their sound. Delta is a great example of how we can walk away from the things we’ve known, but then turn back around. We learn things when we step outside of our comfort zone, but in the end, there’s no place like home…or a banjo.

4/5

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.

One More Spoon of Cough Syrup for Young the Giant in Indianapolis

I have a lot of music nostalgia wrapped up in a radio station from my hometown of Novi, Michigan: 96.3 WDVD. Their morning radio show, which I would crank up with gusto everyday on the way to school, touted the catchphrase “Today’s best hits, without the rap.”  Unfortunately for the station, around 2011, a lot of the greatest hits were rap. I remember alternative and pop artists rising to the top of 96.3’s playlists; while other stations were spinning “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, 96.3 was playing “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. Since 2011, Young the Giant has become an alternative powerhouse, with four albums commenting on everything from relationships to politics.I was extremely excited to join the seasoned performers for their Mirror Masters Tour at the Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.

Young the Giant’s lead vocalist, Sameer Gadhia, is from Ann Arbor, Michigan; I would not be surprised if he also listened to 96.3 WDVD at some point in his childhood. From the moment Young the Giant took the stage, it was evident that Sameer brought incredible energy and passion to the performance. Even during relatively subdued songs for Young the Giant, like “Apartment”, Sameer’s powerful voice was spotlighted by lyrics like “Cause sooner or later this is bound to stop / Come on, let’s savor what we’re falling over”.  Sameer drew the audience into every performance, interacting with the fans and making every lyric feel personal. Even more striking was the crescendo of voices from the sold-out crowd at the Egyptian room, playing a supporting role during every song Young the Giant performed.

I started to take note of the rest of the band when Young the Giant transitioned to play “Titus Is Born”. This song really highlighted the versatility of each band member. With quiet classical guitar in the first verse, Young the Giant created a very cool twist on their usual high-energy pop tracks. Impressively, every band member can play multiple instruments or sing. Lead vocalist Sameer played tambourine and guitar, drummer Francois Comtois sang backup, guitarist Eric Cannata played keyboard, and guitarist Jacob Tilley and bassist Payam Doostzadeh played the synth. The musicality and talent of each band member continued to shine in the stripped down version of “Strings”. This arrangement was part of the band’s “In the Open” video series, where they performed versions of their songs in different outdoor locations; check out “Strings” below.

The back half of the show was hit after hit; the sultry beat of “Mind Over Matter” and fun dance interludes of “Nothing’s Over” followed the radio favorite “Cough Syrup”. By the end of the set, the audience was absolutely begging for more. Young the Giant returned to the stage for a marathon of an encore, playing “Superposition”, “Tightrope”, and “Silvertongue”. The show ended with the entire audience jumping up and down to “My Body”, screaming the lyrics “But I won’t quit / ‘Cuz I want more”. When the house lights came up, everyone was buzzing, probably realizing the truth of those words.

Young the Giant put on an absolutely incredible show, showcasing 10 years of touring experience and stellar discography. Luckily, Indianapolis was only the second stop of the tour – if you can get your hands on tickets, I would highly recommend it. In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for the Indianapolis equivalent to 96.3 WDVD; I would not want to miss out discovering on a band like Young the Giant.

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.

Review: All Get Out – No Bouquet

All Get Out is definitely one of the most underrated bands in the scene. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, here’s some backstory. They’re comprised of two members: Nathan Hussey and Kyle Samuel. They’ve got three albums for you to choose from: 2011’s The Season, 2016’s Nobody Likes a Quitter, and now this year’s No Bouquet. I first discovered them when they joined Aaron Gillespie and William Beckett on an acoustic tour.

You can buy or stream No Bouquet on Apple Music.

Since that show, both my husband and I have become avid followers of the band. We saw them play a full band set a year or two ago and had a great time. I’m always shocked at how small the crowds are their shows…I mean, they’re such a great band, and I’m proud to call myself a fan.

So it’s been two years since they put anything out. In that span, they signed to Equal Vision (a personal favorite label), and Nathan Hussey released a solo album called Hitchens. I like his solo stuff, of course, but I was wondering when I would get more of the hard hitting alt rock that All Get Out does so well. I didn’t have to wait too much longer, because they released the first single from No Bouquet, ”However Long”, a couple of months later. It’s probably the first bonafide All Get Out love song.

The album beings with “Rose”, which is where the album’s title is found: ”You keep your name / You go home / You’re no bouquet / You’re just a rose”. It’s scathing in a way that only Nathan Hussey can write. I think that’s one of the biggest things that draws people to All Get Out. They’re lyrically so honest, and Hussey puts them to paper in such original and interesting ways,  that it’s impossible to get the ideas out of your head. Other than this rich spin Nate puts on the craft of songwriting is the way the band brings equal prowess to the music behind their words.

I think my favorite track on the album is the second one, “Survive”. It seems to be written from the perspective of a hospital patient, one whose outlook isn’t the best: “We’re pretty sure that I’m dying”, Nate sings. Along with this one, there are a couple tracks on this album that talk a little bit about loss: “Namesake” and, in a different perspective, “However Long”. The end of the song is especially poignant when he sings: ”You bad fever / Steal all my water / Garden variety / Cancer of the home / Unremarkable demon / Average low light ceiling / Conditional love / Excusable behavior / You bad believer / You turn me into boredom / A quiet lobby / You’re why I work from home”.

“God Damn” is probably the most serious and existential track on No Bouquet. Nate and Kyle wrestle with faith and how they’re not too keen on the idea. “What confusing faith / Or have you always been this way / If your tradition makes you ill / Then do not call it will”, and then in the chorus, ”Something so wrecked can give you hope”.

I’d really encourage everyone, if they haven’t already, to take a deeper dive into the world of All Get Out. Who can resist a band who sings lines like, ”It’s okay we’ve all been caught crying / It’s okay to be up front”? The more relatable I find an artist, the more likely I am to become invested in their artistic journey, and with No Bouquet, All Get Out reassures us that their relatability isn’t going anywhere – in fact, it’s only grown.

4/5

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.

Holding It Down with Noah Kahan in Indianapolis

The first time I heard Noah Kahan, he was featured on a mixtape my boyfriend made for me in the early days of our relationship. “Hold It Down” has always held a special place in my personal music history; although it isn’t a love song, the beautiful, honest lyrics always elicit the nostalgia associated with building my relationship. Now, after almost two years of following Noah Kahan’s music (and dating the same boyfriend), I was so excited to attend this show at The Hi-Fi in Indianapolis.

Noah Kahan

Noah’s discography hosts a collection of singles, and his five-song EP, Hurt Somebody, released in January 2018. Although they all vary in theme and tempo, every recording speaks to Noah’s authenticity as a songwriter. Listening to all of his music in the lead up to the concert, I was looking forward to how that would translate in a live setting.

Noah Kahan took the stage and immediately set the tone, calling, “Are you ready to hear some sad songs tonight?” He certainly did not disappoint on that front, but his set was so much more interesting than just a loop of sad songs. The raspiness of Noah’s voice does not come through in his recordings, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it when he sang “Hallelujah” and covered “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne.

The audience was invested, too, bouncing along to the driving acoustic guitar and sing-along chorus of “Fine” and “False Confidence”, which was recently featured on Spotify’s Pop Rising playlist. Noah’s band added so much to the performance, too – everyone was obviously having a great time. The bassist held it down while drinking a few Indianapolis-native Sun King beers, and the guitarist had an awesome solo jam at the end of the main set. Noah mentioned he would be the “Jewish Ed Sheeran” without his band, which was a hilarious and probably very true statement.

Noah Kahan

Noah’s storytelling ability was highlighted in both his singing and set transitions. He told his backstory as an artist in small-town Vermont, posting under a pseudonym on SoundCloud so people wouldn’t make fun of him at school. Noah recounted meeting his future manager in a public place with this parents, “just in case he was a pedophile.” He talked about getting high in New York with someone he barely knew, then writing about it just because he “needed a new single” (“Come Down”). I walked away more invested in Noah’s music, especially due to the dry humor he uses to talk about it.

Noah finished the show with “Young Blood”, singing about the early days as a struggling artist: “four years of driving across the country / For empty seats at their shows”. But, in a true testament to his music, the room was full of fans singing along with him. I felt lucky to be a part of this show, in a small bar venue in Indianapolis, at what I believe is only start of an amazing career for Noah Kahan.

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.

Reflecting On: Copeland – You Are My Sunshine

I’m a firm believer in the connection between our personal journeys and how that plays into the music that we hold dear. When I became obsessed with Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine, I was in the midst of what remains to be the worst, and one of best, times in my life.

I’ve only briefly touched on this several times, but I suppose it’s time to lay out the whole story about my grandmother, Linda. Anyone who met her immediately loved her. She was the kindest, most thoughtful human I’ve ever met, and still no one compares to the way she always knew just what was needed to turn a bad day around. From cookies to a movie night, she was always the perfect diversion from what reality threw at me.

You can buy or stream You Are My Sunshine on Apple Music.

I was only 17 when she passed away from cancer, and even though everything feels like a big deal at 17, facing things without her these past few years have only made the bad seem worse. She always knew how to look on the bright side, which is something I’m really bad at doing. One of her favorite songs was “You Are My Sunshine”. She used to sing it to her kids (my mom and her brother) when they were young, and then to my siblings and I when we were younger.

Now that you’ve met Linda and, I’m sure, already wish you had known her, let’s talk about Copeland’s album of the same name as that 1939 Jimmie Davis hit. The album, for me, jumps back and forth, uncannily telling the story of my 2015: the year my grandmother died and the year I met the man I married three years later. It was the year I watched my family fall apart, but it was the year I saw them stand back up, stronger than ever.

The album begins with “Should You Return” and the lines that pertain here are, “But now there’s nothing left to do but waste my time / I never knew where to move on / I never knew what to rely upon”. Cancer takes such an emotional toll but it also takes a toll on time. The nights my mom would be at the hospital, it was up to me and the rest of my family members to keep the house running, to keep some semblance of order. Once my grandmother passed, my mom was back again, so I had more time on my hands. The extra time, though, wasn’t a blessing. It was used as a grief outlet.

“The Grey Man”, under normal circumstances, is just another song about a breakup. But for me, the song turned into both a ray of hope – “You’re gonna run right back to her arms” – and part of the realization that she was actually not going to come back.

The third track on this album, “Chin Up”, may be my favorite song Copeland has ever written (a close second is “In Her Arms You Will Never Starve” from Ixora). My mom leaned heavily on us during the time the cancer took to run its course. I feel like I bore a lot of the weight because I’m the oldest child, but maybe I’m just being narrowminded. Anyway, “You’d break your neck / To keep your chin up” felt so real then. My mom and I are ridiculously similar, and we deal with our feelings the same way – we don’t. We’re not fans of pity parties being thrown in our honor. I felt like I had to be strong enough so my mom felt comfortable leaning on me if she needed to. That feeling kind of stuck around though, even to this day, even when it’s not necessary.

“Good Morning Fire Eater” is kind of an aftermath song for me. ”The day is done and everyone’s gone now / You can taste every fire and hold every song”. I graduated high school shortly after my grandmother passed. So this song is kind of a sigh of relief, now that she wasn’t suffering anymore. And I held onto the idea that everyone has after high school: the world was my oyster.

We all know the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If I’m continuing this track of being honest, I’m still having trouble with the acceptance part. But I had no trouble with the depression. “To Be Happy Now” is the best expression of that depression I’ve found up until Paramore released “Rose-Colored Boy”.

So let’s bring the mood up a little toward positivity. I was talking to a guy and he had really helped me through some of the tougher stuff I was having to deal with. My grandmother passed in June. By that point, Jeremiah was asking when I’d be his girlfriend and I told him we’d talk about it when I turned 18. I turned 18 in August and by September 2nd, we were together. The next two tracks on the album, “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)” and “On the Safest Ledge”, respectively, provide two outlooks on this new relationship I was fostering: one of severe skepticism as I was no stranger to how quickly things can be taken, and the second, which was jumping headfirst.

“Not Allowed” is a jump back into grief and a different perspective of how I dealt with it. I felt that I needed so badly to be strong for the rest of my family that I pushed all of my feelings aside and just kind of forgot how to be upset about the loss we had all just experienced. It wasn’t some righteous quest to be the best griever. I just chose numbness as my coping mechanism. Disclaimer: Don’t do that. “Strange and Unprepared” follows that same theme: “And you never feel good or bad / Just strange and unprepared”.

In 2015, I had a whole array of feelings to choose from, and most of them were new. I’d been sad before, but not in this way, not in the way of “maybe I’ll never smile for real again.” I’d liked people before, but not in the way I had fallen head over heels for Jeremiah. So “What Do I Know” was kind of a pep talk. I was really in uncharted emotional territory, and I was trying my hardest to stay grounded.

The album closes with “Not So Tough Found Out”. That’s the song that brings me to today, to right now. I’m not as tough as I’ve always seen myself, and I’m learning to be okay with that. How can one year bring about so much change? I ask myself that a lot. I guess one way to describe it is when you get the star power-up in Mario Kart. Everything speeds up around you and suddenly you’re one lap away from the finish line instead of two. You’re not concerned with what happens in the meantime, but, watching the playback, you see that you knocked Yoshi off the track and he ended up in eighth place.

Looking back on 2015 still hurts and still thrills, kind of like Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine. It gets so low, but then Aaron Marsh sings lines like “Could you be happy / To fall like a stone / If you’d land right here safe in my arms”, and I’m reminded of the guy who was able to bring me out of my grief, and the fact that when I get home tonight, he’ll be asleep on the couch because he tried to wait up for me to make sure I got home safely.

Maybe I’ve learned more about looking on the bright side because I don’t have my grandmother there to do it for me anymore. All I have is her example and the need to make her proud. I know I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I’m trying, and I think that’s what counts.

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.

Review: mewithoutYou – [Untitled]

I feel like everyone prefaces mewithoutYou’s music in the same way that I’m about to. I apologize if this is redundant, but learning the backstory of main lyricist Aaron Weiss is an imperative step in making any sense of this band and their music, which, to the outside, seems to be from another world.

Aaron and his brother, Michael, had an intensely religious upbringing. Their father followed Jewish teachings and their mother followed Episcopal teachings before eventually converting to Sufi Islam. It’s no wonder then, in their artistic outputs, that all of these ideas and more come out. I think this is part of what makes mewithoutYou fit into so many categories. So much religious diversity means that no one is left out – which is also part of the message that mewithoutYou aims to spread.

You can buy or stream [Untitled] on Apple Music.

It took seven albums for mewithoutYou to finally throw up their hands and say, “We don’t know what to call this.” Pretty impressive that it took that long, if you ask me. But for something with no definitive name, this album hits you hard. If you’re not taking a deep dive into the lyrics (and if you aren’t, why?), this album moves fast. There were times when I put it on mindlessly in preparation for writing this and was surprised when it started again. “Lyrical detective” should be a job, and there should be a whole department devoted to mewithoutYou.

I’d like to make the proposition of [Untitled] being A to B Life’s younger brother. Genetically similar with the same attitude, but different enough that no one can mistake the two. This new album is harder than either of the past two they released. It doesn’t even follow the same lyrical patterns of the past two. The last albums have been whimsical and, for the most part, easy to listen to. Aaron decided to look at the tougher side of his religion in [Untitled].

I want to try to go into every track in this album, because it’s so rich and detailed. It would be wrong of me to pretend like I understand every reference and every idea that is brought before me in the album, because I don’t. Like I said, there’s a lot to process, but I hope you’ll take the time to try. I’ll do what I can here, and I hope it can start a discussion.

***

So Aaron’s gone a little bit doom and gloom with the first track, “9:27a.m., 7/29”. He talks about whether salvation is a lasting experience or whether it can be taken away. He talks about the state of current events and laments, ”It’d be a pearl of a time now for a virgin birth”.

“Julia (or, ‘Holy to the Lord On the Bells of Horses’)” is a lovely example of their call to societal unity. He paraphrases Rumi in the first verse: “‘Out beyond ideas of right and wrong is a field / Will I meet you there?” Again at the end of the verse, “So many ways to lose / So many faiths”. A fitting first single — both from a professional sense and a cultural one.

“Another Head for Hydra” is about the influence we have on those around us and the example we’ve set for our children. Aaron talks about fame and how that changes us. He warns us about the dangers of materialism and worrying about a worldly perception that fame and social recognition can bring.

Sonically, two of my favorite tracks are “[dormouse sighs]” and “Winter Solstice”. They’re lyrically interesting, but I can’t really draw any concrete conclusions on what they mean for myself yet. But from a stylistic standpoint, they’re both wonderful. The former is just classic mewithoutYou and sounds like home. The latter, though, is sung in such a soothing and lilting way that reminds me of the mewithoutYou that I fell in love with. I started listening religiously (pardon the pun, I suppose) when Ten Stories was released.

“Flee, Thou Matadors” is written from the perspective of Ferdinand VIII and Isabella, king and queen of Spain. Historically, he’s known as one of the worst kings, while his wife, Isabella, was religious to the extreme. The spin that mewithoutYou puts on the story is the battle of good (Isabella) and evil (Ferdinand) they face as humans in everyday life.

There’s a lot of talk about responsibility in this album. This is seen in “Tortoises All the Way Down”, which is about how actions have consequences and is kind of Ecclesiastical, honestly. The mistakes we make will be made again at some point in history.

“2,459 Miles” and “Wendy and Betsy” are kind of a new direction for the band in the sense that they’re relatable. In the first, Aaron’s talking from the perspective of tour and being away from home and missing his family. In the second, he talks about his wife. They’re great tracks just in themselves but also (strangely enough) they’re a reminder that Aaron is a real live human. I think we all get so caught up in how head-in-the-clouds Aaron usually is as a songwriter that we can forget he has a real life away from mewithoutYou.

“New Wine, New Skins” brings up something that older Christians say a lot: ”God willing”. Aaron says, “‘God’s will’ or ‘come what fortune gives’ / Or is this truly how you’d choose to live / Managing the narrative”, as almost a taunt to his fellow believers about their (lack of) faith.

“Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore”, while also being a paramount spiritual in the hymnal, is a heavy track in which, like in the first track, Aaron wonders about his eternal state, as well as the eternal state of his family. He sings in the last line: “Have you heard from heaven today? / Tell me then, what’d Gabriel say? / Am I still on that narrow way?”

***

It’s fitting that the last line of this album is “Someday I’ll find me”. Throughout each track, Aaron has gone to each of the spiritual struggles he’s facing and dealt with them head on.

“Someday I’ll find me” is such a poignant way to end that search. Did he succeed? I think that when we take a deep look into ourselves and see who we truly are and who we’re becoming, it brings up more questions than what we bargained for. Maybe that’s why the album is [Untitled]. Maybe it’s because Aaron found more than what he planned – and maybe he didn’t like it.

If you have the time and perseverance to take a real look at this album, I think you’ll find what I found. I, like Aaron, have to take that look at myself and decide where I stand with the issues that plague society, the issues that I see in my personal life that affect only myself and those close to me. That’s what I love the most about mewithoutYou. They always force me to turn the lyrics right back onto myself and do some self-reflection. Sometimes, I don’t like what I find, but it’s okay, because the art that mewithoutYou creates is a reminder that I’m not alone not liking what I find within my heart, and I’m not alone in that I want to be better. Someday, I’ll find me.

4.5/5

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.

Review: Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today

An illustrious career. A band I never thought I’d get to write about. The men, the myth, the legends: Death Cab for Cutie. Making all cry during rom-coms and secretly in their car when they reach that part of Transatlanticism, Death Cab may just be the world’s favorite group of Sad Boys.

With the release of Kintsugi and the departure of Chris Walla back in 2015, Death Cab made it clear that there was stylistic change afoot. I happen to love Kintsugi, but I’m sure there were fans who decided to tearfully remove “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” from their iPods. The band has followed in the footsteps of Kintsugi with their latest offering, Thank You for Today.

You can buy or stream Thank You For Today on Apple Music.

I enjoyed all three singles the band gave us leading up to the release of the album. They’ve all got the same Death Cab flair: a little sad; a little hopeful. But it’s still new. It takes lyricists and musicians like the members of such a timeless band like Death Cab to keep me believing that music can still be new but familiar. There’s no need for a band to genre jump to stay relevant anymore and that’s a beautiful thing.

The album is lyrically what you’d expect from Death Cab for Cutie. Using a lot of geographical and natural references, they build a story about changes in life and the environment around us. Growing up takes a toll on us and Death Cab has always dealt with that concept in a different facet with each album. “Gold Rush” talks about the changing economic landscape of Seattle and how even though good commerce and growth can be positive, there comes a time when enough is enough.

“Your Hurricane” talks about self destruction: “I won’t be the debris / In your hurricane”. Interestingly, they use the same bass line from “Summer Skin”, a track from 2005’s Plans. I wonder whether the person Gibbard left behind at the end of that summer is the same person he’s talking about in this song, 13 years later.

This album is mostly about sad things – I won’t try and pretend that it’s not. “When We Drive” is oddly specific and relatable to me. Driving has become a very cathartic thing for me, in a weird way. If I want to talk to someone about something important, I find the best place for me to get everything out in the open is while driving, for some reason. Maybe it’s the idea of driving away from the problem, or maybe it’s the opposite – driving toward a solution.

So, I said this album is about life changes. “Summer Years”, “Autumn Love”, and “Northern Lights” are about breakups. Old news, I guess. But what about, “You Moved Away”? Gibbard uses such visceral imagery here: yard sales, going away parties. This just might be one of the most personal and relatable Death Cab songs to date.

“Near/Far” struck a personal chord. Getting closer and closer to my wedding, I have no doubt that the person I’m marrying has my back. I’ve found myself dealing with more and more confusion the further I get into adulthood, and that’s turned into a pretty big amount of anxiety at times. There are times when I feel far away. The line at the end of the track echoes something my fiancé tells me all the time: “But I won’t watch you burning out / I won’t let you be the one I live without”.

The album ends with “60 & Punk”. Gibbard shared with Consequence of Sound that he’d rather not let everyone know who this song is for. So, even though we can see that it’s written about one person or band, I can’t help but see myself in this song. A fan who’s been disappointed by their hero. I can also see this being about Gibbard himself. From what I’ve heard and seen, a musician’s life can be lonely and not as glamorous as we think. There’s a lot of missed family time. A lot of missed memories.

So at the end of this album we have an oeuvre of how life can change. Buildings are torn down, friends move away and out of our life, people we thought loved us unconditionally walk out. Thank You for Today is a collection of songs about people who’ve helped us grow up and get to where we are, even though their impact may have been more negative than positive. Without the harder points in life, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the better parts.

Maybe we’ll never figure out why virtually every one of Death Cab for Cutie’s songs are sad. But I think it’s comforting to know that when we’re sad, whatever the reason is, we have a band that wants us to know that everyone’s been there.

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.

Review: Foxing – Nearer My God

I came across Foxing in the way I come across most of my new music obsessions: Spotify curated playlists. I’m sure the band gets tired of hearing this, but “The Medic” was the track that popped up for me about a year ago that made me curious.

You can buy or stream Nearer My God on Apple Music.

Since then, my favorite song by the band has switched to “Night Channels”, a track I can’t seem to move away from. I listen to it obsessively. The video is even more enthralling. In fact, I stopped listening to the new album to go watch it. Anyway, I digress. I finally saw Foxing when they opened up for Manchester Orchestra. It was a short, but beautifully emotional set that made me fall even deeper in love with their work. That night, they played “Slapstick”, the first single from their new album, Nearer My God.

The album opens with “Dark Paradise”, which doesn’t really sound much like what we’ve come to expect from the band, although, Foxing is nothing if not genre-bending. It’s a strong track that guarantees that we won’t tire of the band anytime soon, because it takes such a sharp turn and surprises you. Their creativity and originality simply know no bounds. Exhibit A: They released their second single, the title track, in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

The third track, “Lich Prince”, slows things down and brings in that post-hardcore drawl that drew me to the band. Conor Murphy’s vocals have always been strong, but in this track, the harmonies the band make use of really shine, right next to the guitar solo. “Gameshark” speeds things back up again, bass-heavy and lyrically hard hitting. In an interview with Brooklyn Vegan, Murphy said that the song was written as a stress reliever for the band, a way to let off some steam.

With an album that jumps around like this, I generally have a problem following the narrative the band is putting before me. Nearer My God is really just about life, though, so the album just follows the way life goes. Maybe that’s why I feel like my life is all over the place? I listened to this album once thinking about what it meant and how it all connected, but I listened to it again taking it at face value and it made more sense to me. Maybe I just need to learn to follow the narrative, or maybe I just need to throw the narrative away and take it as it comes.

Track six, “Five Cups”, encases the line, “I want to drive with my eyes closed” in a soundscape that made me want to drive with my eyes closed. I don’t know whether you’ve ever listened to an album or song that hit you so deeply that you just wanted to rest in it, but I have. One of those tracks is this one. I got lost in the way it crescendos and fades down. Then I looked at the timestamp and was like “Crap, that’s nine minutes long.” I was four minutes through with more genius to come. It’s stress-relieving in a different way than “Gameshark” – it’s aesthetically pleasing.

So after that ambient mental break, we get what sounds like a symphony, which is broken in by….drum loops? Yes, because that’s Foxing. In “Heartbeats,” which may be my favorite track on the album, the band brings together two of the most wildly different sounds and creates the perfect contrast. I can’t find anything wrong with this album. “Bastardizer” has freaking bagpipes in it. The boundaries of what this band is and what they’ve done in the past have been left in the dust.

I can’t get enough of this album because there’s so much to get from it. The album touches on the frailty of life and how we choose to spend it. It’s not political, it’s not an angry tirade. It’s just relatable. Each musical and lyrical choice was made with thought to how it would affect the sound as a whole. It’s an album seething with intelligence and diligence. Every note was chosen and designed, and the effort the band put into Nearer My God makes it a joy to listen to.

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.

Review: Florence + the Machine – High As Hope

Florence Welch is not really known for the peaceful side of music. Thematically, things like storms and fights take precedent over quieter things. However, when I listened to her newest album, High As Hope, the only thing I felt was peace. Welch seems to be at peace with herself and the places she’s been and, therefore, the album exudes it.

You can buy High as Hope on Apple Music.

By the end of a Florence + the Machine album, I’m generally shocked. The albums are always intense and fast moving. It takes a while for everything to work itself out in my mind in order for it to become a complete work. That didn’t need to happen with High As Hope, because it’s just calm. Her last album was called How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The album was long and expansive like the ocean the title refers to. The latest album moves faster; it clocks in at 39 minutes and 57 seconds, though I thought about it for a heck of a lot longer than that.

The album opens with a song called “June”, which is aptly titled, being that the album was released on June 29th. It opens the album very quietly with the first lines being sung a cappella, before being joined by the slightest of strings. It sounds very Florence-esque, but in a very subdued way, almost akin to “Various Storms and Saints”. It sets the tone for the rest of the album in a way that makes the more energetic songs (not that there are many) almost feel out of place.

“Hunger” was the second single released in preparation for this album cycle. This song is heavy right from the beginning. In one line, she reveals that she struggled with an eating disorder. This sets up the idea that everyone is looking for something. Later, she sings, “Picking it apart and staring at your phone”. I know this might be a bit of a far reach, but the album art she chose as the cover for the song is of her reaching for a seedling. To me, when I listened to the song and looked at the album art, I saw a specific hunger for something authentic. Natural processes vs. machines (no pun intended), in a way. She specifically requested that audience members put their phones away on her last tour, in order that they might focus on what was actually going on around them, not watching life through a screen.

The final single she released, “Big God” is probably my least favorite track on the album. It just doesn’t seem like single material. “A Sky Full of Song”, though, is one of my favorite tracks. I love the fact that many of the songs are so bass-heavy. My fiancé is a bass player, so I might be a little biased, but I think the bass is underrated.

My absolute favorite song on the album is track six, titled “Grace”. She’s talking about the mistakes she’s made and the people she’s let down over the years. There’s a desperation in the way she sings on this song that makes it impossible to ignore. She sings, “I’m sorry I ruined your birthday”, regarding her substance abuse in her younger years and how it negatively affected her family life. She apologizes for it by singing, “But this is the only thing I’ve ever had any faith in / Grace, I know you carry us / Grace, it was such a mess”. To add context, her sister is named Grace and played an important role in keeping Florence going. In the same song, we find both an apology and thankfulness, which I think is the most beautiful expression on the album.

The final song on the album is called “No Choir” for exactly that reason. Florence is known for her use of overly layered vocals that provide that choral effect and it is completely absent here in this track. Like, “June”, it starts off a cappella and uses strings to build up to an emotional level that would be seen as ridiculous coming from anyone else but Renaissance queen Florence Welch. It’s about her music and where it’s taken her, and it’s a beautiful conclusion to an album that has shone light on some of the worst days of her life.

I think the album was crafted like the pain management brand Icy-Hot. “Icy to dull the pain. Hot to relax it away.” The topics Florence brings up on High As Hope are heavy but relatable – There’s your ice. The music is soothing and completely contrary to anything she’s talking about – There’s the heat. Gone are the angry drums and frantic melodies. Instead, it’s like you’re in the eye of the hurricane. It’s peaceful and safe. You can still sense the danger, and the minute you leave that spot, you’re back in the thick of the storm, but for this 39 minutes and 57 seconds, Florence + the Machine whisk you away and create, as always, a masterpiece.

4.5/5

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.

Photo by Vincent Haycock