blog

COVID-19 and The BIRN

Due to the COVID-19 virus, Berklee College of Music will be moving to online learning as of March 23. All on-campus activities will cease as of March 14. To see the college’s full statement please click here. Most of our scheduled broadcasts and events have been cancelled and the station will move to automated playlists as of March 14. Please check thebirn.com for updates and developments. The BIRN wishes you a safe and healthy spring semester. We hope to be able to resume normal broadcast activities as soon as possible.

BIRN Album Review: hole in the bottle by Kelsea Ballerini

With the upcoming release of her self-titled third studio album kelsea approaching, country-pop singer/songwriter Kelsea Ballerini has gifted listeners with an EP titled hole in the bottle. 

Kelsea Ballerini represents a new era of country music that has left the overreliance on male performers in the past for a world where women are subject instead of objects, capable of changing the narrative. Since the release of her 2015 debut album The First Time, her career skyrocketed beyond the confines of the country world. Featuring on The Chainsmokers song This Feeling with over 300 million streams, Ballerini solidified her position in both pop and country. 

Kelsea continues to deliver high-caliber country-pop fusion with hole in the bottle, maintaining fresh pop elements that shine in the production while giving listeners a taste of her country roots with the title track “hole in the bottle.” The track starts with a sampled monologue of a woman speaking about drinking atop a hip-hop inspired hi-hat leading into the verse. The candor and relatability of the lyrics blended with nashville-inspired instrumentation makes this feel-good title track the perfect song to jam to as we transition into the spring. 

The next song on the list is called “la” which focuses on the relationship Ballerini has with Los Angeles. Throughout the song, she vividly describes the effect LA has on her behavior and self confidence with lines like, “I’ve got a love and hate relationship with LA / Off the plane, paint my face in the car, park my heart at the valet.” She continues to communicate the way she fits into the drinking and partying scene in the song “club” that features a hard-hitting pop chorus blended with her country twang. “Club” is the type of song that says everything that most people are too scared to say when it comes to the party scene. After coming down from the chorus, Ballerini strikes a chord with the second verse saying, “I already know it ain’t worth it in the morning / And yeah I like the high I just don’t like paying for it / I’m stressing over conversations / But now that’s anxiety that I’m erasing / cause lately I don’t wanna go to the club.” 

The last song on this brief EP is called “homecoming queen?”. Although very similar in theme compared to the other tracks, “homecoming queen?” touches on one of the most thought provoking subject matters a songwriter could write about. The goal in writing this song was to change the perspective of the listener, giving them insight on the life of a homecoming queen. In an interview with billboard, Ballerini said, “Everyone’s human. It’s important for people to know that we’re all allowed to break down. We’re allowed to have bad days, and we don’t always have thick skin.” 

Kelsea Ballerini stayed true to herself with this release, focusing on topics that surpass the depth of the usual love songs we see on the charts today. With the anticipation of her third full album growing, her presence and love for music will not fade away anytime soon.

BIRN Album Review: Big Wows by Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep knows what it takes to stand out in the modern synth pop scene. From Liverpool, UK, the experimental pop band’s latest release is a bold, yet a promising departure from their earlier works. The all-girl group formed in 2010, and have gathered three impressive full-length albums under their belt ever since. Their sound has interestingly enough progressed from folk and rock inspired pop to completely electronically-synthesized production, drawing similarities from iconic 80s synth pop artists like New Order and Depeche Mode.

Fizzy synths and contagiously catchy drum loops aren’t just what make Big Wows such an adventurous work. Conceptually, the album is a response to living in a world run by technology. The odd futuristic-sounding sound effects and synths are a representation of “TVs, computers, and everyday glitches” according to Bex, the band’s frontwoman. The minimal and conversational lyrics add the perfect amount of realism along with the album’s many abstract elements. Mellow tracks like “Just Dreaming” and “Heartbeats” show off with some eccentric chord changes and soaring melodies that complement them, while bubbly anthems like “Jokin’ Me” and “Back In Time” contain tight, upbeat production that’s impossible not to dance to. Countless layers of pads, harmonies and synth countermelodies create a colorful world of chaos, brought to life by the each of the girls’ expressive and characteristic vocals.

Big Wows carries valuable social commentary, but its light and fun side is just as pronounced–knowing when to let loose, and when to take itself seriously. If you’re craving new synth pop that pushes the boundaries a little, definitely check out Big Wows:

Don’t miss Stealing Sheep’s show at Great Scott tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST, tickets are available here!

 

Nick Black: The BIRN Interview

Tune in to birnCORE on Friday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. for a live broadcast from the Red Room @ Cafe 939 featuring funk/soul artist Nick Black and special guest Zoe Sparks.

Influenced by the feel good music of Justin Timberlake, Al Green, Sting, and Bruno Mars, Nick Black has created a sound that is unique, yet familiar and nostalgic. He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where soul, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues legends made names for themselves. Black released his first album The Soul Diaries in 2012, marking the start of his musical journey. Since then, he’s been featured on Muscle Shoals to Music Row, a concert series filmed at the legendary Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as well as DittyTV, an Americana and roots channel. He also won Juneteenth awards in 2015 for album of the year and band of the year. Venturing into new territory with his recently released single “Grenadine,” Black pursues his curiosity in electronic music, adding dance beats to his versatile sound.

Check out the BIRN interview below:

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/8-3/13): Coin, Loose Buttons

CoinDreamland – indie pop

Coin’s latest album Dreamland is charming and catchy from beginning to end. Chase Lawrence’s vocals give each track a charging energy, and drummer Ryan Winnen and guitarist Joe Memmel perfectly build each song to match this energy. All of the tracks on Dreamland feature creative writing, and one song that really stands out for this is “Cemetery”. It tells the story of a wealthy man who failed to get his priorities in order in life; the man has nothing now except for the fact that he is, indeed, “the richest man in the cemetery”. This story  matched with cheerful harmony and an upbeat groove gives “Cemetery” a truly unique feel that you won’t get from any other band. For those who may be looking for something a little different, Dreamland also features some great love songs. The song “Crash My Car” is a more lighthearted love song, with colorful melodies and a story about a heartbreaker. The second track, on the other hand, “I Want It All” is a more timeless love song, describing the all or nothing feeling of love. If you’re looking for a cheerful, creative, and uptempo band to sing along to, then Coin is for you. Check out Dreamland below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/8-3/13): Coin, Loose Buttons”

Ryans’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/1-3/6): Orion Sun, Dirty Projectors

Orion Sun – Coffee For Dinner [single] – bedroom pop

 

This mellow track coming out of this Philadelphia artist Orion Sun, shows exactly where the music is scene is starting to go.  “Coffee For Dinner” is a mellow hip-hop infused bedroom pop track that just floats along and takes you for a ride. This track utilizes a mixture of lofi-guitar and a mix of real and synthetic drums that just completely slice through the mix. Underlying the song are ambient sounds and synth patches that create an entire dark and dirty sonic environment, and when her vocals finally come in, it just rounds out the entire piece , making this track warm and full. Orion Sun’s vocals can only be described as smooth and melodic and and have the uncanny ability to just make you feel relaxed. This song is soft, and somber and is overall just feels good. This single came off the soon to be released album Hold Space For Me, which is coming out later this month! Give “Coffee for Dinner” by Orion Sun a listen below!

 

 

Dirty Projectors – Overlord [single]- indie pop

 

 

After a 2 year hiatus the Dirty Projectors have once again released a brand new single primarily featuring vocalist and guitarist Maia Freedman. This is a soft, unplugged arrangement and strays from their usual production quality and bringing it down to the bare minimum for this new release. Though with the large instrumental arrangements to the side, Maia maintains that Dirty Projectors vocal harmony that we all know and love. Keeping with the similarities, the ambiguous rhymes and quirkiness of the lyrics is something we’ve deeply missed from the group while they’ve been absent and can’t wait for the larger album release they’ve been teasing for some time now. “Overlord” is a tune that really could slip under the rug and blend into the background, its soft and gentle and really has the potential to be commercially successful and feels a bit more mainstream then their past releases. We’re all excited to see what the Dirty Projectors do next! Check out “Overlord” below!

 

 

 

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/1-3/6): Opus Orange, Hello Forever

Opus OrangeMiles From Nowhere – folk rock

From ambient drums and layered harmonies, to electronic effects and driving melodies, Opus Orange’s Miles From Nowhere really has something for everyone. The album shows off an eclectic voice, featuring influences ranging from folk, electronic, rock, to pop. One of the most prominent features of Miles From Nowhere is its upbeat tone; each track pushes you forward into the next. One of my personal favorites on the album is “Add up the Years”. The song is one of the more folkier tracks on Miles From Nowhere, as it highlights slightly more rugged lead vocals, full background vocals, and a heavy kick drum. Each element gives the song a natural and exciting feeling. The second song on the album, “Tell It Like It Is”, feels more like an indie rock song with electronic influences. In this song, melodies flow, while synths fill space, and the drums lock everything in perfectly. Overall, Opus Orange’s Miles From Nowhere is a fun listen that any listener can enjoy! Check it out below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/1-3/6): Opus Orange, Hello Forever”

Ryan’s Prime Slices Of The Week (2/24-2/29): Arlo Parks, Siv Jakobsen

 

Arlo Parks – “Eugene” [single] – bedroom pop

With this mellow new release by British pop artist Arlo Parks marks a new era in the blooming bedroom pop world. Eugene is a style of song that reflects the new change in modern pop, from upbeat and peppy music to the more favorable low-key, mellow arrangements with a far step away from standard and monotonous lyric writing. Parks lyrics are conversational and guide you through the story to leave no ambiguity in what she needs to say. In this track  Arlo‘s voice is breathy, intimate and full of yearning which only cements her lyrics about an unrealized love story even further, overall rounding out the entire tune. The arrangement is warm and gentle and simply dances behind the vocal and interlace with one another throughout the song making this an absolutely beautiful piece. This song is a great example of Arlo Parks and her music so if you haven’t heard of her yet, give her a listen below!

 

 

Siv Jakobsen – “Fear The Fear” [single] – singer songwriter

 

 

“Fear The Fear” is a new take on traditional singer-songwriting by this Norwegian born artist Siv Jakobsen.  Siv’s light acoustic arrangement with erie drones and solo acoustic guitar create a haunting picture of self conflict and other cold emotions. The lyrics weave a story of self doubt, feeling lost, and the constant struggle of an artist to perpetually be creating. This predominately comes from the line “But shake it off I can’t, I won’t//Cause what would I write about if I don’t//Fear the fear inside my bones” which make this feel like an internal dialogue that is anxiety evoking and worrisome to any artist who is struggling to create. The light arrangement never gets in the way of the vocals, making what she has to say feel so much more urgent and upfront. This single came off the soon to be released A Temporary Soothing, which Im definitely excited for, and can’t wait to see more of  what she can create. Give Siv Jakobsen’s “Fear The Fear” a listen below and see for yourself!

 

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/24-2/29): Pinegrove, Younger Hunger

PinegroveMarigold – indie rock

Indie rock band Pinegrove has a mesmerizing sound, and their latest album, Marigold, is a prime example of this captivating sound. Featuring various influences across several decades, Marigold has a wonderfully eclectic feel. Each track on the album takes an honest tone, as lead singer Evan Stephens uses everyday language to create lyrics that are unique to Pinegrove. The fifth track on the album, “Moment”, is outstanding. The band does an amazing job of letting the song breathe, all while sharing a story of everyday anxieties. The lyrics match the music perfectly, and they work together to create a true work of art. Another song on the album that stands out is “Dotted Line”. In this song, Pinegrove creates a great introduction to the album. The music starts off simply, but smoothly builds to a sound that features the band’s power. These songs are just two examples of Marigold‘s greatness – each song on the album is incredible. Give Pinegrove‘s Marigold a listen below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/24-2/29): Pinegrove, Younger Hunger”

Win tickets to see Raul Midon and Lionel Loueke Live at Shalin Liu Performance Center

The BIRN would like you to win tickets to see guitarists Raul Midon and Lionel Loueke play live at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Sunday, March 1.

Raul Midon

Heralded as a “one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus,” (NY Times) Raul Midón has collaborated with such heroes as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Jason Mraz, Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg. Blind since birth, Midón produced-engineered his 2017 album, Bad Ass and Blind, using special computer software for the blind. The album, which confronts the challenges of his blindness with verve and grace, received a 2018 Grammy nomination in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album. Midón’s 2018 follow up release, If You Really Want, featuring the Metropole Orkest under the direction of Vince Mendoza, was nominated for a 2019 Grammy award in this same category.

Lionel Loueke

Benin guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke has received critical acclaim from both his idols and contemporaries on his latest release, The Journey. Paul Simon raves that Loueke is “one of a rare handful of guitarists that move effortlessly between his West African roots and modern American Jazz”, and Sting cites Loueke as “one the most original, essential and inspiring musicians on our planet today.” As a Blue Note Recording artist and member of Herbie Hancock’s band for the past 10 years, Loueke has recorded and toured with artists as unique and varied as Terence Blanchard to singers Angelique Kidjo and Luciana Souza. Praised by Herbie Hancock as “a musical painter,” Loueke combines harmonic complexity, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African folk forms, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own.

To win a pair of tickets send an email to tickets@thebirn.com with Raul and Lionel in the subject line. Please include your contact phone information. There will be two winners and each winner will receive two tickets.

Good luck!!

For more information about the show, please click here.

The BIRN