Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (4/5-4/10): Affectionately, Perfume Genius

Affectionately – “prettiest part of me” [single] – indie

The up-and-coming Affectionately is an artist to watch, and his single “prettiest part of me” is a song to listen to. With funky effects, laid-back vocals, and lovable lyrics, this song will be stuck in your head all afternoon. In “prettiest part of me”, Affectionately does an outstanding job of putting his own spin on the indie sound through mixing clips of conversations and watery guitar melodies with more familiar techniques. The end product is a song that is memorable and different. There are so many unique features to discover on this track. Check out Affectionately and “prettiest part of me” below!

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Mackenzie’s Album of the Week: Kid Krow by Conan Gray

After years of releasing singles and an EP, Sunset Season, Conan Gray released his debut 12-track album, Kid Krow, on March 20. As a 21-year-old indie pop artist, Gray is inspired by prolific lyricists and storytellers such as Taylor Swift and Lorde. 

Candidly describing himself as, “not the coolest person on earth,” Conan hopes that Kid Krow reaches people who feel this way so they know it’s okay to be different. This album is a carefully constructed project that was made to convey the feelings of a young man who identifies with being a “crow.” His record label, Republic Records, describes this idea explaining, “In mythology and throughout history, a crow traditionally represents destiny, magic, and eventual rebirth. Clear parallels may be drawn between this mystical creature and Conan Gray.” His chaotic energy intertwined with his authentic lyrics and nostalgic melodies, makes you feel like you’re listening to someone read pages out of their diary. 

The opening song,“Comfort Crowd,” acknowledges the need for social company–a feeling everyone currently practicing social distancing can relate to. Beneath the melancholic tone of the lyrics is an instrumental commanded by spacious harmonies and a prominent bass, making it dazzle with simplicity. On the day of its release, Gray took to Instagram to describe the place he was in when he wrote “Comfort Crowd,” saying, “I was lonely as sh*t. All my friends were back home in Texas and I had just moved to college so didn’t have a single friend. I just remember wishing so badly that I could spend time with my best friend the way we used to. Just sit on our phones and talk.” 

The personal atmosphere of  “Comfort Crowd” continues throughout the duration of Kid Krow, especially on one of the record’s lead singles, “Wish You Were Sober.” “Save me ‘til the party is over / Kiss me in the seat of your Rover / Real sweet, but I wish you were sober,” Gray opens up about a complicated relationship with someone who only says they have feelings for him when they’re drinking. Despite the serious nature of the lyrics, the lively production makes “Wish You Were Sober” the perfect alt-pop hit, with a melody that builds momentum in the verses leading into the explosive chorus. 

The next and possibly most popular track on the album is called “Maniac,” sharing some of the same energetic qualities we love about “Wish You Were Sober” and “Checkmate.” As a whole, “Maniac” is a testament to Conan Gray’s innate songwriting talent. With lines like, “Said you wanted me dead / So, you show up at my home, all alone / With a shovel and a rose / Do you think I’m a joke?,” there’s no denying the positive influences of studying Taylor Swift and Lorde’s music. 

Other tracks that deserve recognition include, “Heather,” “The Story,” and “The Cut That Always Bleeds.” The presence of these songs on the album is profound, possessing the ability to physically make the listener feel the way Gray felt when writing them. This is especially apparent when listening to the lyrics in “The Story.” As the closing track, “The Story” does Kid Krow justice and is a perfect end to the album. After singing about heart-wrenching stories in the verses, Gray wails in the chorus, “Oh, and I’m afraid that’s just the way the world works / It ain’t funny, it ain’t pretty, it ain’t sweet.” This song communicates feeling the pain and frustration of accepting that life isn’t fair while still maintaining a positive outlook for the future.

Since social distancing is becoming the new normal around the world, leaving us with more time to spend with ourselves, I would strongly suggest taking the time to listen to Conan Gray’s Kid Krow. If you want to hear a collection of music that will make you jump, scream, dance, and cry, this album is for you: 

Saya’s Album of the Week: Miss Anthropocene by Grimes

Grimes has taken quite the journey since her Garageband sequencing days of albums Geidi Primes and Halfaxa. A self-made producer, artist, and songwriter from the start of her career, Grimes (also known as Claire Elise Boucher) takes lots of pride in her art, and rightfully so. For the most part, she has written and produced all of her previous records with little help from others, and stays loyal to each of her visions. Although her technical abilities have improved by far, Claire has always had a natural talent for bringing her signature sound to life, even when she only had access to a cheap mic and Garageband in college–starting out by creating various experimental loops combined with layers of delayed vocals. Her long-awaited release Miss Anthropocene is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece ahead of its time, showing outstanding growth and innovation from Claire. The record reveals a new side to the artist-producer, but still absolutely feels like a classic Grimes record at its core that fans can recognize and adore. 

Opening ethereal-pop track “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth” is the perfect introduction to Miss Anthropocene, an album centered around the future of our society and planet. As always, the production is intricate and complex with countless layers, but the soaring vocal melody will send shivers up your spine, making it the post-apocalyptic soundtrack that it is. Following up is “Darkseid”, a brooding trap influenced tune with Grimes boldly but truthfully stating “we don’t love our bodies anymore”, featuring Chinese rapper 潘PAN. Echoing some similarities with “SCREAM” (featuring Pan Wei-Ju) from 2015 album Art Angels, Grimes’ incorporation of foreign language adds even more variety to her music and brings attention to underground foreign artists, something we could surely use more of in today’s music. 

“Darkseid” isn’t the only track on Miss Anthropocene to speak strongly on female empowerment–”We Appreciate Power”, the album’s lead single, does as well. Feminism is a subject Grimes doesn’t shy away from, and has spoken out about her experiences as a female producer in a male-dominated industry, not being taken seriously enough as a producer far too many times. The heavy, pulsing synth bass topped with lyrics like “I’ll evade the human race, putting makeup on my face” and “God’s creation, so misunderstood” make for an inspiring, futuristic feminist anthem. 

One track that particularly stands out is “Delete Forever”, which veers more in a bubblegum pop direction–and is a nostalgic throwback to the lighter Art Angels sound. Even then, the contrast between the song’s downbeat words to the easygoing, bubbly production is ironic, but a very clever way to further enhance the song’s message. “You’ll miss me when I’m not around” is also one of the more radio-friendly songs of the album, and feels like the type of song running through the ending credits of a movie–yet fitting for the cinematic, fantastical album. 

The rest of Miss Anthropocene’s stays within the borderlines of Grimes’ imaginary universe, while still exploring different sounds and subject matter. “Before the fever”, “IDORU”, “4/-EM” and “New Gods” are the most experimental, possibly appealing more to those who favor earlier works like Visions and Halfaxa. Overall, Miss Anthropocene is an impressive step forward for Grimes, and a thrilling modern art pop album that fans of similar contemporaries like FKA Twigs and Poppy will love. 

If your music library has been sounding a bit dry lately, give Miss Anthropocene a listen:

Ryan’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/29 -4/3): Saint Sister, Honey Cutt

Saint Sister – Dynamite [single] – bedroom pop

This mellow evolution of bedroom pop and the recently christened genre atmos-folk is starting to make strides in music. Saint Sister has created this soundscape of relaxation and somewhat reminiscent of Lofi Hiphop, but with the defining vocals and gait of bedroom pop. “Dynamite” is atmospheric and deep and reflects the natural evolution of the modern mixing of genres. The melding of Morgan Macintyre and Gemma Doherty’s voices is sweet and pure, sitting nicely atop the dulcimer, harp and piano.  Everybody needs to hear where music is going, and I think this is a great example so give it a listen below!

 

 

 

Honey Cutt – Fashion Show [single] – indie rock

 

This punk inspired indie rock single by break out artist Honey Cutt is a perfect release for this spring, bringing an upbeat laziness that is quintessentially indie rock. The vocals remind me of a female Mac DeMarco and the overall tones are very reminiscent of Mac as well. The backbone of this song lies with the lively bass line, which starts it off with an energy that is carried through the whole song. Dispensing with the comparisons, her sound is unique and matches the “in” thing right now in the world of independent artist and I know that Honey Cutt is bound to get pretty big over the next few years! So give her a listen below and see for yourself!

 

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/29-4/3): Kellen of Troy, The Snuts

Kellen of TroyVanity Project – rock

Kellen of Troy’s latest album, Vanity Project, is the perfect soundtrack for quarantine. With a positive and friendly feel, each track is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The first song on the album, “Some Tune We All Already Know”, sets the tone of the album perfectly. It has a nostalgic Disco-like sound that is complete with 70’s strings and a groovy beat. The good times and fun vibes continue on the second track, “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am”, which is full of singable melodies and layered guitars that complement the first track. Overall, Kellen of Troy has a lovable sound that bends genres – his music really has something for every listener. Give Vanity Project a listen below!

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Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/15-3/20): Overcoats, The Districts

OvercoatsThe Fight – electropop

Overcoats’ electric layers and full harmonies make their latest album, The Fight, stand out. The album is a beautiful homage to the incredible blend of Hana Elion’s and JJ Mitchell’s voices from beginning to end, and it features various styles, with almost folk-like vocals and harmonies coming together with synths and indie drums. The Fight is full of so much life. From the driving beat and upbeat sound of “Fire & Fury” to the softer and warmer “New Shoes”, each track takes on its own personality and gives the album a lot of personality. Overcoats switches from folk to pop to electronic so smoothly that you won’t even notice as they seamlessly build a whole new sound. This ability highlights the duo’s skill to create great music that is unrestricted by genre. In short, The Fight is wonderfully eclectic, and it’s easy to get lost in Overcoats’ full sound. Check it out below!

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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!

 

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!

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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!

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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!