Thursday, October 24, 2013

Track of the Week: "Hollyood" by RAC ft. Penguin Prison

Can you believe it's almost November? Yeesh. Where is the year going? Not that I'm complaining; it's my senior year and I am so ready for it to be over with and start moving towards college. Oh, well, at least I have some great music to get me through these next few months.

This week's track of the week is "Hollywood" by RAC ft. Penguin Prison. I have to, one again, thank iTunes radio. Their alternative station has shown me some amazing artists, this one included. I really thought that app was going to be terrible, but it's been a musical blessing instead.

I am absolutely in love with this song because it has a chilled, laid-back vibe with smooth, complementing guitar lines and the lead singer's crooning vocals. The layered vocals give way to the other electronic influences in the chorus. It moves slowly, yet briskly, giving it an indecisive feeling. It could represent the confusion that the singer feels towards his friend who he compares to Hollywood, saying he does not know who she is anymore. Super relatable.

Seriously, keep your eyes on RC. I think they might accomplish some great things.

Until next week,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Track of the Week: "Nicotine" by Panic! At the Disco

Panic! At the Disco's newest album just came out and it is incredible! I love that they are doing what they do best: switching up genres. AFYCSO--their first album--was kind of eclectic, Pretty. Odd was Beatles-influenced, Vices & Virtues was anthemic, a brief return to some of the elements from AFYCSO with the strings section from Pretty. Odd, and Too Rare to Live, To Rare to Die has bits of AFYCSO with hints of the Killers and Neon Trees sprinkled in it. All of the tracks are great, but the one that really stands out to me is "Nicotine," this week's track of the week.

It starts out with twinkling piano line, then the guitar/bass comes in, followed by the thudding drums. then, it returns to the keyboard with Brendon's vocals layered on top. The instrumentals switch in and out until they come all in for the chorus, which is bold, loud, and perfectly arranged. Dallon's bass lines are ridiculous; this is their first album where you can really hear the role the bass plays. In the past, the bass has been kind of hidden in the corner, overshadowed by guitars, drums, and the string sections. The fact that the strings are buried in the song is a wise choice, opting instead for the slightly more electric feeling; having the strings in the forefront would have been out of place and awkward.
The lyrics detail a relationship that the speaker knows is bad, but cannot stop returning to. He knows it is unhealthy, "worse than nicotine." Yet he finds himself unable to "get rid of" the other person. The topic is relatable, but Brendon's delivery is what makes them fit so perfectly with the track. He is hushed and vulnerable in the verses, while the chorus is his declaration to the world that he is in a bad place. Very well done.

So, check out that track and the rest of the album. You won't regret it.
Until next week,

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Track of the Week: "Mason Jars" by Smallpools


I wasn't totally sold on iTunes Radio at first, thinking it was just going to be a stupid Pandora Radio knockoff. Surprisingly, it's grown on me. The first few tracks it gave me on my Alternative Radio station were mainstream tunes disguised as alternative ones, but after I told it stop playing those, I received some beautiful surprises.

That is where this week's Track of the Week comes from. It is "Mason Jars" by Smallpools, a relatively new four-piece American band. Chances are, you've heard their song "Dreaming" on AltNation, but even if, like me, you weren't a fan of that one. You've got to try this one.

It has a Foster the People meets Lorde meets Youngblood Hawke vibe to it, if you can imagine that. The bass line is the underlying force propelling the song and the guitars flesh out the overall sound. The soft country twanging in the background make it a bit of a genre bouncing, while the slightly distorted vocals keep it in the alternative realm. I love how, right before the chorus, the lead singer pushes his vocals ever-so slightly above his range while managing to stay in complete control of them.
I promise you'll have this song on repeat for the next week, at least. Enjoy, my friends. :)

Until then,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Track of the Week: "Biting Down" by Lorde

For this week's installment of song of the week, I have picked "Biting Down" by Lorde. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard her song "Royals," and "Biting Down" is off the same album. Instrumentally, it is psychedelic, full of layered synth lines and repetitious vocals. Allegedly, the song is about doing drugs. Biting down is a term used to describe tripping on a psychedllic drug of some kind--matching the instrumental component. She says that she breathed "so deep" she thought she'd drown, meaning she took a deep breath and got high very quickly. she then enters a blissful high, cueing the repeticious lyrics, as she can no longer think in a linear fashion. Overall, Lorde's husky, trance-like vocals--she reminds me so much of a 17 year old version of Lana Del Rey--and the swirling synthesizers make the listener almost feel as if they are tripping on something as well. Masterfully done. I expect even more amazing things from her in the coming years.

Until next week,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Track of the Week: "This is Gospel" by Panic! At the Disco

So, like I said last week, Panic! has been releasing some new music, leading up to their new album dropping in October. The second single they released was "This is Gospel." I am totally loving this song because it is a big leap from their old material, but yet, at the same time, the lyrics are very Vices and Virtues, so they are not completely rewriting themselves. It's a smart move, evolving while recognizing the past.
The song starts out slow and minimal with Brendon's vocals filtered through a vocoder and a heartbeat like beat in the background. Then, all the other instruments come in. The guitar lines give it a nice body while the drumming keeps the song moving and flowing. As the song ends, it returns to the minimal set-up , which gives the song a nice rounded feeling. The lyrics are up for debate as I have heard rumors that they are about Brendon’s misgivings with the Mormon church and that they might be able Jon and Ryan leaving the band. They’re ambiguous enough that we’ll never know and perhaps that is the way Brendon intended it to be. Secrecy is a powerful tool and his lyrics masterfully wield it.

If this song is a sign of  what we might be hearing on the new album, I’m excited! It’s nice to see them trying new things without leaving all their previous material completely behind. This should be a good album and I cannot wait to review it.

Until next week,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Catch Up and A Marathon Mission of Musical Proportions

I am a terrible blogger. Actually, I'm an overwhelmed blogger with acute senioritis and a busy schedule to boot. Not that those facts excuse me from being MIA from this blog. I've been finding some seriously great music lately, but haven't had to the time to write about it. So, I'm going to try to hit as much as I can in this one blog post. Ready? Here we go...

Bastille- A British band, they bring electro-pop and alt rock together in a strangely captivating combination. You might have heard their track "Pompeii," which is a great song, but check out "Things We Lost in the Fire" which has more of a MSMR feel. Super amazing band.

Miley at the VMA's- crappy performance + shock value= two thumbs down from this blogger

Drake- His new track "Hold on We're Going Home" is a nice return to more of the "Find Your Love" format that honestly works better than his mediocre rapping. Not saying it's a good song, nor am I condoning the auto-tune, but I can handle it more than "HYFR," that's for sure.

Jesse McCartney is making a comeback. Not sure if that's a good thing. I thought we had lost him after his barely successful effort in 2010. Unfortunately, he's trying again. "Back Together" is not a good song, but I suppose it's less painful than "Beautiful Soul."

Panic! At the Disco "Miss Jackson" and "This is Gospel"- Holly heck on a stick. Seriously, these songs are a beautiful fusion of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and Fall out Boy, in a good way. I love the new styles they are experimenting with and the courage they are demonstrating with said experimentation. I am so excited for the new album to come out in October!

Well, I'm sorry that's so quick, but I just wanted to hit as many major points as possible. I'll start trying to start regularly blogging on Wednesday nights. Hopefully. :)

Until then,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Where Have I Been and Other Updates

I can't believe I haven't updated this blog since June 1st. Where did the time go?
Well, actually, I know the answer to that question. This summer, before my senior year of high school, I decided to compile some of my writings into a compilation and self-publish it. I thought it would be a simple, fun project to just do in my off-time, but it ended up taking six hours a day for three months straight, just writing, organizing, and editing. I definitely enjoyed doing it; I just miscalculated how long it actually takes to do it all alone. I published it last weekend and received my proof copy today, so I can finally say, with much elation and pride, that it is done! :) If you would like to read the book, to check out my 19 poems and 5 short stories, click here.

Now, that the book is finished, I can finally get back to writing on here! I've missed updating you all on what I'm listening to, as I have found some incredible bands over the summer. I have some full-length  posts planned for the coming weeks, but tonight, I'll just give you a little teaser.

Tonight, I present my track of the summer, AKA, the track that I couldn't stop listening to no matter how many times I played it: "Things We Lost In the Fire" by Bastille. Bastille is a British group and they are fantastically talented. they always bring something original to their music and this track is no exception. The tribal-feeling percussion in the beginning, giving way to the full instrumentation, and plucking string section all complement the emotional lyrics, making it feel like the emotions are rising with the instrumentation and vice versa.
I feel like Bastille is going to blow up a la Imagine Dragons very soon. Keep your eyes on them and soon, I will post a full review of their album. :)

Thanks for reading.
Until next week,

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Another Edition of "What is Bella Listening To"

I'm actually posting on my promised day. Can you believe it? Me either.
So, this week, I have compiled five songs that I have discovered and are so good, I simply have to share them with you. :) It's been a while since I've done something like this, so this should be fun. :)

5. "Wake Up" by AWOLNATION- Yes, this is the man behind "Sail." This track gives "Sail" a run for its money. It's certainly less emotional, but holy crap, not by much. From what I can deduce, the song is about him encouraging people to wake up from a zombie-like sleep and live life, leaving behind the negativity and "haters." Coupled with the steady percussion, simple yet effective chord progression in the chorus, and the background vocals, this song is at the top of my running playlist. Worth checking out.

4. "Colour Fade" by Funeral Suits- This track is technically 2 years old, but I am so obsessed with it, I simply had to include it. This is one of my favorite finds on this list. I love the twinkling guitars, the layered vocals (especially with the falsetto around the 2:00 mark), and the line "I'm a machine/That sends the colour to your head." If you're into complex melodies and slight distortion, this may be the track for you. :)

3. "Carry Me Home" by The Dig- This track leads in with minimalistic piano, gradually adding in the percussion, the guitars, and finally the vocals. The vocalist sounds like a mix of Nate Reuss and the lead singer of the Neighbourhood, resulting in a finely-tuned croon with a rock edge. The lyrics from what I can tell, are not meant to be taken literally; people are not really going to carry him home. Instead, I think he is talking to his girlfriend/significant other who has died and he is trying to get killed one way or another so they can be together once more. Or, they could just be emotionally separated, but based on the line about a river carrying him home, I think he means he wants to die to be reunited with his special person.

2. "Head is Not My Home" by MS MR- Fresh off  of MS MR's debut album, this song is a true standout. The shocking changes in tempo and the move from piano to fortissimo adds to the emotional complexity of this track. The song is about how they feel that their head is not really their own, overrun with thoughts and other people. The chorus, boasting lusty lyrics such as  "my mouth/your lips/your hands/my hips," suggests that their frustrations can be solved by carnal measures. The bold statement is memorable and full of pitiable complexity. Fantastic.

1. "Global Concepts" by Robert Delong- I found this song a few months ago, wrote the name down, lost the paper, and then heard the song on AltNation the other day. Thank goodness. :) This song takes the number one spot, as Robert expertly combines alt-rock with electronica beats, resulting in this strangely addictive song. Instrumentally, Robert is a genius, from what I've read online. He uses computer programs, drum kits, and even video game controllers to make his sounds and he does it all by himself. He truly is a one man band and his music is fantastic, seriously. Instrumental elements aside, his lyrics are simply killer. This song is about how when he dies, he'll be able to assess his life and while he knows that he's made mistakes, he hopes that above all he made people dance with his music, which is the one thing that unites us all, his "global concept." Gorgeous.

Alright, that's it for this week. Be sure to check out those track and come back next week for another review.

Until then,

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Neighbourhood I Wouldn't Mind Residing In


I am officially the most unreliable blogger ever, as I have done a terrible job posting, but I've had a ton of AP tests and finals--which will all be over a week from this coming Tuesday--so I have an excuse, but not really. Also, I kind of became totally obsessed with Sherlock and, after I finished that, I started Arrested Development and Hannibal to deal with the hole created by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, so I've been kind of Netflix binging. It's a less acceptable excuse, of course, but I felt the need to be honest. :)
Tonight, I'm going to try to make it up with a post about a band I discovered a few months back: The Neighbourhood, an American band that uses the British spelling of the word. Most likely, you've heard their song "Sweater Weather," which is a great track, but some of their other stuff is simply remarkable. therefore, tonight, I present my top 5 favorite tracks.

5. Let it Go- I love the unusual rhythms in this track. It feels like an alt/indie song with a hip-hop-esque flair that showcases the versatility of the band. It has an angsty undertone, almost like the refrain of "let it go" is supposed to be construed as sarcasm. The background noises near the end of the track also support the idea, in the sense that it is like blocking out "what the people said" as he "wasn't listening at all."

4. Baby Came Home- This song is about a messed up relationship, but the lyrics offer a little more depth than the typical "we're messed up." Examples include: "She had all my trust/but I guess that was never enough...I think if you ever found her/that even you'd know she was mine." As well, the instrumentation is moody, the guitar riffs are sick, and the lead singer--who honestly looks like he would be in more of a punk band this is incredible outfit and I love it when people defy expectations--oh, my goodness, his voice croons. He sounds like the male version of Lana Del Rey and that is one of the highest compliments I can give. I also recommend checking out this stripped down version of the track.

3. A Little Death- Supposedly this song's title gets its name from the French phrase "la petite mort," an idiom for an orgasm, which makes sense considering the line "touch me/ make me feel like I am human." Apparently, sex is the only thing that makes him feel alive, though the fact that those lines are repeated so frequently maybe his way of saying that while it makes him feel alive, it's only for a little bit, so he has to do it over and over again just to feel alive. It's kind of a beautiful message, if you dig through it, for this sex-obsessed generation. Lyrics aside, the swelling instrumentation and gorgeous background vocals make this a full-bodied track. Good stuff.

2. Female Robbery- This song is about how he is so dissatisfied in life, he wishes a Tv-like kidnapping would occur, and he would be taken his from his boring life. Very relatable. Instrumentally, it's one of the best songs of the album.  I admire their bravery for manipulating their guitars so they sound like synthesizers. It adds kind of a cool edge to the song. The faded vocals add a feeling of desperation to the sound. Additionally, the drummer's confusing drumming gives the song a disoriented feeling, which fits perfectly with the lyrics. Gorgeous.

1. Afraid- I've read so many bad reviews about this song particularly for the line "You're too mean/ I don't like you/f*** you anyway," but I have to disagree with the mainstream music media, as I always do. If you look at a line from one perspective, but never any others, everything can look incredibly shallow. But, if you pull back, examine it from a different one, it may take on a different context. It's not just someone who's in a bad relationship. I see it more like it's a mutual sense of "badness." His friends hate him, and he hates them, but he's too afraid to move on because someone might take his place, and as much as despises them, he doesn't want someone else to take his role in his friends' lives. It's relatable on so many levels and maybe it hits a nerve for some of the reviewers. No matter. Besides the lyrics, the steady percussion right before the chorus, big drop at the chorus, and the murky background vocals come together to form one of the most cohesive, beautiful songs on the album.

You should definitely check this band out. Seriously, you're missing out if you're not listening to them. :)

Anyways, thanks for reading.

Until next week,

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oops I Did It Again

sorry for not posting. Had limited Wifi access as I'm visiting family. New post next Saturday. Given how many times I haven't posted recently, I'm beginning to think I have commitment issues. Please forgive me!