Review: Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life”

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There’s a moment on Lana Del Rey’s fourth record, Lust For Life, that should hit her biggest fans (or as Hipster Runoff dudebros in 2011 once called them, apologists) harder than nearly all of her lyrical catalog. For those listeners that once found themselves entranced with the smoky voice totally consumed, and maybe a little depressed, by the moments of quiet domesticity with her lover on “Video Games,” it should come as a revelation to hear that same voice turned outward to the world around her: “We get so tired and we complain / Bout how it’s hard to live / It’s more than just a video game.”

This watchful eye on a world in turmoil is a motif across Lust For Life- which, in the early days of the promotional cycle for the album, seemed worrying considering all the obligatory “political pop” done so inelegantly by her peers. Still, if any major voice in pop music seemed fit for the challenge, it was Lana- an artist so deeply reliant on iconic Americana imagery that even the slightest shift away could seem like a revolution.

Continue reading “Review: Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life””

My K-Pop Awakening Part 3: I Saw Both My Bias Groups In One Month

안녕하세요! UIC Radio 소니아 입니다.

It’s been such a wild ride.

So, I know undergoing this ~K-Pop Awakening~ (I now say with a hint of an eyeroll @ myself) has been weird, not only for me but also for my friends and probably everyone I know as well. K-pop, as I learned, can pretty much completely take over a person’s life, and I now realize I am a living example of this. Where is my shame, though? Do I have any? I really don’t think so anymore.

I learned a lot by entering the k-pop community. First: there is rarely such a thing as a casual fan. You either hardcore stan a group (or more than one, in most cases) or you don’t. Gray areas don’t exist, and once you catch feelings for a group, there’s no turning back.

Second: k-pop fans have no chill. Contrasting to my last point, this can vary from fan to fan. You can show your love for your group in small ways such as wearing items of jewelry or clothing adorned with the group’s relative symbols or your bias’s name, whereas other times fan groups with numbers in the hundreds or thousands get together and purchase ad space in Times Square to honor their bias group’s anniversary or plaster their faces on a bus for their birthdays. How they manage to pull it off is beyond me, but there is no denying the love they have for these groups and members is real.

Third: the k-pop community is one of the most accepting communities I’ve ever been a part of. Aside from fan wars (which is a completely different story), every person I’ve met and disclosed my “I don’t know what is happening to me but I love it” spiel to has given me a look of sympathy and said “it’s okay, I’ve been there too and I know what you’re going through and you will be okay,” followed by an exchange of how we discovered our bias groups and/or consequently gotten sucked into the k-pop void. It’s comforting to know that having your entire mindset and lifestyle taken over by this stuff is not only not unusual, but it is rampant, and you form an immediate bond with everyone else who this has happened to. In losing yourself, you find others.


Fourth: K-pop groups don’t come to America very often, but when they do, everything happens so fast. I am used to western artists announcing a tour anywhere from several months to more than a year before they actually hit your city. This gives you plenty of time to plan when you can go, maybe save up for a ticket or at least purchase it and make the money back later, but for k-pop groups, you get maybe a month or two’s notice before they begin a tour. This is stressful as h e c k. Not only are you bewildered that your bias group is coming to America at all, can you actually go? And if you can, can you afford it?? (Ticket prices are no joke, even the cheapest seats are half of one of my minimum-wage pay checks). If you’re able to take off school or work (which many, if not most k-pop fans go to that extent to do), you’re set… that is, as long as you’re part of a major US city. Likely, if you live anywhere that’s not NYC, LA, or Chicago, among other factors (being underage/can’t travel by yourself, can’t drive, can’t take off school/work, etc), you have to face the agony knowing your favorite group is in your country for once but it’s impossible for you to go see them.

Being a k-pop fan is not easy, especially when your dream is to see your favorite groups live even once in your life. In stanning these groups, both your pride and your wallet often ache with frustration.

That being said, in a surprising turn of events…

I got to see both of my bias groups within a month of each other!! Something I thought I would never get to do in this lifetime!!! Especially considering I’ve only adopted this lifestyle for a mere few months, whereas most of the k-pop fans I’ve met have been into this stuff for years. I’d be lucky to catch even one group’s show, but for once the stars (and my bank account, miraculously) aligned and I managed to see both of the two k-pop groups I fell in love with over the fall! Continue reading “My K-Pop Awakening Part 3: I Saw Both My Bias Groups In One Month”

Troye Sivan Takes On Coachella

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The incredibly talented Australian pop star, Troye Sivan, surprised his fans with a surprise performance at the 2017 Coachella music festival.

Sivan joined DJ Martin Garrix on the Sahara Stage during his set to drop their new song together, “There For You.

This is the first piece of new music that we have gotten from Sivan since his 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Sivan has been hinting on his Twitter that a new album is in the works, and new music will be coming our way in the, hopefully, near future.

There For You” is a brilliant song with a beautiful message. It’s pop heavy and radio-ready, and while it may be a great song to bop to, the lyrics hold a lot in them.

“I got you, I promise

Let me be honest

Love is a road that goes both ways

When your tears roll down your pillow like a river

I’ll be there for you

But you gotta be there for me too”

Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. You cannot expect someone to always be there for you, if you cannot be there for them. Communication, and as stated in the song, love, goes both ways. One sided relationships are toxic and unfair and I cannot stress this enough.

There For You” is a song I feel like everyone can relate to at some point in life, and songs like this are perfect to find comfort in. Sweet and soft.

With that being said, I cannot wait to hear what Sivan has planned for his sophomore album.

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As a longtime fan of Troye Sivan (and a fan of music and talent in general,) it’s been an emotional ride watching Sivan go from posting quirky videos on YouTube, to preforming on the iconic Coachella stage.

It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something, and you want your dream bad enough, hard work and dedication pays off, and living the life you’ve always dreamed of, is possible.

Lust For Life

Lana Del Rey – the goddess of dark pop –has done it yet again

On Mistajam’s BBC Radio 1 show, Lana Del Rey premiered the title track from her soon-to- be-released LP, Lust For Life, featuring The Weeknd.

Lana and Abel have teamed up in the past with Prisoner, Stargirl Interlude, and Party Monster; the two just mesh well together. Their eerie, silky vocals complement each other in the best way, and they proved that to be true yet again with the 1960’s inspired Lust For Life.

Lust For Life serves a sensual vibe, with layered synths, and honey-like vocals. As someone who has been a fan of Del Rey since Born To Die, I can honestly say I am satisfied with the new release and cannot wait to hear what is yet to come.

In February, Del Rey released the first single from Lust For Life, Love, as well as its video. There has not been a confirmation yet on when her fifth LP will be released, but you can read her interview with Courtney Love for more details here. 

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TREVIEW: Why Lady Gaga’s “The Cure” is the Most Depressing Song of the Year

“Treview” is a spontaneous and grossly-titled series in which I, Trev, review new tracks or artists that spark a greater conversation outside the music itself. Whether it’s titillating controversy, an impact on culture, or a shift in the musical landscape, these songs are more than meets the ear.


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Make no mistake: I was very disappointed with the direction of Joanne, and while I frequently sweated through my intense CrossFit workouts light cardio to the multi-culture appropriating ARTPOP, I recognize it to be largely a flop as well. News of Gaga returning to more standard pop fare was exciting. After periods of jazz and faux folk, I, like many, desperately longed for some new, certified Gaga bangers. It’s revelation to absolutely no one that Lady Gaga hasn’t been as musically or culturally relevant since 2009, when she released her goth-pop masterpiece The Fame Monster EP. Meat dresses, #1 hits, anatomical controversies; Gaga was on top of the world, sparkler ti***es and all. Her weird, theatrical impact on pop music continues to this day. This is why listening to her latest single, The Cure, is so sad. Gone are the sonic risks, the sexual ambiguity, the Ra ra-ah-ah Roma roma-mas. Every aspect of her identity on this track has been weathered and dismantled, removed board by board until all we’re left with is Scheiße.

The Cure is a song that is sure to be void of radio failure, but is also totally void of herself. Even at her lowest, most celestial-centric moments, Gaga could still be counted on to be one thing: Gaga. Where some nauseatingly tried to cash in on civil rights movements in an act of marketing expediency, Gaga championed the LGBT community in her songs with a true and tangible compassion reciprocated to the fans that offered her support when she was no more than a club act with some buzz. Where most album covers are focus-group-honed, inoffensive squares of current trends, Gaga’s are a clusterf*** mashup of motorcycle-meets-maiden. Now, she has abandoned her signature anthemic sincerity and advocacy, replacing them with a hollow dance-hall track indistinguishable from the entirety of current Top 40 convention, complete with cover art that features, presumably, the best result of a photo shoot who’s rank insipidness challenges its very songsake and a background of grey that borders on sardonic. Remove the vocals, and it’d be virtually impossible to tell that this is a project of Mother Monster’s at all. One can’t help but wonder how much of it even is.

With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales.

I’m sure I’ll still find myself casually listening along, that is, if I can ever move past the fact that this is simply the least-Gaga Gaga song that’s ever been released. Having been a fan since I too was one of the many closeted, little monsters in a small town, listening for a source of identity and freedom (The Fame was the first album I purchased in its entirety), this admittedly cuts deeper for me than it probably should or does for most. It’s understandable for her to be fatigued after several attempts, and years, of trying to be true-to-self have, for the most part, not paid off critically or commercially. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with wanting your work to be appreciated. Perhaps this is the start of an era with a subsequent EP or album that will redeem it. Maybe this will just be a one-off Coachella gift. I have to admit, the initial seconds of the song gave me post-Joanne hope. Lady Gaga heading back to dance territory, or even dance-hall for that matter, is certainly something welcomed by myself and fans worldwide. This is to say as long as it’s her dance territory. As long as it’s not this. With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales. Little Monsters everywhere are asking themselves: “Where’s mom?” I feel sad listening to this. I feel sad for Lady Gaga.

Listen to the song and cry along with me here:


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

April Music Highlights

Hello, it’s your friendly neighborhood music blogger here to show you my favorite artists of the month.

 

Tank and the Bangas

Videos of this group performing have been circulating all over the internet. The electric vibes given off by their lively and playful performances Their album Think Tank reminds me of spoken word, soul, jazz, and The Roots Classroom Instruments bit merged and spun into an outstanding web of story telling and musical brilliance. Winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk music competition, Tank and the Bangas is a great addition to almost any playlist. New Orleans based, hopefully this band will find its way to Chicago some way or another.

Cupcakke

Recently placed in the top 40 best rap albums of 2016 by the Rolling Stones above artists live Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, and J Cole, Chicago based rapper Cupcakke dropped and album this month titled Queen Elizabitch and I was pleasantly surprised. 19 year old Cupcakke is known for her sexually provocative lyrics and body positivity, but Queen Elizabitch was so much more than an album about sex or body image. The album opened up with Scraps which gives the listener a dose of Chicago realness as Cupcakke sets the bar for what has to be the one of the strongest debuts yet in 2017. Cupcakke describes what it’s like growing up with a deadbeat dad and the hardships that come when facing adversity while also setting the scene for today’s social climate, which for me, cemented her place as a rapper not to be toyed with or looked down on. Of course, this album still has songs quintessential to the Cupcakke we know and love. Her single, Cumshot, embodies the sexual freedom that we are familiar with in past songs like Spider Man Dick and Deepthroat. I can see this album becoming a staple of many Summer 2017 playlists.

Passion Pit 

Passion Pit released an album that might have flown under the radar to a lot of fans. In agreement for retweeting a post that promotes funding for science and replying with your email, Passion Pit’s twitter account would personally email you the link to a download of the album, Tremendous Sea of Love. So far I have got to say that this album was exactly what I wanted from Passion Pit. I would not consider their new album their best work, but I will say that it is a fantastic album that has a good synergistic connection with their past works, seeming to give a quaint and slightly nostalgic nod to their roots, if their roots were a slightly stripped down version of the synth symphony we all went crazy for with Sleepyhead worth a listen, worth the tweeting, worth supporting science for.

Perfume Genius

While not in April, Perfume Genius has announced the release of their newest album No Shape along with the single Slip Away on May 5th. Owner of their own genre, Perfume Genius continues to release a solid selection of new music. Songs like Queen and Hood have created such raw and powerful statements, it makes me wonder what ambient journey the tracks on this new album will take us to in May.

Frank Ocean Drops New Music

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This week, Frank Ocean aired the third episode of “blonded RADIO,” on his Beats 1 show. On previous episodes of “blonded RADIO,” Ocean premiered his songs, “Chanel,” and “Slide,” featuring Calvin Harris and Migos. On this most recent episode, Ocean ended the show with his newest song, “Biking” featuring Jay Z and Tyler, the Creator.

Talk about an iconic trio.

–  You can find “Biking” on SoundCloud  here  –

Tyler, The Creator, who is now back on Twitter after a brief disappearance, tweeted his lyrics to his verse on “Biking,” on Saturday afternoon. Lana Del Rey Responded with, “who else’s lyrics could these be !” and I automatically had high hopes for this song.

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I was not disappointed. I’ve always been a fan of Jay Z, an even bigger fan of Tyler, The Creator, and a disgustingly huge fan of Frank Ocean.

“Biking,” is a relatively mellow song, that for a reason I cannot explain, makes me feel the way I feel when I look at a painting by Vincent van Gogh.

Everyone interprets music in a different way, and every feeling is unique to the listener. And that’s the beauty in music.

With a slumbering sound and acoustic harmonies, “Biking” gives me a feeling of nostalgia for deep summer nights, and with summer just around the corner, this was great timing for Ocean to drop this hit.

Frank Ocean will always be one of my top favorite artists, and I strongly and whole heartily believe “Channel ORANGE,” and “Blonde,” are two of the greatest albums to have been produced of all time.

Ocean never lets us down with his music, and I can’t wait to hear what is yet to come from him.

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Humanz: In-Progress Thoughts

The Gorillaz just released a new song called Let Me Out as I type this. My phone buzzed and everything. But more on that in a bit.

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I know they’ve been aging with us, but it’s still weird to see cartoon characters all grown up. Photo courtesy of RedBull.com.

It took me a few days of listening to collect my thoughts on the four songs off Humanz we’ve witnessed so far. I’ve got mixed feelings about all of them, but they’ve only made me want to hear more. We know how the Gorillaz operate; the album is a message, so getting bits of it at various intervals isn’t satisfying. It’s like eating a steak dinner over the course of a week. But they put enough thought into their art to make it worth a six-year wait. And that’s why I love the Gorillaz.

We know we haven’t got the full story yet. Let’s recap:

Hallelujah Money: 1/19/17

Ascension: 3/23/17

Saturnz Barz: 3/23/17

We got the Power: 3/23/17

Andromeda: 3/23/17

And now…

Let Me Out: 4/6/17

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Photo courtesy of the Gorillaz YouTube.

Hallelujah Money was released at an interesting time, all by itself. It drew tons of criticism for being “un-Gorillaz,” and its critics were further criticized for being critical. I have a few thoughts on this that you’ll likely want to hear, seeing as you’re reading my blog: The Gorillaz work hard to not have a typical style. In fact, their style is that they don’t have a style; they experiment outside of their genre. It adds mystique and rejects structured normativity and it’s what drives fans crazy with delight. All I can think is when fans listened to Hallelujah Money and thought, That doesn’t sound like the Gorillaz, they really meant was, That doesn’t sound like Plastic Beach.

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Photo courtesy of Metro

My other opinion on this matter is that you can be a fan of something without loving everything about it. Example: I think the US is pretty neat, but I also wish we didn’t have a Cheeto as president. If you’re one of the people worried you’re not a Gorillaz fan because you don’t like what you’ve heard of Humanz, or if you’re on the opposite end telling others they’re not Gorillaz fans because they don’t like what they’ve heard of Humanz, cut it out.

But back to its release date: January 19th, 2017. The day before the presidential inauguration. The Gorillaz’ music has always been attune to what’s going on in the world at the time, and though it was written several months before the election, the creators admit that afterwards, the album took on a new meaning. I won’t badger you with my analysis of the significance of its release date and it’s lyrics; I’ll provide a few of my favorite lyrics here and leave that to you (and if you can tell me what the Spongebob wail at the end of the song means, you get bonus points).

Scarecrows from the Far East/ Come to eat/ Its tender fruits/ And I thought the best way to perfect our tree/ Is by building walls/ Walls like unicorns/ In full glory/ And galore/ And even stronger/ Than the walls of Jericho

Until we say so, nothing will move/ Ah, don’t worry/ It’s not against our morals/ It’s legally tender/ Touch my friend/ While the whole world/ And whole beasts of nations desire/ Power

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Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.

Next up is Ascension. I’m not an EDM person, so I’m not a fan of this one, but it sure does have some killer lines. Albarn himself said in an interview that Humanz is a “party, club record,” but it has a “weird darkness about it.” Saturnz Barz is what really got me. The video was crammed with references to horror films, likely the work of Jamie Hewlett, who’s a huge fan of the classic thrillers. The main theme of the Clint Eastwood video and the ends of Rock the House‘s video are inspired by the horror genre. As it’s clear most of the visual budget was diverted to the Saturnz Barz video, I’d recommend watching it multiple times. There are tons of hidden gems in the details, the first being a creepy face in the basement window appearing only four seconds in!

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Photo courtesy of Something About Magazine.

We got the Power and Andromeda came next, judging by the corresponding music videos. Though similarly to Ascension‘s video, it’s clear the creatives didn’t invest as much as they did in Saturnz Barz. This is surprisingly common for the band. Tomorrow Comes Today‘s video was done in two weeks, as Jamie forgot he had a deadline for the project after animating other videos for their Gorillaz album.

I was intending to weigh in on Let me Out, but I’ve only listened to it three times. As any Gorillaz fan knows, that’s not nearly enough if you want to understand the song. Their music is so intricate and thought out, enjoyment comes with familiarization of each album.

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Photo courtesy of HotNewHipHop.

This is why I’m excited for the end of the month. Three weeks doesn’t sound like too short, but stand by! Humanz will be released on April 28th.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

15 Years Later…

I was the biggest Simple Plan fan back when I was around 10, 11 years old but then getting into high school I got into rap like Kid Cudi, Kanye West, J.Cole etc. Around that time Simple Plan released their album, Get Your Heart On! (2011). I listened to it, but didn’t add it to my daily playlist. After Get Your Heart On! (2011) they released an EP 2 years later, which I didn’t hear of. Fast forward three years later, I heard they released a new album in February 2016, I went to check it out and was reminded of why I was obsessed with their music. In September 2016, a friend told me they’d be coming to House Of Blues in October, I immediately saw this opportunity to see a band that was huge for me growing up so I bought tickets. Unfortunately VIP, which gives you the chance to meet them after the show accompanied by pizza, was sold out in Chicago. I considered buying a ticket to their Cleveland show a couple days before because VIP was still available, all just to meet this band that had a big influence on the music I listened to. When I was young Simple Plan influenced me to listen to bands like, Blink 182 and Green Day (my absolute FAVORITE BAND) Anyways, the Cleveland VIP tickets didn’t happen because the way my bank account was set up…

However, I went to their October show for the Taking One For The Team Tour, which was filled with throwbacks like “Addicted,” “I’d Do Anything” (which they open with), “Jump,” “Welcome To My Life,” but also awesome songs from their newest record, songs like “Singing In The Rain,” “Opinion Overload,” and “Boom”. The concert was amazing, even if I didn’t get to meet the guys. But after the concert I did promise myself I’d begin following their tour info again and next time they were in Chicago I’d get VIP and finally meet my preteen crushes!

Around Janurary, Simple Plan began posting throwbacks from their No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls (2002) era like this one,

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They mentioned that the 2002 album would be turning 15 years old on March 19, 2017.

Throwback after throwback on Instagram I thought, these guys are gonna do an anniversary tour, I know it. They wouldn’t be dropping so many hints if they weren’t planning something! Another tour? Another movie, like “A Big Package For You”? Another album?

I woke up one morning to a Twitter notification displaying a concert poster “SIMPLE PLAN NO PADS, NO HELMETS… JUST BALLS 15th year anniversary tour” and dates below it. I skimmed the picture looking through the dates to find Chicago, IL 3/31 “I KNEW IT!” I tweeted in reply to the announcement.

That same day I bought a $25 membership to the official SPcrew to be able to buy tickets early and a chance to see them during soundcheck. I was committed this time, this was my chance, I had to meet them. I ended up buying not only the concert ticket, but VIP, and was chosen to attend their soundcheck.

The day came sooner than I expected, the day before I still didn’t think it was real, I was going to meet Simple plan?! Talk to them?! 11 year old me would be crying if she knew this. Okay so maybe 19 year old me is crying too. I was at House Of Blues by 12:30 p.m. probably the 7th person in line, we were part of the 15 people who would be able to see Simple Plan during soundcheck. Around 1:10 p.m. we got to go inside where the band had already been playing a few songs, we screamed out song names after Pierre asked what we wanted to hear, but David insisted on playing farewell for us.

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They came down off the stage to take pictures with everyone, holding back happy tears, I hugged them tight, (David the tightest) & smiled way too cheesy in the pictures. Soundcheck was about 30 minutes long, the guys told us they’d see us later and they hoped we were excited for the concert.

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Now back out to the line we went, after about 10 minutes we realized we’d be waiting quite a while so we all sat down to wait the long four hours before doors opened.

Continue reading “15 Years Later…”

The Best Albums Of 2017 So Far

2016 blessed us with incredible new music. From Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo, to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, and to in my opinion, the greatest album to have ever been produced, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, it was just a great year for music.

We’re three months into 2017, and the new music is starting to pour in. The year is still young, but here are some of the best new albums that have been released so far:

American Teen – Khalid 

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Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, is just the very beginning to the successful music career glowing in front of him. At only 18 years old, Khalid has made huge waves with his single, ‘Location,’ which can be found on American Teen. This album is emotionally crafted with soulful 90’s vibes and smooth vocals. American Teen is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish, without skipping any songs, and you’ll never get tired of hearing it. Highlights include: ‘Saved’, ‘Location’, and ‘Shot Down’

Mansionz – Mansionz

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Mansionz is a new duo featuring singer-songwriter, Mike Posner, and singer-producer, Blackbear. The self-entitled album consists of electronic-based hip-hop and R&B pop. It’s a unique combination that deserves more attention. The transitions from each song are flawless, and blends perfectly. Highlights include: ‘The Life Of A Troubadour’, ‘I’m thinking about horses’, ‘nobody knows’, and ‘My Beloved’

CollXtion II: Unsolved – Allie X

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Canadian singer-songwriter, Allie X, has been working on her second studio album, and it’s for sure a bop. Her sound can be described as edgy electronic pop, and it’s just different than anything else. Highlights include: ‘That’s So Us’ and ‘Too Much To Dream’

I See You – The xx

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I See You is The xx’s junior album, and in my opinion, their best. The xx have always been known for their calming and soothing vocals, and they lived up to expectations yet again. The production of their third album has been a step up from their past work, and it’s honestly beautiful. Highlights include: ‘Lips’, ‘Brave For You’, and ‘Performance’

Process – Sampha

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Heavy emotions can be found in Sampha’s debut LP. Process contains R&B roots, and vocals that sound almost haunting. Sampha rediscovers himself through his work, and you can hear the vulnerability in his LP.  Highlights include: ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’, ‘Plastic 100ºC’, and ‘Take Me Inside’

I can’t wait to hear what else is yet to come in 2017, and I do have high expectations