Category Archives: Music to Your Ears

Music to Your Ears – Kesha, The National, Cut Copy and Pink

Given that there was no podcast this past weekend due to the resonating effects of the Cars 3 debacle, I’ve thought long and hard about what’s to become of this if Cory never recovers from Pixar-related atrocities. Frequent guest James Milliron has suggested filling in for some time and discussing pop culture as a whole, and given the state of our country – something that’s been on our minds for a long time has been to discuss current events outside of entertainment. We do interject, after all, don’t we?

Let us know below if you think this might be a good way to go for the Interjections medium, as usual commenting responsibly. As for now, enjoy the latest edition of Music to Your Ears, which features the return of one of my favorite artists:

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Kesha, The National, Cut Copy and Pink

Music to Your Ears – Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey, and Julia Michaels

After that brief hiatus to the northern wonders of Iceland, I couldn’t bring myself to talk about any new music, as there was really only one new release of any note – Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life. Given that it was a limited amount to discuss, I snuck that into this week, a much more diverse helping of singles and albums that we can delve into:

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey, and Julia Michaels

Music to Your Ears – HAIM, Wolf Alice and Kesha

Here we are, to start off the summer, and what a way to start – a whole slew of female-led bands, or singers to serenade us into the dead heat of July. We’ve got the newest from HAIM, Broken Social Scene, and three new tracks – a surprise from Kesha, and the latest from Wolf Alice and Cults!

HAIM – Something to Tell You

Four years ago, HAIM blew us away with their sensitive yet confident romance, their whimsical ’80s inspired pop telling us exactly what to expect: earnest yet endearing earworms for the forseeable future. In their second full-length album, the trio of sisters (their last name is the namesake) showcases their range, bringing several catchy tunes. In “You Never Knew” it appears that they branch out in to Fleetwood Mac standards, forcing a bit of a folk sound. They lyrics are at once both simplistic and complex, offering a vocabulary that belies their repetetive choruses. The true standout here is, and always has been, the girls’ vocals – Danielle leads the ship, while Este and Alana blend together like a Greek chorus of encouragement. While Danielle addresses the audience directly, her sisters are there to offer support when we fall off course, like sirens that mean to save us all.

Key Tracks: Right Now / Ready for You / Want You Back

Wolf Alice – “Don’t Delete the Kisses”

In a sort of understated version of HAIM, this mumblecore girl power group burst onto the scene around the same time, albeit in England. Several of their singles gained popularity across the pond on national public radio, where I managed to get my first wind of them. Since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating a follow-up, one that can vault the band into a higher stratosphere. With “Don’t Delete the Kisses”, Wolf Alice has produced one of their sharpest songs yet, with a chorus that stabs you in the back, and then continues slicing its way through your insides. Singer Ellie Rowsell’s voice breaks as she, whispering, laments “And then I remember and I’m shy / That gossip’s eye will look too soon / And then I’m trapped, overthinking”. If HAIM is the subtly cheery answer to power pop, then Wolf Alice is their Negaduck.
Kesha – “Praying”

The past decade or so has been harrowing for Kesha Sebert, much more than many of us will ever realize. For the most part, the cherry on the sundae of her ordeals has been that the judge hearing her contract case ignored the fact that she wanted out of the deal with RCA because her producer Dr. Luke had also continually raped her. Just the idea that a victim would love to not be forced back together with such a monster was too much for the judge to comprehend, and thus we were helpless to watch one of our favorite artists stuck in a nightmare situation. Well, turning lemons into gold, Kesha has returned with one of her best songs to date.

Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

Like a number of bands this year, it’s been a time of reunion. After seven years away from the Canadian pop world, the gang has returned to bestow upon us some more soothing protest pop. This time around, I think they’re the most fine-tuned I’ve heard an album. In the past, I feel some of their work was a tad disjointed, and I often found myself cherry picking different songs and placing them in various playlists, rather than listen the whole way here. Instead, after a majestic sunrise of an opening song in “Sol Luna”, the production in Hug of Thunder continues throughout, starting with with of the peppiest songs I’ve heard from Kevin Drew before, “Halfway Home”. There are certainly downtime songs, ones to chill out too, but there is an undercurrent of rage beneath the smooth tidings. Whether there’s something affecting them from south of the border or whether it’s just that age-old aging problem, this is definitively the most mature album from BSS, which is the most surprising thing of all after this much time.

Key Tracks: Stay Happy / Protest Song / Halfway Home

Cults“Offering”

One of my favorite bands of the past decade, I spent the latter part of 2011 heavily enamored with several tracks from Cults’ debut album, including “Go Outside”, “You Know What I Mean” and “Never Heal Myself”. Two years later, the duo debuted Static, which by any means would not be a sophomore slump (though critically it appeared so, and even by my high standards, it was not oft repeated). That underrated album deserves another listen, of course, and especially now that the band is preparing to send us another Offering. The title track is the first to be heard, and while it bares several hallmarks of that latter album, it’s always a good thing to see a band grow. “Offering” is fairly slow, but it illuminates singer Madeline Follin’s eerily soothing vocals. Rest assured, there will undoubtedly be more uptempo instrumentals to come, but I bet the pair just wanted to ease us back into their welcome arms.

 


Well, that’s all for now, folks. Looking ahead to next week, I may be taking another hiatus – as Cory and I will be traveling to the nordic wonderland that is Iceland. We’ll likely be at least slipping in a podcast this weekend before we go, but with only really one semi-interesting release this Friday (Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP) I plan on pushing Music to Your Ears back a week. That will find us with new releases from Lana Del Rey, Foster the People, and some likely surprises!

Music to Your Ears – ‘Murica Edition

All hail the stars and stripes – sorry to our international readers, but we’re all about America here today. Well, probably by the time I finish this write-up, it’ll be the 5th, a far more important holiday (Tristan’s birthday). However, we here at Interjections find music as American as apple pie, so without further adieu, we present you with our top four picks from the spring season, packaged and ready for the final sixteen at the end of the year:

In addition, I wanted to highlight the only new items worth mentioningfrom the past two weeks (besides the oft on repeat Baby Driver soundtrack):

Imagine Dragons – Evolve

With a solid following already devoted to the band, what more could we want to add to this already strikingly impressive band? Well first thing’s first, they want to provide us with a collection of catchy tunes to help us rock the warm nights away. What better than having Dolph Lundgren join you in your first music video from the album? There’s not much more to say, but this is definitely one of the most average rock albums of the year, and that’s saying a lot given the state of “rock” albums. A lot of the album sounds similar, and while I’m not sure it’s outstanding for any casual fans, there are some highlights here, and big fans of the band will be pleased.

Key Tracks: Believer / I Don’t Know Why / Whatever It Takes


Sorry for the delay, but we’re all ready to dive right into the summer, aren’t we? Next week there will be the second full HAIM album, as well as the comeback of Broken Social Scene, as well as some likely surprises!

Music to Your Ears – Lorde, Fleet Foxes and Nickelback

Whew, after a week that saw very little in the way of worthwhile music, a flood of new tracks and albums came rushing down the pipeline for Father’s Day weekend. Some old favorites return, some new bands form their debuts and there may not even be enough space to talk about it all.

Lorde – Melodrama

Sophomore slumps can strike at any time. Luckily for Lorde, the Australian singer who vaulted to instant stardom amidst Grammy wins in 2013, she took enough time off that people forgot about her. Not that she minded, since the attention was a bit too much for the then sixteen years old. With her maturity comes a sense of relevance, which allows for a fine-tunes production this time around. The songs, all produced hand in hand with Bleachers creator Jack Antonoff, seem so polished that this can’t possibly be as good as we would have hoped for. But it is, seriously, so much so, that it rivals Bleachers, Spoon and The New Pornographers for album of the year so far. I may go on about this album towards the end of year, but suffice it to say the expected sophomore slump never settles in, as Lorde expands her horizons in ways we never expected. From the pain-filled ballad “Writer in the Dark” to the fun romp through “The Louvre” to an ode to late-night parties in “Homemade Dynamite” – the subjects aren’t too different from her teenage years, but her production has certainly stepped up its game.

Key Tracks: Supercut / Liability / The Louvre / Writer in the Dark

The Killers – The Man

The fear each time The Killers approach a new album is what sounds they’ll be attempting to evoke. It’s a long-standing open secret that frontman Brandon Flowers fancies himself a Bruce Springsteen, if born on the outskirts of Las Vegas. In that case, we sometimes get the worst of him – the posturing of Sam’s Town, a heavily divisive album that turned away many of the dance-pop youth that fell in love with them from their debut Hot Fuss. Luckily the die-hards found themselves in for treats with the next two solid, albeit dull efforts – Day & Age and Battle Born. The latter was more Springsteen, but more well done and less bombastic. Let’s say that was Flowers’ Nebraska, a dialed down love affair for the state of the band’s youth. From there Flowers’ embarked on a solo tour with two albums, one the worst of 2010, Flamingo and the other, 2015’s The Desired Effect, which at last had, well, the desired effect – Brandon Flowers had never sounded more like his hero. So, with all that in mind, we temper our expectations for a new song. Lucky for us, Flowers and the Killers have a ‘Wrecking Ball’ for us in the form of a rollicking new song that epitomizes the best qualities of the band’s history. You can dance, you can hear the masculinity oozing its way through the verses, and you can drive your way out of town to it. That’s all you need in a good Killers song.

Nickelback – Feed the Machine

Forgive me for not understanding the backlash to Nickelback all these years. I’ve always thought there were plenty more bands, mundane as all can be subjectively, that deserved harsher credit. For the Canadian outfit, it became particularly galling, and I think that influenced them even more as vocal cord surgeries and label changes attempted to derail the train. To call them mediocre is to do them an injustice, for if you listen to the lyrics, many are often more profound than any number of pop songs circulating constantly on the radio. Take “After the Rain”, a late entry in their newest album Feed the Machine where revitalized frontman Chad Kroeger yelps “The ticket to life as my mother once told me / Stick with your pride and you’re gonna be lonely”. I’m sorry, that’s better than their punk neighbor Justin Bieber begging for a second chance over and over again. To each his own, of course, but I’ve only ever slighted Nickelback in jest. Silver Side Up, easily their best entry, was the blueprint for the subsequent six albums – and now that they’ve proven their longevity, it’s clear that the band was ready to show off their best work. As a casual fan, I have to say that this is their best work in fifteen years. Rock on, you crazy diamonds.

Key Tracks: Feed the Machine / Must Be Nice / Silent Majority

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Do not, and I repeat, do not attempt this album if you’re on the verge of slumber. It’s been a long time coming, especially for fans of the eloquent somnambulistic vocals emanating from lead singer Robin Peckold’s throat. However, this is not for the weak-hearted, or the coffee-deprived. While the writing and production value is through the roof, the mood is quite soft. Don’t get me wrong, Fleet Foxes is on top of the world here, coming out with an even more refined version of their previous album Helplessness Blues. If the direction they chose was one more in the vein of The Decemberists, where their folk tales are meant to lull rather than inspire, then they’re on the right track. I just think this is better background music than something for a group listen. Take care before sitting down with this, or worse – driving home at midnight to this. You’ll need a shot of Nodoz.

Key Tracks: Kept Woman / If You Need to, Keep Time on Me / Fool’s Errand

Queens of the Stone Age – The Way You Used to Do

Ever since I saw Josh Homme get super-pissed being played out during the credits for the 2014 Grammys, I knew he’d be back with a vengeance. Pure rock these days is a bit marginalized in popular culture, and there are enough thinkpieces out there that deny or confirm that thought, so I don’t need to go into it further. My standing is that with a dearth of rock stations, we’re sorely lacking a true rock band to unite behind. Take your Selena Gomez, your A$AP Rocky, your Beyonce – they’re all great, subjectively – there’s no one out there rocking like Queens of the Stone Age still do. You can’t pidgeonhole them in like Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, who evolved with the times alongside Green Day, Blink-182 and even latter day Brit rock groups like The Strokes, The Kooks and Muse. Suffice it to say, other than those that evolved or dropped out, Queens of the Stone Age maintained that level we all wanted from rock – hard and loud, but with decipherable lyrics. We want to feel something from our music, not ironically, and Josh Homme has provided the 2017 version of that message: “If the world exploded behind us / I never noticed if it done / Let nobody dare confine us / I’ll bury anyone who does”. Just keep us up to date, Josh, and we’ll keep rocking along with you.

Hey Violet – From the Outside

I’ve got some odd feelings about this – it sounds like it’s of a place and time I’m no longer a part of, which I also feel makes me sound a bit old. If you recall the days when Paramoras starting out, about a decade ago, one of the most popular albums was Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing. Pink was still punk, having just released I’m Not Dead and yelled about fuckboys before we knew what they were. Now that time has passed, we’re on the lookout for the next group to take the charge – perhaps it could be Hey Violet, how about that? With songs like “O.D.D.” and “Hoodie”, they definitely might have the case for crowning a new queen of pop punk. Particularly evident of this women before men stage is “Guys My Age”, an anthem telling us all that nothing changes, dudes will always be complete oblivious jerks not worth your time. Here’s hoping they find a place to celebrate their riot grrrl status, like on a soundtrack similar to the one from 10 Things I Hate About You.

Key Tracks: Fuqboi / Guys My Age / Break My Heart / Unholy

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound

Two weeks ago I mentioned how much Dan Auerbach was channeling Van Morrison in his newest album. There’s a bigger contender for that sound later in June, in singer Jason Isbell. Heck, in the song “Molotov” Isbell even remarks that he ‘broke a promise to myself / Made a couple to a brown-eyed girl’ There’s also a bit of Ryan Adams’ voice in Isbell, the one-time singer as part of folk group Drive-By Truckers. In his fifth album with band “and the 400 Unit”, Isbell crafts new heart-fueled folk, a working-man’s thought-provoking ballad album. With songs like “Something to Love” and “Tupelo” Isbell is trying to overshadow his southern roots by evoking all his heroes, branching out across America. Truth is, you’re going to want that chicken-fried down home feeling by the end. He’s just welcoming you home to the Nashville sound.

Key Tracks: Cumberland Gap / Anxiety / Chaos and Clothes / Cumberland Gap

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

If you thought we were done with the Scissor Sisters style sound after the single by Queens of the Stone Age, then you were mistaken. Royal Blood is back, and thicker than ever. If you came to Music for Your Ears today hoping to get some dense rock, some pure drum and bass fuzz, then you came to the right place. What I’ve lamented has been missing from the rock scene is some British sensibility, and here, in lieu of a new Arctic Monkeys album, comes a pair of Brighton boys doing their damnedest to rock our socks off with beats like “Hole in Your Heart” and “She’s Creeping”. They’re at their best when they’re allowing their instruments to take over, but Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher can hold their own with the best of them, spouting lyrics like “Then she drags me by one finger / To her lips / Hook, line & sinker / Honey I’m a sucker when you linger” – oozing danger at every dropped chord. Take a listen, it won’t hurt.

Key Tracks: I Only Lie When I Love You / Hook, Line and Sinker / Don’t Tell


Alright. That enough for you? If you’re not exhausted from reading all of this and raring up to listen to it all yourself, then prepare for next week’s entries – good stuff from Cheap Trick, Portugal. the Man, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Beach House and more. We’ll also take amoment and reflect on the waning spring, warming up to summer by picking the best of the season – adding our choices to the end of the year battle.

Music to Your Ears – Bleachers, Halsey and Foo Fighters

Welcome back to this week’s version of Music to Your Ears, where we’ve got some tunes for your listeners. This week had a few surprise singles, as well as some inspired albums. Take a look:

Foo Fighters – “Run”

It’s been a while since the last Foo Fighters album, the Saint Cecilia EP that appeared briefly on our radars a little over a year and a half ago. For proper album music, we have to go back to 2014, so this is a welcome surprise in a week we’ve been hungry for escapism music. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the repetitive message – “Run” – that blared over a low-key chorus. It sounded to me like more of the same, and Foo Fighters might just be spinning their wheels. Then an aggressively metal sounded voice threatened to break through from the other side of the microphone, as Dave Grohl’s old self came along to let us know that the same guy can learn new tricks. The true chorus of the song is still a bit rock-2010s standard, but it’s still a welcome thought to have that Grohl and company are back, making the most of their talents.

Arcade Fire – “Everything Now”

Like most bands of the ‘aughts, Arcade Fire’s sound has evolved, particularly since their first album, the ethereal Funeral, which contained one of my favorite songs from that time period, “Neighborhood 2 (Laika)”. That track, one that contains the adolescent innocence of two neighbor kids discovering each other as well as the paranoia of a world waiting to crush them both down, is not exemplary of what Arcade Fire has become, although that probably tempers their emotions while playing live. “Everything Now” re-defines the message the band is going for, and like many groups playing into their thirties and beyond, accepts the fact that they didn’t die young and beautiful, but must figure out what that means for their longevity. An acceptance of that soul-crushing world is subtly creeping below lyrics like “Every inch of space in your head / is filled with the things that you’ve read”. They’ve just gotten better at masking the pain it details below danceable music, like a more prophetic Ra Ra Riot. Here’s hoping this title track is as good as the full album.

Halsey – hopless fountain kingdom

Okay, Halsey. You can start your album with the prologue to William Shakespeare’s most famous play, but I’m gonna think you’re really damn pretentious. Though, when one thinks about it, isn’t Romeo and Juliet one of the most effective narratives of artistic entertainment? Why not have it, when it’s clearly well known and there’s a reason the thing is popular? It will absolutely have an effect on the listening of your album, as it will color every track with a sentiment that you might have not only been inspired by the Bard’s classic, but that you yourself felt the same emotions that young Montague and Capulet shared in their brief time together. Shut your blinkers in “Eyes Closed” and you’ll wonder if Juliet was truly up for her romance. Listen between the late-90s inspired violins on “Walls Could Talk” and the lyrics remind you of Juliet’s nurse regretting what she’s done. While there’s a lot to read into, it’s obvious that Halsey has put out a well-defined production. All in all, the best part of this is that the album keeps going long before you’ve realised it, albeit in a slight 48 minutes. Even though this is her sophomore performance, Halsey is a welcome addition to those rebel chanteuses bursting on to the alternative electropop scene. This is a delightful precursor to Lorde’s upcoming album as well.

Key Tracks: Eyes Closed / Heaven in Hiding / Sorry

Bleachers – Gone Now

The Solomon Grundy lyrics that effuse themselves behind the opening track to Gone Now, “Dream of Mickey Mantle” tell its listeners that they’re in for something a bit different, albeit the obvious next step for Jack Antonoff in his storytelling since leaving band Fun behind. My friend Mike Duquette (founder of the stellar reissue blog and label The Second Disc) summed it up best after listening to the album this past weekend – “Imagine if Bruce Springsteen got way too into synthpop before Tunnel of Love“. In my opinon, the album as a whole reminds me of late-era Ben Folds after leaving behind his five. He almost talks to you like Folds did, and Antonoff includes several friends in semi-secret cameos, such as Lorde on the second verse of “Don’t Take the Money” or Carly Rae Jepsen joining in for the chorus of “Hate That You Know Me”. Those cameos elevate the songs, not that Antonoff needed it, for his vocals are indeed like Bruce in the prime of his career. If there’s any faults to find here, it’s that the back half of the albums slumps a bit, much like his first album Strange Desire. Also, while I’m satisfied with what I’ve heard, there’s a good and a bad take here. I like Strange Desire better as a whole, but Antonoff is at least attempting to branch out stylistically with each song. Most tracks from the former sound virtually the same, something I didn’t mind at the time, but I have a feeling Gone Now will resonate longer.

Key Tracks: Hate That You Know Me / I Miss Those Days / Don’t Take the Money

Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song

This is what we all needed this week, a chill folk guitar hammock album. When I worked in Best Buy from 2009-2012, I would listen to a handful of records on my Zune (dating myself of course) when I put new signage up before the store opened. One of those was Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and the Black Keys’ Brothers. Those two albums always felt intrinsically linked, and here Auerbach has somehow melded the feel both prior efforts captured for me. As he opens his thoughts to us, I can’t help but to think of Morrison’s humming a tune about how much his woman loves him. Auerbach has a way of stylising himself as a second coming of that era in American culture that we were looking for an outlet to both express ourselves against the man while also chilling out beneath the shade of an apple orchard. This album certainly encompasses that feeling, from the trumpets slipping between “Malibu Man” and lazily wandering around “Never in My Wildest Dreams” to the acoustic temperament of “King of a One Horse Town”. The only oddity here is the single “Cherrybomb” that definitively sounds more like a b-side from the Black Keys last album Turn Blue. It feels slightly out of place, despite it being a solid entry in Auerbach’s overall output.

Key Tracks: Livin’ in Sin / Stand by My Girl / King of a One Horse Town


Remember to come back next week to see new hits from Katy Perry, one final album from the impossibly timeless Glen Campbell, and maybe a few surprises?

I’ll also leave you with this brief (and better) review of Dan Auerbach, attached to that Bleachers comment from Mike Duquette:

Music to Your Ears – Land of Talk, Muse, Selena Gomez

Another week, another One Direction solo artist attempts to cash in on his own singularity. Unfortunately for Liam Payne, he’s no Harry Styles, so we’ll just skip over him to the good stuff.
Muse – Dig Down

After 2015’s Drones, and finally being able to see Muse live, I was convinced of the fact that Muse would never be the same band they once were, grinding away at subdued space rock in stuff like “” and “”. Sure, with the grandiose production of NAME and NAME, Muse transcended the satellites they once gazed upon from down on Earth and vaulted themselves into the arenas they so richly deserved to play. Unfortunately for some original fans of their work, it lent a certain air of disconnection. The production was too overdone in some tracks, and while the lyrics were always snappy, it wasn’t until Drones that they reminded me once again of what great music they could create. It looked like they were beginning to return to that subdued sound. Here, though, they seem to be taking a step in the opposite direction. It’s not horrible, but what do they expect when they allow the chorus to merely be a repetitive yelp bellowing from Matt Bellamy’s throat? The guitar does them no service either, whining and grinding distortion mechanically, like a spaceship working its way through the sky. The overproduction returns, and don’t even get me started on the strangely suggestive title. Strange all around, I have to hope they’ll improve on their next single, and this will merely be a blip on a well done album.
Land of Talk – Life After Youth

What an unexpected surprise it was to find out that Land of Talk, a band I enjoyed in college, was returning with a new album. Back in 2002, their debut album Some Are Lakes set me on a path towards shoegazing pop that found me falling in love with other similar bands like Silversun Pickups, The Head and the Heart, Matt and Kim, Sleigh Bells and Chvrches. To say this is the godfather of them all is understated, at least for my musical journey. Well, with Life After Youth, they’ve returned to form. Singer Elizabeth Powell’s ambient vocals power the fuzz and guides down a river of noise-pop dreams. Much like Grandaddy’s recent return, Land of Talk feels like an old friend that came back for a visit and it feels like no time has passed at all.

Key Tracks: Spiritual Intimidation / This Time / Heartcore

Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

I was ready to dive into what apparently is a frontrunner for ‘song of the summer,’ Crying in the Club by Camila Cabello. Before that, I started with another new single by Selena Gomez, Bad Liar. Now, I had long dismissed Gomez as another manufactured Disney darling, a money machine for the Mouse that would eventually fade away, leaving us with distant memories only of her fling with Justin Bieber. Luckily, that’s not the case, and I’ve been proven very wrong. Bad Liar should have been the hit crowned a full month before summer even starts, as Gomez’s staccato chorus pumps you up and lets you down roughly when you realize the shade dwelling beneath the words. Gomez hasn’t stopped pulling the punches since her equally decadent hit Can’t Keep My Hands to Myself from two years ago. I have to say, Selena may be the real deal, and even though I must be jumping on the train long after it left the station, this may continue her run of star charting singles.


Come back next week for the newest from Shakira, Bleachers and Halsey!