All posts by Fin Hatfield

Too Bright- Perfume Genius

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10/10

Too Bright is beautiful and gay, and I love it. Perfume Genius balances dreamy and ethereal musical composition with poetic lyrics. The album works very well as a cohesive unit and many of the songs are also strong. Mike Hadreas is the artist behind Perfume Genius; he has released several singles and three albums. He released his first album Learning in 2010 and his second in 2012 with Put Your Back N 2 It. Too Bright was released in 2014.

Too Bright is both beautiful and honest. The album complexly explores male queerness, but I don’t think it exclusively applies to male queerness. The album is cohesive in a way few albums are. It doesn’t sound the same, some songs are closer to alternative rock and others are really dreamy but in most songs the tone of Hadreas voice stays consistent. Listening to the album in order is really enjoyable because there are great transitions and builds.

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There are quite a few songs that are worth mentioning, I can’t decide if my favorite is “Queen” or “Grid”. “Queen” starts the question “Don’t you know your Queen?” it is a double entendre because it sounds like “Don’t you know you’re Queer?”. In the verse Hedreas pairs beautiful imagery with ugly and revolting imagery. I really like how he connects identity to societies views. It is a rally cry because he is unapologetically being open about his identity. “Queen” is closer to rock than most of the album, it’s a little angry in the electric guitar part and drum beat. It could be one of my all time favorite songs. 

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“Grid” has more disorienting electronic sounds, a rhythmic bass beat gradually gets louder and syncopated as the song progresses and there are some pretty cool vocal compressions. The instrumentals and background vocals are harsher but Hadreas voice is sweet. Like Queen, Grid has multiple meanings, the title is a reference to one of the first acronyms for HIV, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, but many of the lyrics are from “I Decline” which is about Hadreas struggle with addiction.

Several other songs are really exceptional: the bridge in “Fool” is phenomenal. It is ethereal and echoey, it builds and builds. “Fool” is about straight women use gay men as props so I really like how free the bridge is in contrasts with the exploitive lyrics. “Too Bright” is also ethereal; it sounds like a prayer. “I’m a Mother” is on the weirder dark side of ethereal, everything sounds really heavy and the words are difficult to understand but I’m a fan. “My Body” seems to be about living in a body that is not healthy. It really resonates with me because it does a really good job of describing the balance between taking care of yourself while also knowing that the extra effort probably won’t be worth it. The song has a lot of distortion but it balances it with quiet moments. 

Too Bright is self deprecating but it is also beautiful. It is so great that while a central theme of the album is queerness and homophobia each song is not trying to become the next formulaic gay anthem as written by straight pop singers. I actually really love how blunt and realistic it because, personally, it is more relatable. So listen to Too Bright if you are also sad and queer it’s a good time.

Every Open Eye – Chvrches review

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Man, do Chvrches love 80’s music or do they Love 80’s music? Their debut album (The Bones of What You Believe) was the best album O.M.D. never released, but their sophomore effort Every Open Eye takes that to the next logical step. This album feels like a Greatest Hits of Depeche Mode compilation. I can’t remember the last time an electronic group was this hook filled and obsessed with melody. The Scottish trio brings their A Game song after song after song, and the wild thing is that it almost always works. Sure, there’s a couple weak tunes, but in fairness, when your album has 9 killer tracks and 2 pretty decent songs, I would say you’re doing a good job.

Songs like Keep You On My Side, Clearest Blue, High Enough To Carry You Over, and Bury It go SO HARD. Ian Cook and Martin Doherty know how to layer these catchy keyboards and drumbeats and turn them into these tour de force bangers. Singer and primary lyricist Lauren Mayberry brings an emotional side and a “don’t screw me over” attitude that provides a beautiful compliment to the instrumentals. I genuinely think this album should include a sticker that says “Welcome to Synthpop Heaven- Population: Chvrches”. Because that’s essentially what you’re getting from Every Open Eye. If that’s not your scene, then you should probably avoid this record. But, if you’re into this genre then strap in! Chvrches are about to take you on a hell of a ride.

It’s nice to see an indie band unafraid of being accessible and contagious. Chvrches want to be heard. I’m the kind of person who loves watching hipsters squirm over indie bands getting famous, so I consider this to be a positive aspect. Frankly, they deserve any and all success that this album brings them. Chvrches are a hard-working group, having self produced Every Open Eye in their basement with a 6 hours a day/5 days a week schedule. Around 30 tracks were recorded for this album, and the band went through them to pick out the best ones. It shows.

While plenty of these tracks stand alone well enough, I would recommend listening to the album in full. It has this non stop momentum that few records are able to capture. Their debut record was a gem, but Every Open Eye blows it completely out of the water.  It’s a little less fun when they aren’t a smaller band, but when the songs are this good it’s hard to care about something so petty.

Hopsin “Pound Syndrome” review

 

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Hopsin is an insane artist who is known for performing songs such as Sag My Pants,

Ill Mind of Hopsin 5, and Rip Your Heart Out. In his 2013 album, Knock Madness,

Hopsin made his devout fans believe that he was leaving the music industry through

various lyrics that alluded to the notion. Two years later, everyone was surprised as

word started to spread that he had dropped a new album, Pound Syndrome, and

that it was available on Spotify. It was by no means a marketed release, and the

album still hasn’t gotten the recognition that it deserves. The second I heard about

the album’s release, I ran to my computer. The album contains 13 songs and one

skit, all of which are absolutely amazing. All of the songs are hype, bump, and have

wicked lyrical content. The songs are, without a doubt, extremely rad and are a

pleasure to the ears. In addition, his skit is impeccable. Most skits are easily skipped

over because they’re just…boring, but Hopsin’s mad disses makes the No Words skit

something that is worth listening to every single time; however, I do urge that

anyone who is a fan of Fetty Wap or that overly-autotuned-hardly-recognizable-

English-words fad to steer clear of the skit. This album is a 10/10 and makes me

wish that more people understood just how talented of a rapper Hopsin is.

Hopefully it’ll come with time.

-Mikaela Reinard

Savage Hills Ballroom by Youth Lagoon

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Homegrown artist Youth Lagoon, the stage name of Trevor Powers, started making electronic ambient music at the age of 17 in his basement. His debut album, The Year of Hibernation, was focused on minimalist ambient melodies combined with electronic elements. In his latest album, Savage Hills Ballroom, he explores new sounds that are much more influenced by pop tunes, which is especially clear in the first track, “Officer Telephone”. The death of his close friend influenced much of the album’s sound; most songs juxtapose highly controlled electronic elements with the passion and unpredictability of his voice. His music has always been rooted in themes about mental distress, but this new album approaches these topics in a different way. Previously, Powers produced more hypnotic music that was meant to help the listener avoid this distress, whereas Savage Hills Ballroom forces the listener to feel uncomfortable or more disturbed at times. To create this new sound, Powers recorded the album in Bristol, England, which out of his comfort zone and helped the album have a different sound. The lyrics also play a larger role in his new music, as his voice was hidden in his old tracks. Now, his voice is at the forefront of every song, especially in tracks like “No One Can Tell”, a slow melody that feels like his take on a ballad. Featuring his voice more prominently makes the songs seem much more personal compared to his earlier albums. The album has what many electronic artists struggle with: songs that feel vulnerable and emotional, but are also clean and well produced. 

Coeur De Pirate concert review

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Cœur de Pirate preformed a concert in DC on Sunday the 27th of October at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. It was her second time preforming in DC and it was my first time seeing her.  The intersection of Sixth and I street is right behind the Verizon Center, we drove and traffic was great because it was a Sunday. The concert was pretty intimate as the Synagogue only seats 800 people. I went to the concert with my mom and we sat in the first row of the balcony. It was still close enough for me to gaze longingly into her eyes.

Cœur de Pirate (or Béatrice Martin off the stage) is a bilingual Canadian singer who sings mostly in French. She has released three albums: Cœur de pirate, Blond and Roses and she composed “Child of Light”, a video game soundtrack. One of her most popular songs, Comme des Enfants” was released in 2008 and it has become a staple in french classes everywhere. As an artist she has developed since then and her music no longer applies to a single genre. “Child of Light” is almost entirely orchestral with other worldly vibes, she has also experimented with strong drum beats and keyboard sounds.

Cœur de Pirate on 10/25/10 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
Cœur de Pirate on 10/25/10 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

Béatrice Martin is a wonderful artist and human being. She combined her original music with beautiful stage lighting and projections. The acoustics were great and the sound reverberating in the synagogues dome and walls really leant something to Cœur de Pirate’s songs. Béatrice Martine is a gift, I learned a lot about her during the concert. She was very excited for the new The Walking Dead episode which came out during the show. I wonder how she is recovering from the events of last episode. She has a daughter who she wrote “The Way Back Home” for. Her favorite Canadian is Drake and she covered “Hold On We’re Going Home” which was great. She also covered “Dead Flowers” by the Rolling Stone.

So all together it was a great concert 9/10

If you would like to find out more about this artist; this is Cœur de Pirate’s website and you can listen to her on Spotify here