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Post Malone’s “beerbongs & bentleys” Album Review

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Since the release of “White Iverson” in 2015, Post Malone’s rise to fame was a relatively short journey. Three years later and Malone has already released his sophomore album, beerbongs & bentleys on Friday, April 27. The 18-track LP is already topping charts with his catchy hooks and relatable lyrics.

At first glance, beerbongs & bentleys doesn’t show much growth since Malone’s first album Stoney, which was incredibly successful commercially, but critiqued heavily for its simplicity. After some closer listening, it’s clear that Malone didn’t completely brush off all of those critiques. With more complex beats and a wide range of genre influences, beerbongs & bentleys demonstrates a lot of growth for Malone. It’s musically diverse, drawing influence from rap, pop, and indie rock, which are all tied together with the constant presence of Malone’s soulful voice.

While Malone has been able to internalize musical critiques and grow in that department, his personal maturity is still lacking. He is a part of an industry rooted in black culture, and in the past has faced several accusations of cultural appropriation. He addresses some of these concerns on this album, but he doesn’t do so in particularly graceful fashion. On “Over Now,” he declares, “Won’t apologize, don’t give a fuck if you offended.”

The thing that has always distinguished Post Malone from other rappers, though, is his ability to use a combination of genre influences and vulnerability in his hip hop. Malone seems to know he is nowhere near the best in the game with his rapping, and he is shown up by all of the features on this album. In particular, Nicki Minaj absolutely dominates “Ball For Me.” But, he doesn’t need to be the best; he just needs to be good at doing something different. The stark contrast between his gruff exterior and vulnerable music is perhaps the most interesting thing about Post Malone. He is a prime example of how you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Photo courtesy of www.postmalone.com

The vulnerability in the lyrics doesn’t always evoke a whole lot of sympathy and the album is heavily inundated with a “I do drugs, I have money and I’m sad” theme. The chorus of “Rich & Sad” (a title that literally encompasses this idea) breaks this down in the chorus with “I just keep on wishing that the money made you stay.”  While his lyricism isn’t exactly poetic (“Spoil My Night” boasts, “I ain’t even seen the face but she got beautiful boobies – wow!”), no one can deny that Malone knows his way around a hook. It is impossible to hear his songs without singing them a couple days later. All in all, Malone is no lyrical prodigy, but he’s an interesting guy who knows how to make a chart-topper.

 

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Post Malone’s “beerbongs & bentleys” Album Review. Featured image credit: Republic Records

J. Cole’s “KOD” Album Review

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J. Cole hasn’t featured any artists since his 2013 release Born Sinner. His two most recent albums, 2014 Forest Hills Drive and 4 Your Eyez Only both topped the charts without the help of anyone else. This feat became a bragging point for several Cole fans, who may be disheartened to see that Cole opted to include someone by the name of “kiLL edward” on his latest release. But, these fans need not worry too much. Several are speculating that kiLL edward is just Cole using some pitch adjustment. Cole is likely just making a show for some of the haters who have turned his lack of features into a joke. While reaching such a high level of success flying solo is impressive, just because Cole can top the charts without any features doesn’t necessarily mean he should. Going it alone is a dangerous route and can lead to some boredom, especially on a full-length album.

Cole has stated that the acronym “KOD” holds three meanings: Kids On Drugs, King OverDosed, and Kill Our Demons. All of these meanings are addressed throughout the album, as it focuses heavily on Cole’s own struggles with drug addiction.

As for the music itself, this album is not to be enjoyed at a party. You can’t really bop to any of these tracks, but the storyline is a valiant effort at exposing the realities of drug addiction. While several rappers appear to romanticize Percocet and Xanax, J. Cole is here to remind the listener that it isn’t all fun and games. Cole also goes into a few other topics, including guilt, familial issues, death, the struggles of low-income communities, and love in the digital age. Addressing all this in a 12-track, 42-minute album is no easy task, but to say Cole did all this successfully would be giving him too many accolades.

While there are several stand-out tracks on the album and plenty of applaudable themes, simply put, the album is nothing special. We’ve seen rappers recently putting out five-star albums from top to bottom—Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory, etc.—and this release is not that. Despite his efforts to address some serious things, this album is Cole’s worst.

There is no one track that has it all—lyrics, flow, beat. The stand out tracks are the ones that have at least one of those things, but there are none that have all three. The title track opens up the album with a solid beat and leads to listener to believe that this album is going to show some development in Cole’s style. Sadly, this foreshadowing is completely misleading. “ATM” is the next stand-out with probably the most interesting beat on the album.

The most disappointing track on the album by far comes early on in “Photograph.” This track sounds very similar to those on 2014 Forest Hills Drive, but the similarities stop short in everything but style. “Photograph” is the track that discusses the difficulties of love going digital and falling in love with a photograph—basically just a song about sliding into the DMs. Cole has called out SoundCloud rappers on many occasions, including a couple of times on this album, but this track is ironically reminiscent of some of the angst and simplicity that defines the famous SoundCloud rappers.

The second half of the album is far better, with “Kevin’s Heart,” “BRACKETS,” and “Once An Addict (Interlude)” all exploring particularly intimate themes with better flow. “BRACKETS” dives deeper into themes of racial discrimination. “Once An Addict” is the most intimate track on the album and provides insight into Cole’s relationship with his mother and his difficult, guilt-ridden childhood.

All in all, this album is unimpressive and repetitive. Cole hints at new styles, but fails to follow through. The themes are a solid effort at doing something bigger with his stardom, but Cole simply doesn’t manage to present them in an interesting and manner. Some tracks showed potential, but nothing was really enough to make the album notable.

 

 

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J. Cole’s “KOD” Album Review. Featured image credit: Dreamville Records

Sleep Well Beast: The National’s “Goodbye to All That”

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It becomes clear from the first few minutes of Sleep Well Beast that this is not just another record by old-timers The National. Of course, there is no replacing Matt Berninger’s signature croon or Aaron Dessner’s hypnotic songwriting. But this album captures a side of The National that we only see glimpses of during live sets—one that is wide awake, sweating through the setlist with a passion that can only come from experience. It is no surprise that they were inspired by love (and the tests it must endure with age) yet again in their music. However, this record was truly their wake-up call to a changing world: a world in which they are expected to be older and wiser instead of young and carefree. Their first album in 4 years, Sleep Well Beast is The National’s “Goodbye to All That” and hello to a new, repurposed energy.


At the risk of sounding pretentious, I will defend the Joan Didion reference in the previous sentence. Not only because The National love to reference literature in their songwriting (anyone else notice “John Cheever” in the refrain of “Carin At The Liquor Store”?) but because the subject of middle age comes up often in writing and is often executed very, very poorly (cue the sad violin music and melodrama). Joan Didion—and, as of now, The National—are of the few to do it right. There’s a quote in her famous essay about moving to New York, entitled “Goodbye to All That,” that reads: 

“One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.

The essay is essentially her goodbye to her old life in New York, the one where anything was possible, and her understanding that it is “a city only for the very young.” The National explore very similar themes in this album, right down to the disillusionment with New York; in opening track “Nobody Else Will Be There,” Berninger croons “It’s getting cold again, but New York’s gorgeous.” Only a few songs later, in “Born to Beg,” “New York is older / And changing its skin again / It dies every ten years / And then it begins again.”

It is possible that New York isn’t the only cyclical force in this life. This album makes it clear that love operates in much the same way, with its predictably catching anyone who thought they were different off guard. The overall tone of the album is a deep-rooted melancholy, created by heavy realizations—most of which involve finding out how incompatible two people in love can really be. In “Day I Die,” the narrator reveals “I used to put my head inside the speakers / In the hallway when you get too high and talk forever,” but the chorus of “Born to Beg” tells a different story: “I was born, born to beg for you.” This back-and-forth is inevitable. It only becomes an issue when you feel you’ve reached your wit’s end. This happens in one of The National’s most forceful songs to date, “Turtleneck,” where Berninger tunes into some of his raucous live show energy to deliver a full-on alternative rock track—a far step away from the moody indie tracks of The National’s previous release, Trouble Will Find Me.

It is not enough to say that what goes up must come down, though. When it comes to the mature, adult love, there’s always some force that brings everything back up, even if just for a moment. This is exactly what happens in the penultimate track “Dark Side of the Gym,” a love song in its purest form. The chorus reads like an extremely romantic (albeit a bit excessively so) version of what love feels like when you feel you have finally found the ‘right’ person: “I have dreams of anonymous castrati / Singing to us from the trees / I have dreams of a first man and a first lady / Singing to us from the sea.”

The last, and titular, track is perhaps the most Didion-esque part of the album. For lack of better words, it describes what happens after everything hits the fan (“I’m at a loss / I’m losing grip / The fabric’s ripped”). But Berninger himself admits that the “beast” he talks about isn’t necessarily something negative; It’s just scary. It’s the future (perhaps the very near future) that you don’t want to deal with. It’s the long day of work that ends with a fight before bed. It’s the love of your life, who really isn’t who you thought they were. It’s the goodbye to the easy, carefree life you let yourself get used to. But, most importantly, it’s the process of picking the pieces back up and moving on.

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Sleep Well Beast: The National’s “Goodbye to All That”: Photographs courtesy of The National/Facebook

Meg Mac Opens Up About New Album ‘Low Blows’

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Life can throw you in unexpected directions with even more unexpected outcomes. We know it, and Meg Mac knows it. Luckily enough, the Australian singer has created an entire album about her experiences and how to handle life when things don’t go as planned. We talked to Meg Mac to get a closer look at her highly anticipated album, Low Blows, out now and what it means to the singer. 

 

Cliché: How long did it take you make this album?
Meg Mac: I spent a day with Niles City Sound in Fort Worth to try out one song; this was in 2016. I was really into the Leon Bridges album they made there and organized this trip after meeting the guys backstage at a festival in Australia. It was because of that one day in their studio that I ended up making my album there. From there, it all came together pretty quickly. My songs are all written on piano, and we took all of them from that point to what they are now. I finished up additional production and mixing in New York at Electric Lady.

What inspired this album?
I’m always writing about what I’m experiencing, about my life and where I’m at. Leading up to the making of the album, I’d been spending a lot of time touring between Australia and America. I did a tour with D’Angelo, and that experience really inspired me and was important for me. I was in New York in between everything; I started reading the Patti Smith books while I was there and her attitude and music then really had an impact on me. Artists like Bob Dylan and Sam Cooke were really important to me as well, and of course I was hearing a lot of D’Angelo.

Tell us about your single “Low Blows.”
I wrote “Low Blows” in my bedroom in Melbourne. It’s about looking back, wishing I’d spoken up, and how things would be different if I knew how to stand up for myself. After I put it out, I had a lot of people reach out to me on social media—people sending me messages to say that they felt the same way and that it had connected with them. I really liked hearing that.

Your vocal sound is different than what is popular for musicians now. To a new fan, how would you describe your music style?
I always find it impossible to describe what I sound like, but I write all my songs at the piano, and then from there I like to mess around with harmonies, different layers, and moods I can make just using my voice. I think you can hear with all my music that it’s coming from there—everything can always go back to just me and the piano.

I wrote “Low Blows” in my bedroom in Melbourne. It’s about looking back, wishing I’d spoken up, and how things would be different if I knew how to stand up for myself.

If you could pick one song off this album to be what fans define you by, which would you want it to be and why?
There’s a song on my album called “Shiny Bright.” It’s one of the tracks that came together all in one go; I wanted it to be one performance from beginning to end. It’s a song that really sums up my life and where I was at when I wrote it—when I started to realize that life isn’t as shiny and bright as I thought it was going to be and having to accept that the bad stuff is just part of it. You hear people say that all the time, but when you work it out for yourself, it’s hard.

Overall, the album is about being yourself, especially when life gives you unexpected challenges. How do you feel this motto will resonate with fans?
The album is a collection of songs I wrote that are all really important to me. They’re my stories and my experiences and how I feel about it all. I hope people can take something from that.

Do you have a favorite song off the album?
It’s hard to choose a favorite because each song is really important for different reasons, but there’s a song called “Ride It” on the album that I find very exciting. It was the first time I’d ever really had a guitar feature on a track, and I got so inspired when we were recording that I started to teach myself guitar in the studio. When I was in New York working at Electric Lady, I picked out my first electric guitar. I am very excited about this new sound I get to play with.

Read more Music Interviews on ClicheMag.com

Meg Mac Opens Up About New Album ‘Low Blows’: Photographed by Metaxia Coustas

Calvin Harris Drops the Album of the Summer

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On his fifth studio album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1, Calvin Harris produced an incredible collection of songs for the summer. With a phenomenal group of features, this album will be an instant summer classic.

Before he released the entire album, Harris put out three tracks from the album as teasers: “Rollin,” “Slide,” and “Feels”—simple titles for simple songs. Each of the songs has a great beat that is perfect for driving around with the windows down. They have a funky/groovy element to them, which is an apparent theme throughout the whole album, especially with “Cash Out” featuring ScHoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and D.R.A.M. This one has a very funky yet chill feel to it. You can bop to it or you can relax to it, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

 

However, if you’re in the mood to chill, then “Hard to Love” is the song for you. It’s the only slower song on the album but it delivers. Jessie Reyez kills it on the vocals and the song has a very vibey feel to it.

“Faking it” is another somewhat slow song but it picks up during the chorus. Kehlani hits her vocals very well and Lil Yachty comes in for a fun verse which makes for a fun song with a unique beat.

The album all together is great, but there were a couple weak points. “Skrt on Me” with Nicki Minaj is a weird song that doesn’t really fit into the album. The beat isn’t bad but the vocals are very auto-tuned and bland. There isn’t much excitement in the song.

“Heatstroke” is another semi-weak point. It’s a decent song and the features are good but the other songs are easily better. It would definitely be the song that always gets skipped, but actually isn’t so bad.

Calvin Harris definitely delivered on this album and we will be listening to it all summer long!

Read more Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com

Calvin Harris Drops The Album Of The Summer: Photo courtesy of Calvin Harris/Facebook

Linkin Park ‘One More Light’ Review

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Linkin Park released their seventh album, One More Light, on May 19, 2017 after a few months of behind-the-scenes footage on their YouTube channel, along with a few standard lyric videos promoting its various tracks. For fans since their iconic debut, there were a few bumps along the way due to a shift in the band’s sound and members taking time to explore their new musical interests. After Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns, the band has continued into a space where they don’t try to do one or the other, but continue to blend, blend, blend, creating familiar yet new sounds group-wise, for the indecisive, open-minded listener. Does the new album stand up among Linkin Park’s rest?

 

The Tracklist

“Nobody Can Save Me”
Linkin Park is true to their start here just a tad. No matter how far they seem to veer, they can’t help it. The song opens with a bit of a trap sound, with whirrs and eventual percussion, similar to many pop songs as of late (say Twenty One Pilots?) due to its easy-going feel on the surface. Lead singer Chester Bennington creates a soft open with heavy lyrics, “Waves break above my head/Headfirst hallucination,” a truth for many who face issues or situations only they can rescue themselves from, but not without difficulty!
“Good Goodbye (feat. Pusha T & Stormzy)”
The album eases into the next track, with Mike’s rapping, meshing well with the background percussion. The chorus continues with the polished sound that LP is known for post-A Thousand Suns. So polished in fact, that Pusha T’s lyrics, (“Were you there for him?/Did you care for him?/You were dead wrong”) seem to solidify the songs’s title; ridding yourself of toxic energy and negative influence seems to be hard at first but it’s even more difficult for the one who can’t, or refuses, to be of good spirit. Artist Stormzy asserts his own rise from the ashes (“Goodbye to the cold roads, I can’t die for my postcode/Young little Mike from the Gold Coast”), emphasizing how things can change when you’re able to purge hindrance from your life’s path.
“Talking to Myself”
This is some good retro sound here! With a keyboard building up those drums to an eventually addictive riff for the first thirty seconds (The Killers or Tame Impala feels), excitement builds as we give Bennington a chance to explain his side of the story on the way to chorus (“You keep running like the sky is falling/I can whisper, I can yell/But I know, yeah I know, yeah I know/I’m just talking to myself”). The second verse kicks it down a bit as the lyrics shape a person who is fed up with someone who doesn’t want to change. The final chorus brings it back to the feel of the first and second verse, as a final set of guitar strums repeat along with the echoed/fading vocals.
“Battle Symphony”
A very modern sounding track, but a highlight. The emphasized production elements and song structure are similar to popular radio sounds but an appeal that, in my opinion, centered around the lyrics (“If my armor breaks, I’ll fuse it back together/Battle symphony”) and Bennington’s vocals.
“Invisible”
Now here we go! It’s got synth, it’s got a kick, an atmosphere, and Mike Shinoda giving his honest point of view with his vocals. “I was not mad at you, I was not trying to tear you down,” evokes the feeling of someone who is trying to apologize for being too harsh but had good intentions. To see someone’s point of view, their feelings and overall disposition when it comes to the ways of the world, is a born trait or a learned skill. Shinoda asserts the importance of getting what you need, and not always what you want. For most of us, being able to be told “I’m listening and I understand,” is a desire that, when fulfilled, brings comfort. The track’s arrangement seems simple in lyric structure, but the production itself is very smooth and somewhat anti-climatic, with the guitar, drums, keyboard, and hums that almost blend into one another. Somehow the sound isn’t too overbearing, and Shinoda’s vocals remain at the forefront until they fade away.

“Heavy (feat. Kiiara)”
This is another track with production evoking “Alternative pop” or the “dark” pop that seems to be popular for its wide-range appeal, for those who want to feel uplifted yet pensive at the same time. Goal achieved. Feature artist Kiiara is in her element with the production here and sings of a recurring issue, where they constantly attract all the emotional baggage and negative attention: “I know I’m not the center of the universe/But you keep spinning ’round me just the same.” Bennington finds himself speaking of things that seem to be too much to bear and shrouds away, until he gets to a declare, “I’m holding on/Why is everything so heavy?/Holding on, So much more than I can carry.” Bennington once again proves able to reach a point in his voice that is able to speak for those who don’t have much singing ability themselves. In this case, both he and Kiira lament over their toils but there’s a hint of hope that things can work out once the question is answered, or the weight finally drops off.
“Sorry For Now”
This song is a mish-mash of old, new, and production vibes that remind me of Owl City, Oasis, and maybe Skrillex, but it makes sense. However, it can be likened to a slow arrival into town. There is signature drumming by Rob Bourdon and Shinoda apologizing to those who aren’t able to be with him, as he sits on a plane, touring and making music: “Watching the wings cut through the clouds/Watching the raindrops blinking red and white/Thinking of you back on the ground” and they remain confused, angry, and hurt by his absence. Overall, nothing to be sorry about for this track, save for its complete simplicity and non-variety. Aside from the musing over decisions to leave, it just never fully takes off here. With honest and straightforward lyrics with a track as this one, however, it’s a “glass half full.” Just half!
“Halfway Right”
This is a track where honesty from those able to notice warning signs when it may be too late. Bennington has been openly honest about his upbringing and using memories as a way to speak wisdom into his voice, and even songwriting. Though this song is over three minutes long, the hazy production somehow makes it seem like no time has at all. Perhaps this is deliberate as the track avoids boredom despite its simplicity, for example the slight difference in the second pre-chorus (“All you said to do was slow down, I remember, now I remember”), and an almost tongue in cheek use of “na na na na na” after a perspective of someone fooling themselves into believing a fresh hot stove is only lukewarm.
“One More Light”
The title track of the album emotes of a person being more than what we appear and even more after we pass to our loved ones. ”If a moment is all we are, we’re quicker, quicker/Who cares if one more light goes out?/Well I do.” Linkin Park never ceases to ease that one ballad that tugs a bit at your heartstrings and being the second to last on the album, it’s a solid way to close out an album that so far is one long thought. Each bit encompasses the majority of thoughts that have ever passed through our minds.
“Sharp Edges”
Sounding like it belongs in a Western, the lyrics speak of a person who perhaps made the wrong move once upon a time (“Sharp edges have consequences, I guess that I had to find out for myself/Sharp edges have consequences, now/Every scar is a story I can tell”) but has lived through the battle and rode off into the sunset with a tale to tell. The replay factor on this track is a good seven to eight marks out of ten; it’s got a guitar, well-structured lyrics and reliability. Simple, but perhaps too simple for some. As a closing track, its choice may seem weak, but as for the overall concept and direction of the album, (a person who has been through it, but continues to look back on their experiences for self-reflection or improvement) I’d say it’s where it needs to be.

Survey Says? On Trend. 

Released during a time of year that may prove to be the one to for all reflections in our realities to come (2012 was an ‘end’ and this year may be a beginning), Linkin Park’s One More Light gives listeners a chance to ponder their own path toward self-improvement and positivity for themselves and other people, but it does leave some questions in terms of intricacy as a project overall. Music-wise, it’s consistent, straightforward, and polished, but perhaps a bit too polished for my tastes. One More Light is however, a project able to distinguish itself from prior releases post-2015 for the group. If you need a soundtrack while thinking over some big decisions or some time alone with all distractions lessened, this album is a perfect start for your journey.
Check out the album on the band’s YouTube channel and Spotify. Also available for purchase on Apple Music, Amazon and the Linkin Park’s website.
Read more on Music Reviews at ClicheMag.com.
Linkin Park ‘One More Light’ Review: Featured image courtesy of Linkin Park/Facebook

Acceptance Releases New Album After 10-Year Hiatus

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It’s been 10 years since Seattle-based rock band, Acceptance, broke up. For bassist Ryan Zwiefelhofer, the time apart was part of the journey to get them to where they are now. “I’m not really one to value the merits of fate or destiny, but in a lot of ways, the 10 years of each of our various personal experiences, trials, victories, all those things, seem to have led up to a moment when this all made sense,” Zwiefelhofer said.

 
Now back together and having released their second studio album, Colliding By Design, Zwiefelhofer said that it’s been great to be back with his bandmates and working together again.
“It’s been such a pleasure and wildly rewarding experience being back together,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Not just with performing with one another again, but speaking, traveling, and spending time together after so long really feels like home for us.”
Zwiefelhofer said that for many of those years apart, there wasn’t much communication between them. That’s just another reason why this reunion had been so special. But being back together didn’t mean they would be working the same way. Zwiefelhofer said that the process of putting together Colliding By Design was very different from how they worked on their first album, Phantoms, back in 2005.
“Being in a band was a full-time job back then,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Now we all have different careers, families, and responsibilities.”
That made it difficult to devote long periods of time to solely focus on putting an album together.
“Just being able to drop everything for three or four weeks or a few months isn’t inconvenient; it’s simply out of the question for us,” Zwiefelhofer said.
So the band had to work out how to best accommodate all their schedules. According to Zwiefelhofer, the band figured out how to make it work as they were going, and the process worked out well. As for what it was like for the band members to play with each other again after so long, Zwiefelhofer summed it up simply.

We carry with us this overarching feeling that we can do something good with our music.

“It was like putting on an old sweater you thought you lost or listening to a record you loved but had forgotten about,” Zwiefelhofer said. “It all just settled in and felt right.”
From the start, the band knew they shouldn’t recreate their first album. Too much time had passed and their perspective on things had grown and changed. Zwiefelhofer singled out vocalist Jason Vena as one member of the band who came into creating Colliding By Design with this newfound perspective that’s reflected in the album.
“Lyrically, Jason really pushed himself to set up scenes and scenarios that he could speak to and challenge and discover and come away saying something people would resonate with,” Zwiefelhofer said. “It was really awesome to watch him craft his words, as I think it was awesome for him to watch us evolve and craft the music.”
Musically, Zwiefelhofer said that just as people’s viewpoints change over time, so do their influences and interests.
“What I’m listening to when I go for a hike or commute to work isn’t what I listened to when I was in my 20s,” Zwiefelhofer said. “We all found different things we are drawn to in music, and it’s an eclectic group of guys.”
When it comes to the technical aspects of music, Zwiefelhofer said that playing the instruments slowed down for them, because of age.
“We aren’t using as much distorted guitar or faster chord progressions now,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Turns out it does actually get harder to play faster as you get older. Those reaction times deplete a little bit.”

One of the biggest worries for a band returning from a long hiatus is whether or not the fan base was still there. Zwiefelhofer said that the response from fans so far has been “overwhelmingly encouraging, inspirational, and humbling.”
“A very real question we asked ourselves at the onset of this whole reemergence was about if people still cared,” Zwiefelhofer said. “To see all of the stories, excitement, and kind words that people have been sharing with us as we’ve been moving along over the last few years is staggering for us. We’re so incredibly thankful for that reaction. It makes all of this so much more rewarding.”
Zwiefelhofer mentioned that looking at the future, the band will be doing a lot more touring. While Colliding By Design may have just dropped, they are also beginning to think about its potential follow-up.
“We want to play as many shows as we can,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Maybe get overseas a bit more, and continue to write songs. Like, a lot of songs. We’re just setting Colliding free, but we’re already writing and getting excited for the next chapter.”
Acceptance may have been apart for 10 years, but Zwiefelhofer said that now there’s nowhere else they’d want to be and nothing else they’d rather be doing than producing more music.
“We carry with us this overarching feeling that we can do something good with our music, that we can reach out and be something good for people,” he said. “So, I don’t know if the timing of the return and new record had some grounding in thoughtful intention, but I’m sure as hell that we’re right where we want to be right now.”
Read more Music articles at ClicheMag.com
Acceptance Releases New Album After 10-Year Hiatus. Photographed by Jake Gravbrot

“I See You” Shows a New Side of The xx

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London-based pop group The xx just released their new album on Jan. 13, 2016. Titled I See You, this album changes everything you think you knew about The xx. The group started “in a bedroom in south west London, after school, drinking too much Pepsi,” according to their Facebook page, and now they are on a European and North American tour and have released their third album. Looks like their bedroom got a whole lot bigger.

Their new album, I See You, is much more out there than their first two, but it works. The opener, “Dangerous” is a fun jump into the new album with great harmonies from the two lead vocalists, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. This track has potential to be a dance track — it definitely gets the feet tapping. Later in the album, “Performance” changes the trajectory of I See You. With Madley Croft on vocals, she produces a haunting melody to capture the audience’s attention, getting goosebumps the whole way through. The album changes again with “On Hold.” This track starts as a soft piece with beautiful vocals and evolves into an enjoyable melody with some rhythm that will make you want to move, courtesy of Jamie Smith, the man behind the beats. The album’s closure “Test Me” really ties the whole album together. Croft’s and Sim’s voices clash to make a poignant melody with so much feeling behind it. This song tells the story of conflict and struggle that the group has had to overcome in the past years. Songs like this with deeper meaning are what makes The xx who they are.
Compared to their first two albums, I See You has something different. There is more emotion behind these lyrics and it’s much more expressive. The group reported that this album would have “a completely different concept” and that it did. The xx took a big risk making this album, but it paid off.

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“I See You” Shows a New Side of The xx. Image courtesy of The xx.

Album Review: ‘Starboy’ by The Weeknd

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Abel Tesfaye, better known as his stage name The Weeknd, has come along way from being the underground, Toronto crooner with his chart-topping album Starboy. The Weeknd has slowly climbed to stardom and proves that he is prepared to remain at the top of the charts. It’s been years since The Weeknd charmed us with his underground, tortured music that had us helplessly fall in love with his soft, tender voice as he sang about love, drugs, and his own securities. With each album and feature, The Weeknd displays improvement and maturity as he takes chances and switches up his sound. Not deterred from the transition, The Weeknd’s loyal fan base embraces a new side to him.

Fueled with more catchy beats, Starboy is The Weeknd making a name for himself as he sets himself apart from other competition. In an interview with Daily Mail, the singer mentions his insecurities and how he would get on stage drunk. Referring to his insecurity that he does not look like other R&B artists, the Weeknd proves he does not need any other factors to add to his appeal–which makes him unique. He is himself; when he performs, he does not need backup dancers or cool dance moves to keep up enthralled, which is another reason why he remains nervous about performing. But the draw to The Weeknd’s music is more than just his amazing vocals; it’s the elusiveness and the air of quiet mystery he keeps around him like a cloak. Even as he rises to fame, The Weeknd is still unknown, which I believe adds to his appeal. Even though I still miss the mumbled French he spoke in his mixtapes, it is almost impossible for him to disappoint.

Jumping on the extended music-video train, along with a video for “Starboy” and “False Alarm,” “M A N I A” is a 12-minute video that features some songs on the album. Heavy with symbolism and swimming with beautiful women, “M A N I A” has a lingering dark and serious tone despite The Weeknd’s soft, sensual voice in the background. Sharing the same name as the album, “Starboy” is the first track that was released prior the album release date, which allowed us a taste of how the rest of the album would transpire. A music video accompanies this track, which seems to be an interlude for “M A N I A.” The word “starboy” is actually a Jamaican slang for a person who is seen as cool or important to their peers, which seems to be The Weeknd solidifying his place on the top. The track oozes with pain and emptiness despite bragging about the riches and women he has acquired since the fame. The catchy beat almost disguises the heartfelt and lonely lyrics as The Weeknd discusses feeling adrift because he is always working and touring. Despite bemoaning his grievances, The Weeknd is quietly determined to be a successful artist.
One of the two singles released a week prior to Starboy, “Party Monster” is an upbeat track where The Weeknd assures that he is doing fine. The Weeknd also reveals an urge to find a girl who can understand him, which can mean emotionally or a girl who can understand and accept his darker nature and share his same desire for partying. Lana Del Rey appears in the background, hauntingly whispering “Paranoid.” The songstress also later makes memorable appearance on an another track “Stargirl Interlude,” where her talents adds a poignant element to the track. Not a personal favorite, “False Alarm” is also accompanied by a music video. The Weeknd talks about a mystery girl who is swept up in her lavish lifestyle. Questioning her love, The Weeknd labels her a “false alarm,” The Weeknd pities her because she is trapped in her own her obsession with materialistic things. A track to remind his haters that he is here to stay on top of the charts, “Reminder,” The Weeknd shuts down any rising doubts.
Taking a break from his heartbreaking ballads from his earlier work, The Weeknd has pumped the tempo with the track “Rockin.” A sweet and romantic song, I can imagine this slowly becoming a wedding song. In this track, The Weeknd wants to forget about commitments and urges to find a woman who enjoys fun and frivolous sex. The Weeknd’s voice is almost unrecognizable on the next song, “Secrets,” where his voice is lower than we are used to. Claiming to be in love with this girl, The Weeknd believes that their love is not mutual and suspects her love is fake. The Weeknd eventually switches to his more hyper-pitched singing as he says he knows her “secrets,” which means she apparently talks in her sleep.
An amazing song, “True Colors” makes you want to embrace all your imperfections. The beat for the track is amazing, the hook is beautiful and revealing as The Weeknd seems eager to get to know more about this mystery woman. Unlike his previous music from his other albums, there is a trace of The Weeknd’s yearning for monogamy when he sings. In the track “Sidewalks,” both The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar highlight their transition from their humble beginnings to their fame. Both artists painfully reminisce the journey to their current popularity and how pursuing music saved them. Featuring an emotionally distant girl who is hungry for money, in “Six Feet Under” The Weeknd judges the woman’s shallow aspirations for fame and security. Future joins The Weeknd in the chorus, similar to their track together, “Low Life,” the song featured on the rapper’s album Evol.  Future also appears on the track “All I Know,” where The Weeknd once again bemoans how both he and this mysterious woman cannot come together because of their differences and their refusal to change.

In the track “Love to Lay,” The Weeknd is hurt by this same mysterious woman, blaming himself for getting wrapped up with her. “A Lonely Night” prolongs The Weeknd’s frustration with the woman, upset that this woman loves him when wants to keep it frivolous and unattached. Mustafa The Poet joins along with the Weeknd as he harmonizes with him on “Attention.” The Weeknd appreciates the woman’s outer and inner beauty as he urges her to teach him how to love her properly, but then The Weeknd claims the unnamed woman is looking for attention, which apparently frustrates him because he is too busy.
The track “Ordinary Life” is ironic because The Weeknd recognizes his hedonistic lifestyle as he parties and does drugs, is in fact, not ordinary.  “Nothing Without You” changes the mood of the next few songs, crooning as he expresses his poignant regret for a girl that he loves, yet he cannot stay with her. “Die For You” follows along with The Weeknd’s more somber mood. Expressing his conflicted emotions, the song is extremely tender and raw. Ending the album with a yearning for mutual love and understanding, “I Feel it Coming” was part of two-single release in November.  This final track reveals that The Weeknd wants this relationship to work, claiming he can urge this woman to learn to love him, too.
Ever since the release of Starboy on Nov. 25th, the feedback from the album has been overwhelmingly positive and the Weeknd has taken to Instagram to voice his appreciation of his fans.  Tour dates have been released, and though it’s a year away–I can’t wait!
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Album Review: ‘Starboy’ by The Weeknd: Featured image courtesy of Starboy

Now Playing: ‘Nightride’ by Tinashe

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Coming down from her 2014 release Aquarius and gearing up for her sophomore album Joyride, Tinashe decided to join the ranks of music’s elite and surprised the world last month with Nightride, a sexy, subdued, cool and slightly dark glimpse into another side of the singer’s skill set.

A few of the songs on this mixtape were recorded by Tinashe herself in her own bedroom, but she also worked with a few well-known producers like Metro Boomin, PartyNextDoor, and The Dream. Nightride came about after creative differences with her record label surfaced while making Joyride, which was originally supposed to be released first. Her approach to music as of late is “to do it her way and do it unapologetically.” She confirms this state of mind by opening with “Lucid Dreaming.” She sings “if it’s my life / ain’t nobody gonna tell me how to live it / they can’t see it the way I see it through my eyes.” In a Twitter Q&A with fans, she revealed that the song is about “creating the life you want by manifesting it.”
Most of us all fell in love with Tinashe when we first heard her debut single  “2 On,” which quickly turned into a summer anthem. Although this album keeps too much of the same theme of slow and mid-tempo tracks, Tinashe still delivers a cool dance track in “Touch Pass,” where she attempts to seduce a young man to be hers. Other stand-out tracks from the album include “Ride of Your Life” and “Sacrifices,” which were produced by Metro Boomin, “Sunburn” and “Party Favors,” which originally features rapper Young Thug.

The release of Nightride doesn’t mean that Joyride will never see the light of day. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Tinashe explained that the two are still very much related projects.
“I see them as two things that are equally the same,” the singer said. “I think you can be a combination of things, and that’s what makes people human and complex.”
In an industry that churns out female talent like an assembly line, it seems as though Tinashe has found her place and has made it very clear she will not be pushed to the side.
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Now Playing: ‘Nightride’ by Tinashe: Photo courtesy of @tinashenow on Instagram

Johnnyswim’s Album ‘Georgica Pond’ is a Must-Listen

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Are you looking for the perfect song? The one that fits every mood and emotion you have? Well, you are in luck because we’ve found fourteen perfect songs just for you. Johnnyswim’s sophomore album Georgica Pond is here and it is beautiful. After the release of 2014’s Diamonds, fans eagerly awaited new music from the duo as they teased songs from the new album on their YouTube channel’s “New Music Mondays.” On October 14th when the album released, we were up at midnight eager to listen, too.

 
The album begins with “Welcome to Georgica Pond,” a 23-second intro that encompasses the vibe of the album while seamlessly transitioning into the second track, “Hummingbird.”  “Hummingbird” is all about a relationship that isn’t as easy as it should be and now that said relationship is over, they are looking for a much simpler one. The track has a hard vibe, infused with the frustration of love gone wrong, of time wasted on someone who cannot give it back to you. The anger in “Hummingbird” is completely absent from “Summertime Romance,” the track that follows. Where “Hummingbird” is about regret, “Summertime Romance” is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a love song about how a summertime romance turned into forever.  The track spends five minutes and four seconds writing tiny love letters as it switches from Amanda Sudano’s powerhouse voice to Abner Ramirez’s smooth and commanding voice and back again.

The next track on the album, “Villains,” is our favorite. Ramirez starts out the track singing “You’re hearing black, I’m saying white / You’re turning loose, I’m holding tight / Backwards in the same direction” and Sudano slides in without missing a beat “I’m in the wings, you’re on the spot / I keep it cool, and you’re quick to hot / Always ready for attention,” thus starting an exciting back and forth between the duo as they tell the story of a couple who can’t seem to stop making each other the villain in their love story. The track is full of quick, witty lyrics and a plea to make love work because despite all of the bad, it is a love worth fighting for. 

“Touching Heaven” is a soft, slow track that relies on the piano to tell a story of the love of  and devotion to family. The track ends with a snippet of their son Joaquin singing with Sudano and Ramirez, an aww-inducing close to the already sweet song. The title track comes soon after  about the place her mother (Donna Summer)  used to take her and her siblings before she passed away. 

“Let It Matter” is our third favorite song on the album. The production is masterful while the message of allowing yourself the room to grieve your loved ones and not avoid that heartbreak and pain is a message we all can relate to and need to hear when we do lose loved ones. In a discussion about the song, the duo explained that one of their friends told them to let their pain and grief matter while they were grieving the loss of their father (Ramirez) and mother (Sudano) respectively within ten months of each other. “First Try,”  “In My Arms,” and “Lonely Night in Georgia” ft. Vince Gil are all love songs in their own right, each with wonderful vocals and production.

“Drunks” is a track that catches your attention immediately with the opening line: “I want to write a song the drunks all sing and the sober sing along.” The track continues as a search for community and the feeling of belonging somewhere despite who you are or where you come from, the idea that something as simple as a song can bring completely different people together. “Say Goodnight Instead” and “Rescue You” are two of the album’s most lyrically beautiful songs, the kind of songs you find yourself humming and singing throughout the day without even realizing it. A cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” closes out the album. It’s a cover so good that we are certain he’s just as proud of it as we are.
“Georgica Pond” is out now and you can stream it on Apple Music, Spotify, or purchase it here.

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Johnnyswim into Georgica Pond: photos courtesy of The Apple Roots

A$AP Mob Takes Over with Their Album Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends

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Rising to fame after the successful release of their legendary mixtape Lords Never Worry in 2012, the A$AP Mob has continued to represent their roots in their chart-topping album Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1: Friends. In honor of the late co-founder of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Yams, the Harlem rappers come together to revere their friend and essential part of the group. A collaboration with new and old friends, the A$AP MOB proves once again to be a rap group not to mess with.
Founded in 2006 in Harlem, the A$AP Mob arguably changed how rappers introduce and produce their mixtapes. The production similar to an album rather than a mixtape, Lords Never Worry, sprung the Mob’s VIP rappers A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg into immediate fame. Following the success of the mixtape, A$AP Rocky has made a name for himself in the rap game with the release of his debut album Long. Live. A$AP and A$AP Ferg also releasing Trap Lord, cementing the Mob as a rap group that cannot compare. Despite the fame that has found them, the A$AP Mob was able to come together and produce music that sounds (thankfully) similar to their earlier work. A fun, gritty album with spitfire verses and beats produced by the greatests producers in the industry, Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1:Friends will be your go-to album to listen to this winter.
Starting the album in a more humble background, we find A$AP Rocky chatting with a local bodega owner. This proves how A$AP Rocky has not disregarded his modest roots but has shaped it to his music and persona. The first track on the album, “Yamborghini High,” is in honor of the late A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams who tragically passed away January 2015 at the age 26. Hitmaker Juicy J joins the crew, adding his talents to the track and perfectly including his skills with A$AP Rocky’s smooth bars. Keeping A$AP Yams dream alive with the album, the group talks about reaching “Yamborghini High.”

“Crazy Brazy” is a more fast-paced song with A$AP Twelvyy and Key! joining with A$AP Rocky. The single was released on the MTV LABS launch on Sept. 30, 2016. A$AP Rocky was quoted discussing the upcoming album, stating,“This is the Yams album we’ve been working on. We finally finished it. The Cozy Tapes album is called Friends Minus. It just features all of our friends and hip-hop associates and what-not, and people that Yams would have wanted. It’s an introduction to the new cozy wave. It’s really rap-punk meets alternative-underground.”
The third track on the album, “Way Hii,” features Wiz Khalifa, who partners up with A$AP Rocky and the crooner BJ The Chicago Kid adds his amazing vocals to the track to give it a dreamlike quality. A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa collaborate together as an unbeatable duo as they rap about drugs and getting high.
“Young N***a Living” is produced by Canadian producer DJ Smokey, whose beats are tough and addicting. A$AP Twelvy features on the track, spitting dope and catchy verses. A$AP Ferg mourns his recently deceased grandmother and his memorable verses including him expressing his frustration with police brutality, the oppression of African Americans, and how the harshness of the world drives him to drink. “Nasty’s World” features A$AP Nast taking the mic and freestyling with his smooth rapping skills along with hard beats. All about the money, the A$AP Mob dedicates the track “Money Man” to money and the luxuries it can and has provided for them. A$AP Rocky talks about getting money and being loyal to his squad despite it. Proving once again why he is the most successful rapper in the group, A$AP Rocky’s charisma and witty lyrics truly standout.
My personal favorite track, “Put That On My Set,” is featured in a 12-minute video along with “Money Man.” Produced by Lil Awree, A$AP Rocky presents a tough, gritty presence as he express his appreciation of women and money and a trace of violence of people owing him debts. Noting how the group has not only been popular in the United States but also internationally, the rap group expresses their happiness about their reaching music teaching overseas in “London Town.” The group also mentions how because they have been so successful, they have been able to purchase foreign luxuries like cars and designer clothes.

A banger with the high-in-demand rapper Lil Uzi, “Runner” is all about bragging about the cash flow and proves how far and wide the influence of A$AP Mob has spread. Able to connect with newer and older rappers from all across the United States and bring them together for their album is impressive. Relating this track to the luxuries achievable with their money, “Bachelor” features the up-and-coming rapper Lil Yachty and perfectly blends the various rappers and artists vibes and sounds well.
The last track on the album, “Telephone Calls,” the  eccentrically dark rapper Tyler, the Creator joins the Mob. Successful since releasing his debut album “Goblin,” Tyler, the Creator has continued to remain relevant in not only music but fashion. Launching his own fashion brand called Golf Wang, the West Coast rapper joins along with A$AP Rocky, which hopefully means that there will be more future collaborations.
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Listen to A$AP Mob Takes Over with Their Album Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends: Featured image courtesy of Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends