Opinion: Maroon 5’s Newest Single Is Just Plain Bad

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June 5, 2015

Maroon 5 are back (and unfortunately not better than ever) with their newest single ‘This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherf****r’.

All I can say is this summer really is gonna hurt like a motherf****r if I have to hear this song on the radio every single day:


As a band that’s made the leap from rock, to pop, to a machine that spews out top 40 bubblegum hits, it’s inevitable that this dance-y track will be everywhere in no time.

Where do I even begin with this song? First of all the title. You just know it’s going to be bad. The lyrics are hardly any better:”Her body’s hot / Her body’s like the summer”. I mean really? That’s the best simile you could come up with? Adam Levine, shame on you. This is a song coming from the same guy who wrote Grammy-winning hits like ‘Make Me Wonder’ that actually deserve the critical praise. I’m shaking my head with disappointment right now.

The song doesn’t even sound anything close to the Maroon 5 many have come to know. Is it even the same band that wrote ‘Songs About Jane’ and ‘Hands all Over’? Many fans who have loved them from the start (myself included) were less than thrilled when they became more and more pop influenced. I still listen to all their albums, and I didn’t dislike ‘V’ at all. Yes, it’s catchy and upbeat, and some of the songs like ‘Feelings’ and ‘It Was Always You’ are really retro and funky in the best way possible. I’m all for growth and progression, and I admire Maroon 5 for experimenting outside their pop-rock confines. However, just the same, it’s an easily forgettable record. Re-issuing ‘V’ with this song may help it become more memorable… only the memories will be a tad painful.

But that’s besides the point. I understand that the band needs a huge song to ride on the wave of success of ‘Sugar’. But did it really have to be this one?

Can you go to the Grammy awards and perform a song like this? Absolutely not.

Here’s hoping the band takes a step back and re-evaluates things. I love a good synth-pop song as much as the next person, but this single is less than stellar.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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New Music: Liza Anne is Back with Album Number ‘Two’

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June 3, 2015

It’s the kind of album that is the quintessential coffee shop soundtrack, as you dreamily stir your drink while pondering everything and nothing all at once.

Nashville singer-songwriter Liza Anne’s latest album ‘Two’ is slow, acoustic guitar driven enchantment. It’s a hazy record that feels as comforting as a cozy sweater on a chilly day. Folky swaying melodies that rise and fall, intertwined with clever lyrics such as those from ‘Northern Wind’: “feel it calling like a northern wind / whispering ‘who you are isn’t what you’ve been'”. Anne manages to create a glowing portrait of love and loss, amidst tinkering piano chords. Although the LP only boasts 7 tracks, it’s enough to create a musical landscape that takes you on a journey – literally. On her first record ‘The Colder Months’ she sampled the sound of the sea on the track ‘Ireland’. It is this quirkiness and innovation that she brings once again to ‘Two’ on the song ‘Ocean’, with the sampling of the London Tube. In an interview with Nylon she discusses the influence of her travels’ musical impact stating, “The whole record was meant to have like a corner of every place I had seen and I was really excited.” She succeeded, and along the way, captured an unmistakable serenity with each song.

Anne constructs a maturity of wisdom beyond her years with tracks including ‘Take it Back’, and ‘Room’. There’s a quiet omniscience that is transparent in her pure vocals. It is especially evident on ‘Take it Back’ where she emanates jazzy sophistication with a Nora Jones-esque flair.

Fans of artists similar to City & Colour, Tom Odell, Daughter, and Lewis Watson will enjoy this record. It has all the qualities necessary to tell the story of a fragile relationship. As listeners, we are bound by the intrigue of listening her to sing the answers to a question that we weren’t sure we had asked in the first place. In doing so, Liza Anne finds her voice and owns the indie singer-songwriting genre. She takes control not by belting out ballads, but commands attention from the subtlety of each note.

Rather than sounding exactly like ‘The Colder Months’, ‘Two’ serves as a extension that demonstrates growth through the layering of more instruments and deeper lyrical experimentation. As a whole the record is somber. It has its moments of heavy-heartedness where all the emotions come crashing down. But it always manages to find a way to be complete again. As Liza Anne sings: “I would rather have it fall apart / than act like we’re on solid ground”.

An album that manages to be ambitious yet down-to-earth, it is within Liza Anne’s musical authenticity that reminds us we can never truly know how to navigate our hearts.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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Bea Miller is the world’s best kept secret

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Pop, Videos

June 2, 2015

Bea Miller is the world’s best kept secret, but she’s not going out quietly. Her track ‘Fire N Gold’ has been all over my dash since the release of the music video last week, and now, I’m bringing it to yours. Since her all too short run on the X Factor in 2012, Bea has won the approval of some of the greats, including Kellin Quinn, Demi Lovato, and Tyler Oakley. She’s toured with some of the greats as well — Demi’s taken her on tour, and so have her X Factor gal pals, Fifth Harmony. Connected to big names like these, it’s obvious that Bea’s going somewhere, and she’s going to get there fast.

Bea’s upcoming album, Not an Apology, drops on July 24th, which will be perfect for your end of summer jam sesh.

You can check out the brand-spankin’-new video for this upbeat summer anthem below.

Article by Kaitlyn Midgett

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Alessia Cara Drops Music Video for ‘Here’

Archive, Emerging Artists, News, Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Videos

June 2, 2015

Up-and comer Alessia Cara is poised to become the next big R&B songbird as she channels her inner “anti-social pessimist” with an air of defiant cool on her single ‘Here’. The track has all the beginnings of a soulful pop/R&B ballad, reminiscent of the Weeknd or Tinashe.

The 18-year old singer-songwriter first garnered attention through youtube with covers of popular songs like ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake. 

When talking about the track to the FADER magazine she described it as being, “a song for all the antisocial, awkward, and miserable party-goers of the world. This one time I went to a party and while there, I realized how much I hated it, along with every other party I had ever gone to. We wrote about it the next day.” 

Produced by Pop & Oak (who’s credits include instrumentation on Jessie J’s album ‘Sweet Talker’) along with Sebastian Kole, it’s a slower song that showcases Cara’s pure vocals with a thumping beat and repetitive piano that compliments the lyrical flow.

Cara recruited people from the original party that became the song’s inspiration for the music video.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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Track of the Week: Heroine // Gengahr

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Track of the Week

June 1, 2015

totw-finalNorth London band Gengahr has been around for a while now, with their fans eagerly awaiting the release of their debut album, A Dream Outside through Transgressive Records on June 15th. To make the wait more bearable, they’ve gifted us ‘Heroine’. It’s a romantic, intoxicating melody perfect for fans of Little Comets or the reclusive D.I.D (formerly known as Dog Is Dead).

Frontman Felix Bushe’s mellow vocal has the same lingering quality as Orlando Weeks, of Maccabees fame, and yet Gengahr’s sound remains distinctly their own. There’s a feverous quality to the melody, which is modestly psychedelic in nature, but it never overwhelms the poignant lyrical “you can be my heroine / all I ask is that you wait for me”.

An emotionally fragile narrative paired with an assertive groove is a definite recipe for success, and if ‘Heroine’ is anything to go by Gengahr’s debut is going to be impressive, to say the least.

Article by Beth Kirkbride

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Ones to Watch: Jack Garratt

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, News, Ones to Watch, Singer/Songwriter, Videos

May 31, 2015

Jack Garratt is a indefinable artist. Born and raised in a small Buckinghamshire town and now living and working in London, the multi-instrumentalist and talented songwriter has released a handful of tracks that each differ vastly from the last. His latest track, ‘Chemical’, is a semi-mellow, semi-electronic track that wouldn’t sound out of place on Ed Sheeran’s latest album, whilst ‘The Love You’re Given’ is a highly experimental, lounge-like piece full of sleek falsetto harmonies and synth beats. Somehow, Garratt’s sound manages to feel both comfortingly familiar and refreshingly unique all at once, and perhaps that quality is exactly what his growing success has stemmed from.

The 22-year-old has been working long and hard to get his break. He started his song-writing career at the age of 12, writing tirelessly in his school lunch break – the first song he ever wrote landed him a place in Britain’s final for the Junior Eurovision song contest.

BBC Introducing have been keeping a watchful eye on Jack since he first added a track to the BBC Introducing Uploader in 2009. Since then, his single ‘Worry’ has been selected as Zane Lowe’s new hype record, as well as Huw Stephen’s record of the week. He also appeared – and reportedly enthralled the crowd – on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds last summer.

His first, four-track EP, Synesthesiac, was released on iTunes on 13th April this year and has already been receiving five star reviews from listeners (deservedly so) – even current pop-sensations Sia and Katy Perry has tweeted about his talent. Having toured the world tirelessly over the past few years, Jack is currently in the States and will be returning to home soil to hit the festival circuit this summer, including a spot, now on the Festival Republic Stage, at Reading and Leeds. Keep your eyes and ears open for this red-headed artist; he’ll be making huge waves this year.

Article by Amie Bailey


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Album Review: Amber Run // 5AM

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May 29, 2015

Amber Run’s album was already finished early last year, but the five-piece British band from Nottingham, a fairly young band with only a number of years together, released three EPs throughout 2014 that included four songs off their debut album 5AM, (‘I Found’, ‘Spark’, ‘Noah’ and ‘Pilot’).  In their short time span, it seems as if they have found their voices fairly quickly, building the album around these four songs. The opening track ‘I Found’ exudes a melancholic sensitivity, while the pop-friendlier ‘Spark’ and ‘Noah’ are far more elated, I almost expect an audience clapping as the songs finish.

As you listen to ‘5AM’ you get why it is the chosen title track. “And in the haze you’ll see colours / and it suddenly make sense / but the way you’ve been going / you’ll be in an early grave.” This is a rare and fragile vulnerability that hits you head on, united with their grand gestures which is one of their definite cornerstones.

They successfully combine majestic anthem-like tones with great intimacy, especially on ‘Just My Soul Responding’ and ‘Hurricane’, a touch they rarely lose throughout the album, but when they do, I miss a less safe approach whether it is lyrically or production-wise. The authentic indie-tune sometimes gets buried underneath a more mainstream and rationalized approach, which oddly enough goes against what producer Mike Crossey have previously done with artists like Foals, Keane, and Jake Bugg.

‘Good Morning’ musically reminisce something from The 1975 while it is lyrically definitely Amber Run. I’m partial to the penultimate song ‘Shiver’ because it mirrors both the opening and title track in effortless pulsing tunes with little to no alterations throughout it. Grand gestures can go hand in hand with simplicity and that side of the bands’ creativity is the most interesting aspect.

The curiosity they start out with on ‘I Found’ never does reach the same heights throughout the record, but you feel the want to explore different sound universes with an electronic roughness, and that allows them to make up for it. When all this is said and done there are few bands who find their niche so quickly. Amber Run is the sort of band I’m looking forward to hearing their second or third studio album to see what road they will take us down. There is, and should, still be room left to grow.

Article By Flipse Flebo

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Ones to Watch: Alvvays

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, News, Ones to Watch, Pop, Videos

May 26, 2015

otw-finalAlvvays (pronounced “always”) is the latest indie-pop export straight out of Toronto, with their self-titled debut album released in 2014. The track ‘Archie, Marrie Me’ is definitely one of the anthems of the summer.

It’s a song about love that strums on your heartstrings, drawing you in with catchy lyrics and charm. It’s a perfect summer tune: infectious, bubbly, sunshine-soaked.

Expect big things from this little band this year. Simon Vozick-Levinson, of Rolling Stone, got it right when he labelled their debut album an “indie-pop wonder”. To top that off, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie also declared ‘Archie, Marry Me’ one of his favourite songs of the year, and then proceeded to do a really great stripped-back piano cover of the song. Strong albeit simple, it was lovely.

Both the original and this cover are great. Check it out for yourselves.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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Track of the Week: Lone Driver // Southern

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May 24, 2015

totw-finalSometimes it can be difficult to stay afloat amongst all the waves of great new music that are continually being released. That’s exactly why we’ve come up with this ‘Track of the Week’ feature – where every week without fail we’ll pick out a track we think you’ll love. First up is ‘Lone Driver’, by a Belfast-based band called Southern…

If you found yourself pre-ordering Peace’s Happy People earlier this year, and ever since have had a particular penchant for upbeat indie pop, then ‘Lone Driver’ by Southern is an essential addition to your iTunes library. The track is underpinned by an unrelenting yet unobtrusive melody, with frontman Thom Southern drawling in a Koisser-esque manner: “feeeeeel what’s inside of you”. There’s some pretty funky distortion going on, which combines with poignant lyrics such as “I found myself in a pocket full of pain”, making for an emotionally wrought aural construction about exclusion and separation.

With song-writing duties split between them it is clear Lucy and Thom don’t only share genes, they share genius, too. Genius that is destined to be recognised in due course; whilst Southern have already played across the UK supporting the likes of Hudson Taylor and Jake Bugg, they are bound to be headlining their own shows before they know it.

With the tracks producer, Mark Rankin (think Queens of the Stone Age and Bombay Bicycle Club), also working on their upcoming album, no doubt ‘Lone Driver’ is merely a precursor to an impressive debut. One we can’t wait to hear.

Article by Beth Kirkbride


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