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“Small Voices” – Matt Gresham
Jessica Whitesel: I really like this song. It is still upbeat while managing to be chill. It has a really fun beat, and I like the usage of a different percussion sound.
Sarah Finley: Soft, gentle, slightly melancholic vocals combine with sad lyrics to juxtapose against upbeat instrumentals in the background. I can’t tell if the song is about an old lover, or a child he doesn’t get to see anymore, but either way, I can dig it.
Courtney Miller: I’m loving this. The bass fills out the song, his voice is gold. A really good sounding, chill tune with a powerful chorus.
Zach Siddiqui: Whimsical and almost childish until a dramatic chorus. I’m totally digging the dichotomy they’re playing with here, and I bet you will too. This one gets my endorsement!
“Paranoia” – A Day to Remember
JW: NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. I’m not a fan of whatever this is. I might have been when I was younger and full of unfounded rage, but now nope. I listened to about 12 seconds before I pushed skip. I too can yell over guitars, you are not special Mr. Lead “Singer.”
SF: A Day to Remember is not really my cup of tea. While I can see the appeal to a kind of catchy chorus, I couldn’t even finish the song. It just reminds me of the kids who never left their middle school scene phase.
CM: Oh this takes me back to angsty high school days, walking through school in head to toe black and identifying strongly with Avenged Sevenfold. Harder rock with a hit of screamo — I’ve grown out of my screamo phase, but the chorus and parts without screaming were good, and the quick tempo makes it a good head-banger.
ZS: Not entirely my style admittedly, but for some reason I’m envisioning a sort of combat-heavy video in an urban fantasy setting set to this track. Forceful and intriguing. To be honest, it could definitely beat out some of my problematic musical faves depending on my mood.
“A Minor Life” – sir Was
JW: The video game sounding synth plinks in the background make for an interesting undercurrent with the mournful vocals. When it picks up pace halfway through it keeps it from getting monotonous. I would probably listen to this again, but as background music only.
SF: Did this track really begin with bagpipes? This soothing track only gets better from there, although the bagpipes admittedly do persist. Not containing much in the way of lyrical content, this song makes up for it with calming and mystical instrumentals.
CM: Sounds like a carnival video game’s soundtrack. The vocals seem to clash with the music and are weak and unenjoyable. Doesn’t seem to go anywhere either.
ZS: A little grating at times, a little boring at others, but somehow it kept me listening for the best parts and I’m so glad about that — it’s a chilling and softly spellbinding song. It definitely created a mournful atmosphere for me, but like, an enjoyable mournful atmosphere. Go for it, fam.
“Fragile” – Kygo feat. Labrinth
JW: I really like this one. The vocals could be a little stronger, but I love when the hand-claps and layered vocals come in about two-thirds of the way through and the slow build again after. This is going into my regular rotation.
SF: While this isn’t a song I would save to listen to later, I did enjoy the singer’s powerful voice and impressive range. If you’re going through a breakup, this might not be the song for you.
CM: Love the soulful crooning over melodic piano and guitar. It builds powerfully to climax in falsetto, then mellows out before picking back up. Never a dull moment.
ZS: Soulful and thrumming with life, it builds up well and really commits to conveying a basic but universal feeling to the audience. Things break, people break, and while it’s a little cliché, you might like it.
“All Four Walls” – Gorgon City feat. Vaults
JW: It is a generic club track. I recall getting too drunk and dancing to songs that sound exactly like this one. It is a solid generic club track, but it is forgettable.
SF: This is the type of track that if you’re tipsy enough, you would definitely dance to in a sleazy club. It reminds me of a collab between Flume and Disclosure, despite neither of those groups being present. I’m a fan.
CM: I could see this as like one of the songs you play when you’re trying to turn your kitchen into a club with your friends. I mean, it’s got a decent beat and vocals, but other than that it blends into the rest of the pop scene.
ZS: It’s corybantic and emotional, but at the same time, I personally find it a little difficult to see what exactly makes it stand out from the rest of its genre. Not bad by any means though — definitely worth a listen!
“Arcadia” – White Sea
JW: You know it’s going to be a great song when it starts with lyrics that seem slightly reminiscent of occult teenage angst. The occultiness of the song aside, it is a pretty okay track. It’s sounds sort of like Fleetwood Mac, but crossed with modern musical sensibilities and electronica undertones.
SF: Dreamy soft vocals and distinct percussion carry the track to its end. While entirely repetitive, “Arcadia” is still a song worth listening to.
CM: Alternative style track with haunting vocals and groovy bass. It’s unobtrusively mellow, has a steady beat, and would make great study music.
ZS: I found this eerily eerie (I think that made sense without being superfluous). It’s a piece to which I could definitely find the inspiration to write a devastating horror story. Check it out, unless you’re worried it might be #2spooky4u.
“Temple” – Baauer feat. M.I.A. and G-Dragon
JW: I’m not a fan. M.I.A. is on point but this song as a whole sounds like a really bad Missy Elliott track. It doesn’t really seem to make that much sense as a whole and just leaves me wondering why this is even a song right now.
SF: The beginning of this track had me confused, thinking a strange ad for a yoga subscription had popped up on Spotify. M.I.A. shatters this with her distinct, badass, perfectly sassy voice, and lyrics to the table. I’m sure the other artists in this track are cool too, but M.I.A. is really all I care about.
CM: The intro is super weird, like a robot telling you what to do with your life. Then the rap starts and I mean, the song itself is inoffensive but it’s also boring, monotonous, and frankly not worth the time.
ZS: A fast-paced song with an engaging beat. I was a little confused at points about what was going on on the lyrical end of things, but that doesn’t harm the song for me. Go wild with this at your next crazy event.
“Soft Like Clay” – Beaty Heart
JW: This is like a The 1975-sort of sounding song. I am really getting tired of saying this, but try new things. This is just another in a long line of knock-off sounding songs. Just because one band was successful with it doesn’t mean yours will. Try new things, if not for yourself for us poor unfortunate souls who are inundated with the same songs day in a day out. ~end rant~
SF: Don’t be fooled by the cheery sound of the lead singer’s voice in this track; the lyrics are about someone attempting to change him. Yikes.
CM: If this was a little better executed I think it’d be great, fun, chill song to have on the backburner for any occasion. As it is, it’s stilted and doesn’t seem to settle on a sound.
ZS: It makes crazy swings between minimal and low-stakes and sudden bursts of power, often enough to keep things fun. Instrumentally, it feels like a warm and cheery piece, and it definitely fits the recent sun. I’d sit in the AQ on a bright afternoon and have this as background.
“Woman Is A Word” – Empress Of
JW: I’m not really sure what these lyrics are, but the song has a really good beat — even if it generic. I just wish that the vocalist would push just a little bit more to explore their capabilities and what their proper range is.
SF: The song is essentially sliced into one minute chunks in each of which a lyric is repeated over and over again. Somehow, though, this track makes it work. Maybe it’s the delicate chord plunking in the background, or the unique percussion that’s intermittently dispersed, but whatever it is, I can appreciate it.
CM: If you need to get your friends in a fever of equality for women, this might be the ticket. It’s not terribly upbeat though — it’s actually pretty mellow — follow it up with Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix” at 1.5 speed. You’re welcome.
ZS: For a leftover from an album, it’s lovely. I’m a total sucker for songs that make an effort to address social issues through their lyrics, and the music felt mild but effective. I’d rank this decently high on my personal scale.
“When We were Young” – The Wild Wild
JW: This song reminds of 2011. I don’t know what exactly about it makes me say that but it does. I like that is kind of wistfully looking back, but it doesn’t really strike me as a unique or long lasting song.
SF: This song, as the title would suggest, made me more nostalgic than I was hoping to be on a Friday morning. Directed toward the singer’s beau, this made me reminiscent over all my middle school and high school loves. Don’t listen if you’re an over-emotional sap like me.
CM: It has a pop/alt/rock feel to it. Fun tune, optimistic yet nostalgic. Perfect for the average university student.
ZS: Adventurous and a call to my inner child, this song makes me regret becoming a reclusive, outdoor-hating, old-man 18-year old. It’s uplifting to the max and super adorable! Give it a listen on your next summertime morning jog.
“Once Forward, Twice Back” – Say Yes
JW: More like say no. This song is like peak Nickelback, Hinder, Thornley, Theory of a Deadman, and all related bands. It is not the mid-’00s anymore. This does not work. It doesn’t even pretend to be dad rock, which at this point will be better.
SF: The vocalist on this track sort of reminds me of Nickelback? And my opinion of the song doesn’t improve from there.
CM: Music-wise, I get a Riot-era Paramore feel. Vocally it’s more of a Three Days Grace kind of sound? It has that pop/punk style and is good for when you’re frustrated at life and midterms.
ZS: A dynamic intro and overall quite good. It doesn’t click with me especially strongly, but I’d call it a decent piece!
“The Last of Our Kind” – Rykka
JW: This seems like a cross between the ’80s, Disney, and current pop. It is doing to many things at once. I’m not a huge fan, but if it gets picked up by the right outlets I could see this being a successful song.
SF: The lyrics may be boring, but at least Rykka has a unique voice. Unfortunately, something was off about the chord changes between the verses and the chorus. Rykka has a lot of potential, but this one just didn’t do it for me.
CM: Her voice is flawless and the entire song has a hopeful feel in every aspect. Blast this once finals are over to feel majestic and untouchable.
ZS: The lyrics touch on some high-stakes stuff but ultimately fall inherently flat for me — similarly, I wasn’t too impressed with the music. Not in the sense of being bad, but in the sense that it wasn’t what it could’ve been. It’s a bit vanilla, but not terrible by any means.