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“Waste a Moment” – Kings of Leon
Courtney Miller: The intro builds quickly, wasting little time to reach the quick tempo the song rides all the way through. It doesn’t sound terribly different from other Kings of Leon songs, but it’s still fun. I imagine it would be a great song to go running to, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Max James Hill: I’ve never really been a big Kings of Leon guy, but this song is pretty OK, if a little toothless. Seems like it would fit well in an earnest teen movie or something. Also Kings of Leon spell it with a capital-A which is clearly incorrect.
Sarah Finley: Kings of Leon is one of those bands that just seems to never go away. This track follows their typical sound: guitar- and snare drum-heavy with, of course, the lead singer’s uniquely high-pitched vocals. If you’re searching for something new, keep looking.
Jaiden Dembo: Upbeat rock vibes from this track get your heart soaring with the potential of a new start. It’s fitting for the first weeks of a new semester as the lyrics encourage you to live in the moment. Except sometimes, living in the moment means taking the time to do nothing at all.
“Influence” – Tove Lo feat. Wiz Khalifa
CM: I’m really liking the low, rhythmic, and sensual mood Tove Lo conjures in the opening of this song. I’m apprehensive though as I await Wiz Khalifa’s entrance but I’m pleasantly surprised at the rap interjection. It works really well with the song, and I’d be down to listen to this again.
MJH: I like the downbeat vibes of this song. I’ve never heard of Tove Lo before (is it pronouced Tuh-ve Loo, like love to, or Toh-ve Low?) but it’s pretty good bubblegum pop. Wiz Khalifa is totally out of place, though, just like on every song he’s in.
SF: Every Tove Lo track I’ve ever heard is about being under the influence in some capacity, so this song seems redundant. There were a few times when I almost thought the track would have some sort of bass drop or become more upbeat, but it never happened, leaving me bored.
JD: The sexy and low mood will get you dancing into the night. Tove Lo’s sensual vocals encourage your hips to sway and indulge your inhibitions late into the night. Paired with Wiz Khalifa’s quick flow, Tove Lo’s carnal tones are only further accentuated.
“Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like) – St. Paul and the Broken Bones
CM: My first thought is that this would make killer elevator music. The vocals are smooth, the horns are classic, and the jazz is a good feel. But I can’t escape the elevator/on-hold-with-the-phone-company vibe it gives off.
MJH: I’m kind of over the whole rock revivalism thing. These guys sound like a poor man’s Black Keys, and even they aren’t that good to begin with.
SF: This track features a jazzy horn section in the background, and the vocals don’t stray from this vibe. Romantic lyrics are the perfect finishing touch. A+ for post-candlelit-dinner-dates when you’re wine-drunk dancing barefoot in the kitchen.
JD: This tune takes you immediately to the smoky blues of yesteryear. There’s nothing more powerful than some jazzy harmonies to get your body grooving. The vocals are raspy and powerful but they blend into smooth tones at just the right moments.
“Perfect Illusion” – Lady Gaga
CM: It starts with a retro, maybe mid-’80s rock throwback sound, and then it quickly switches to a more signature Gaga experience: lots of percussion and a focus on the bass beat. Her range is great, but it does toe the line of too much whine (and crosses it too often for my liking) in the very repetitive “perfect illusion.”
MJH: This is the first I’ve heard from Lady Gaga since she totally dropped off the face of the Earth a few years ago, and I’m not impressed. She sounds a bit like Katy Perry covering Eurythmics, and the song is about as messy and weird as that would be. I miss weird Gaga. (Also it totally steals from “Everything is Embarrassing” at one point and I would not be surprised if Sky Ferreira pursues legal action.)
SF: Unpopular opinion: Lady Gaga’s new era of music isn’t nearly as exciting or fun to dance to as The Fame Lady Gaga. That being said, this track emphasizes Gaga’s impressively powerful vocals and is the best track she’s come out with recently.
JD: Classic Gaga with powerful vocals that shoot you right in the heart. This track hits home with all the heartbroken lovers as realization sinks in that what they thought was, wasn’t. Lady Gaga makes you want to dance your pain away with this cathartic track.
“Singing Low” – The Fray
CM: The vocals are breathy, which kind of works with the music, but it leaves me wanting more of the power I know to be lurking there beneath the surface. It’s not a bad song, but nothing really jumps out about it either. A perfectly listenable, middle-of-the-road song.
MJH: Dear the Fray: You will never top “How to Save a Life” so please stop trying. Love, Max.
SF: Slow, gentle, and sad, The Fray creates yet another song that’s perfect for staring solemnly out of a bus window while it’s raining. This track’s slow percussion and collection of minor piano chords will have you thinking about all your exes — listen at your own risk.
JD: You can definitely feel the beat in this track as Isaac Slade belts out heartbreak and confusion. His high tones lull you into a rhythm that convinces you to stay. Frustration at what you can’t have and what you want begs for everything to slow down and to stop everything from crumbling to pieces.
“Chroma” – Bearcubs
CM: The first 45 seconds sounded like some kind of weird musical experiment, and it never really left that path. It was dissonant — but in like a future robotic kind of way that almost worked. I’d pass on listening to it again.
MJH: The singer’s voice kind of reminds me of James Blake — as for the quality of the song, not so much.
SF: I’m not entirely certain how to describe this track other than sleepy, possibly hypnotizing. Deep, echoing, masculine vocals, with lyrics like “trip over the colors,” make me feel like I’m in some sort of dream state. Not that this is a bad thing.
JD: Do you hear a ghost calling out? Spooky ambience opens this electronic track then a voice as deep as the ocean slips in. Low, atmospheric beats accompany the vocals while voices and sounds echo through the background.
“Gucci Snakes” – Tyga feat. Desiigner
CM: Starting off with autotune so prominent I can’t make out a word is not recommended. The rap wasn’t smooth: it had weird syllables in places where they shouldn’t have been and it made the entire song overall unenjoyable. Hard pass.
MJH: Tyga and Desiigner are two of the most boring rappers in the game so this isn’t my thing. It sounds like Wal-Mart brand Young Thug. Kanye should be ashamed for putting Tyga on his label.
SF: Tyga grosses me out as a human being, and his music is hardly a redeeming quality. The track opens with what sounds like retching noises, and the lyrics are entirely about how much money he has. As someone who is thousands of dollars in debt, I’m just annoyed.
JD: Re-enter the autotuned voice and what sounds like a gremlin screeching in the background. Bragging about riches, drugs, and sex is nothing new for the rap scene, as Tyga and Desiigner boast about brand names that few can afford.
“Anymore” – Melanie C
CM: I like the minimalist introduction before it low-key explodes into synth. The composition reminds me of Michael Jackson in a lot of places, but then original riffs pop in which keep me guessing whether or not I actually hear MJ It wouldn’t be out of place at an ‘80s pop party.
MJH: This song is like gum: it’s sweet at first but then it’s just kind of gross and flavourless and you want to spit it out.
SF: If you’re looking for a breakup song, this one provides an interesting juxtaposition between upbeat ’80s-style instrumentals, vocals, and percussion, and heartbreaking lyrics that centre around not being able to move on.
JD: Isn’t it always difficult to move on from someone? Melanie C preaches the struggles of loving someone you shouldn’t anymore, and the battle to escape the memories. Slow rhythms echo that frustration, then burst into an upbeat chorus that cries for the change that everyone seeks after heartbreak.
“Beast” – Tungevaag and Raaban Isac Elliot
CM: If “What Does the Fox Say” had more relatable lyrics and fewer bass drops, it could easily be a sibling to this track. The lyrics don’t always have cohesion, but we forgive them because it’s still a funky (in terms of weirdness, not musicality) and enjoyable song.
MJH: I like that these guys are trying to be a bit more experimental than your average pop duo, but the result is kind of a mess. It sounds like Chris Brown after taking salvia.
SF: The lyrics in this track sound like the type that every white boy I went to high school with would’ve created when they were going through their rapper wannabe phases. Featuring a very shallow bass drop near the end, this song just made me smirk and feel blessed to finally be in university.
JD: Vocals cut clear from the electronic beat to sing of the man-eater. In this reversal of male-hunter, female-prey the hunt is echoed through fast-paced electronic vibes. As the beat picks up for the drops, you can envision the chase between the beast and the bait and hope he gets caught.
“Errors” – K.I.D
CM: The subject matter is pretty serious, discussing an experience with mental illness. It felt like it should have been catchy based on the melody, but the lyrics weren’t in the same vein which isn’t seen very often. I’d listen to it again, but don’t think I’d seek it out.
MJH: I like this. The singer’s got a distinct voice and an earnest delivery. It definitely simplifies mental illness a bit, but I like the contrast between the sad lyrics and upbeat sound. Seems like a promising artist.
SF: This track is another one with painfully relatable lyrics about being depressed and unmotivated, sung to upbeat electronic instrumentals. Am I supposed to be dancing? Crying? I don’t know anymore?
JD: This track speaks to many a student who is trying their best but can’t help it as their mood sinks lower. Depression is addressed in this paradoxical, cheerful-angst pop song that accepts one’s failings. You can pick up on the undertones of anxiety in the fast beat of this track, with lyrics about struggling to even get out of bed and get dressed.
“Silly Bones” – Streets of Laredo
CM: It’s a light and fun song, good for listening outside on a nice sunny day. There are musical breaks that have an old video game-feel, but they’re few and fleeting so they don’t detract too much from this unassuming toe-tapper.
MJH: Not the most original song, but it’s cute. I like the chiptune feel and the twee vocal delivery. Isn’t something I would seek out, but it’s not awful like most of the songs this week have been.
SF: Electric guitar and casual vocals make this track unmemorable, finishing with slightly heavier percussion than it started with.
JD: Bring on the quick strings of the guitar and the uniquely nasal vocals. This cheery tune sings of nonsensical things that somehow make sense if you take a minute to think about it. Whether you can understand the message or not this alternative track is fun to bop along to.
“digging for windows” – Zack de la Rocha
CM: It sounded like it might be a hard rock jam, but fairly quickly it devolved into really angry-sounding rap. He overuses the echo effect which is very distracting and really detracts from what he’s trying to accomplish. That being said, I’ve no idea what the point of the song is, what he’s angry about, or what the hell “digging for windows” even means.
MJH: I’m not a huge Zack de la Rocha fan but this is pretty good stuff. The production by El-P is claustrophobic and tinny as usual, and it really matches the song and de la Rocha’s vocals well. At some points it sounds a bit like a Death Grips rip-off but overall this definitely bodes well for the rapper’s upcoming album.
SF: Angsty lyrics about living in Los Angeles are rapped over the top of a steady window-vibrating bassline. While this track is admittedly not my cup of tea, I can appreciate the work he’s done previously with artists like Run the Jewels.
JD: This track is aggressive right out of the gates as it charges into disgruntled rap verses. The gnarled beat that plays in the background grates on your nerves to work you up into the same mood as the vocalist. If you need to pump yourself up for a fight, a workout, or an exam you’re dreading, then this is the track for you.