What’s In Tune: New Music
Harry Styles│Harry Styles│A-
A reincarnation of David Bowie’s flaming ’70s swagger meets Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” electric grit meets The Beatles’ clap tempos and sensitive ballads. In one elongated sentence, that is the make up Harry Styles’ debut album. Before the release, fans have gotten a chance to enjoy “Sign of the Times,” “Sweet Creature,” “Ever Since New York,” and recently, “Carolina.”
In “Meet Me in the Hallway,” Styles opens up with a slow guitar tempo reminiscent of Pink Floyd. He follows the eerie, somber number with the bellowing “Sign of the Times,” and the twangy “Carolina.” “Two Ghosts” makes its appearance after the speculation regarding the lyrics’ nudge towards Taylor Swift. Ironically, it’s the least notable song on the album, as Styles once again mulls over the aftermath of a relationship and the growth of each individual since.
“Only Angel” is wrapped in black leather in the middle of the album. The song is regarding a girl who captured all of the rockstar’s attention in an overused cliché from her sweet personality to her less-good-girl side behind closed doors. It’s the kick off to his two messy, greasy tracks that demonstrates his ability to hang up the tender emotion. “Can’t take you home to mother in a skirt that short / But I think that’s what I like about it” distracts from uniquely-crafted lines such as “…getting you stuck in between my teeth.” The backbeat vocals compliment the Stones in their prime.
“Kiwi” follows the electric guitar rock of “Only Angel,” except one step farther towards the devilish antics of rock and roll. The opening lines, “She worked her way through a cheap pack of cigarettes / Hard liquor mixed with a bit of intellect” demonstrates a Mic-Jagger sense of self. However, nothing overcomes the repetitive, head-jerking line, “I’m having your baby; it’s none of your business.” Styles needs to be careful because he is not yet Jagger and potentially not ever Kurt Cobain. Therefore, his ego speaks outwards in these two tracks moreso than the Styles that interviewers have gotten to know.
Before he strays too far into the wannabe-cool shell identity, Styles steps back into “Ever Since New York.” Again, reflecting on his growth since the end of a relationship, Styles remains solid on his introspection and identity shift. What might be the most underrated song off the album follows in “Woman.” “Woman” follows the candor of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jetts” with more funky and doo-wop than the other tracks. However, Styles takes a new approach to his post-apocalyptic take on the relationship’s end by tackling how it feels to see her with someone new. Even in his usage of the word “woman,” the young rocker takes a more mature stance than in “Kiwi” or “Only Angel” with less sex and more emotional canyons.
Sowing the album together, “From the Dining Table” becomes Styles’ most embarrassing yet most candid song off of the album. Though it’s not edgy, the guitar melody plucks away like The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” However, the lyrics, “Woke up alone in this hotel room / Played with myself, where were you? / Fell back to sleep, I got drunk by noon / I’ve never felt less cool” both demonstrate Styles’ immature weaknesses cracking through as well as his immense potential. By breaking his shell, Styles makes his loneliness feel immensely real. However, merely relating to his loneliness to heartbreak still demonstrates that of a boy and not yet a man.
In total, Styles begins to plow forward with old-timey talent and a smirking smile that will get him far in his solo career. Many will be surprised, and though Styles certainly has maturity to gain, he is off in the right direction.
Two questions arise by the end of the album. One: what girl is sitting in an apartment somewhere, realizing that she reduced one of the most prominent bachelors to rubble. When it comes to love, Styles seems to have picked himself up like any other mid-twenties boy would; fame is irrelevant. Two: sometimes, I wonder where Harry Styles would be without One Direction. I have a feeling he’d be just fine.
Harry Styles Tracklist:
1. “Meet Me in the Hallway”
2. “Sign of the Times”
4. “Two Ghosts”
5. “Sweet Creature”
6. “Only Angel”
8. “Ever Since New York”
10. “From the Dining Table”
Harry Styles is arguably carving out the most notable solo career of this decade. As a member of the popular British boy band One Direction, Styles already had an immense following before deciding to go solo. The band went on hiatus after the departure of member Zayn Malik left the fan base and group shaken. Each remaining member decided to follow individual pursuits. For Styles, that included a year or so of quiet.
In April 2017, he debuted as a solo artist on Saturday Night Live, an iconic television show known for its musical guests. His brown, plaid suit resembled that out of a Bob Dylan interview (thanks Nate for that analogy), and Styles bemoaned the current dreary political and social state in his lead single “Sign of the Times.” It arguably sounded better than the recorded version that dropped a week earlier. He followed with “Ever Since New York,” more of an intimate song regarding a past relationship. His voice, deeper and defined, demonstrated talent far beyond his solo verse in 1D’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”
The announcement of his debut self-titled album followed with a tracklist and poignant album cover art. Styles, splashing water in his face, resembles a rebirth or renewal; all of which relate to the beginning of one’s solo career. It would be a few weeks until he announced what every fan was waiting for: “Harry Styles: Live On Tour.” Hitting smaller venues across the country, the tour would sell out in seconds (Don’t worry, we still have tickets for you!). In the meantime, Rolling Stone dropped his first solo interview article that revealed much more to Styles than the general public previously knew.
A week before his album dropped, Styles dropped “Sweet Creature.” “Sweet Creature” leans into the soft and far from the bellowing rock ballad of “Sign of the Times.” Again, drawing on a past relationship, Styles reflects on the failed relationship yet admires his partner. “Where I go, you can bring me home… When I run out of rope, you bring me home,” he sings.
Fans thought that would be enough before the actual album, as it only contains ten songs. To everyone’s surprise, he debuted “Carolina” live for his Today Show performance. Adorning a bubblegum pink suit, Styles rocked with the swagger of Bowie and tempo inspiration of The Beatles. “Carolina” will arguably be Styles’ radio-worthy song yet in a manner vastly different than mainstream pop. It’s twangy and catchy with the chorus repeating, “She’s a good girl,” evidently inspired by a woman that Styles briefly knew. He carried himself with the swagger of a rockstar plucked from the ’80s, singing like the ’60s.
And, evidently, that still wasn’t enough. Styles teased his song “Two Ghosts” including blurry lyrics that fans deduced. All of this build up led up to the album’s release today, flooding social media and news outlets.
Hayley Williams’ hair is blonde. Like, bleached blonde. This seems like a ridiculously mundane fact, but to Paramore fans, Williams’ bright head of red was a staple to band through their punk pop years. Oh, how times have changed.
That certainly isn’t the only surprise in store for Paramore 2017. After a series of dramatic band member departures, rejoins, and strife, they somehow got it together in 2017 for a new album. Though Williams’ solid point at the helm isn’t debatable, that in itself seems to have caused so many issues over the years. From financial disagreements to ego to even label technicalities (Williams is rumored to be the only actual member signed to Atlantic), Paramore’s members have shifted constantly over the last five years. This isn’t to say Williams is the victim, as her foothold is certainly strongest as the band’s masthead and voice. However, Paramore without Williams is a high school band playing out of their garage. Yeah, Zac Farro, I said that.
A trio now surfaces, as Farro rejoined the band (his brother Josh did not), and Taylor York continues to be a Paramore constant. The New York Times recently interviewed Williams regarding the tumultuous past few years. It only made sense that their leading single be “Hard Times.” One can analyze that as a micro or macro perspective for Paramore, but I believe it directly relates to Williams’ experience losing and gaining friendships close to her. Her teenage years are Paramore; therefore, her intimate relationships connect to work.
After Laughter Tracklist:
1. “Hard Times”
2. “Rose-Colored Boy”
3. “Told You So”
5. “Fake Happy”
9. “Caught in the Middle”
10. “Idle Worship”
11. “No Friend”
12. “Tell Me How”
New Kids on the Block│Thankful (EP)│C
New Kids gotta stop. They just have to stop. It’s like, there’s this group are artists who have been semi-famous for too long to be able to consider a normal day job. However, they’re not successful enough to be set for life, so they constantly look towards their past successes to drum up more revenue. I genuinely don’t believe that these members want to be together performing. So they release just an EP, less work, and set up yet another ’90s-inspired lineup for a tour. Paula Abdul is exhumed from her post-American-Idol grave, and Boyz II Men return to open for NKOTB. It’s every throwback lover’s dream.
However, THEY ARE ALMOST FIFTY. I mean, pushing late forties. And yet, they’re producing tracks that use “u” instead of “you.” They choose an album title that make you believe that it’s closing time on their careers. It’s just…
They’re not young anymore. The boy band gimmick is long past it’s prime. An over-mixed, overproduced, pop track isn’t going to change that.
3. “One More Night”
4. “Hard (Not Luvin U)”
5. “Still Sounds Good”
Zac Brown Band│Welcome Home│B
Zac Brown Band are getting back to their roots on this album. Much like the album title and cover art depict, the homey grit of country is prominent from a listener’s first interaction with Welcome Home. Zac Brown Band are circling back to the true country sound in Welcome Home, potentially insinuated by the title even before listeners got a chance to hear the material. In interviews, Zac Brown said that it is their most personal record to date. Every song is written from scratch for the record; a new endeavor for the band.
In addition, a cover of John Prine’s “All the Best” makes its way onto the album with the help of Kacey Musgraves. As far as newer country talent goes, Musgraves reflects a bold, notable sound that brings color to the album. Their first song “Roots” is full of nostalgia and humility. The music video includes clips of the band accepting a Grammy years ago. Lyrics such as “My roots always keep me grounded” remain focused on the subject of upbringing. It could potentially be the band’s “Humble and Kind” @TimMcGraw.
Welcome Home Tracklist:
2. “Real Thing”
3. “Long Haul”
4. “2 Places at 1 Time”
5. “Family Table”
6. “My Old Man”
7. “Start Over”
8. “Your Majesty”
9. “Tryin’ to Drive”
10. “All the Best”
Top 5 Concerts
U2 & Mumford and Sons: CenturyLink Field│Seattle, WA│May 14th
U2 is starting their “The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour” and taking some epic openers on the road with them. Mumford & Sons is opening up the first part of the tour. The Lumineers and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are other bands opening up for U2. U2’s stadium tours are known to be epic.
Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold & Volbeat: Lincoln Financial Field│Philadelphia, PA│May 12th
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers & Joe Walsh: Klipsch Music Center│Noblesville, IN│May 13th
Billy Joel: Dodger Stadium│Los Angeles, CA│May 13th
Billy Joel hits Dodger Stadium in California before heading back East for his Madison Square Garden residency heading into June. Joel’s iconic status grants him baseball stadium concerts every summer. Look out for Joel at Wrigley Field on August 11th and Fenway Park on August 30th.
Chris Stapleton, Brothers Osborne & Lucie Silvas: PNC Music Pavilion – Charlotte│Charlotte, NC│May 13th
Chris Stapleton continues his “All-American Roadshow Tour” after dropping the first half of his 2017 album last week. From A Room: Volume 1 chronicles the earthy, gritty country that Stapleton thrives on from guitar-twanging ballads to foot-stomping rock tunes.
What’s In Tune: Television Appearances
Father John Misty is performing on The Tonight Show on May 12th. He just dropped his 2017 album Pure Comedy a few weeks prior.
Fall Out Boy│The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon│May 16th
Fall Out Boy recently announced their “M A N I A Tour” and their M A N I A album dropping in September. The band will most likely play their lead single “Young and Menace.”
HAIM│Saturday Night Live│May 13th
HAIM dropped their lead single “Want You Back” off of their upcoming album Something To Tell You set to drop in July. Therefore, they will most likely perform that song and potentially one new single off the album.
Jennifer Hudson│Late Night with Seth Meyers│May 16th
Jennifer Hudson dropped a single “Remember Me” weeks prior. Though no album is confirmed, she is officially a coach on the next season of The Voice, as Miley Cyrus returns with Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Therefore, she will most likely discuss this move and her new music.
Metallica just started their “WorldWired World Tour” with Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, and Gojira. Their 2016 album Hardwired…To Self Destruct will make a huge presence on their tour. After performing at the Grammys, 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for the band.
The xx│The Late Show with Stephen Colbert│May 18th
The xx dropped I See You in January of 2017. The English indie pop band received rave reviews on the new music, and they will probably perform singles off of I See You. The xx is set to perform at multiple music festivals this summer in addition to their tour in May that kicked off last night.
Harry Styles│The Late Late Show with James Corden│May 15th
Harry Styles dropped his debut album today. His appearance on James Corden will most likely be a Car Pool Karaoke episode (*fingers crossed*).
Niall is another One Direction member making moves with his second single “Slow Hands.” He will most likely perform it on Ellen.