Category Archives: Reviews

REVIEW: Little Reader – The Big Score

By: Jorge Almaraz

Put some headphones on and let the music flow through your body. With a ten-track debut album, Little Reader takes you on a fantastic voyage, which explores the multi-dimensionality of love while using a danceable, and somewhat psychedelic, pop tunes as the base of the project.

Produced by Mark Watrous of The Shins, The Big Score is the debut of the duo composed by Nashville-based Kate Tucker and Los Angeles-based Ross Flournoy. This unexpected, yet impressive, collaboration take each of The Big Score´s songs and manages to give each of them a distinctive sound without losing the main style of the album.  From beginning to end, the album keeps you interested in melodies and lyrics that do not sound repetitive in absolute; clearly demonstrating the immense talent of both songwriters to score in the music world.

The album kicks off with “Speed of Light,” a track that may be considered the most representative song of the band so far. “Speed of Light” starts with an energetic, upbeat sound with classical love-related lyrics that sets the tone of the album, which highlights Tucker´s talent as a singer. In my opinion, tracks such as “Light as a Feather,” “Running Toward the Sun,” and “Love Lust Life” are some of the pieces that make The Big Score such an interesting album.

However, it is worth mention that both songwriters have already found success in the music world, by writing for others, prior their collaboration together. Flournoy has written musical themes for TV shows, but his work may be better identified in Jake Tapper´s CNN Show. Meanwhile, Tucker has found success working on film scoring and soundtracks for several independent movies and TV shows.

As proof of Little Reader´s potential, you may listen to their single Speed of Light on season 4, episode 16, of the Fox acclaimed sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” An event that also caught them by surprise.  

This album clearly lands on Mercury – a fantastic album that is already causing a considerable impact.

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Look for Little Reader on Episode 2 of the Great Beyond Podcast.

ALBUM REVIEW: Max Subar

In A Dream

Independently Released

by Jorge Almaraz

In a society where pop and rock music reign over the radio while other genres such as country, hip-hop, or R/B manage to be a constant topic of conversation, folk music usually tend to be left out or even ignored by the vast majority. However, Max Subar’s debut album displays some of the magic involved within the genre that you must not ignore.

In a Dream EP is an album that, as its name accurately describes, uses light-hearted melodies with a predominant acoustic guitar and amusing lyrics to immediately make you feel like you are in a middle of a dream from which you may not want to be awakened.

Subar’s words bare the feelings produced by his own experiences; intimacy, love, and reflection are themes that could be found in the warmness of the songs.

“Morning Song,” the initial song for In a Dream EP, sets a melancholic and peaceful mood for the album. Nonetheless, the songs “Green and Blue” and “In a Dream” are the ones that deserve the spotlight.  Both songs prove to be the soul of the album and confirm Subar’s spectacular talent as a songwriter; no doubt of the effort placed into this work.

If you are interested to give folk music a chance, you will simply love “In a Dream” EP.

On The Great Beyond planetary scale, this release lands squarely on Venus, 8/10.

MAX SUBAR Album cover

http://www.maxsubar.com

STUDENT REVIEW: Glitch Mob – Love, Death, Immortality

Glass Air Records

Glitch mob - love death immortalityDo you ever wonder what it would be like to be a super hero in a movie? Well The Glitch Mob’s industrial, electronic sound can only make you imagine how that epic moment when something explodes behind you and you’ve just rescued the girl makes you feel. Originally a five-piece band formed in 2006 in Los Angeles’s bass-driven beat scene and choosing to perform with laptops and MIDI controllers, the group made their name while playing live. They would play solo performances at showcases. That’s where they would gain their fans. By their second full-length album, “Love, Death, Immortality” (released on February, 2014), they had hit number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

Their newly released album, “Love, Death, Immortality,” was a huge improvement on their past album and EP. They went from a nice, classical, electronic beat to a cleaner, edgy David Guetta beat. Where it intrigues you though as if it was a sound track of a movie trailer, like in one of their singles, “Within a Dream”. Some of the singles of the new album, “Mind of a Beast” and “Our Demons,” even had some vocals, which they had never done before. Here they have a totally new, renovated sound where not only did they pick up the tempo, but had a catchier, exclusive beat like the ones Calvin Harris would do, while still maintaining their original classical, beat with violins, harp, and more classical instruments.

A few people saw that their dubstep beat is what gets the people going during raves at clubs. The Los Angeles trio has been all around the country paying for the people. I give them a C+. Yes, they have a good beat and tempo that gets the people going, but they could work a little harder to improve their sound. Like making more beat drops, adding a few more vocals with meaning, and taking more risks in doing different beats. That would transform Glitch Mob from good to totally epic.

Feeling like a super hero in movie taking down anyone and everyone that wants to take you down. In slow motion, feeling pumped, slowly knocking them out, one by one. That’s what it feels to listen to The Glitch Mob. They get you going, making you feel like you’re at the top of the world, and nothing can stop you. But also at other times their music in a way can make you think about your future, past, and present. Wondering what else will you do with your life and if it was real or just a dream within a dream.

David Armendariz

STUDENT REVIEW: Birdy – Fire Within

Atlantic Records

Birdy Fire WithinImagine high-street with boho forming a perfect harmony.

Jasmine Van den Bogaerdo, best known as Birdy, accomplishes that in her 2nd album “Fire Within”. The 17 year-old British singer/songwriter worked with Rich Costey, Ryan Tedder and Jim Abiss (just to name a few) on this album. Fire Within is her own album that didn’t consist of only covers.

Bon Iver’s cover of “Skinny Love” helped put her on the map at 14, although she was discovered at 12 when she won first place at a 2008 UK open mic competition. The song became her first hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at 17. The single was chosen as “Record of the Week” by UK radio DJ Fearne Cotton, resulting in it being added to BBC Radio 1‘s B‑list playlist as soon as it was released in March 2011.

The album focuses on Birdy’s relationships with those who are close to her, while also exploring the experience of being away from home, traveling, trying new things and feeling hopeful.

Birdy’s song “Wings” was featured in the movie trailer for the recent film “Winter’s Tale”. She spoke of it being “exciting” because her friends could view her music on the screen. In the song “Wings,” the melody hits you in an ecstatic form making you feel like a recharged battery. The piano and chorus provide the perfect support for the vocals. You find this same combination in other tracks except each track provides you with a different sensation.

Track #6, “All You Never Say” is Birdy’s favorite song from this album. She wrote it with Dan Wilson, Adele and Taylor Swift in Los Angeles. The track says, “Life can be unkind, but only sometimes, you’re giving up before you start.” It also speaks about not knowing if you’re wanted because nobody ever lets you know they love you, she wishes she could read minds to see a simple sign.

Every song in this album expresses a different subject, whether it’s not knowing if you’re loved, or wishing your wings could fly to get to someplace else, and every song keeps you hooked. Even if you keep it on replay or have it shuffle.

Birdy’s real charm lies in her voice, which can bring you on the edge of tears or light you up. Like Christina Perri, Birdy has a great control of her voice. Christina’s maturity leads her to be musically advanced in comparison with Birdy. I think Birdy could be found at the same success level that Christina Perri is at in a couple of years.

This album deserves a “B”; she needs to work more on expressing herself freely through her music. For a 17-year old in the music industry she has a lot of prosperous years ahead of her.

I like this album because it lights me up, as a person I don’t always have the best of days. Sometimes her songs keep me thinking of current events. Her song “People Help the People” speaks of someone helping another in a time of need and I think that’s necessary. Her song “Heart of Gold” is constantly on replay. It expresses how I feel some days wishing I could be free and knowing that people think I’m weak because they can tear me apart with the words that they speak. Her music reminds me of love, happiness, hope and destruction all at once. I use sections of her songs as captions on my photos sometimes, because I can relate to them. Maybe it’s because she is a teen, or she is really just that great.

Karina Gallegos

STUDENT REVIEW: Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Capitol Records

sam smith in the lonely hourDo you ever feel empowered, sad, happy, and frustrated all at the same time? Well those are some of the mixed emotions you get when you listen to newly discovered artist Sam Smith’s album “In the Lonely Hour”. Samuel Frederick Smith was born on May 19, 1992 in London, England. Like many, Sam did not just wake up one day singing very perfect pitch. Sam had been in jazz bands and studied singing and songwriting with his teacher Joanna Eden. He attended a catholic school in Bishops, Stortford, where he found success in the school’s choir and musical theater society.

It was bound for his amazing voice to be found, in 2012 he became more know when featured in Disclosures hit single “Latch”. The track instantly hit No.1 on the U.K singles chart. That same year Sam released his first Ep titled “Nirvana” where he sings the hit song “Latch” in an acoustic version. The Ep gives off a modern disco, electronic, hipster vibe with catchy lyrics and tune. The Ep “Nirvana” is about how the love feels for someone makes him feel and how he only has one love. The years 2013-2014 were Sam’s breakthrough years, when he released his first album “In the Lonely Hour” in May, 2014. It hit No. 2 in the U.K and, by November, it also hit No. 2 in the U.S.

Sam described his album as being about unrequited love, and I strongly agree with him. In almost every song he talks about loving someone who won’t love you back like the way you want them to. One of his hits “Stay With Me” tells the story of a break up that he doesn’t want to happen. In this song Sam demonstrates that he has good vocals and that he can hit a high note and then suddenly go back to low. Sam really puts his voice to use on another hit, “I Know I’m Not the Only One”. A song about infidelity and the struggle and hardship of deciding whether to leave the person you love most, and dealing with the pain of knowing that you were not the only one. His poetic, inspiring, lyrics with a good upbeat inspire many to live in the now and to love yourself because it’s hard to find the one who will love you forever.

Sam says that he writes songs for lonely people. I think with his songs he sends a message that everyone gets lonely sometimes and that people have so many problems and emotions that they can’t describe, so he describes it for them. As he says on his song “Like I Can” we can all love so much, but be looking at different roads and not notice the hearts that were given to us that we smashed. We all as human have problems and flaws, but others will not love and understand our “demons” as we know that someone else can; but we are blinded by the circumstances and the hands held out leading us to a wrong road.

Though the pop, soul and R&B album hit the top ten albums in both the U.S and U.K and Sam as an amazing voice, and potential and a desire to be gentle yet romantic for the “lonely people”, I give him a B+. He is sometimes compared to the modern sound of Ed Sheeran, and the rawness voice of Adele, it’s not enough to be at their level. Sam should take more risks, and not just make the album of sadness and not being loved. True anguish and despair is anger, unsound, and reckless, unstable emotion. I think that Sam should have done an album over all the emotions that a human can feel through any situations not just “The Lonely Hour”. That would be one thing that he could definitely improve on, taking risks and choosing more or less controversial topics to sing about.

Citlálli Fernández

EDITORS NOTE: Sam Smith recently won 4 Grammy Awards, including Record and Song of the Year.  He is also nominated for 5 Brit Awards.

STUDENT REVIEW: Milagres – Seven Summits

Self-released

Milagres Seven SummitsHave you ever gotten an intense feeling of goose bumps created by musical sound waves that you just can’t shake? If you have, then I recommend you listen to Milagres, an indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Their album “Seven Summits”, which was released in 2008, shows their passion for music and how they can make music fall gently out of heaven. The album consists of guitar, bass, keys and percussion all put together to make a magical symphony of sound. As the album’s diversity grows track by track, there can still be room for improvement on having a constant conversation with the instruments and the lyrics.

Unlike previous albums, “Seven Summits” is full of exciting new beats and rhymes. It was also an independently release and the best album they have put out yet with lead singer and guitarist Kyle Wilson, bass and keys Fraser McCulloch, guitar and percussion Eric Schwortz, who also met while attending New York University. They had all played previously in different bands in high school and by coincidence they had found each other in college and decided to make a band. The band came together in 2006 and they are still together to this day.

The album “Seven Summits” is filled with an emotional train wreck starting off with the song “Fifty Fourteeners”. This song portrays the group’s passion for anti-teen- suicide. “Tom stood upon the ridge on August 10th and thought about his baby’s frozen hands, and how although he lived, he’d never climb a rope or touch the face of a lover again.” Throughout the song they continue to write about suicide. The next song on the album is “Government Lakes” and this song is about a totally different mood, which is why Milagres is an emotional train wreck when it comes to the album “Seven Summits”. This song is about how happy life is and how we need to enjoy it more. “…walk down main street in the silver rain. Cars slide by on rainbows of spilt oil. Oceans of umbrellas in a race tumble past like gumballs on their way out of a machine.”

The all over album was full of interesting patterns of beats and lyrics coming together to give your ear an orgasm. As you go from heartbreak to an up beat rhythm you experience Milagres at an intense level of awed awesomeness. Although “Seven Summits” is the most-liked album by Milagres, they still have many different other songs that range from depressed to happy music which is why Milagres is so diverse from many other bands. They can play from different perspectives to further show how they can alternate mood in an album and still tie the songs together. Songs like “Glowing Mouth” and “Here to Stay” only illustrate on how they can play the different types of moods in their songs and, at the end, they can still be content with their flamboyant music making whatever sound, songs, albums, or genres of music and they will still sound like Milagres because that is who makes them their own unique band.

I give “Seven Summits” 10/10 as the band is pulling together their musical inspiration and singing it out in the album.

Joseph Barbara

EDITORS NOTE: Milagres last released an album almost one year ago. “Violent Light” was released on the Kill Rock Stars label. For more information on Milagres, click HERE.

STUDENT REVIEW: While She Sleeps – This is the Six

Search & Destroy Records

Have you ever pictured two sounds like post-hardcore and metalcore coming together? Well the band While She Sleeps delivers this sound perfectly on their debut album, “This is the Six”. The album was released in 2012 on Search and Destroy Records. The album was first recorded at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire, England, and was later finished at Treehouse Studios in Chesterfield, England.

The band delivers an overall dark volume with Adam Savage and his enraged drumbeat paired with Mat Welsh and his clear-cut sinister guitar tone. This is shown beautifully in the song “Until the Death” where lyrics like “I put my trust in poison, to teach me how to live” really resonates in your mind. This aggressive beat continues on in the 11th track, “The Plague of the New Age,” where it explains how people fill their hearts with greed and how its destroying the new age.

In the songs “Our Courage, Our Cancer,” “This Is the Six,” and “False Freedom” it demonstrates that it seems like he has been through a lot of hardships in the past, and as these songs progress he talks about future dreams that things will get better. On the song “Our Courage, Our Cancer” its says “from hospitals to honesty and everything you need of me, I’ll be there.” It sounds like he is talking about how he’d always be there for his significant other. While on the song “Seven Hills,” it says “keep me strong for holding on, keep us together after we’re gone.” It depicts that he is scared of change and of being alone.

Overall I feel that this album was just the spark that the band needed, and that’s why I give this album an eight out of ten rating. I really feel that the song “Be(lie)ve” is basically telling us to think for ourselves between right and wrong. If you are in the mood for 45 minutes of some feel good music that gets your blood pumping this is the album for you.

Anthony Chavez

EDITORS NOTE: While She Sleeps will release “Brainwashed” on March 23rd in the UK. No US release date has been set. A deluxe version of “This is the Six” was released on The End Records back in 2013.  The band will tour in Europe beginning in April before hitting the USA for two months of touring beginning in June. The band is slated to be in Albuquerque, NM on June 24th as part of the Vans Warped

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