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Mace & Crown | December 16, 2017

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Monarch Music Minute: The Neighborhood, Courtney Barnett, Ellie Goulding

Adam Flores
Staff Writer

The Neighborhood – ‘Wiped Out!’ 

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The Neighborhood’s “Wiped Out!” is the follow up to their successful 2013 debut, “I Love You.” The new album displays smooth transitions in varying sonic textures, keeping the songs moving forward and with an occasional subtle musical surprise for the listener.

Lead vocalist Jesse Rutherford possesses a musical voice that defines him as a hypnotic, trance vocalist. Within each song, he lyrically yearns and embodies the message. The musical accompaniment is warm and is a fair balance between acoustic and electric elements.

The flow of the album, twisting and turning from track to track stays on the side of safe, not getting too loud or too musically adventurous. The first single, “R.I.P 2 My Youth,” is perhaps the most aggressive track, but still maintains an element of restraint even though Rutherford plays with the theme of imagining your own death.

Many times throughout the record, the feel and style of “Wiped Out!” drifts in and out of a Maroon 5 vibe, but more melancholy, which sees them in this emotional dream state similar to Lana Del Rey. Ironically, it was Del Rey’s producer Emile Haynie who assisted the band on their first record, but was unable to contribute to the new album.

With “Wiped Out!” currently debuting at number one on the Billboard Alternative Albums chart, the album tends to lean into a subtle mix of genres to include R&B and rock. Within the soulful chemistry “Wiped Out!” presents, the album offers a rich listening experience and defies the sophomore jinx many artists face in the recording industry.

 


Courtney Barnett – ‘Live at Electric Lady Studios

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Following on the success of her March 2015 debut album, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit,” Courtney Barnett has quickly reemerged with “Live at Electric Lady Studios.” This EP features six tracks that sees her in a raw environment being witty and carefree in her delivery of each song in this intimate, live setting.

Barnett has been hailed by both Rolling Stone and The New York Times as a standout performer. As a singer-songwriter and guitarist, the native Australian’s grunge influences can be heard on “Scotty Says.” Her rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style remain a common denominator throughout the EP.

Though her musical arrangements vary in character from grunge and psychedelic to her current classification as indie rock, her vocal delivery is reminiscent of Bob Dylan. She aims to deliver her message in a very mild manner with little attention to precision and strength.

As she resides in this liminal space between strong and intolerable musical delivery, this is her greatest strength in performing such as the first cut, “Lance Jr.” Here, the band just flows with a laidback attitude with no pressure to play to the listener’s expectations.

However, Barnett’s delivery may be a little too backward in direction as her lyrical style sees her drifting from one idea to another. This album gives a fair representation of her musical abilities, yet it will be interesting to see if she will stylistically change through time.


Ellie Goulding – ‘Delirium

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While starting work on her third album last November, Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” found its way onto the soundtrack for “Fifty Shades of Grey” in early 2015. With an accompanying music video, the song reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

‘Delirium’ is a solid, sensual album that puts front and center Goulding’s vocal style and sound. Backed by electronic beats and a warm, sincere music accompaniment, her message is a personal account of simple, yet raw emotions and wanting.

At times, the music can take you into another world that is safe and welcoming. Goulding’s first single, “On My Mind,” is a track that questions jealousy, love and the heart with an assurance that everything is okay. “Something In The Way You Move” borrows the arpeggiated synth bounce of Atlas Genius and adding her warmth and soul that is mature and fresh.

Keep on Dancin’” and “Don’t Need Nobody” explore dark and mysterious music textures with hypnotic trance beats. Goulding’s smooth vocal lead crafted around her own vocal harmonies and background effects truly make these tracks her own unique signature.

The upbeat, energetic “Around U” challenges Taylor Swift’s catchy pop excitement. However, Goulding’s vocal timbre smoothes out what may be the rough edges of Swift’s sound. Overall, Goulding has created another landmark album that stands firm on the successes of her previous two records, seeing the singer continuing to evolve and grow in her translucent career.

Rating System:
💿 — Face palm.
💿💿 — Eh…
💿💿💿 — We’re getting there.
💿💿💿💿 — I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿💿💿💿💿 — Hell yes!