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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute: Two Door Cinema Club, Lady Gaga, and D.R.A.M.

Monarch Music Minute: Two Door Cinema Club, Lady Gaga, and D.R.A.M.
Richard Gabrintina
Staff Writer

Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Gameshow’ 💿💿💿

At the beginning of the decade, Two Door Cinema Club was the quintessential indie band. Songs like “Something Good Can Work,” “Undercover Martyn” and “What You Know,” off 2010’s “Tourist History,” became staples of the genre. Two years later, the Irish indie outfit released their sophomore studio album, “Beacon.” After a four-year hiatus, Two Door Cinema Club returned with “Gameshow” on Oct. 14.

Endless touring and constantly working on music placed a strain on lead singer and rhythm guitarist Alex Trimble. In July 2014, Trimble was hospitalized due to stress-induced stomach ulcers. Disagreements among Trimble, lead guitarist Sam Halliday and bassist Kevin Baird also contributed to the temporary falling out.

The three eventually came together by sharing music, envisioning a new sound they hoped to create. Drawing influence from The Bee Gees, Electric Light Orchestra, David Bowie, Prince and, as Trimble mentioned in an interview, “dance music, electro, more dance-based stuff,” the product was “Gameshow.”

The band departed from the definitive style from previous albums and instead recalled disco and funk while still loosely grasping onto their former identity.

Opening track “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” is a dance-friendly rejection of consumerism. “Bad Decisions” is an update to disco. Synths tinge as Trimble criticizes modern society using falsetto: “Lately / Think I’ve had enough / Of generation information, every station / But I can’t turn it off.” “Ordinary” successfully bridges their old sound with the new. “Fever” transparently embodies the ‘80s.

Longtime fans might complain about “Gameshow,” but with open ears, the album potentially allows appreciation for Two Door Cinema Club’s reshaped identity.

Lady Gaga – ‘Joanne’ 💿💿💿💿

In the past, words like “eccentric” and “daring” were synonymous with Lady Gaga. Her music reinvented the pop industry, and her larger-than-life persona won over many hearts. From wearing a meat dress at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards to her theatrical music videos, Lady Gaga has always embraced being weird. “Joanne,” released on Oct. 21, takes away all of the smoke and mirrors and reveals a lesser-known side to Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga’s earlier style, which was heavily electronic,  is largely absent on her fifth album. Instead, she adopts the identity of a singer-songwriter with Americana sensibilities. However, that isn’t to say she has completely abandoned her bravado.

Her late paternal aunt, who died of lupus at 19, became the inspiration for the project’s title. Intimate, “Joanne” peels back Lady Gaga’s artificial layers to reveal something much more human.

The diverse list of collaborators, which include Father John Misty, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Mark Ronson, Florence Welsh, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Homme and many more, help generate an expansive record that pushes her to unexplored territory.

“Joanne” is introduced with “Diamond Heart,” an exploration of romantic perseverance. Lady Gaga echoes Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on “A-YO.” Introspective riffs reflect on her late aunt in the title track of the album. “John Wayne” fantasizes about a Western lover. “Dancin’ in Circles” is a latin-esque track that touches on female masturbation. Piano keys lament on a fractured relationship in “Million Reasons.”

Lady Gaga is recognized for reinvention, and “Joanne” makes no exception. Her latest album doesn’t feel too watered down but instead allows for personal, heartfelt expression.

D.R.A.M. – ‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’ 💿💿💿💿💿

Ranging everywhere between romantic, soulful crooning and various strains of rap, D.R.A.M. is an ambassador for positivity. With two EPs and a mixtape already under his belt, the Hampton-native released his debut studio album “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” on Oct. 21.

On the album cover, he poses with his golden doodle, Idnit, wearing a radiant smile on his face and a vibrant necktie on his forehead. Inspired by figures of soul and funk, D.R.A.M. has cultivated his own sound, which he dubs “Trappy Go Lucky.”

The album’s production is handled by Gabe Niles, Donnie Trumpet, Ricky Reed, Charlie Heat and others.

The album opens up with twinkling synths on “Get It Myself.” Highly driven and self-determined, he sings, “I had to tell myself to go and get it myself / ’Cause I got tired of waitin’ on everyone else.” He links up with Young Thug on “Misunderstood.” A two-part track, “In A Minute / In House” showcases his versatility, shifting lyrically and instrumentally.

“Monticello Ave” refers to the street in Norfolk that served as a rendezvous point for him and his significant other. Using Wi-Fi as a metaphor for intimacy, D.R.A.M. and Erykah Badu exchange sensual verses. His first single, “Broccoli,” now certified double platinum, enlists Lil Yachty. “Sweet Va Breeze” exits the album in a slow dance before entering the bonus track “Workaholic.”

Listeners will find it hard to resist smiling and moving throughout “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” Ever since the “Cha Cha” frenzy last year, he has only continued to dance his way to success.

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