lovelytheband’s “finding it hard to smile”: unedited review

By Rhiannon Levengood

Lovelytheband has a very explicit way of using their music and lyrics to portray the day-to-day struggles of battling depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, and how that can affect relationships and everyday life. The trio’s debut album finding it hard to smile as a whole embodies the hold that mental disorders have on your life, your social interactions, and your productivity. So, in the spirit of having no energy to get out of bed, combating anxiety-induced writer’s block, and tackling a complete lack of motivation to create something beautiful enough to do this record justice, I present you with my unedited notes.

finding it hard to smile – lovelytheband

finding it hard to smile (prelude):
The vibe is mystical and serene. Almost hypnotizing in how meditative it is. I’m really enjoying it already. The build toward the end of this prelude transitions well into the first song.

pity party:
The guitar riff in the beginning is so mellow and feels like it doesn’t completely reach my ears. The vocals remind me of a song that’s popular on the radio but idk what it is yet, so I’ll figure it out. The vibe is really…upbeat and feel good, even when the lyrics aren’t entirely the same way. the song explains depression and anxiety, and how it affects someone’s social life. The first verse talks about how hard it is to find the energy to get out of bed and go out when you’re overcome with anxiety. The chorus itself reminds me of “Fake Happy” by Paramore in that they put on a fake smile when out partying with friends. Verse 2 goes on to explain how this person copes with their mental illness by treating themselves to things that make them happy. They even explain how being on their phone, connected to a world outside their own, makes them feel less lonely. This song is 100% relatable. Definitely sounds like a song that would be played on the radio.

make you feel pretty:
This song is SO FUCKING CATCHY. So basically, it’s telling the story of a girl who’s trying to make it famous in LA. She’s part of the drug scene and this guy is head over heels, trying to make her feel pretty and make her feel worthy, then the guy falls into the scene by becoming addicted to the lady, and alcohol maybe?? This song is so good. I wanna dance to it and scream it with the windows rolled down. The instrumentals are so feel good. I love this song so much.

broken:
Oh. I just figured out they sound like their own band that I’ve heard on the radio. LMFAO okay so we all know this song. It’s super catchy and overplayed on the radio, but it’s a good song that’s overplayed. Like, you don’t get pissed off and change the station. You’re like yes, this song is good let me turn it up. The song is about meeting a chick at a party and comparing battle scars. They’re both broken and both lonely, and life’s fucking them up, but they have each other. The bridge sorta makes us all seem like puzzle pieces waiting to become whole with someone else. The song has a hopeful spirit to it and the synth is always good to dance to.

alone time:
Much slower than the first few songs. There’s a driving beat that’s nice. Another song about mental illness probably. So basically, they’re feeling lonely, and in a quiet, lonely world, depression tends to kick into overdrive. They want to spend this alone time with someone else because maybe depression won’t be so loud, then. There’s a little guitar solo that’s nice. It reminds me of the beach, like I wanna hear this on the shore, margarita in hand, seagulls begging for fries.

these are my friends:
This song is kind of really cute. I think it’s talking about the voices of people who have given you advice your entire life, and taught you as you’ve grown up, and now you’re remembering those little mantras from them as you navigate life, find love and company, meet people and lose people. In the second verse, I think the friends are drugs/alcohol, though. So first it’s your conscience, then it’s what you drown your conscience out with, but both coping mechanisms work for you, they are your friends.

coachella:
This song is starting really mellow. Instrumentally, it sounds like a song that would be on a car commercial. Okay, so this song has a free spirit like morale. “We were young, we were beautiful” just reminds me of having the time of your life and laughing and living without thinking about tomorrow or the consequences. It reminds me of those drug/party scenes from Skins. In fact, the instrumentals remind me of the Skins theme song. I’ve never been to Coachella, but I like to think that’s how people feel during the festival. Carefree. This is such a relaxing jam. I might learn it on uke.

filling a void (interlude):
So, I listened to the entirety of this song before I typed up notes for it. It reminds me, again, of Paramore’s “Fake Happy”, but the intro verse of it. The lyrics alone are really beautiful, and describe an unrequited love. I really love how the vocals sound like they’re being played on a synthesizer, it kind of gives the message an automated vibe. Almost as if it hurts too much to sing the words yourself, you have to let a machine do it.

your whatever:
Ooh, it fades right into this song. At first, this sounds like a love song, but I think it’s a lost love song. It’s like a post breakup song. The lyrics are describing an unconditional love, telling this girl that he’ll be her whatever so long as they’re together, you know? Even if she smokes cigarettes, which he hates, he still loves her and her free spirit and the way she idolizes the 70s. The instrumentals are really simple sounding, but it complements the story really well. I love this song a lot. I think it’s my favorite so far.

maybe, i’m afraid:
This song is a little aggressive, but not in a bad way. It gives me this like…panicky feeling, like when you’re arguing with someone and you know it’s going to end badly and you don’t want it to ruin your relationship, so you’re trying to say anything that’ll make it all stop. I really love that I can truly envision the scene, a couple drunk on champagne, dancing around their living room maybe just getting home from a party. She’s singing Frank Sinatra out of tune and he’s pulling her closer because right now, all they have is love. I feel like they’re on the verge of a breakup, but nights like these happen and remind them why they’re still fighting for one another. It’s a really pretty ballad.

emotion:
The instrumentals are super mellow, but also kinda funky during the verses. It’s about wanting to receive more out of a relationship that’s sort of tanking slowly. It kind of feels like a friendship more than a romantic relationship, honestly. But basically, the other person isn’t really showing interest in the relationship anymore and our singer wants more from them. I really like the guitar riffs in this song.

walk from here:
Ahh! I love this song. I love the lyrics, “I might be no good/Sweetie you’re no better/We used to be sugar/And now all I taste is bitter” just because it’s so so so relatable. When arguments happen, each side always thinks they’re better than the other, but in all honestly, we’re all horrible to one another at some point. I also really love the lines, “There’s no need to drive me crazy/Honey, I can walk from here” because it’s clever in a self-sabotaging way.

stupid mistakes:
I really enjoy the synth and beat feel of this song. I think everyone can relate to the lyrics because it tells a story of a guy who’s still in love with an ex significant other and even though they don’t want to talk to him, he calls/texts them from time to time when he’s drunk or lonely. “My brain holds too many poisons/They helped me make the wrong choices” is one of my favorite lyrics from this song just because I understand battling demons and doing the wrong thing because of them. I also really love the death imagery with the lines, “And it’s my fault that I live my life/Running away from ghosts/Too many skeletons/Too hard to keep them in the closet where they’ve been.” I love songs that have CLAP CLAP parts because they’re the most fun to sing while driving, and “stupid mistakes” has that.

make believe:
Oh oh ohohohohohoh I love this song just because it’s savage af. He’s dragging this girl he likes because she lives with her parents and doesn’t have to pay rent, and hosts pity parties for herself, and never follows through with plans. She’s basically this toxic sort of person that’s hard to love because she won’t open up. There’s a call back to the song “filling a void.” The guitar part is really dancey, giving the song a nice groovy vibe.

i like the way:
“You seem cool/I seem anxious” is a mood. This song is so catchy and feels like it should be on the radio. I’d love to see this song live, standing in a crowd that’s jumping to the beat and screaming the lyrics. It’s about having a love that is far from perfect, and hurts a lot sometimes, but is truly the best thing you’ve ever had. The two people are complete opposites, but they work so well together.

everything I could never say…to you:
This song is so serene and so sincere. It’s heartwarming in a way, too, because there’s just all this love pouring out for someone who isn’t ready for it. It hurts to lose this person, but there’s also an element of understanding, too. Again, the vocals have an echoey, synthesized sound to them, which is relaxing. This song honestly brings the record to such a wonderful and hopeful end, really.

Be sure to follow lovelytheband on Instagram and Twitter, and if you like what you hear, you can catch them on tour now!


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My writing process is usually very strategic. When I sit down to write a review on a full-length album, I open Spotify, Genius.com, and a word document. I read the lyrics as I listen to the record and take notes on each song. The notes are usually sporadic and pieces of thoughts, but they are my initial reactions to each song on the record. After a much needed food break, I’ll come back to my notes, pull out common themes, and build an article that translates my impressions from a verbose mess to a cohesive, readable piece.

It sounds very easy, but sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to take that final step. I have the words in my head, I know what I want to express, but I can’t form sentences that will make sense to our readers while giving the band the well-versed recognition they deserve. My own insecurities tie into my writer’s block and create anxiety as I write a review. Sometimes, I wish I could just keyboard smash my way through a piece, using CAPS to emphasize my love for a certain lyric, and !!! when I don’t have real words to convey my excitement over a key change. Sometimes, being formal is mentally draining on an already exhausted mind, so I’ve tried something different this time. I’m publishing those chaotic notes; the unedited, uncensored, and completely raw reviews. Maybe I’m just being lazy, or maybe it’s actually creative art.

Overexpose Yourself to Sleep On It

By Rhiannon Levengood

Discovering new bands has always been something I’m not very good at. I tend to find a new love in groups that have been around for more than a decade, resulting in my attempt to learn an entire discography of music in a week. And I’ll let you know, I’m really good at doing that.

However, finding a band that’s only five years old is like a breath of fresh air; and finding a band that’s only five years in the making and is actually good is like dying and going to Heaven. A sanctuary full of emo kids, punk rock grooves, and tasteful screamo. I’ve discovered Sleep On It.

Straight out of the heart of Chicago, Illinois hails quintet rock band Sleep On It. The group formed in 2012 and released a debut EP Everything, All At Once (2014) and a sophomore EP Safe Again (2015) before their original vocalist parted from the band. With the addition of new frontman Zech Pluister, Sleep On It released a third EP Lost Along the Way in 2016.

Now in 2017, Sleep On It has finally released a debut, full length album entitled Overexposed. With 12 brand new songs, the group gives us a refined sound that only proves their growth as a band. As a whole, the record is cohesive with a well-rounded sound. The instrumentals don’t clash together and while there is a contrast of vocals, they work really well together for a great track-to-track flow. Overexposed has influences from Fall Out Boy, Paramore, All Time Low, and Green Day. I can even hear hints of Blink-182 and Simple Plan at times. When all of these different ingredients come together, they form a straight-up delicious and unique combination not unlike a Crunchwrap Supreme™.

Fast food plugs aside, Overexposed has the very potential to become an iconic debut album the same way that Fall Out Boy’s Take This To Your Grave and Paramore’s All We Know Is Falling has. We’ll just have to wait and see.

My favorite tracks:

‘Window’
A lyric that sticks out the most to me is:
“And I’m stuck here forever floating on a reel that you’ll never pull in”

‘Distant’
This song gives me immediate Paramore vibes instrumentally. The vocals are almost aggressive, which gives the song the emotion it’s trying to convey. It’s a song I can see a crowd of people bouncing to at Emo Night.

‘Always Crashing The Same Car’
The title pays homage to David Bowie, which is so great. Lyrically, this is my favorite song from the album. I personally find it very relatable, especially the chorus:

“Finding roads I crossed on my own
Tearing from these roots I’ve outgrown
I’ve been looking for the right answers
But you tell me I’m a disaster
Climbing walls I built on my own
To find my unknown”

‘What We Stay Alive For’
This song reminds me of All Time Low, and I think it’s because of the lead guitar and lyrics that have a staccato beat. There’s a key change in this song that gave me an out-of-body experience.

‘A Brighter Shade of Blue’
This is the most stripped-down, acoustic song on the album, but it’s incredibly beautiful and vulnerable. Overall, this is my favorite song. Lyrics that literally made me cry are from the bridge:
“Now I’m shaking, you’re drying in the breeze. I’ve been trying to wash the memories out of our sheets.”

Sleep On It is on tour now with Waterparks, so don’t miss them! Buy your tickets here and keep up with them by checking out the links below.

Website

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I Don’t Know How, but the Music Found Me

By Rhiannon Levengood

I hate how cliché it feels for me to answer with “everything” when asked what type of music I like. But there is no simpler way to say that I appreciate and adore every single genre of music. I grew up listening to country music, the typical 90s boy bands, and everyone in my family could vouch that I was Britney Spears’s biggest fan. Even as a child, I could rap every word to an Eminem song—not that I knew what exactly I was saying, but the sounds were there. And of course, I was born to be Stevie Nicks’s littlest fan.

Music has always been a part of my life, so it makes sense that I’ve gone through phases in my almost-24 years of living. My music taste has grown with me the same way we mature and discover new interests.

As October 2017 comes to a rapid close, ending my 23rd year of listening to rad music, I’m here to share what I’ve been listening to obsessively these past few months. So, sit tight and proceed with an open mind, because this is going to be an eclectic ride.

With unsettlingly blunt lyrics and an electronic sound reminiscent of the Killers and Muse combined, I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (IDKHBTFM) gives us their brand new single entitled “Choke.” The group is comprised of two well-known band members from the emo side of music: Dallon Weekes (the Brobecks, Panic! At The Disco) provides the eerie, Gerard Way-esque vocals and bass for their latest release; and Ryan Seaman (Falling in Reverse) supplies the beat that marches the song along.

Earlier this year, IDKHBTFM released their debut single “Modern Day Cain” along with an 80s style music video that left more questions than answers. Similar to the band Where’s Fluffy? from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, IDKHBTFM is keeping their project as low-key as possible, leaving their fans anxiously waiting for more. Luckily for us, though, their upcoming shows aren’t entirely secret and can be found here.

Detouring away from the alternative rock genre and straight into the heart of pop music, I bring you Sabrina Carpenter’s newest single “Why.” Just last year, Carpenter released her appropriately named sophomore album EVOLution, which was followed by not one, but two headlining tours across the US, and appearances in the UK, Europe, Brazil, and Japan. But if the #Carpenters thought for a second she’d be taking a break soon, they were wrong. Like my taste in music, Sabrina’s craft is ever-changing, so she is forever working to keep up with it.

“Why” continues to prove that her sound is evolving as she grows. It uses a synthesized beat and vocal effects to fit in perfectly with mainstream radio, which is exactly where her talent belongs. To put it simply, this song is a bop and I highly recommend it.

If you are anything like me, you start listening to Christmas music in September because it’s been ingrained in you from years of orchestra, choir, and concert band. Fortunately for us Christmas enthusiasts, Sabrina Carpenter has released two covers just in time for Halloween!

Another artist who is experimenting with her music is my personal favorite, Emily Kinney. With a new album on the horizon, Kinney teases her fans with “Mermaid Song” to give us a glimpse into her new sound. Her first two albums and two EPs have been folk-americana, giving her music an indie acoustic vibe that I’ve grown very fond of. However, “Mermaid Song” has more of an electronic energy that, when paired with her sweet, angelic voice, portrays a dreamlike sensation that’s absolutely addicting.

It’s been an incredible year for music so far. With artists and their sounds progressing the way that they are, I am extremely excited to see what’s to come from my favorites; and even more thrilled to discover up and coming artists as well.