Aly & AJ’s “Ten Years” Breakthrough

By Rhiannon Levengood

It has been ten very long years since we had a solid release from sister duo Aly & AJ, but the time has finally come as they debut their brand new, appropriately named EP Ten Years. This record features four tracks that give us an inside look at their new synthetic rock sound. And yes, in case you were wondering, ten years was definitely worth the wait.

Ten Years opens with Aly & AJ’s first single “Take Me”, a powerhouse theme that’s driven by a synthesized piano melody as the sisters demand attention from their unnamed subject. The vocals are reminiscent of their sophomore album Insomniatic, while the instrumentals push forth a new vibe entirely. They are not the same Disney Channel girls that we fell in love with back in 2005; and after this first track, you forgive them instantly for evolving.

The next two songs are much more serene. “I Know” and “Promises” are both powered by a beat laid out on keyboard. Their electronic sound is refined and elegantly produced, but with these songs specifically, the focus is more on their voices and lyrics. AJ’s best vocals on Ten Years come in “Promises”, giving the song a dreamy, light sensation with her soft falsetto voice. “I Know” touches on mental health in a gentle, compassionate way that easily makes this song one of my favorites. The very first verse holds my favorite lyrics on the whole EP:

“It’s a state of mind that’s bringing you down
So tell me what will get you out
You haven’t left your bed in days
And I know we’ve all seen better days.”

Ten Years concludes way too soon with another upbeat track entitled “The Distance.” Altogether, this EP embodies the right amount of nostalgia for long-time Aly & AJ fans and the right amount of growth to bring new listeners on the ride. It’s been ten years, but the girls hit the bullseye with this record. We can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves.

 

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

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

 

 

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.