Enjoy at Santa Ana’s Constellation Room

On Nov. 11, Wyatt Shears of The Garden headlined a late night show for his solo project Enjoy in Santa Ana’s Constellation Room at the Observatory. Starting at 11 p.m., the show lasted until 2 a.m. and had multiple other bands perform, including Makeout Reef, Capital Wasteland, Distractor and Blivet. Each band played a 30 to 45 minute set and the artists were pretty different from each other. Tickets were 10 dollars and I personally think it was worth the drive to Santa Ana from San Diego to see all five bands perform. I was mostly excited to see Wyatt play in Enjoy rather than The Garden, because I have never seen him play solo.

When Enjoy finally started setting up on stage, I was surprised and really happy that Wyatt’s brother, Fletcher was going to be on drums. Before seeing Enjoy live, I was not aware that Fletcher still played a part in Wyatt’s solo band and I was excited that I was able to see both of them at the same time. They are both on my list of favorite artists as of late. Although all of these things were great, I was honestly a bit saddened at the fact that Enjoy’s set was so short! Because they were headlining this late show, I thought they would play a longer set, and my friends and I drove up to Santa Ana from San Diego, so we were all honestly disappointed with how the times of the sets were handled. On Instagram, the set times were inaccurate and out of order, which made it frustrating. The audience seemed to be visibly upset because of that. Immediately at the end of Enjoy’s set, the lights were turned back on in the room and everyone started leaving reluctantly.

I am very glad that I was able to see my favorites, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, though I wish their sets were longer and the information about the event was more clearly stated on social media. But, for the price of 10 dollars I still feel like it was worth going to this show for sure, and I definitely had a great time getting to see the other bands as well.

The Thrill of It All: Album Review

Sam Smith’s sophomore album, “The Thrill of It All,” was released on Nov. 3, 2017. Its release arrives in the thick of the cold season ready to hit your heart when it is most vulnerable and aching for someone to have hot chocolate with. With past hits such as “Stay With Me,” “I’m Not The Only One,” and “Lay Me Down,” I had high expectations for Smith to once again break my heart and piece it back together with his angelic voice. After listening to the entire album a total of six times in the last two weeks, the three empty pints of dairy free Häagen-Dazs in my trash speak for themselves. The Thrill Of It All” is beyond expectation.

Although I don’t quite love all 14 songs found in the special edition of the album, the majority of songs I do love make up for the few songs that lacked individual strength. Songs such as “Scars,” “One Day At A Time,” “Say It First” and “Burning” are not my favorite given they are a little more forgettable and much more mellow than the rest. They are beautifully constructed and Smith’s voice is as smooth and harrowing as always, but they didn’t have the punch of soul that I adore from Sam Smith’s music. On the other hand, songs such as “Nothing Left For You,” “Palace,” “Too Good At Goodbyes,” “Pray” and “Midnight Train” make “The Thrill Of It All” live up to its name. These songs break you, mend you and have you on your knees praising this angel of music, all whilst sipping on some fine bubbly. In order to do so, Smith uses influences from soul, folk and choir music to supplement his traditional hearty pop style. These songs make you feel elegant and dignified although you may be a slobbering mess of heartbreak. They take you through the thrill of love when it’s painful, exciting, undeserving, smooth and complicated. The powerful lyrics combined with the heart-wrenching melodies speak to what we always feel but are never able to fully articulate when playing the field of love. I very strongly recommend this album, whether you’re a fan of Smith’s or not. The music is romantic without being overtly sweet, mature without being monotonous and heartbreaking without being depressing. It gets an 8.5/10 from me 🙂

REZZ At The Observatory

As I stood outside will call waiting to see REZZ, I heard the sound of disappointed fans. They were stuck outside the venue as it was quickly revealed to them that they bought fake tickets and were now denied entry to see their favorite artist. Worry not, as it was REZZ to the rescue this past Thursday (Dec. 14th) at the Observatory. Despite their unlucky purchases, it seems that REZZ had her fans covered! Some who tweeted at the artist about the bogus tickets were then put on a guest list that would allow them access to the show.

 Those who were in attendance were in for a treat! REZZ started her San Diego show off with a crowd favorite, “Relax.” Just like that, the crowd was electrified. In promotion of her new album, “Mass Manipulation,” REZZ’s set consisted predominantly of her own songs and remixes and there were no complaints among fans. Standing in the crowd one could hear the “WOOOOS” and screams of fans, as well the occasional “LOVE YOU MOM!” Yes, it seems the Cult of REZZ was in full force. REZZ’s fan base is definitely a dedicated group, often referring to the female DJ/producer as their Space Mom.

 As the show slowly came to an end after a long night of what many deemed, “an amazing show!”, the crowd began to shout “Encore,” but it seems all good things must come to an end. Fans emptied The Observatory still buzzing from the show, some even saying they wanted to go to LA the following day to see her again.

If you don’t know REZZ, I would highly recommend giving her a listen, and if you do, try and catch her on tour while you can! Be sure to check here for tickets.

5 on Friday: Top 5 Albums of the Year

In a defining year of political corruption, social upheaval and arbitrary violence, music drowned out the negativity and created positivity. Five albums, however, stood out and deserve recognition for their lyricism, instrumentation and raw ingenuity.

 5. “Ti Amo” – Phoenix
Amidst France’s political unrest, French synth-pop band Phoenix forged an album that combated the antagonism ravaging the country. Despite its lack of mega radio hits such as “1901” and “Lisztomania,” this album brings about an ’80s vibrancy unheard of in the group’s previous works. The record meets the perfect balance of overproduced dance pop and head-bopping New Order inspired brilliance. The song “Ti Amo” incorporates sampled drum beats and brightly toned guitars that blend well with the simplistic but funky bass line. “Fior Di Latte” is another standout for its crescendoing hook and sexually charged lyrics that reference a velvety Italian cheese; it’s a fitting acknowledgment for a luscious and sensual song. Thomas Mars, an experienced and masterful vocalist, handles his talent with unsurprising grace. His falsettos and playful vocal melodies shine through. The real star, however, is the New Wave synth based elements that emphasize the band’s musical aesthetic. The quirky effects and lighthearted instrumentation add to the album’s bubbly theme of love, lust and romantic desire. It’s ear-wormy, and portrays Phoenix in a new light.
4. “As You Please” – Citizen
Citizen’s “Youth” is a nostalgic effort beloved by many. With tracks such as “The Summer” and “How Do You Feel?”, Citizen’s sound is a mixture of pop punk with grunge undertones that has been perfected in their most recent release. “As You Please” is a product of the band’s development instrumentally, vocally and lyrically. Songs such as “Fever Days” and “World” are aggressive in terms of Mat Kerkes’ vocal performance, as well as the heavy bass drawn throughout. Maturity is shown in Citizen’s writing, producing an expressive and quite distinctive album that is the best they’ve ever put out. The atmospheric layering paired with heavy instrumentation is a fitting interpretation of the band’s shoegaze sound. They have truly found their niche in the scene.
3. “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
During a time in our country where social instability rocked our lives, “DAMN.” provided us with a solid foundation. Lamar’s lead single, “HUMBLE.”, was a teaser to the ferocity and aggression found in every aspect of the album. The beats, rhymes and unparalleled tales of strength and struggles overwhelm this 14 song track list. Songs such as “DNA” and “ELEMENT” show off Lamar’s hyped vibrancy and unrelenting lyricism that packs a powerful punch. Kendrick’s versatility, however, allows him to slow some tracks down while maintaining his storytelling prowess. “PRIDE.” and “FEAR” are honest and vulnerable, yet precise and compelling. His eloquence is what makes this album shine. Combine that with clean beats and features by Rihanna, Zacari and the surprising U2, and you have one of the best rap albums of this generation.
2. “Melodrama” – Lorde
Similar to Kendrick’s punctual lyricism, Lorde’s writing talent is also honest and true to herself. Heartbreak and pain resonates in the heart’s of her listeners in ballads such as “Liability” and “Sober II (Melodrama).” Her wisdom is defining and unheard of in young women her age. Against the simplistic piano chord progressions and a subtle string section, Lorde’s whisper-y vocals sound like a roaring clap of lightning. Her bona fide talent as a singer songwriter sounds mastered at her age and is quite unbelievable. In tracks like “Supercut” and “Homemade Dynamite” the bright yet melancholic melodies are pleasurable to the ears and to the soul. Lorde’s passivity to her sadness allows beautiful lyrics that contrast bright musicality: an ode to the album’s message. Despite her young age, “Melodrama” is an astounding release that not only conveys feminine strength in times of trials, but the realization that being alone is important. Lorde is an old soul who had an epiphany and is not understood by many. This album is a masterpiece, telling a story of sadness, fear, denial and acceptance. Not to mention, the production does not follow the predictable formula found in pop songs. This is an album dedicated to the broken, providing an aid of advice and honesty.
1 “SATURATION II” – BROCKHAMPTON
Rap “boyband” BROCKHAMPTON have quickly risen to stardom after the release of “SATURATION.” Since then, their fanbase has grown and the group has made a name for themselves solely based on bedroom recordings and DIY production. This group radiates a chemistry that is admiring and charming. Their sound, however, is far from the cookie-cutter hip hop formula or the incoherent mumbling of Soundcloud rappers. Instead, they have created their own BROCKHAMPTON sound that is unique and genuine. “SATURATION II” is the second installment to the trilogy laden with perfectly balanced voice modifications, aggressive beats and pleasurable hooks that grab one’s attention immediately. Through just the opening song, listeners can already foresee the direction of the album. The track is packed with unorthodox, layered beats that shouldn’t go well together, but do. Mix that with insightful lyricism and one of the catchiest hooks on the album, and you have “GUMMY.” This album definitely has a focused cohesiveness to it. From the transitions, melodies, themes and overall production, “SATURATION II” is the best material this rap collective has released to date. Tracks such as “TEETH” and “JUNKY” show each members’ skills as writers. Ameer Vann’s solo verse on “TEETH” is angry and hard-hitting as he raps about his struggles during childhood. Anger resonates with listeners and can also be felt in “JUNKY.” Here, the band takes no breaks, spitting verses that reference to the members’ dark and deadly inner demons. With a haunting and eerie vibe, this song is one of my favorites. The career defining moments this album holds will make a lasting mark on this rap boyband. Their goals are clear and their methods work, and I hope this dynamism is still strong in their following projects.
Featured image taken by Constanza Hormazábal