Album Review: John K – love + everything else

Heartbreak, loneliness, sadness, hope, love, and music. The perfect ingredients for an addictive pop album, and that is what artist John K provided.

Now that recipe may seem very cliché with any pop artist, but not with John K, who pulled it off beautifully, to the point where you hear and feel the emotions. This album is one you listen to repeatedly; you need to fully taste, chew, and digest every line to get the full experience. Warning though, this album will have your emotions all over the place, but in a good way.

John K, an artist you outta know, is an up-and-coming singer from Orlando, Florida. He got his first big hit in 2017 with “OT”; an electro-pop track with over 50 million streams, an independent release. Followed by his debut EP, If We Never Met, which is included on the album. After If We Never Met, he signed with Epic Records in 2019.

His debut album, “love + everything else” lets everything out. Whether you’re struggling with moving from a previous relationship or thankful for that special person in your life, this album covers it all. Here are my top favorites from the album.

happiness

Happiness is that song that reminds us me that it is ok not to be ok. The song goes with the pandemic perfectly; because we will get back to the happiness, we are all missing right now. We had many bad days in 2020, but good days are on the horizon, and we will get there soon.

The lyric from the song that reinforces that is “Happiness where you been? Are you gone? Are you comin’ back?” Yes, happiness will be back, and when it is, take advantage of every moment.

parachute

Ok, this song is a total vibe that I love to throw on in the morning while getting ready. Fun fact, the music video for this song was shot in one take, and it’s well done for one take. So if you need a song to vibe out to, look no further than parachute.

My favorite lyrics: “Vibin’ we could talk all night or sit in silence” I mean, this is me; whatever my significant other wants to do, I am happy to do and enjoy one another.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Music Video “parachute” on YouTube

If we never met

When I hear this song, I automatically think of how grateful I to have that special person in life. “If we never met, I would be drunk waking up in someone else’s bed.” John K is honest and thankful; he is not that person.

He’s thankful to have the love with his wife and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Shoot, I feel so thankful for this song.

My favorite lyrics: “I’d be lost in a crowded room of fake friends.” This signifies how the genuine people in his life do keep you grounded.

learning how to love

The song we all can relate to at one relationship at some point in our lives. Hearing this one, I think of myself as still learning how to love. This is something you will always continue learning how to do.

Whether it is taking care of yourself mentally or learning how to balance loving yourself and your partner.

My favorite lyrics: “Tell me what to do to make it last ‘Cause I’m still learnin’ how to lovе.”

ilym

The wedding song of the album makes you feel so loved after a somewhat dark song.

I love listening to this song right after learning how to love because you see the growth. Even though the songs are not back to back on the album, I love that they’re both on there.

John K shared that this song is a message for his wife that she would have forever (now I’m emotional).

My favorite lyrics: “I love you more than the bad days ahead, I love you more than the nights that we ended with slammin’ doors.” In a relationship, we have disagreements. As long as we resolve the disputes, learn from those disagreements, and move forward, that’s important.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of John K and Wife Lenée from John K Instagram @johnkmusic

days like this

Ah yes, days like this, this track is the perfect reminder to enjoy every moment with those you love.

Whether it is family, friends, or even co-workers you enjoy being around. It has that perfect Saturday midday vibe on a 72 degree sunny clear blue sky day.

My favorite lyrics: “Days like this, make me wish we had more days like this, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh.”

Create those memories with the people you love. If there is one thing I learned during this pandemic, life is short, so enjoy every moment of it.

cheap sunglasses

An exceptionally creative track using creative metaphors to describe his own issues as a boyfriend.

My favorite lyrics from the song: “I only buy cheap sunglasses ‘cause I know that I’ll, know that I’ll lose Them sooner or later, oh, baby, I can’t keep anything, can’t keep anything, can’t keep you.”

let me let you go

This track is a jam that I enjoy at night. The song is another one we all relate to at one point in our lives, or maybe you are in the place right now where you are stuck in a relationship and need a decision. 

My favorite lyrics from this song: “Gotta let me love you, or gotta let me let you go.” You have to make that decision because it is not healthy to be in limbo forever.

6 months

The track you have on when you are missing the person you are about the most. My favorite lyric “Feels like it’s been six months and seven days when I’m without you.”

love + everything else is precisely that love and then everything else on the album for you. I feel for his first album John K did so well my score is 8.5 out of 10.0.

John K is an artist we should keep on the radar as I expect the next album will be even better.

You can stream love + everything else on Spotify and Apple Music. Let me know your favorites off the album by hitting me up on socials @MikeStarkCA on Twitter and Instagram

Written By: Mike Stark | @MikeStarkCA

Cover Photo Credit: John K Album Cover from John K Facebook Page

Linkin Park Releases Album Hybrid Theory (20th Anniversary Edition)

When you think of Linkin Park, one thing that comes to mind is Chester Bennington, the lead singer. Bennington was 41 years old when we lost the talented singer to suicide; however, his legacy lives today through music with the band Linkin Park. Their music provides the tools in dealing with trauma; both fans and Chester benefited from it.   


Screenshot of Chester Bennington from Instagram: @chesterbe

On October 24, 2000, rock band Linkin Park released their debut album “Hybrid Theory,” which changed the rock music world. Twenty years later, the band releases their highly anticipated “Hybrid Theory: 20th Anniversary Edition” via Warner Records.

The anniversary edition includes original songs from the album and unreleased tracks, including the highly demanded track “pictureboard,” which fans have requested for the past twenty years. The anniversary album also includes never before heard demos from twenty years ago, rarities, B-sides, DVDs, and 95 minutes of never-before-seen footage and other extras. Band member Mike Shinoda did an unboxing of the twenty-anniversary edition, which can be viewed here.

Extras in the limited-edition box set include an 80-page book containing contributions from the band and unseen photos, a cassette reproduction of the original 2-track street team sampler, a poster of Chester Bennington, three lithographs, and replica tour laminate. Purchase of the box set, which includes these items if in stock are at linkinpark.com


Screenshot of Linkin Park Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Box Set Contents from linkinpark.com

Linkin Park launched nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Music For Relief in 2005 to support and aid victims of natural disasters and prevent such tragedies. Music For Relief has raised over $9 million for victims worldwide, ranging from disasters including Hurricane Katrina, Wenchuan Earthquake in China, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the two 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 

Linkin Park Hybrid Theory defined a generation by incorporating alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic. The album officially certified 12 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), reports sales of at least 12 million copies. Singles for the album included “Crawling,” “In the End,” and “One Step Closer” with single “In the End,” reaching a milestone of 1-billion views on YouTube this past summer, following the music video for “Numb.” Awards from the album include a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for Crawling, and then Best Rock Video for “In the End” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

You can stream “Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Edition” on Spotify and Apple Music.

Written By: Mike Stark @MikeStarkCA on Twitter and Instagram





Album Review: Halsey’s Manic

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.

On January 17, Halsey released her newest album Manic, giving listeners an uncensored look into the artist’s head and heart.

The wait is finally over, Halsey’s new album Manic is here and the singer couldn’t be happier. “The most torturing and beautiful wait of my life has come to an end. Manic is out now,” the singer tweeted on January 16. The wait was definitely worth it as the singer’s last album release was 2017’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Manic gives us an uncensored look into the singer’s head and heart while also learning more about her past relationship, bipolar disorder, and constant struggle with self-doubt and confidence. Before Manic release, fans already had access to half the album with the following released songs “Without Me”, “Graveyard”, “Finally// Beautiful Stranger”, and “Suga’s Interlude”. The rest of the album is where Halsey gets raw and emotional. Manic has some special guests who are important to Halsey who include Dominic Fike, John Mayer (end of track 3AM), Alanis Morissette, and BTS member Suga.

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.
Taken from Halsey’s Twitter

The album kicks off with “Ashley” her own name, Ashley Frangipane. This song introduces fans to her real identity, Ashley, not Halsey. She reflects on her past as the persona Halsey. We find out that when her character Halsey is no longer here, her musical legacy will remain. Halsey shared with Zane Lowe from Apple Music that “It’s arguably the most Halsey sounding song on the album…It was like a comfortable entry point for people.”

Second, on the list is stripped-back track “Clementine” which was released on the singer’s 25th birthday. The song addresses a romantic interest while discussing some of her mental issues in general. This all turns back to how vulnerable Halsey is in her character.

“Graveyard” is the second single off of manic to be released. This song is part of the album compared to just being a stand-alone single. “Graveyard” discusses being in love with someone who is not in a good place, yet you love them so much and are willing to go to that bad place with them. The song also teaches us that we have to take care of ourselves while still loving someone and not following them to the bad place their in.

“You should be sad” is the last single released and probably the best. This country-influenced track is where Halsey spills out her frustrations with an ex-boyfriend, while also throwing some shade about her ex’s character with lyrics like “No, you’re not half the man you think that you are,” “Cause, you can’t love nothing unless there’s something in it for you,” and “You can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars.” On twitter, a fan asked Halsey her inspirations for this track (knowing that she is pop/alternative musician.) and she responded with, “the most petty and heartbreaking songs all come from country. I wrote YSBS (you should be sad) on my living room floor on my guitar. Lots of time in Nashville too.” The music video for “You should be sad” has little references to her idols which include Christina Aguilera, Lady GaGa, and Shania Twain.

You should be sad – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Forever…(is a long time)” is the first track of a trio that is meant to be listened in succession. The song starts in major key before switching over to minor. This style choice represents what happens once Halsey gets in her own head. The track showcases what happens when you fall in love and then sabotage because of your own paranoia and insecurities.

“Dominic’s Interlude” features Dominic Fike, the track discusses brotherly love which is why Halsey chose to have Dominic on the track. The interlude itself is a representation of unique relationships. This track is the second of the trio featured on Manic.

“I HATE EVERYBODY” is the final track in the trio. Contrary to the song title, she does not hate everybody all the time. Halsey shared that “’I HATE EVERYBODY’” is about when you’re young, your insecurities can get the best of you.” She also shared that “I shouldn’t be desirable because some rock star you think is cool thinks I’m desirable, no that’s not what this is anymore.” This is the perfect way to close out a trio with a little angst.

In “3am,” the song following “I HATE EVERYBODY,” Halsey chats about the calls you make to friends and lovers in the early morning hours in order to feel love. “3AM” also represents how drinking can seriously affect your mental state while causing you to doubt yourself. The singer tweeted that “After a night out, I came home and was ringing everyone in my contacts cause I was trying to talk to literally ANYONE so I wouldn’t have to sit with my own thoughts.” The Outro to the track is a voicemail from John Mayer which was unexpected but super cool.

“Without Me” – The first single for manic and released from Halsey after her last album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. This track was directed towards ex-boyfriend G-Eazy, after being cheated on by the rapper. Halsey shared that “Without Me” is the rawest thing she’s ever made. There is no character with this song, it’s just Ashley. The track is about her life and the relationship the entire world watched under a magnifying glass. Originally, the song was supposed to be a standalone single, however, in September 2019, the singer revealed that it would be number 9 on manic.

Without Me – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Finally // beautiful stranger” – In this slow romantic song, Halsey discusses the first time she met her boyfriend Dom, aka YUNGBLUD. Halsey was the one who asked Dom out and said, “do you want to go and get drinks.” They had never met one another before and just hit it off. This was the first relationship following her break-up with rapper G-Eazy. Halsey wrote this song when they first met, but when the song was officially released, the couple had already broken up.

“Alanis Interlude” feat. Alanis Morissette – This track features the very talented Alanis Morissette, someone with who Halsey looks up to. The interlude is reflective of relationships in her life. Her friend Dom is reflective of “brother love relationships and Alanis represents a sexual and professional empowerment.” For those who do not follow Halsey, in her previous albums, she has made it clear she is bisexual and she wanted to have a song that reflects all of her including her sexuality.

“Killing Boys” – “You are killing people.” “No, I’m killing boys.” Sound familiar? Well, that line is from the 2009 horror film “Jennifer’s Body” and it is a conversation between actresses Meghan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. The actual audio clip from the scene starts off this track. The song is about how a woman should be feeling after a breakup. Unlike the song “you should be sad” which directly talks about her frustration with a certain relationship, this one is broader and can apply to anyone. Ultimately, Halsey is communicating to women everywhere that you should be a strong and independent woman.

“Suga Interlude” – On this bilingual track, which is awesome by the way. Halsey brings on Suga from the K-Pop group BTS. The song is about falling in and out of love and fear of letting go of that relationship. The chorus reinforces this where Halsey says “I wonder what’s in store. If I don’t love it anymore (Hey) stuck between the having it all and giving it up, yeah (hey).”

“More” – This one hit me emotionally, why? Halsey opens up about her health and that she suffers from endometriosis and the three miscarriages, she tweeted on March 25, 2019. Endometriosis causes fertility issues. In More, Halsey states that all of her sufferings has increased her love for her future baby. More is not just another love song, this is a song to a person who has not been created yet, but when they are she wants them to know how much they are loved.

“Still Learning” – We all can relate to this song at one point in our lives. Halsey discusses her struggle to love herself despite the fact she is one of the most successful singers today. A couple of points she emphasizes in the song are troubles with self-esteem and self-love. The chorus of the song says, “But I’m still learning to love myself”. I appreciate this track so much because learning to love yourself is extremely important and this song emphasizes this perfectly.

“929” – The perfect way to close out her album. This song is just Halsey getting all her thoughts out. These thoughts include things about herself, her family, and her fans. At the beginning of the track, she shares something fun and personal about herself. She was born at 9:29 am on 9/29/1994.

You can catch Halsey on tour for the new album in various U.S. cities. Visit her website here to find a city near you, and stream Manic on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Written By: Mike Stark

An Experimental Album Collective: Oscar Lang, Big Thief, and More

I decided to do an experimental four album collective review and recommendation this week. These four albums from Oscar Lang, Big Thief, Meth Wax, and Keane are ones I’ve just recently been getting into, and I’ve been loving all of the varying genres and moods that come along with each one.

Oscar Lang’s release gives off a more indie and thrilling vibe, while Big Thief is more eerie, warm, and noisy. Meth wax is explosive, wild and punchy whereas Keane emits a softer, more nostalgic mood. Overall, these four LP’s have something to offer everyone, no matter the music preference or taste. All four are dynamic, emotional, and thrilling experiences. These are definitely some of my go-to’s when picking from my record collection.

1. Oscar Lang – bops etc. 

A friend recently recommended this album and it perfectly fits the mood of waiting for school break and reminiscing on summer. It was released in June of this year and recently on the Dirty Hit record label. Being 6 songs, it is more of an EP, but the mood and feeling is summed up overall in these few tunes. I especially like the light mood around all of the tracks and how airy the record feels and sounds. “French Girl” definitely stood out to me, the melody is strong yet up and down. It also features Johnny Utah, who is a great indie-go to and is known for his song “Honeypie.” The synth is very arpeggiated and I like it in front with the guitar, bass, and drums being more focused towards the back. “Change,” being more guitar focused, is a cute, nostalgic tune with catchy lyrics; the walking bass line gives the slower guitar chords a boppy groove. The last track, “Pull Me Up,” is a ballad type song over hearty synth and slower drum beats. This is a great one for indie and alternative listeners.

2. Big Thief – Masterpiece

Every melody on this line surprises me and leaves me grabbing for more. Adrianne Lenker’s vocals stand out against the music yet complement it so perfectly at the same time. Her voice is elegant and soft yet so strong, being fitting for the genres Big Thief fronts. The guitar riffs beautifully go against the vocals and melodies of each song. The chords are surprising which is very refreshing when listening to Masterpiece as I feel as if I’m experiencing something new every time I listen. Every song on this album gives off ease and confidence, yet angst through the dynamics, shifts, and balance between the full band at times and the guitar and vocals at others.

The whole album feels like a long, heartwarming, reassuring journey through the depth of lyrics and maturity of sound over the 12 tracks. Two songs that particularly stand out are “Little Arrow” and “Velvet Ring.” “Little Arrow” sounds like it is played over an old radio or cassette machine; a more lo-fi track with just guitar and vocals. “Velvet Ring” is one of the only acoustic songs, the guitar picking style and walkdown chord choice vary to the rest of the album but nonetheless, fit it in a perfect way. The melody choice and lyrics are immensely unique here, and go so well with the background noises that it almost sounds eerie. Overall, I would rate this album a 10/10 and definitely recommend it to anyone who likes alternative and experimental music.

3. Meth Wax – Meth Wax

The lower quality of this album gives it a lot of character and makes all the difference in the energy that the album gives off to the listener. This lo-fi garage group gives off a slower, grunge vibe but there are also a few more upbeat, surfy tracks that stand out. Instrumentally, the production is the perfect pop-punk and garage tone and release. The guitar has a deep gutty and punchy feel to it and the drums are washy, muted, and perfectly balanced between surfy breaks and beatdowns and head banging fills. The vocals and lyrics are especially unique, being fronted and catchy. Released in 2016, this independent release is an easy listen and great for driving, hanging out, or just as background music. This release is an engaging and impressive listening experience, it mixes non-serious topics with deeper subjects together. I recommend to any Ty Segall fans or any lofi, garage, or punk lovers. 

4. Keane – Under The Iron Sea

One of my best friends recently showed me this album and I fell in love with it the second I started listening. This is a sentimental and mesmerizing album. Under the Iron Sea is my go-to rainy day album and it is a great walking and driving album as well. This release, being an older album from around 2006, captures the listener and takes them on a journey of finding themselves and being in the world. The lyrical content is hooking and powerfully written, alongside the string instrumentals, almost unnoticeable harmonies, and fronted piano lines and chords. It feels like a winter cold fairy tale, and a sense of warmth coming from it, almost like a fever dream. My favorite track is definitely “A Bad Dream” as it’s almost nostalgic and makes me feel like I’m in a different time period. Dominic Scott’s vocal range is always surprising and leaves the listener not knowing what is coming next. Keane’s music feels somber yet refreshing, and I’m always in the mood for it.

These four albums are there for any mood and time, and have become some of my favorite records over this past fall season. Hopefully, this becomes a new favorite record for someone or a song that makes someones day. Have a great winter break, stay warm, and keep updated for more tunes to come!

Written by: Jesse Miller