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

Peep This Joint: Mos Def – Black on Both Sides Album Review

October 12, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of his universally lauded album, Black on Both Sides by legendary rapper Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def. 

This project marked his debut as a solo artist after receiving critical acclaim on his collaborative effort with another veteran rapper, Talib Kweli with their full-length LP, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star that released just a year before this project. 

Released in 1999, Black on Both Sides is a bonafide 90’s rap album that remains a hallmark and defining sound for underground boom-bap hip hop. Despite the vintage production style, Mos Def manages to utilize the sound to create a timeless record that stood the test of time and still bumps even today. 

Especially after the tragic deaths of Tupac and Biggie that nearly closed off the golden age of hip-hop, Black on Both Sides serves as a final hoorah to the definitive era.

Due to the album’s timeless feel despite its sound being centered around boom-bap, the album is universally praised as not only one of the best albums of that era but also of all time. The album stands as an ideal introduction to 90’s boom-bap due to its accessibility and timeless sound.

With passionate and thought-provoking lyrics mixed with an effortless flow dispersed throughout the project, it’s clear to see that Mos utilized the album to restore sociopolitical consciousness into the rap game and bring hip-hop back to its roots/foundation. 

The song, “Mathematics” is a prime example of this which is filled with meticulously-crafted lyrics and effortless delivery. Under a beat laced by legendary producer DJ Premier, the Mighty Mos Def addresses the racist prison industrial complex that particular targets people of color:

“When the average minimum wage is $5.15/

You best believe you’ve got to find a new grind to get cream/ 

The white unemployment rate is nearly more than triple for black/ 

Some front-liners got their gun in your back/ 

Bubbling crack, jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty/ 

And end up in the global jail economy/”

Regardless of the fact that this album came out in ‘99, many of the bars Mos spits are still relevant today. Mos reveals that many social issues that plagued the world then still exist today and time has shown that it has only gotten worse. Further in the same song, he spits about the growing use of government surveillance:

“40% of Americans own a cell phone/

So they can hear everything that you say when you ain’t home/

I guess Michael Jackson was right, you are not alone/”

Besides the overarching effort to spread awareness and enlighten his listeners, Mos does come through with more lighthearted tracks such as “Ms. Fat Booty” where he tells a story of a girl he met at a club who eventually ghosted him. He flexes his story-telling ability and his delivery demonstrates just how vivid of a picture he can paint with his bars. 

Some more standout tracks from the album that you should listen to include “Hip Hop”, “Do It Now” featuring Busta Rhymes, and “UMI Says”. 

As mentioned earlier, this project is flawless from top to bottom and is a shining example of sharp Mos Def’s pen and flow is. With a signature 90’s sound, he manages to create an album that stood the test of time sonically and is still relevant in today’s politically charged environment. 

Go peep this joint!

Rating: 10/10

Written by: Johann Oribello

A Four Album Collective

Through the hot San Diego fall, I’ve been searching for new music that fits my “fall mood.” This week, I’ve decided to do a collective of four albums that I’ve had on repeat during these autumn months.

1. Time & Space – Turnstile

Time and Space, released by Turnstile in 2018, is one of my favorite albums of all time. The transitions, powerful color, and aggressive liveliness of this record is something that brings me back for more every time I listen to it. I could best describe this album as Hardcore, but with a mix of garage, post-punk, and sometimes jazz. Brendan Yates has one of the most powerful voices, and this, combined with Turnstile’s catchy chants and riffs, is the powerhouse behind this band. Two of my favorites are “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” and “Can’t Get Away.” The ballad-like singing in the background mixed together with the gritty, distorted guitar, and the screams of Yates make Turnstile one of the most energetic and bold bands I’ve listened to.

2. Drunk Like Bible Times – Deer and the Headlights

Drunk Like Bible Times is a new discovery to my music collection this fall but one that I haven’t been able to put down. Released in 2008, Deer and the Headlights have been around for quite some time and have established themselves since then greatly. The instrumentals on this record are refreshing and flow well with the vocal performance coming from the very talented, Ian Mertzger. This whole record is a beautifully emotional, pop-rock 12-song listening experience. “I’m Not Crying, You’re Not Crying, Are You?,” “Carl Solomon Blues,” and “Talk About” are three songs that especially stand out to me due to the blend of classic ballads and rock chords mixed with experimental hand claps, piano, and different time changes and tempos. Overall, I would recommend this album to anyone who loves a mix of alternative, rock, and pop.

3.Favorite Worst Nightmare – Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys are always a classic go-to for fall music. Favorite Worst Nightmare, released in 2007, is one of my personal favorite albums of theirs and has been for years. It’s a bit more gritty than some of their earlier releases but not as sharp or mood-elusive as the four albums after it. Songs such as “Old Yellow Bricks,” “Only Ones Who Know,” and “505” give the album different contrasts between more upbeat songs and melancholic slower grooves. The lyrics of the songs on this record are real and the catchy tunes keep you listening for more. 

4.Chroma – Mt. Eddy

Chroma, released in 2017, is a ten-song record that is a mix between garage rock and alternative punk. Chroma has energetic guitar riffs and impressive, fast-paced drum beats and fills. The almost surfy-tone and pace of this album is a great indie rock record to listen to any time — whether you’re on the road, at a concert, or just need background music. Mt. Eddy, consisting of four members, including frontman Jakob Armstrong, is now a newly formed band called Ultra Q. They have just recently released an EP, “We’re Starting To Get Along.” A favorite off of Chroma would be “Working Title”

These 4 albums are going to keep me going through midterms and finals this fall semester. I highly recommend them to any experimental alternative rock lovers. Happy November!

Written By: Jesse Miller