2015 Mini-Reviews part 2, featuring Ashley Monroe, Halsey, Ellie Goulding and Alex G. (see Part 1 here).
Megan & Liz have had a tough road to success. Of course, there's the general sexism of the country "bro-country" takeover, which makes it hard for women to break into the country music genre. Then there's how they parted ways with their label two years ago. But they aren't letting anything like this deter them. With Deux, they're back, and showcasing their sound with an EP that's a combination of pop beats and country instrumentation and songwriting. Megan & Liz have finally found where they want to be in the country-pop continuum, and it works.
Due to the sheer number of fall 2015 albums I didn't end up reviewing, I've decided to do smaller reviews of some albums I have less to say about and compile them into one post. This is part 1 of that post, featuring reviews of 25 by Adele, Light Up The Dark by Gabrielle Aplin, Thirty One by Jana Kramer and Storyteller by Carrie Underwood.
I've been a fan of Little Mix's music since 2013, and absolutely adored their sophomore album, Salute (review here). Thanks to their single Black Magic, they're finally getting some of the recognition they deserve in the United States, taking home their very first Teen Choice Award and becoming much more of a recognized name. Get Weird, their third album, tells more of a story than their previous two releases, while maintaining the confident attitude seen in DNA and Salute, but the attitude seems much more genuine with more ballads that seem to be there for reasons other than "oh wait, we have to have a few ballads on this album, don't we?!" That being said, the album does seem a bit more transitional than Salute did, with a few more weak spots, but it is overall a very strong album.
There's no denying that Selena Gomez is on a winning streak, whether you measure "winning" by commercial success or quality. She hasn't released a full album since 2013's Stars Dance, but in between eras she released the heartbreaking The Heart Wants What It Wants as well as experimenting with a different genre by providing vocals on Zedd's I Want You To Know. With her first album on her new record label, Revival, she proves that she's a force to be reckoned with in the pop world, along with the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
[This review will not be a track-by-track review as I am sacrificing in-depth reviews in some cases in order to review all the albums I want to review before 2016.]
It's rare that a lead single of an album so perfectly captures the essence of the upcoming album, but Young Blood from Not an Apology did this. It's full of the same teenage rebelliousness that courses through Not an Apology, making the entire album seem like the kind of album many people would describe as the anthems of millennials. Of course, the themes do become repetitive sometimes, and the lyric writing could've been a lot better on some tracks, but on the whole it's one of the most cohesive albums I've listened to in a while — almost as cohesive as Taylor Swift's 1989, and that's a feat not many can accomplish.
Hailee Steinfeld is one of many (many, many, many) actresses who have tried their hand at a music career, in a move to establish more of a musical personality. Several reviewers have dismissed her debut EP as unoriginal and presenting a confusing image of her as a musical artist, but I disagree with them. Although there is a mix of ballads and upbeat songs on this EP (as there should be), the EP gives a nice taste of Steinfeld's musical style, moreso than her debut single did.
I've been a huge fan of Maddie & Tae since July of last year, when I found their excellent Girl in a Country Song, a witty diss to the sexism in "bro-country" and country radio in general now. I'm not the only one. The music video for the song has gained millions of views, and the single itself has been certified platinum. Finally, after a more than one year long wait, punctuated only by a four-track EP in November (you can find my review of it here), their debut album (the fan-voted most anticipated summer album on this blog, by the way) is here, and I'm obsessed. Not to mention incredibly grateful to NPR for premiering it more than a week ahead of the official release date.
Readers of this blog know I am a feminist — very supportive of movements such as Let the Girls Play, and someone who is very happy with Kelsea Ballerini's chart performance and Maddie & Tae's record sales certifications. Yet I am also supportive of RaeLynn, the "other" female artist whose single came out at the same time as Kelsea Ballerini and Maddie & Tae. And after reading one too many articles singing the praises of the latter while using their success and ironically, even feminism to tear down RaeLynn, I'm here to explain why.
Lots of amazing songs were released this summer, and some that were....less than amazing. This singles rundown will cover, essentially, the ones I have the most to say about, because due to my fall schedule I have less time for this blog. Sorry!
Katelyn Tarver - Nobody Like You With this catchy, sarcastic gem of a song I can say with utmost confidence that Katelyn Tarver is back. I didn't enjoy Weekend Millionaires very much, but this track is excellent, and perfect for summer, with clever, catchy lyrics and complementary production. It's vaguely reminiscent in theme of A Little More Free, the title track off her 2011 EP, but different in nearly all other aspects, making it stand out. Now when is this album coming?
About the Blog
Fountain Pen Girl Album Reviews is a blog writing track-by-track reviews of new popular and independent music with a focus on female artists. The main genres that are covered on this blog are pop, country, singer-songwriter and alternative music, focusing especially on independent artists and female country artists. Enjoy my blog!
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