BEYOND THE STAGE
BEYOND the stage
ADDIE WHELAN EDITOR IN CHIEF
ALICIA RANGEL ART DIRECTOR
DELANEY DEANGELIS DEPUTY EDITOR
GINA SCARPINO PHOTO EDITOR
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Abby Fox Addie Whelan Alyssa Buzzello Bailey Flores Blake Charles Chelsea Gresh Courtney Cook Delaney DeAngelis Gina Scarpino Kristen Humphries Lauren Klonowski Madeline Paige Marissa Sandoval Maya Alfia Samantha Aneed Stone Fenk Valerie McIntyre
Addie Whelan Alyssa Buzzello Bailey Flores Blake Charles Chelsea Gresh Courtney Cook Gina Scarpino Kristen Humphries Marissa Sandoval Stone Fenk Valerie McIntyre
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CONTENTS ON THE COVER
32 ALEX AIONO
11 TIGERS JAW 16 BEST OF 2017 45 JUSTIN JESSO
38 Year In Review 40 IDK How 50 Playlist
04 Jingle Ball 07 SnowGlobe Music Festival 14 Emo Nite Day
ALEX AIONO ON THE COVER
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 2017 - ADDIE WHELAN
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 2017 - ADDIE WHELAN
THE CHAINSMOKERS AND HALSEY
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 2017 - ADDIE WHELAN
CHARLIE DREAMCAR PUTH
WHY DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T WE
SNOWGLOBE MUSIC FESTIVAL SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - DECEMBER 2017 - ALYSSA BUZZELLO
SNOWGLOBE MUSIC FESTIVAL SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - DECEMBER 2017 - ALYSSA BUZZELLO
SNOWGLOBE MUSIC FESTIVAL SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - DECEMBER 2017 - ALYSSA BUZZELLO
QUINN XCII PHOTO BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO
It’s crazy to think that Tigers Jaw have been a band for 12 years. The scrappy emo indie band has been a staple since their self-titled album in 2008, and has even withstood the test of time after being presumed dead in 2013. Lineup changes are familiar in this scene nowadays, but Tigers Jaw saw a drastic one. After departure of longtime members Adam, Dennis and Pat, Ben Walsh (vocals and guitar) and Brianna Collins (vocals and keyboard) continued writing for Tigers Jaw as a duo and released SPIN as the band’s major label debut in May of 2017.
We got the chance to talk to frontman Ben Walsh during Emo Nite Day in Los Angeles. “I’ve been playing in the band since day one, twelve years ago to this point, which is kind of crazy to think about,” Ben recounted. Emo Nite has always kept a spirit of bringing fans and artists together. Ben said he’s never stopped being a fan of The Used. “I remember seeing them when I was in eighth grade. It’s very funny being part of the same festival now so many years later,” he said. Ben’s dream festival includes Saves the Day, Blink-182, Dashboard Confessional and Copeland. At Emo Nite Day, fans actually got a unique surprise when Wicca Phase, ex-Tigers Jaw member Adam McIlwee, rejoined the band for their old hit “I Saw Water.” The band ended their set with the last song off of the new record “Window,” which is one of Ben’s favorites. “It’s been really fun to play that live because we sort of extended the ending a little bit and definitely ramp up the energy site a bit towards the end so it’s been really fun finishing off our sets with that,” Ben added. Mental health has recently been a hot topic lately in the music world, and is incorporated into Tigers Jaw’s music, too. “I just think it’s really important to keep your mental health in check and to ask for help when you need it,” Ben remarked. The subject of mental health may no longer be as stigmatized as it has been historically, but there are still a lot of important conversations to take place. The song “Guardian” off of spin talks about taking care of your own mental health. His advice is “it’s especially important within your close group of friends to feel like you have a support system to talk about your mental health, because otherwise you can feel very shut off to everyone and it’s really easy for the problem to get worse.” It is definitely a personal topic he speaks of from a place of experience. “Any time you’re feeling overwhelmed, day to day when the simplest things become big problems. You’re thinking it shouldn’t be such a big deal then you realize that it’s something beneath the surface that’s more serious than whatever BTS
the task at hand is. You need to take a step back to think about why you’re so stressed or why you’re so worn down,” Ben expressed as something everyone should pay attention to in regards to their mental health. “I think that initially in our lyrics there was a lot of hopelessness but lately there’s been quite a bit more hopefulness in them even though a lot of them are sad songs,” he reflected. Maybe this shift is a good signifier of the path that Tigers Jaw is on permanently now. Songs like “I Saw Water” and “Window” are the types of songs that stay with you. They’re more than just songs. The group has been smoothed out and sounds as good as ever. And after newest album spin has been given time to resonate with fans, Tigers Jaw was reborn into the same, if not more public favor than before the turmoil which is something not easily done. Tigers Jaw recently announced a February and March 2018 U.S. smaller cities tour as well as an April UK and Europe tour.
EMO NITE DAY
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 2017 - ALYSSA BUZZELLO
EMO NITE DAY
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 2017 - ALYSSA BUZZELLO
ALBUM OF THE YEAR 1. Harry Styles - Harry Styles - Lauren Klonowski Label: Erskine Records (Licensed to Columbia Records / Sony Music Entertainment) When news broke that Harry Styles would be releasing an album, many wondered what genre the ex-boyband member would break into. The self-titled debut album from Styles is a rock dream. Complete with stories from his own life and details that fans love, honesty is a common theme throughout the album. “Sign Of The Times” was Styles’ burst into the scene and was very well-received. After a successful single and video, the full album was released in May. The album went straight to number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart and sold over 193,000 copies in its first week. Styles recently released the fan-favorite, “Kiwi” which features Styles’ vocals at their wildest in the high tempo, slightly crazy track. Styles has been touring the world with his new album and already has people wondering about what his next album will bring. 2. Melodrama - Lorde - Marissa Sandoval Label: Republic Records, Universal Music New Zealand Four years after Pure Heroine, Lorde released her highly anticipated second album, Melodrama. Her intimate writing from the first album is still evident here, but just as she has grown over four years, so has her writing. While Lorde meets the necessities for a modern pop record, she still brings in enough unique production that makes her stand out and come out on top of many others. After songs on Pure Heroine seemed to grapple with the worries of becoming famous, it would have been easy for Lorde to now just sing about what it’s like, the lows and the highs. Instead, she writes about her experiences as a young woman, growing out of her teenage years that feels more real than any ‘being-famous-sucks’ song she could have written. The sophomore album has now been nominated for the Album of The Year Grammy. 3. Broken Machine - Nothing But Thieves - Chelsea Gresh Label: RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment Nothing But Thieves dropped their highly anticipated album, Broken Machine, this past September. The album differs a bit from their first album, giving the audience a bit more of a rock vibe as opposed to theatrical vibe the
other one gave. With their insane guitar riffs and amazing vocals, there really is nothing else quite like this album. One can even tell the band has matured from songs like “I’m Not Made By Design” and “Soda” which shows more emotion and focuses on personal mental issues. Nothing But Thieves has just finished up their Broken Machine World Tour but will be back in America this spring to open up for AWOLNATION. 4. LANY - LANY - Addie Whelan Label: Polydor Records, Interscope Records From dream-pop sensations, LANY, the album that grabbed obsessive listeners everywhere. LANY, the true debut fulllength album from LANY, became an almost obsessive listen for most pop listeners and continued to impact across social channels since it’s release. The album features tracks like the loveable, sweet “ILYSB” and honest, relatable tracks like “Pancakes” that really grabbed fans and made them understand the band even more. With an introductory track and even a short interlude complete with a voicemail from mom, LANY’s LANY was an album that was constantly on repeat from its release to even today.
4. Flicker - Niall Horan - Delaney DeAngelis Label: Neon Haze Music, Capitol Records Setting himself apart from his One Direction bandmates, Niall Horan released Flicker, his first acoustic pop album. Horan takes a different take on pop music, drawing from Irish, folk and even funk inspirations. His debut track, “This Town,” is slow, stripped down, demonstrating what we could expect from Horan’s music in the future. “Slow Hands,” is a little bit funky, a little bit rock, and the complete opposite of “This Town.” A little raspier, a little edgier, “Slow Hands” takes influence from Ed Sheeran’s stadium-pop tracks. “Too Much To Ask,” is beautiful ballad, truly showcasing his strengths as an artist. Overall, the album is balanced between slow and upbeat songs. Horan was able to take his talents and make an album full of different songs that stand out from each other, but come together into one cohesive album. The album is authentic, cozy and warm, and exactly the kind of music Horan was destined to make.
TOP POP ALBUMS 1. Melodrama - Lorde - Lauren Klonowski Label: Republic Records, Universal Music New Zealand The long-awaited second album from Lorde proved to be worth the wait. Even at just 20 years of age, Lorde was teaching fans life lessons with a complimentary beat that made this album stay the top of playlists all year. Pop royalty Lorde and co-producer Jack Antonoff came together and gave this album the maturity it needed to surpass Pure Heroine. Tracks like the highly popular, “Green Light” and the relatable “Hard Feelings/Loveless” show how much she has grown as artist in the past four years. The staccato lyrics of “Hard Feelings/Loveless” draws listeners in to hear her love battle. The album closes with one of her biggest singles, “Perfect Places” a track that offers Pure Heroineesque messages with an Antonoff beat. Melodrama is the evidence that as Lorde gets older, she just keeps getting better. 2. Divide - Ed Sheeran - Delaney DeAngelis Label: Asylum Records UK, Atlantic Records After a year-long hiatus from social media, Ed Sheeran returned with Divide, his third studio album. To put it simply, Divide is some of Sheeran’s best work. The 16-track album is a nice mix of upbeat, catchy songs, like “Shape of You” and “Barcelona,” and slower tracks like “Perfect” and “How Would You Feel (Paean).” Ed Sheeran has a way of making the listener captivated by each and every song, pulling from multiple influences. The album begins with rap-influenced “Eraser,” includes the line, “Welcome to the new show,” signaling Sheeran’s transition into a new album era. “Dive” is reminiscent of John Mayer, while “Nancy Mulligan is influenced by Irish folk. There’s really a song for everybody on this album. Filled with great lyrics and instrumentals, Sheeran shows that he only gets more talented as the years go by. 3. Flicker - Niall Horan - Gina Scarpino Label: Neon Haze Music, Capitol Records After taking on the world with One Direction, Niall Horan released his highly-anticipated solo debut record in October via Capitol Records and it didn’t disappoint. Flicker is the perfect departure from One Direction for Horan. It’s filled with traces of iconic artists from the 70s like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, helping Horan make his own mark on
pop music and entirely differentiate himself from his former bandmates. Horan did a phenomenal job finding the right balance between soothing songs like “Flicker” and “Fire Away” and more upbeat tracks like “On The Loose” and “On My Own,” which helped make the album flow with ease. Flicker drummed up a lot of attention after Horan’s success with his summer hit “Slow Hands,” which is still going strong on pop radio. With the success of “Slow Hands” and his current single “Too Much To Ask,” the album shot straight to number one after its release, selling 152,000 copies in its first week. 4. LANY - LANY - Addie Whelan Label: Polydor Records, Interscope Records If you were to pick your ideal relationship with your ideal music, LANY’s self-titled album would come to mind. Filled with poppy, synth filled songs that are perfect for any mood, the threesome’s full length release was a standard in the music community this year. Tracks like “Pancakes,” chronicle loving someone yet missing them. “The Breakup” follows that oh so similar feeling of breaking up, but still wanting to be together, despite the hurt. LANY’s LANY was one of the most relatable albums in 2017, bringing fans closer to their emotions than ever before. The band’s tour, which accompanied the album, was filled with bright whites, colors beyond imagine and sing-alongs that almost outsang lead singer, Paul Klein’s most angelic voice. 5. Dua Lipa - Dua Lipa - Kristen Humphries Label: Warner Music UK, Warner Bros. Records Here’s the newest addition to your “Girl Power” playlist on Spotify -- yes, the entire Dua Lipa album. From stunning pop choruses like “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” and “Garden” to the effortless, dark-mezzo vocals in “Homesick” and “Thinking ‘Bout You,” Lipa exudes natural talent. The highlyanticipated self-titled debut is a truthful introduction to Lipa as an artist: a genuine and radiant soul, far from an industry manufacture. For a debut effort to include names like Chris Martin and Miguel on the tracklist, you know she’s the real deal. Whether you’re following her “New Rules” or screaming “IDGAF” post-breakup, there’s an overwhelming sense of connection -- we’ve all been through heartbreak (with friends, lovers and ourselves) and we’ll all get through it. Dua Lipa’s admittance of perseverance and strength is one of the many reasons she relates to fans, and the reason why this album will be the first of many.
TOP ROCK ALBUMS 1. Harry Styles - Harry Styles - Gina Scarpino Label: Erskine Records (Licensed to Columbia Records / Sony Music Entertainment) On May 12th, Harry Styles released his self-titled solo debut record, which draws quite a bit of inspiration from 1970s and 80s rock-and-roll music. Harry Styles is a perfect departure from Styles’ former boyband days with One Direction. With the release of his first solo record, Styles has proven to fans that he’s more than just a perfect pop star - he’s transformed himself into a rock god for younger generations, exposing them to a new side of music they may not of explored otherwise. In early 2017, Styles teased fans with his lead single off of the album, “Sign of The Times,” which was an unexpected (but not unwelcome) introduction into his solo music. After it’s release, songs like “Kiwi,” “Ever Since New York,” and “Only Angel” rose to the top as fan favorites, but also show a great range in Styles’ musical abilities. 2. Lovely Little Lonely - The Maine - Gina Scarpino Label: 8123 On April 7th, alternative rock band The Maine released their sixth full-length album Lovely Little Lonely via 8123. Lovely Little Lonely is by far the band’s most optimistic album that they’ve released in quite sometime, and the shift in mood is very welcome. The opening song on the record, “Don’t Come Down,” opens with the line “Here’s to now and nothing else,” which instantly sets the tone for the album. This record runs on feeling nostalgic for the past and things that haven’t been experienced. The Maine managed to achieve a new level of hope and resolve in this record that is a breath of fresh air from their past releases. Lovely Little Lonely is a soundtrack to your life that you never knew you needed - from heartbreak to reminiscing to feeling hopeful about the future, this record’s got you covered. 3. The Search for Everything - John Mayer - Kristen Humphries Label: Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment On April 14th, John Mayer released his seventh studio album The Search for Everything. Reaching #1 on the US Top Rock Albums chart, everything about the album is Mayer in his most authentic and transparent form. He changed the
marketing game by giving fans an inside and intimate look on the writing process before he even released a single track. From the stunning guitar tones in “Rosie” and “Helpless,” to the raw honesty of “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” and “Moving On and Getting Over,” Mayer proves he’s more than just Continuum. Though the 12-track album is Mayer’s classic soft rock hits you can play all Sunday afternoon, his personal growth is notable -- and it’s the reason his work continues to inspire himself and his audience. 4. Concrete and Gold - Foo Fighters - Alyssa Buzzello Label: Roswell Records (Licensed to RCA Records / Sony Music Entertainment) This past September, the Foo Fighters delivered yet another perfect rock album. This time around there was no flashy gimmick where they recorded every song in a different city. It was just pure rock. This album has just enough new elements to keep the music interesting and fresh. “Run,” which is the first single off of the album, has the mast bonerattling huge chorus that the Foo Fighters have produced in a long time. One of the best hidden gems of the album is when longtime friend Alison Mosshart of the Kills joins on “The Sky Is A Neighborhood.” For those looking for some good old fashioned rock n’ roll, this album is the way to go.
5. Broken Machine - Nothing But Thieves - Addie Whelan Label: RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment Former Beyond The Stage cover stars, Nothing But Thieves released their sophomore album, Broken Machine, late this year. While their first album was nothing short of spectacular, Broken Machine wshows the band’s progress since their first release. Their growth is clearly seen in songs like “I’m Not Made By Design” and the title track, where the band hits complex chord progressions that grabbed listeners closely and had them listening more than ever. With a few slower, more meaningful songs, Nothing But Thieves matched the tone of their direction and created a great release to accompany it.
TOP HIP-HOP ALBUMS 1. DAMN. Kendrick Lamar - Abby Fox Label: Aftermath/Interscope Entertainment
3. Culture - Migos - Maya Alfia Top
Label: Quality Control Music, Motown Records, Capitol Records
Arguably the most gifted rapper of this generation, Kendrick Lamar surely did not disappoint on his fourth studio album, DAMN., released in April. After his 2015 album, To Pimp a Butterfly, it was clear that Lamar not only had a talent for nimble rhymes, but also for taking a stance on American politics. His single “Alright,” was used by protesters across the country as an anthem for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and this time Lamar has built a bridge to the past with a dazzling combination of old-school rap and a more modern sound. DAMN. is a collection of tracks that simultaneously reflect themes of youthful rebellion and intelligent solemnity, using samples from Fox News commentators, stories about the city of Compton, and even spiritual messages. The album and song titles, rendered in all caps, are defiant themselves. This album is a timeless example of not only rap, but also Lamar’s ability to evolve in the music industry and in the ever-changing political climate.
It seems like a lifetime has passed since Donald Glover gave a shout-out to Migos for creating “The best song ever” with Bad and Boujee in his Golden Globes award speech, but it’s been less than a year. Migos released Culture in January 2017 and the reception, commercial and critical, has been phenomenal, making it their most popular project to date. The now-iconic trio have had some success, to say the least; they are nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rap Album and we can’t turn on a radio without hearing Quavo on DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One.” Their inventive use of trap music aesthetic have cemented them as a frontrunner in the rap game for years to come.
2. Ctrl - SZA - Blake Charles Label: Top Dawg Entertainment (Licensed to RCA Records) Without a doubt one of the breakout stars of 2017, SZA garnered praise from fans and critics alike for her debut album, Ctrl. It even nabbed her five Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album. Her unique brand of R&B has captured the world and it’s easy to see why. Ctrl is a blunt and honest exploration of love, sex, infidelity and insecurity, all wrapped up in an impressive fourteen-song project. Often times acknowledging her role as the “side chick,” SZA details the ecstasy and heartbreak that comes with the territory. The album includes notable guest appearances from heavyweights such as Travis Scott on “Love Galore” and Kendrick Lamar on “Doves in the Wind,” both of whom add another layer and dimension to SZA’s sultry and passionate vocals. With muted guitar on the album opener “Supermodel,” glittery guitars and synths on “Prom” and trap snares on “Broken Clocks,” Ctrl is a varied and cohesive album that we can’t recommend enough.
4. Flower Boy - Tyler, the Creator - Stone Fenk Label: Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment Between music, fashion, furniture and T.V. shows, Tyler, The Creator has created his own world. In his 2017 release “Flower Boy,” this proves to be true as well. The album, made by Tyler, who started off as a hip-hop artist, seems to slip out of the stereotype for what hip-hop is. The beats are not just 808’s and high hats, but exceeds the expectations of what a hip-hop instrumental could be. The album is led by beautiful strings, pianos and singing, all while carrying Tyler’s signature instrumental sound. This album is not just an album, but a landscape that is a part of the world he has created. 5. American Teen - Khalid - Courtney Cook Label: RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment Georgia born singer-songwriter, Khalid, busted on to the scene in 2016 with his first single, “Location.” As his fan base grew, so did his discography. In March of 2017, Khalid released his first album, American Teen. The album includes hit tracks like “American Teen” and “Location.”In fact, Khalid’s first single, “Location” (which also appeared on his debut album), finished number 20 on Billboard’s Mainstream R&B/ Hip-Hop Airplay chart in 2016. The album is full of ambient jams and is perfect for any occasion. His music is catchy and soothing. At only 19, Khalid has made a statement with his debut.
TOP INDIE ALBUMS 1. Gone Now - Bleachers - Alyssa Buzzello Label: RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment Bleachers made a strong comeback this year with their second album “Gone Now.” While also writing a lot of music for other people like Taylor Swift, Lorde and St. Vincent, singer Jack Antonoff still managed to create a unique sound on the record. It is heavy on synth and on bright choruses as well. The album also features appearances from friends Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen. Listen to this album from start to finish the way it was intended to take a unique journey through an indie landscape. 2. A Deeper Understanding - The War on Drugs - Bailey Flores Label: Atlantic Recording Corporation, WEA International A Deeper Understanding is the fourth studio album by American indie-rock band, The War on Drugs. This is the band’s first album since 2014 .This is the band’s first major label debut release on Atlantic Records. The album puts the listener in a dreamy, psychedelic kind of feel, especially in the song “Thinking of a Place.” The album is a perfect blend of guitar solos, like the one in “Strangest Thing,” and emotional lyrics, like in the song “Pain,” with a hint of techno beats. This album is the perfect album for late night drives around town on a rainy night. 3. Landmark - Hippo Campus - Addie Whelan Label: Grand Jury Music Minnesota natives Hippo Campus have been a standard in the indie community this year. With their first true fulllength release, Landmark, Hippo Campus stunned listeners everywhere with their emotional, yet dance-worthy sound. Hippo Campus tackles the subjects of love and loss, while also learning more about closure and finding peace. With transitions from song to song, Landmark makes for perfect
driving music, background music and more. Accompanied by a huge national tour, Hippo Campus’ Landmark became a staple for most indie listeners in 2017 and will continue to be a landmark in their collections moving forward. 4. MASSEDUCATION - St. Vincent - Valerie McIntyre Label: Loma Vista Recordings (Distributed by Concord Music Group) It’s hard to have a favorite song with this album, because every track on St. Vincent’s MASSEDUCATION is fueled with an indie pop alternative sound and lyrics. St. Vincent did not disappoint us this year in 2017. With the hit song “Los Angeles,” St. Vincent takes us this ride of feel good alternative electropop. Remember this is a one-woman show, and singer Annie Clark’s incredible talent makes MASSEDUCATION a record is a must-listen. Other tracks, such as “Pills” and “New York,” drive you deeper into the atmosphere of the album. For those who have not listened to this album, we couldn’t recommend it enough.
5. Turn Out the Lights - Julien Baker - Chelsea Gresh Label: Matador Records Turn Out the Lights is the second album from 21-year-old Julien Baker. This album highlights many of her own life experiences as well as experiences of those closest to her. Each song is uniquely crafted which helps take a look into Baker’s brain. The lyrics come straight from the heart. The album as a whole is enough to make the listener emotional and think. It truly is a beautiful arrangement of guitar, piano and strings that is very easy on the ears. She has made a conscious effort to include “the provision of hope” in these songs. There is no denying that this album can help one feel something they have never felt before.
KELSEA BALLERINI | PHOTO BY ADDIE WHELAN BTS
TOP COUNTRY ALBUMS 1. Unapologetically - Kelsea Ballerini - Abby Fox Label: Black River Entertainment With the release of her second album, Unapologetically, Kelsea Ballerini opened up with a new sense of maturity and confidence. The album is a narrative of Ballerini’s love life, beginning with a dark breakup and concluding with the wonder of newfound love. The songwriting is thoughtful as Ballerini tells stories about her personal relationship struggles leading up to her new engagement. Unapologetically also serves to dismantle the maledominated country music patriarchy as Ballerini sings about male exes with themes of contempt and disappointment. Her lyrics, however, are also sweet and emotional, and it is clear that Ballerini’s artistry is only growing. 2. From A Room: Volume 1 - Chris Stapleton - Courtney Cook Label: Mercury Records, UMG Recordings Chris Stapleton has quickly become one of the top country singer songwriters in the U.S. His music has noted a shift in the country community. The country-pop that has been popular for the past decade is not as popular as it was. This may have something to do with country artists such as Chris Stapleton. His music is raw and is deeply rooted in authentic country music. From a Room, Volume 1 is Stapleton’s second studio album. The album includes popular songs such as “Broken Halos” and “Either Way.” The album won the CMA for Album of the Year and is currently nominated for Best Country album for the upcoming Grammy Awards. 2. Life Changes - Thomas Rhett - Marissa Sandoval Label: Big Machine Label Group Thomas Rhett released his third album, Life Changes, in September of this year and did not disappoint his growing fan base. Rhett’s popularity has been on exponential growth since he showed up on the country scene with mainly country-pop, but this third album sticks out for its variety.
None of the songs sound exactly the same, and he hits all the different genre crossovers one could want and lets people choose what sort of vibe they want with each song. He brings in songs with pop, R&B, rock, country and even some EDM. The versatility of the album allows for Rhett and his label to keep releasing singles until he’s ready to deliver his fourth album. 3. The Breaker - Little Big Town - Samantha Aneed Label: Capitol Records Nashville The Breaker is the eighth studio album from Little Big Town and debuted at number one on the Billboard’s Top Country album chart, as well as dominating iTunes sales during its initial release. The 12-track album has songs written by the band as well as other artists in the industry. The album is nominated for album of the year at the CMA awards and we wish them the very best of luck with that award. The album is full of raw and emotional songs that grab listeners and make them want to listen more. The diversity of the album allows Little Big Town to play around with each track and decide which they’d like to release as their next single. They have taken the country music world by storm and always keep fans wanting more. 4. Heart Break (Capitol Records) - Lady Antebellum - Maya Alfia Label: Capitol Records Nashville Even for those who are not fond of country music, Lady Antebellum is irresistable. With their sixth album Heart Break, they manage to create a personal work that sticks with the listener. After a year and a half-long hiatus from music, they returned to the studio and wrote a vast majority of the tracks on the album. One of the most popular songs on this album, “You Look Good,” is a reminder that country music retains an element of fun and alluring, getting in one’s head and staying there. The iconic group has furthered its place in country music history with this album.
TOP TOURS 1. Harry Styles: Live On Tour - Harry Styles - Sam Aneed
3. The Flicker Sessions - Niall Horan - Valerie McIntyre
Harry Styles took the entire world by storm this past year. After releasing his debut album he spent the fall touring and playing small theatres across America and Europe. Styles, who is no stranger to the stage, captivated his fans in small theatres and gave them a night they would never forget. The entire vibe was something words cannot describe. Dressed to kill, Harry owned each stage every night and made each performance unique. He created a night for fans to forget about their worries and problems, he sang gracefully but also took the time to remind us at every show that we as a society need to be the change we want to see, we need to treat people with kindness. Harry covered a few songs throughout the tour, one song in particular that made fans nostalgic was the iconic song, “What Makes You Beautiful.” Harry took that song and made it into his own style, much like his album, and it was beyond beautiful. Fans who saw Harry in 2017 got to witness something truly iconic. He was in his element, he was happy and he made all of the people in the venue happy as well. Our hearts were full as we left and proud of the artist he has become.
The Flicker Sessions Tour was a successful for Niall Horan, but what this tour even more amazing is that Horan showcased his openers that were from his country of Ireland. We thought that was cool and supportive of Horan supporting talent in his homeland of Ireland. Such acts including Gavin James and Wild Youth, both different in sound, but Horan still gave them support. Another thing that made the Flicker Sessions unique, for Horan, he was playing more smaller intimate venues and not stadiums. This was probably a change of setting for both fans and Horan. From the countless YouTube videos of Niall touring, we know he loved the tour and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in 2018.
2. Joanne World Tour - Lady Gaga - Blake Charles After her jaw dropping performance at Super Bowl VI, it seemed as though Lady Gaga was on top of the world. Across platforms, her performance became the most viewed musical performance of all time, and she skyrocketed back to the top of the charts. Later that same day, Gaga announced that she would be hitting the road in support of her fifth studio album, Joanne. The tour shows Gaga as the enigmatic and show stopping performer she is known to be, with extravagant costumes, powerhouse vocals, energetic dance sequence and so much more. What really sets the tour apart however is Gaga’s skill as a storyteller. Throughout the night, Gaga would spend minutes at a time talking about the meaning behind certain songs, and why they are important to her. Every night, thousands of fans were enamored with every word and lyric that left Gaga’s lips, making for a night that’ll be sure to leave your throat sore and your heart full.
4. The LANY Tour - LANY - Addie Whelan Complete with stunning visuals and tracks you can’t stop singing to at the top of your lungs, LANY’s “The LANY Tour” was a place to forget all of the bad in the world. With a setlist packed full of songs that even the most unattentive fan would know, the trio created a night to remember. Traditionally at LANY shows, fans have brought posters and roses. This year, that continued throughout the tour. Complete with fan sing-a-longs that made every attendee hoarse the next day, LANY’s tour was a safe place and a place where we continue to enjoy live music. 5. The 1975 - The 1975 - Stone Fenk On what is possibly the biggest U.S. tour for The 1975, they spent each night in huge sold out venues. From the U.K., The 1975 brought out their younger label mates, Pale Waves, as well as Colouring. Not only was this tour great because they helped younger bands gain a larger fan base, they also have an amazing live production. As their songs change, so does their environment. Going from colors to cityscapes to visuals of rising water, it’s hard not to be on your phone during their set, taking photos of this amazing visual. But it’s important to remember to be in the moment to not miss out on the amazing stage production.
BEST COLLABORATIONS 1. Seeing Blind - Niall Horan feat. Maren Morris - Valerie McIntyre
4. Starboy - The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk - Delaney DeAngelis
This song has a classic rock feel with a hint of country. Even for those who aren’t country fans or even a pop music fan, this song is mindblowing. “Seeing Blind” attracts both pop and country fans and we can’t forget how incredible Maren Morris’ vocals are on this track. The best thing about this track is that one doesn’t have to be a fan of Niall Horan or Maren Morris. This song is for anyone who seeks out new music and is opened minded to listening to a different genre of their liking.
Coming from the album of the same name, “Starboy” by The Weeknd features electronic duo Daft Punk. The song takes influence from both The Weeknd and Daft Punk, combing to create an R&B and electronic hit. Daft Punk’s electro-beats fit seamlessly into the track, elevating the song to a new level. The song focuses on transformation the struggle of fame and celebrity. Not only is the song representative of The Weeknd’s transformation into mainstream success, but a transformation into more pop-driven R&B. The track, along with the entire Starboy album, helped launch The Weeknd into further mainstream success, after his mega-hit “I Can’t Feel My Face.”
2. Strangers - Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui - Courtney Cook Lauren Jauregui collaborated with Halsey for her studio album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. The track, “Strangers,” is an ambient track with a catchy beat. It is inspired by the popular synth filled music of the 1980’s. Halsey’s collaborator, Lauren Jauregui, is best known for her work in the girl group, Fifth Harmony. The song was noted by Anna Gaca, a writer for Spin, as Halsey’s best song. The song was released as the second single for Hopeless Fountain Kingdom on May 26, 2017. 3. 1-800-273-8255 - Logic feat. Khalid and Alessia Cara Alyssa Buzzello
The title of this track is kind of strange, but for a good reason. 1-800-273-8255 is the phone number to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Logic, Khalid and Alessia Cara teamed up to write a song about the subject. The first portion of the song is from the perspective of someone who is talking to the hotline and wants to kill themselves. The song is amazing and did make a difference, as the hotline had a spike in calls after its release and their VMA performance.
5. Despacito - Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber - Marissa Sandoval When Despacito hit the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 it was the first time in two decades that a mostly Spanishlanguage song was in the top 10. More records were broken or almost broken on services like Spotify and Youtube as well in digital sales soon after its release. The song was originally released by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee in January of this year, it was after that first single became a huge hit on Latin charts that they decided to do another remix with Justin Bieber bringing in his own verse. Having already won the Latin Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Urban Fusion/Performance, and Best Short Form Music Video it’s easy to see how this song could win the Grammys for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Song Of The Year and/or Record Of The Year that it’s been nominated for.
BEST SOUNDTRACK SONGS 1. “Beauty and the Beast” by Ariana Grande and John Legend, Walt Disney Records Beauty and the Beast Earlier this year, we got the gift of the expertly-casted, colorfully-costumed, magical remake of the classic Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Just as the original film featured songs by Angela Lansbury and Celine Dion, this live-action remake recruited artists Ariana Grande and John Legend to record the title track. This new version is faithful to the original by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, while highlighting the duo’s powerhouse vocals - Legend’s heartfelt, smooth voice and Grande’s ability to hit high notes with ease and delicacy. Along with the recording, Grande and Legend also filmed a stunning music video for the song that went viral in a matter of hours. It is easy to say that with their new version of this theme song, Ariana Grande and John Legend really do take their listeners to a “tale as old as time” by blending their modern sound with the classic Disney hit. - Abby Fox 2. “Good Life” - G-Eazy and Kehlani - Chelsea Gresh Fast & Furious 8 Coming from two of the biggest up and coming artists of this year, Good Life by G-Eazy and Kehlani is truly a song that makes the listener can’t stop bobbing their head to. Their two voices definitely complement each other. Kehlani’s beautiful voice in the chorus takes this song and makes it into one of the biggest jams of the year. The best part of it is the music video that takes place in New York, showing the two in many of the locations from Fast & Furious 8. The song surely will bring you back to the summer and warmer times. It is hard to listen to it without a feeling of happiness. 3. “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” - ZAYN (feat. Taylor Swift) - Bailey Flores 50 Shades Darker The former One Direction member and Taylor Swift team up for a sultry song for the soundtrack for “Fifty Shades Darker.” This is a collaboration the shocked many. The song was a surprise released that many did not expect to see. This was also the first new song Swift sang on since her 2014 album
1989. The electro-R&B song is inspired and mirrors the love/hate relationship the characters Ana and Christian deal with in the movie. In the song Zayn and Taylor represent the different sides of the relationship. 4. “Not Afraid Anymore” - Halsey - Blake Charles 50 Shades Darker
Known for her uniquely seductive and aggressive flavor of electronic-pop, it seems clear as to why Halsey was picked to be a part of the soundtrack for “Fifty Shades Darker.” The franchise is known for its risque, erotic and often times line-crossing themes, which Halsey perfectly echoes with her song “Not Afraid Anymore.” With heavy percussion, twinkling synths, and sweeping vocals, this track shows Halsey at her absolute strongest. The lo-fi vocal effect added to Halsey’s voice enhances the song’s brooding and sultry tension, all of which is released with the breakdown that hits the listener like a freight train. Full of overblown synths, textured drums and choppy vocal fragments, the breakdown seemingly comes out of nowhere, which only adds to the dark melodrama of the track. The highlight of the track however is without a doubt the string section that anchors the end of the bridge to the final chorus. Halsey howls out the chorus which is placed over the massive breakdown, creating a powerful and anthemic closing to an already impressive track. 5. “To Be Human” - Sia - Maya Alfia Wonder Woman With a box office gross of over $800 million and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Wonder Woman” has had quite the year. However, it may not have been the movie it is now without its soundtrack. Sia’s addition to the soundtrack and its centerpiece -- her collaboration with British rapper Labrinth, titled “To Be Human,” is a chilling and eclectic power ballad that is surely an anthem about love and conquering all odds. The track, written by Florence Welch, is the only noninstrumental track on the soundtrack, and that’s what makes its presence in the film so grabbing and powerful. It creates an epic moment of cinema that would not be the same without this song.
BEST COMEBACK 1. Lorde - Courtney Cook Oh my Lorde, Lorde is back. After the success of her first album, Pure Heroine, in 2013, Lorde finally released her sophomore album, Melodrama. Lorde was definitely busy during the years in between the two releases. She toured for most of 2014 and released the song, “Yellow Flicker Bear” for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. In December of 2013, she announced that she was working on her second studio album. Finally in March of this year, she released the debut single for her new album, “Green Light.” The album was released a couple months later on June 16, 2017. She started her world tour in September and has finished up the European portion. In spring of 2018, Lorde will begin the U.S. portion of her world tour. We are so glad that Lorde is back and better than ever. 2. Kesha - Blake Charles After years of being trapped in a nasty legal battle, where Kesha was being forced to work with a man who allegedly sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally assaulted her, she finally released her first album in nearly five years, entitled Rainbow. Kesha has described Rainbow as saving her life, as she used the creative process as a sort of therapy to deal with the endless legal nightmare that was enveloping every aspect of her life. The first taste of new Kesha music came on July 6th, 2017 with the release of “Praying,” a hauntingly beautiful song about forgiving those that have wronged you, and learning to let go of the pain that they caused. Rainbow was released just over a month later, and has been called her best album by fans and critics alike. Going from being unable to release music, to releasing the best album of her career, Kesha has risen from the ashes, and come back to a world that has missed her so dearly. 3. Taylor Swift - Samantha Aneed “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, why? Cause she’s dead.” Sound familiar? It should, thats how Taylor Swift let everyone know she was back and not the same innocent girl she use to be. Swift took a break from the music scene for a few years and while her fans waited patiently on the new music, she was watching from afar plotting and ready to surprise everyone with the new and improved Taylor Swift. After years of writing about her ex’s breaking her heart, boys who did her dirty and well every
great break up song ever, Taylor decided to shock fans and the world with her new album “Reputation.” which isn’t the Taylor we thought we knew. It is understandable though, everyone viewed her as this sweet innocent girl who never spoke up when people took advantage of her and she describes that very well in her album. Not only did she dominate with album sales, but she announced a world tour and killed ticket sales. Taylor Swift is back and ready to take over the world and we are so for it. 4. Sam Smith - Lauren Klonowski Taking a three-year break can be risky. Some artists have done this and not recovered, but it proved to the best decision for Sam Smith. He’s back and better than ever with his new release The Thrill Of It All. He took some time off from music for a few years and did some serious soul-searching. During this time off, he managed to create his best work to date. Smith has really opened up and stripped down on this record and give listeners a good look inside his thoughts. With his intricate lyrics and heartfelt vocals, it’s obvious he has really grown into his own. He recently announced an upcoming tour for 2018 and is paving the way for another great run for another great era of Sam Smith. 5. Selena Gomez - Gina Scarpino After taking a break from music for a few years, Selena Gomez triumphantly returned to the pop charts in 2017 with a couple of solid singles that introduced fans to her newer, more mature sound. In early 2017, she returned to the popcharts with “It Ain’t Me,” which is a laid-back, heartbreaking song chronicling the effects of a painful break-up. The sound is a Kygo staple, but Gomez’s singing gave fans a good taste into what they could expect from her new solo material. Her lead solo single, “Bad Liar” was an unexpected departure from her 2015 album Revival, but the song has a much more mature and full sound, which is certainly welcome. The song samples the iconic bass line from the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer”, and it absolutely adds some much needed attitude into the song. In July, Gomez released “Fetish (ft. Gucci Mane)”, which has a completely different feel from “Bad Liar,” but is an appropriate mix of that and her single with Kygo. 2017 was a great introduction into Gomez’s newer and more mature sound, and it will be exciting to see where she decides to take her music in the new year.
LOGAN HENDERSON | PHOTO BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO BTS
BREAKOUT ARTISTS 1. Khalid - Courtney Cook Khalid is a 19 year old singer songwriter from Georgia. In 2016, he released his first single “Location” and quickly became a notable act. In July 2016, he reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists cart with his song. In February 2017, after the release of a few more songs, he was noted as one of Apple’s Artists of the Week. Without having a complete album released, Khalid toured the country in early 2017 on a sold out tour. He finally released his first album, American Teen, in March of 2017 and it quickly became a hit. Because of his quick rise and quality music, Khalid is one of our breakout artist for 2017. We cannot wait to see what he does in 2018. 2. Dua Lipa - Kristen Humphries Effervescent, empowering and emotional. Dua Lipa is the embodiment of a modern pop star -- a ray of sunshine whose voice induces chills and goosebumps. With the release of her self-titled debut in June, Lipa claimed the title of Spotify UK’s most streamed female artist in 2017 (beating out Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Rihanna and Taylor Swift). Though Lipa gained a following from her 2015 release of “Be the One” and her 2016 releases of “Blow Your Mind (Mwah),” “Hotter Than Hell” and “Last Dance,” she changed the game with her first UK #1, “New Rules.” Her audience grew from her natural authenticity and confidence, allowing fans to resonate with topics like heartbreak, self-empowerment and resilience. From opening for Bruno Mars to headlining her own US and Europe tours, Lipa had a busy 2017. Though she’s our breakout artist this year, we expect Dua Lipa to stay on top for years to come. 3. Logan Henderson - Addie Whelan New to the solo scene, Logan Henderson released his first solo music earlier this year. With no current album plans, Henderson already has more than 125,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. With three singles, “Sleepwalker, “Bite My Tongue” and “Speak of the Devil,” Henderson is sure to
be busy next year promoting the songs. Named Beyond The Stage’s December 2017 cover artist, Henderson has gained the attention of press, mainstream radio independent labels and so much more. His first solo performances this year have already captivated audiences, with plans to tour next year. With hopeful plans for more music next year, we can’t wait to see what Henderson has up his sleeve next. 4. Billie Eilish - Gina Scarpino Over the course of 2017, 15-year-old Billie Eilish has made waves with a refreshing take on alt-pop. She spent the year winning over the music industry and constantly impressing fans and industry folk as she released more and more music. Eilish did it all - she conquered South By Southwest in Austin, TX, released her debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me via Interscope Records, was named one of Apple Music’s “Up Next” artists and traveled the world playing to crowds on her first tour (which was entirely sold-out, by the way). Her sound is unlike anything else in the current realm of pop music. The sultry beats paired with her lyrics chronicling everything from heartbreak to “copycats” to the general trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Eilish’s sound is unbelievably mature and it’s apparent through her music that she has a clear vision for the future of her music career. 5. MUNA - Samantha Aneed MUNA is the iconic all girl group from Los Angeles who started making waves in February of 2017 when they released their debut album “ABOUT U.” The trio met while in college and consists of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson. Signed to RCA, the band spent the last year on tour with Harry Styles all while making a splash in the music scene with their album. They use their platform as a way to help the youth be comfortable with their identities and have devoted their songs to using gender-neutral pronouns so it is not specified to a specific gender. MUNA is a name you will remember going into the new year. Their iconic lyrics, wicked dance moves and uplifting messages is something we need in the music industry.
$150,000 cash & prizes
Past and Present Judges Include Rosanne Cash • Iggy Pop Carly Simon • Aimee Mann • Delbert McClinton Lydia Loveless • Lucero The Killers • Dustin Lynch Chrissie Hine • John Oates • David Crowder Kenny Rogers • Jack Ingram • Grouplove Kelly Clarkson • Cyndi Lauper • Brandi Carlile KT Tunstall • and more
PHOTOS BY ADDIE WHELAN AND WORDS BY DELANEY DEANGELIS
How does someone go from struggling in choir, to reaching over 5 million subscribers on YouTube, to writing songs with John Legend? Just ask singersongwriter Alex Aiono. Admittedly, it wasn’t the music aspect that made Aiono struggle in choir, but “more because of me goofing around, being with friends. ‘Cause the thing was with music, it’s always been something that’s come so naturally to me.” After moving to Los Angeles from Phoenix to pursue music, Aiono quickly rose to fame. Creating mashups of songs and posting them to YouTube led him to a writing session with John Legend and signing to Interscope Records in 2017. “I like to use the term ‘organic,’” said Aiono. “I don’t remember a time where music wasn’t really in my life. I can’t say, ‘This is the day I decided I’m gonna write a song, and this is the day I learned [to play] the piano.” I just remember there was a time where I was like, ‘I wanna learn the piano and just started. I don’t remember the specific details about it and that’s why I think it’s so organic.” It wasn’t a sudden moment of realization for Aiono, it’s just something that has been in his life from a
young age.“Music was always there and it stuck and that’s why it’s so meaningful to me,” said Aiono. Taking influence from several genres of music, what exactly is Aiono’s sound? “I like to think of my music as little bit like R&B left pop,” said Aiono. “I like to use different sounds, I like to try different things, be a little experimental with the sound, but in the end of the day, pop is popular music, that’s what pop is.” “I definitely make music that has soul in it, that has a heart and means something to me, but I also like to make music that’s catchy and fun, and people can dance to and listen to without thinking too much,” he explained. Drawing influence from artists like Pharrell, Jon Bellion and John Legend, Aiono see music as a form of self-expression. “[For] a lot of people, music is their release, or they can listen to music to get away from things,” he said. “But to me, music is how I address things, music is how I say to a girl, ‘This is how I feel.” Aiono is only 21, but has learned a lot in his career so far.
“Something that I’ve learned along my journey, especially being in LA that I didn’t know back then was being patient with other people,” Aiono said. “Cause not everybody can pick it up as quick as I could, and there are people who picked it up even quicker than I could, but because I’ve grown up around music and music’s been something so natural to me.” Aiono explained that he prefers a more personalized approach, rather than being part of a choir or band class. “It’s a personal thing and some people have a very personal connection to where it’s not something you wanna share with anybody, so I had to develop the ability to share it.” That personal connection with his music is what helps him connect with his fans so well. He regularly posts photos from his meet and greets on his Snapchat story, but it doesn’t stop there. He tries to make an effort to connect with his fans on a personal level so they can get more than just a photo from his meet and greets.
“Not calling anybody out, but I feel like a lot of people who have a fanbase, and not on purpose even, they kind of put themselves in a different place than the fans,” Aiono said. “...and I think that that’s where I feel like I put myself a little bit differently, is that I look at myself the same that I look at my fans, and I look at my team the same way I look at my fans, I look at my fans the same way I look at my friends and I look at my friends the same way I look at my family.” To Aiono, “we’re all people.’” Aiono emphasizes building memories and that human connection with his fans. Instead of rushing to take pictures, he wants it to mean more than a “‘hi’ and ‘bye.’” “Everybody has their own story that is equally as intricate and important to the world as my story, and so once you realize that and you realize that, it’s not about even my own show, even my own tour is not about me,” he said. “It’s about building a memory and making something with the fans, it’s a journey that we’re all on together, and i think once you realize that it puts it into perspective.” BTS
It’s been six years since his collaboration with John Legend was released, and it’s something Aiono has never forgotten. “It was such a transitional part of my life, because it was right when I was making, in my opinion, starting to make big moves,” he explained. “That was the moment where I started thinking, ‘I’m not just Alex in my bedroom anymore.’” At this transitional moment in his career, Aiono was able to learn from one his inspirations. “I felt like I was a sponge at them time,” Aiono continued. “Everything that he would say, everything that he explained, his connection with music, I just got to take it all in and it was amazing.” For someone who had the chance to collaborate with one of his influences at such at such a young age, who else could be a dream collaboration? None other than Jon Bellion. Though collaborating with Bellion will no longer be a dream with Aiono, who eventually collaborated with the artist a few days after his Chicago tour date. Aiono has risen to successful quickly, and at such a young age. The best piece of advice he’s received? “The biggest artist, the most successful artist, love climbing the mountain,” he said.
What exactly is climbing the mountain? It’s embracing the fact that even at the top, they might have to start at the bottom again. Even if they start out with win, there’s may be times where they fail before they win again. Aiono encourages people to make sure to embrace their journey, even if they fail a few times. “Enjoy pushing yourself to be better everyday until you are the best,” he said. “Just enjoy the journey. Whatever you’re going through in life, is gonna pass. Nothing is gonna stick forever, no form of sadness, no form of pain or anything will stick forever.” Finally, what are Aiono’s plans for the year to come? Mostly, touring, continuing to connect with fans and a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Fans of Aiono can look forward to more music. “I don’t wanna say this is my year, the biggest year of my life,” he said. “It feels like this is the time where I’m giving every single thing I have, all of the music that I have, all of the touring, the meet and greets, the VIPs...I’m giving 100% everything I have to the fans, to the world, and I’m just excited to see what it gives back.” Even if he falls off of that mountain, fans can be sure he’ll continue to climb to the top.
YEAR IN REVIEW Staff Member: Delaney DeAngelis Favorite Concert of 2017: Panic! at the Disco - Death of a Bachelor Tour Why Was It Your Favorite: I met my best friend at a Panic! at the Disco show six and a half years ago. To see Panic! go from a theater to an arena show was really special to see. I definitely felt a lot of nostalgia, but also super proud for how far the band has come. If someone was just listening to the artist for the first time, what song should they listen to? “This is Gospel” UNDEROATH | KRISTEN HUMPHRIES
MAX | BLAKE CHARLES
ATLAS GENIUS | MARISSA SANDOVAL
SWMRS | ALYSSA BUZZELLO
Staff Member: Blake Charles Favorite Concert of 2017: Joanne World Tour (Lady Gaga) Why Was It Your Favorite: My friends and I drove about 5 hours, and slept in lawn chairs outside the Tacoma Dome to get the best spot on the floor as possible. After over 24 hours of waiting, we got to see Lady Gaga and it was pure magic. The show went for over 2 hours, and managed to transition from her biggest club anthems to her most emotional ballads seamlessly, making for one of the most dynamic and varied concerts I’ve ever been to. If someone was just listening to the artist for the first time, what song should they listen to? My favorite songs of hers are “Marry The Night,” “Speechless,” and “Paparazzi”. BTS
ANDREW MCMAHON | VALERIE MCINTYRE
CAGE THE ELEPHANT | COURTNEYCOOK
YEAR IN REVIEW Staff Member: Abby Fox Favorite Concert of 2017: Global Citizen Festival in New York, NY Why Was It Your Favorite: It was amazing seeing Green Day, The Killers, and the legendary Stevie Wonder all perform on the same stage! Plus, I love how it’s for a good cause and that they bring in activists and politicians to speak from around the world. If someone was just listening to the artist for the first time, what song should they listen to? Green Day - “Basket Case” and “American Idiot”, The Killers - “Mr. Brightside”, Stevie Wonder - “Sir Duke” ALL TIME LOW | CHELSEA GRESH
CODE ORANGE | STONE FENK
LANY | GINA SCARPINO
YOUNG THE GIANT | BAILEY FLORES
Staff Member: Maya Alfia Favorite Concert of 2017: Fleet Foxes Why Was It Your Favorite: It was an outdoor concert near the end of summer and the first concert I ever went to alone, just because I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Fleet Foxes. Their music is so folky and smooth that it paired perfectly with the warm weather and created a perfect experience and memory for me. If someone was just listening to the artist for the first time, what song should they listen to? “Third of May”
JON BELLION | ADDIE WHELAN
Staff Member: Valerie McIntyre Favorite Concert of 2017: Andrew McMahon and The Wilderness 2017 Tour Why Was It Your Favorite: This show was special to me because it was the first show I photographed. I waas really excited and nervous going into it, but I had a great time and I was happy with the photos I took! If someone was just listening to the artist for the first time, what song should they listen to? “So Close”
I DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T KNOW HOW THEY FOUND ME PHOTOS AND WORDS BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO
I don’t know how, but we found newly formed duo comprised of Dallon Weekes, formerly of Panic! at the Disco, and Ryan Seaman, formerly of Falling in Reverse, vintage synth and blue hair. The quirky duo, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, is slowly rising into niche notoriety as fans are discovering single by single. The act is as if we just opened a time capsule from the late 70s. Think glitter, bright color and more glitter. If you’re a fan of obscurity, this band is for you. The project arose from necessity but quickly turned into something bigger. “I found myself with a lot of spare time between Panic! at the Disco tours and missed having a creative outlet of my own,” said Weekes. “I started to just record a bunch of ideas and then brought my friend Ryan in to come play the drums on it.” The two musicians came from similar backgrounds and situations, and seems to have a common vision. Weekes picked the name from a beloved old sci-fi movie. “I noticed that when I was writing, a lot of
what I was doing was influenced by things from my childhood like different media and video games and movies and books on tape,” Weekes said. One of his favorite movies ever is Back to the Future and in the movie, there is a part where Libyan Nationalists find Doc in the parking lot. In that moment, Doc says, “They found me. I don’t know how but they found me,” and the phrase has always stuck with Weekes. Unconventional seems to describe I Don’t Know How But They Found Me in more ways than one. Everything has been done in some sort of surprise fashion. The band debuted at Emo Nite Los Angeles’ 2-year anniversary party without much notice or information. “We started playing shows in secret because it had been a while since I had been on a microphone and had been a front man. So I kind of wanted to get my feet wet a little bit and get reintroduced to that role.” The goal was letting fans discover it on their own. If you take a look at the project’s social media, it’s a bit mysterious. There are bizarre short video clips, charismatic photos and retro-inspired promos.
The duo has only released a few of singles so far, however still has had buzz behind them. A twopiece indie band today is few and far between, but Weekes on bass and Seaman on drums pull it off seamlessly with the help of backing tracks. Without being revivalist, the music sounds like it is straight out of the 70s. Think classic 70s Bowie, Oingo Boingo and Elvis Costello, all of which Weekes sighted as big influences while making the record. “We’re trying to be modern but those influences are definitely there,” Weekes cleared up. Their first release, “Modern Day Cain” came last August with a curious video of the song played live at a Superstar Showcase on public access television complete with an announcer, a grandma and glitter gals. Besides that, “Choke” was released as a second
single. Carried by theatrical melodies and synths, the track is catchy and is a very good representation of their sound overall. Fan who have seen them live have been lucky enough to get the full experience like we have. Don’t panic, the band has more in store. The act has something recorded and are trying to figure out the best way to release it. “We want to do it as largely as we can but doing it DIY style like we have been might not be the best way. We want to take our time and not rush into anything,” Weekes revealed. Stay tuned for something new from the duo in the coming months, and while you wait, take a listen to I Don’t Know How But They Found Me and find yourself transported to a different dimension 30 years ago.
ALBUM REVIEWS Pop 2 Charli XCX Atlantic Records As one of pop’s most off-kilter and interesting artists, Charli XCX has never been one to follow convention. From the dark electro-pop of True Romance, to the boisterous and bubbly Sucker, Charli XCX has always operated on a wavelength just outside of the mainstream. She went ever further into left field with 2016’s Vroom Vroom - EP, a bombastic exploration of experimental pop that showed her practically sprinting away from the mainstream. Her next release came in the form of a mixtape entitled Number 1 Angel, which further proved that her rebellious, middle finger flipping swagger was no charade. Not even a year after Number 1 Angel, Charli managed to release another mixtape, entitled Pop 2. Working with PC Music and its founder and primary producer A. G. Cook, Charli XCX creates a futuristic pop landscape, full of glitchy electronic instrumentation, auto-tune drenched vocals and enough ambition to excite even the most cynical of pop critics. Moments such as the warbling, percussion heavy outro of “Backseat,” the bubbly, robotic synths carrying the chorus of “Femmebot” and the scratchy, bass heavy bounce backing CupcakKe’s verse in “I Got It” are among the best moments on the mixtape. Apart from the grating, high pitched scream in the second chorus of “Tears,” Cook’s risks almost always pay off. Perhaps the most impressive part of this mixtape is how seamlessly all thirteen of the featured artists blend into the mixtape. Brooke Candy, CupcakKe and Pablo Vittar all bring a unique energy and flavor to their verses on “I Got It,” MØ, Carly Rae Jepsen and Tove Lo all play fantastically with Charli on their respective tracks and ALMA delivers arguably the catchiest hook on the mixtape on “Outta My Head.” Charli XCX’s solo tracks are interesting in their own right, with the dizzying intro of “Track 10” being easily the weirdest moment on the mixtape, and with “Lucky,” she at times sounds more like an instrument than a human. As a whole, Pop 2 represents the weird, messy and glitched out future of pop music that we can’t wait to hear more of. 4/5 - Blake Charles Download “Femmebot,” “I Got It” and “Porsche”
ALBUM REVIEWS MASSEDUCTION St. Vincent Loma Vista Recordings Three years after winning a Grammy for her self-titled album, St. Vincent is back with her fifth album, MASSEDUCTION. The album is nothing short of unique, filled with singer Annie Clark’s creativity in every song. There’s no song that doesn’t seem to fit on the album. It’s pop music with an edge, with topics ranging from relationships to sexuality to sadness. MASSEDUCTION is filled energy, but not exhausting. The album starts off with a slow build in “Hang On Me,” St. Vincent’s voice pleading as she sings. The album goes into a bang with “Pills,” easily the catchiest song of the album. Moving into the title track, the funky track is the perfect track--it’s catchy and creative, setting the tone for the rest of the album. St. Vincent is often compared to David Bowie--and no song shows the influence as much as “Sugarboy” does. “Los Angeles,” is a little darker in sound, while “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” gives the album a break halfway through with a slower ballad. The emotion shines through in “New York” and “Young Lover.” The 46-second long “Dancing with a Ghost,” is an instrumental break before the final two songs of the album, “Silent Disco” and “Smoking Section.” St. Vincent shows her vocal range in “Silent Disco,” bringing in the previous track’s title as well. Ending with “Smoking Section,” St. Vincent’s voice instantly gets gravelly, almost as if she’s a different person, or as if she had just smoked a pack of cigarettes. While “Los Angeles” was darker only in the sound, this song ends the album with darker, more haunting lyrics, much different from the high energy from the rest of the album. MASSEDUCTION is like St. Vincent herself: unique and creative. Packaged together in a cohesive album, the 13-track album takes the listener through the wild ride that is St. Vincent’s thoughts and experiences. 5/5 - Delaney DeAngelis Download: “Masseduction,” “Young Lover” and “Silent Disco”
Vale Black Veil Brides Republic Records Black Veil Brides has returned with their fifth studio album, Vale three years after their last LP, Black Veil Brides. Vale has that typical attentiongrabbing, anthemic rock sound that the band has crafted so well through their past records. The album opens with the 20-second, spoken word from Andy Biersack, “Incipiens Ad Finem” which is Latin for “Beginning to End.” This sets the tone for the entirety of the record. Immediately following, single “The Last One” roars. This song is reminiscent of the Wretched and Divine with it’s hard-hitting and infectious chorus. “When They Call My Name” is one of the slowest songs on the record, and also has some of the heaviest lyrics like, “These thoughts’ll kill me and everything that I hold true/And as I grow, I let my fear replace my youth.” “The Outsider” is the typical BVB song that everyone knows and loves, with that hard beat and inspiring lyrics that will be sure to be a hit when performed live. Another highlight is “Ballad of the Lonely Hearts” which shows off a slightly new side of Black Veil Brides. With a quick, staccato opening, it then moves into a harder sound but Biersack’s vocals explore new heights. His vocals are good throughout, but more of what is heard on this track would have taken this album to the next level. The album closes with the title track, “Vale (This Is Where It Ends).” This deep track brings closure to the album and ties up all the loose ends. Biersack shows more of a raw timbre than he has before, making it a really intriguing track. Overall, Vale might just be Black Veil Brides’ best work to date. By pulling from the best of their previous work and implementing some new production styles, they have managed to create a piece of work that encapsulates all of the progress they have made to where they are now and where they are headed in the future. 4/5 - Lauren Klonowski Download: “The Last One,” “The Outsider” and “Ballad of the Lonely Hearts”
JUSTIN JESSO PHOTOS AND WORDS BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO
It is not common to find a fresh face that is both sharing the stage with DJ Kygo and getting nominated for a Latin Grammy, however Justin Jesso is that rare gem. The 25-year-old rising star has just recently found the spotlight overnight, but in reality has been building his career for as long as he could remember. Jesso is a perfectly packaged singer, songwriter, composer and musician. Jesso knew from a young age that this was going to be his career path. “The first song I ever wrote, I was seven years old and I was at camp. It was to get a girl and her name was Leah,” he told us and joked, “I don’t think it worked out with the girl. Should have quit right there but I didn’t.” Fast forward, Jesso polished his songwriting chops at New York University and with an internship at EMI Music Publishing. After his internship he fell into an international
crew of songwriters, found some success and ended up where he is today. Jesso was nominated last year for a Latin Grammy for “Song Of The Year,” as a writer on Ricky Martin’s “Vente Pa’ Ca.” “Nothing I’ve ever done is intentional. Most of the writing that I’ve done I’ve fallen into,” he explained. “I’ve had songs that have been out in Germany, in Korea, I’ve had Spanish songs, EDM songs and none of it has been intentionally to write a certain kind of song. I write a song and it ends up finding a home.” Whether it is writing music for himself or writing songs for others, Jesso has a very organic songwriting process that’s different every time. “I’ll go in and essentially try and get at what an artist is feeling and thinking or what I’m feeling and thinking,” he said. He tends to work off of experiences that he has had and then will let the creative process take over.
As for his step into the spotlight with Kygo, is was almost as it was overnight. Jesso was featured on recent Kygo single “Stargazing.” “A couple of friends and I wrote the song on a Monday, Tuesday it was sent to Kygo, Wednesday we had a completed version back from Kygo and by Friday it was a confirmed single that came out two months later,” he explained. This sort of process is very unusual for the music industry, and Jesso just got lucky to have his song come out immediately. The song gets about two million streams a day and to date has been streamed over 175 million times. He even got to tour with Kygo in Europe. “I didn’t expect it now, and I didn’t expect it in this way. I certainly hoped that eventually I would get to the place where my music would be that heard. It’s my voice, it’s my story and it’s a piece of me that people are responding to which is really cool,” he commented. Recently Jesso was in Bergen, Norway shooting an orchestral version of “Stargazing” which is accompanied by
a very cool video. “It was just so cool to shoot the song with the power of a full orchestra behind me. It was a totally different and awesome experience and the video turned out great,” he explained, and the video is worth watching. Currently, Jesso is focused on writing songs that are going to be his project and are going to find a home with his music. The only difference in the writing process is actually in the production process. “Most of the time when I’m in the studio writing songs I write from a place of where my heart is, so the writing process isn’t different,” he remarked. Since he will have complete control over the production and sound of the music, he will have a chance to represent sonically who he is. “I love live instruments. I love emotional things that get people going. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with my sound and my music,” he said as the only glimpse into his sound possible since he’s still discovering it for himself.
He explained that his music will strive to fuse soul and pop music, what he grew up listening to and what he is currently experiencing. Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Otis Redding and Prince are among his favorites. “A part of listening to music is work for me. Listening to what’s on the radio and what’s on the charts is what I do so I kind of listen to a little bit of everything and kind of listen
to a little bit of nothing so that I can kind of listen to myself,” he explained when we talked about what he’s currently listening to. His song “Stargazing” with Kygo is available to stream everywhere and fans should be on the lookout for a single release from Jesso himself soon. You can keep up with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
BEST OF 2017
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Sleepwalker - Logan Henderson Feels - Kiiara Liability - Lorde Palm Trees - SWMRS Run Right Back - Moon Taxi First Letter From St. Sean - Sorority Noise Pretend Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re Missing Me - Betty Who Black Butterflies and Deja Vu - The Maine Dumb Stuff - LANY Particles - Nothing But Thieves Reforget - Lauv I Was Wrong - A R I Z O N A Kiwi - Harry Styles New Rules - Dua Lipa Dirty Laundry - All Time Low Epitah - Hippo Campus Want You Back - HAIM ocean eyes - Billie Eilish Hopeless - Cashmere Cat (feat. Halsey) One More Weekend - Audien (feat. MAX)
MAX | PHOTO BY GINA SCARPINO