Album Review: Ocean Blvd by Lana Del Rey

In March of 2023, singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey her ninth studio album, titled Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. This Americana-pop and alternative pop album includes collaborations with artists Jon Batiste, Bleachers, Father John Misty, Tommy Genesis, SYML, and Riopy. Ocean Blvd (short for Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd) has what is perceived to be a more mature, conversational, and raw lyrical style compared to Lana’s previous albums; and in addition to its pop style, includes influences of folk, gospel, and trap.

In Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey’s songs touch on themes including family, grief, loneliness, heartbreak, and growth. Following are a summary of a few tracks on Ocean Blvd:

Track 1: “The Grants” – a tribute to Lana’s family and beloved ones on this song as she recounts her memories with them.

Track 8: “Kintsugi” – a song about Lana’s grief and growth from the death of her family members. She relates this to kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the broken parts with lacquer dusted with gold, silver, or platinum.

Track 13: “Margaret (feat. Bleachers)” – written about Lana’s longtime collaborater Jack Antonoff’s fiancé, Margaret Qualley. On this beautiful love song, Antonoff is featured as part of the band Bleachers.

Track 15: “Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)” – a fun and catchy track sampling Canadian rapper Tommy Genesis’s song “Angelina.”

In conclusion, Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd ended up being one of my favorite albums! It has a very mature sound and a variety of unique sounds on each song. If you enjoy any of Lana Del Rey’s music, I would definitely recommend this album for you!

-Lam T.

Album Review: SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo

I’m sure you have all heard the very popular song, driver’s license, by Olivia Rodrigo. But have you listened to the entirety of her album? I think it is one that definitely deserves a review post.

The opening track, brutal, isn’t necessarily one of my favorite songs to listen to. I do love the fact that it starts off strong and I think it makes a great introduction to the album. It is definitely relatable to me, and I’m sure it is to other teenagers as well.

The second track on the album, traitor, is definitely a very well-thought out, emotional song. But, I personally think it has been overplayed. When it first became popular, I heard it all the time on the radio and on various social media platforms. I do love the song, I think it is amazing, but it is way too overplayed.

The tenth track, favorite crime, is one of my all-time favorite songs by Olivia. It is so incredibly emotional and you could tell that the story behind the lyrics is very personal. The bridge of the song has to be my favorite part of the song, it really sums up the purpose of the song.

Overall, I rate this album an 8/10. It isn’t something I would listen to on a daily basis, but I do listen to it once in a while. I do enjoy most of the tracks on it, if not all, but some are definitely over played. If you like heartbreak-pop, I would definitely recommend this to you.

Album Review: The Queen Is Dead by the Smiths

British music during the mid-1980s was quite synth-heavy as new wave was the genre that defined the decade. However, a backlash against this style of music would occur which can be seen in bands like the Smiths. The Smiths came out of Manchester in the mid-1980s and released four pretty popular albums, including The Queen Is Dead, their best album in my opinion.

The album cover of The Queen Is Dead

The Queen Is Dead can simply be described as an indie or alternative rock album with its sound being a fusion of the rock music of the 1960s and contemporary post-punk music. It features Morrissey’s melancholic lyrics paired with his unique voice and Johnny Mar’s compositions. Many of the songs are fairly sad as demonstrated by “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”.

“There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is a beautiful song about a man by his lover’s (or soon to be lover’s) side. The man wishes to stay by her side forever and even die beside her. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is the Smiths’ signature song and one of my personal favorite songs of all time. With its synthesized strings, Morrissey’s voice, and Mar’s guitar, the song is just absolutely beautiful.

It would only be around a year later when the Smiths would break up. They would release another album not long after their breakup, but it’s not nearly as good as The Queen Is Dead in my opinion. The Queen Is Dead is a 10/10 album and you have to check it out!

Album Review: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

Sometimes, we find our favorite songs in mundane experiences. Whether we get the recommendation of a lifetime from our friends, or we find a catchy song on the radio, the event is different for everyone. Still, we all have that one mind-altering experience with music. I first discovered Yo La Tengo through their heartwarming song titled “My Little Corner of the World.” After playing it on loop for hours on end, I finally listened to Yo La Tengo’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, and I was shocked to find that this was more than a series of simple folk songs.

Album Cover Art for I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo

I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One was released in 1997 by indie rock band Yo La Tengo. Most known for its various inspirations and genres, the album flips from acoustic folk-inspired tracks to glimpses of noise pop. For instance, tracks like “Autumn Sweater” and “The Lie and How We Told It” use catchy drums and blissful guitars to create homey, nostalgic tunes. Other tracks such as “Sugarcube” and “Deeper into Movies” use heavier guitars and distortions to take louder, rock-inspired approach. Despite these differences, Yo La Tengo masters each genre they tackle, and the end result is always interesting.

The most surprising track on I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One has to be “Center of Gravity.” Despite being the only bossa nova track of this project, it easily became my all time favorite song for its groovy percussions and different vocals. Still, each song in this project is different, so you never know what to expect once the track number changes. Yo La Tengo uses this unpredictable nature to their advantage. From beginning to end, I admired their musical variety instead of pushing it away. Even if you favor one genre over another, I guarantee you will find something to love about I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Give this album a shot!

Album Review: evermore (deluxe version) by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift. We all know her, or at least I would hope everyone knows who she is. Her career began back in 2006, when she was just sixteen years old. Her debut single, Tim McGraw, will always remain in the back of my head.

This album opens with the track, willow, which I’m sure many of you have heard at some point on the radio. It is not one of my absolute favorite songs on the album, but I don’t dislike it either. I think it is a very good introduction into the complex album of evermore.

The fifth song on the deluxe version, tolerate it, is one of my all time favorite songs by Taylor. The piano in the beginning just suits the lyrics so well and I enjoy it so much. The bridge of the song has to be my favorite part though. You can really hear the anger and emotion in her voice and I love it.

My all time favorite song by Taylor is on this album. The song happiness, is absolutely one of the best songs I have heard throughout my life. The lyrics are incredible and the bridge is absolutely amazing. The way the song starts of soft and then progresses into a more aggressive tone is just so clever to me.

In conclusion, I rate this album a 9/10. I love it overall, but there are a few songs that I wouldn’t listen to on a daily basis. I do recommend listening to this album, even if you’re not a fan of Taylor Swift; I can guarantee you will discover at least one song you enjoy.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which is Better?

The age long debate of the century: Spotify vs. Apple Music. Below are points listing off the pros and cons of each music streaming service as well as the author’s thoughts. Also, feel free to participate in the survey at the bottom of this article.



  • Users can easily navigate Spotify with its organized interface
  • Spotify can curate playlists based on one’s music taste
  • The AI DJ can introduce one to new songs
  • Offers a free version of Spotify


  • The free version offered interrupts the user with ads
  • The lists of playlists on the side on the computer version can be overwhelming at times
  • Sending too many emails containing either terrible deals or news expensive concerts
  • Some songs can only be accessed as a podcast in order to upload them to the site

Apple Music


  • Boasts more songs, podcasts, etc. than Spotify
  • No need to download an app if the user has an Apple device
  • Offers a free trial for one to even six months
  • Compared to Spotify’s sound quality, Apple Music’s is more crisper


  • Doesn’t offer a free version of its service
  • Not as “cool” because Apple Music isn’t as popular for teenagers
  • The service doesn’t encourage user engagement with others
  • Costs a dollar more than for Spotify’s premium

Author’s Thoughts

As a Spotify user, clearly I am team Spotify! What really drew me in to purchasing a subscription for the premium version was the multitude of opportunities for me to engage with my friends. I can easily look to see what my friends are currently listening to or even create a playlist with them combining our music tastes through the new Blend feature. Additionally, the overall appearance of Spotify both allows for simplicity and an aesthetically pleasing interface.

Extended Play (EP) Review: Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains

Thanks to the unexpected success of Nirvana’s Nevermind, alternative rock (especially grunge from Seattle) became one of America’s most popular genres of music during the 1990s. Many bands saw their heyday during this period, including Seattle’s Alice in Chains (AIC). They were an extremely successful band, but had a variety of internal issues such as lead singer Layne Staley’s heroin addiction. After their 1993 world tour, the band found themselves homeless and then moved into the London Bridge Studio in Seattle where they lived and recorded their 1994 extended play (EP) Jar of Flies.

The cover of Jar of Flies

Unlike the majority of their work, Jar of Flies heavily features acoustic guitars, primarily out of the band’s desire to relax and make music. It still features electric guitars and has elements of grunge. Out of all of the songs on the EP, “Nutshell” has to be my favorite.

“Nutshell” heavily features acoustic guitars and, unlike a good chunk of their songs, doesn’t feature major vocal harmonies from guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Instead, Layne Staley sings his heart out on this gut-wrenching piece. This has to be AIC’s saddest song which has only become more depressing with the 2002 overdose of Staley. The song is now dedicated to him.

Jar of Flies was the first and only EP to top the Billboard 200. It was also the first AIC release to do so and deservingly. All the songs on the EP are amazing and are worth your time. I give it a 9/10. Check it out when you have the chance.

Music Review – Die For You Remix by The Weeknd and Ariana Grande

This is my first post writing about something not book related which feels refreshing since I’ve kind of restricted myself in what to post. As some of you may have heard or even listened to The Weeknd posted a remix on one of his top hits being Die For You.

Die For You was originally released in his Starboy album in 2016 so no one really saw this release coming a solid 7 years later. Fans also knew of his performance last year with Ariana Grande doing a remix of Save Your Tears which made many fans go insane, including myself. Being a big fan of both artists definitely shows my bias towards this song but genuinely it’s just a good song.

The song includes components from the original but hints of differences hence it being a remix. Ariana Grande hasn’t released music for around 2 year so through this song we were able to see how mature her voice had gotten and the potential she’s reached. Although at first I had mixed opinions of the song and how I thought Ariana’s voice was too high in vocals, in the end my mind ended up finding a beauty within the song. I think what really influenced me to enjoy the song more was just listening it to it over and over again and also just the fact that these two artists came together to preform such a beautiful song.

I definitely think that everyone should at least give this song a listen and understand what I mean with being withdrawn at first.

-Madison C.

Album Review: COSMIC by Bazzi

Although this album came out in 2018, I still listen to it daily. It is so insanely good and I would recommend it to everyone, no matter what kind of music you like.

The opening track, Dreams, is so beautiful. In the beginning, there is this sort of ambience. It is a comfortable ambience though. To me it sounds like the wonderous world of REM sleep, which is when we have dreams.

The second track, Soarin, is incredible. It instantly starts out strong and it just keeps getting better and better. I love the beat of it and the chorus. The ending closes out the track so well and I love it so much.

The sixth track on the album, 3:15, might be my all-time favorite song by Bazzi. I loved it when the album was just released, and I love it even more now. This song was what made me fall in love with music in general. I memorized all the lyrics in one night, and I don’t think I will ever forget them.

The last song I will be talking about, Cartier, is another one of my top five songs by Bazzi. The vocals are very pretty and I feel like it really shows of his vocal range. The end of the song fades out and it sounds like it was just meant to be.

Album Review: Nevermind by Nirvana

During the 1990s, alternative rock (especially Seattle’s grunge scene) exploded to the forefront of mainstream culture. At the head of this explosion was Nirvana’s sophomore album, Nevermind. Released in 1991, it unexpectedly became a massive album that would go on to define the 90s.

The album cover of Nevermind

Nevermind is the quintessential grunge, the sort of hard, alternative rock that came out of Seattle, album. It primarily features harder-edged songs such as the iconic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that make good use of loud-quiet-loud dynamics, something Nirvana picked up on from the Pixies, another alternative rock band. My personal favorite songs off of the album have to be “In Bloom.”

“In Bloom” starts off with an explosion of sound but then quiets down to the point where Kurt Cobain is singing a tad bit above a whisper. The song becomes loud once again, as it goes with a large number of Nirvana songs. While this song is one of the band’s most popular songs, it makes fun of the sort of people who sing Nirvana songs but don’t understand their meaning.

When Nevermind was originally released, it was not expected to become the decade-defining hit it become. Nevertheless, it did. Nevermind is a classic and for good reason. I give it a 10/10. You have to check it out!

Nevermind by Nirvana is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.