Album Review: What’s Wrong by Elliott Fullam

A friend of mine told me a guy on TikTok named Elliott Fullam announced he released his first album on his 18th birthday, September 2, 2022, saying it was for fans of artists like Mazzy Star and Elliott Smith, both of which I love. Naturally, I decided to check out his debut album and I was impressed with its quality.

Fullam’s debut can be described as Elliott Smith meets Duster. Fullam took Smith’s guitar and vocal work off albums like Roman Candle and meshed it with Duster’s lo-fi production aesthetic to create an incredible work of indie rock. The best example of this is the opening track, “Dolonia”, which is, in my opinion, the best track on the album.

The album cover of What’s Wrong by Elliott Fullam

Starting off the track is a beautiful set of arpeggiated, lush guitars. A few seconds in, we hear Fullam’s wispy Elliott Smith-like vocal work. Fullam’s vocals focus on a girl named Dolonia. Fullam’s lyrics aren’t nearly as important as his delivery of them. He sings them in a beautiful, yet haunting manner that leaves me with chills as I listen to the song.

While at times I feel like Elliott Fullam’s debut is a little too derivative of Elliott Smith’s music, he has definitely created a unique, quality work, something the majority of 18-year-olds can’t say they’ve done. Fullam’s debut is a 7.6/10 as it’s a good album in its own right, but not at the level of the other Elliott; he definitely will be in due time. Go check out his album; you won’t regret it!

Soundtrack for Summer: I Ain’t Worried by OneRepublic

Introduced by the movie Top Gun: Maverick, this song really got me excited for summer. The song in the movie featured Maverick using a beach football scene as a team-building exercise, which was an amazing scene overall and contributed well to the movie. The scene itself is a callback to the classic volleyball scene in the original Top Gun, but the song adds to the overall feel of the scene. It gave a feeling of joy and friendship, two values promoted over summer when people enjoy time off from school/work and spend time with friends and family.

To me, I felt this joy when first hearing the song, and decided to give it some more listens. After about 2-3 listens, I decided to add it to my personal summer playlist and I definitely have more of a feel/excitement for summer every time it plays. Even though all parts of the song were great for the movie and for summer, I found the idea from OneRepublic to incorporate whistling into the song as a genius move since it contributed to the feel of relaxation and creation of memories during the summer. I believe that plenty of people would enjoy this song, especially during the summer. It also promoted releasing stress that many could feel in life from work, school, or other parts of one’s life in a peaceful manner and simply living in the present and seeing the good over the bad while summer lasts.

However, even though I am a fan of OneRepublic, I have not paid much attention to their recent activity prior to this song. I listen to their past songs of Good Life and All the Right Moves frequently since I heard them on the radio almost every day when I was younger and in 1st-5th grade and it brings back memories from that time. Even though time and life move fast at times, it helps to listen to these kinds of songs to remember the good times and to enjoy life and the people around you while you still can. But this song proved that even though some past songs are amazing and at times better than the current songs of a band, there can still be some amazing present songs that can make up part of memories a few years from now.

Overall, the song was amazing and I believe that it has the potential to be a classic hit this year. OneRepublic has made plenty of songs that I enjoy, from songs such as Good Life, Secrets, All the Right Moves, and Love Runs Out. Even though I have admittedly listened to most of OneRepublic’s past songs before, it brought my attention towards OneRepublic and their recent activity and as a fan of the band, it was a pleasure to revisit something as good as this band. It really brought back some nostalgic memories from this summer and past summers, and I believe that anyone can enjoy this song and get hooked to this enjoyable summer tune.

Album Review: Melodrama by Lorde

The Melodrama album cover, painted by Sam McKinniss

Melodrama, singer-songwriter Lorde’s sophomore album, was released 5 years ago in 2017, yet it is still one of my favorite albums I’ve ever listened to. Melodrama is an electropop album with piano-based melodies and electronic beats. It is raw, honest, profound, and thought-provoking; and it elicits sensations and emotions like no other. In this artistic masterpiece, Lorde’s immense talent as a songwriter truly shines through. 

Following are, in my opinion, some of the best tracks and lyrics on the album:

Track 2: “Sober” – “Sober” is about the magic of being involved with someone, the intense rush Lorde and her lover feel at a party. However, when the night ends and they are “sober” again, the rush ends and Lorde is unsure of what will happen to them.

Favorite lyrics from “Sober”:

“Midnight, we’re fading / Till daylight, we’re jaded / We know that it’s over / In the morning, you’ll be dancing with / All the heartache and the treason / The fantasies of leaving / But we know that, when it’s over / In the morning, you’ll be dancing with us”

Track 5: “Liability” – “Liability” is about the pressure Lorde feels of it being difficult for people to be close to her. It’s about learning to be her own best friend; to be on her own, love herself, respect herself, and take care of herself.

Favorite lyrics from “Liability”:

“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy / Till all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me / I know that it’s exciting, running through the night / But every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone / Better on my own”

Track 6: “Hard Feelings/Loveless” – “Hard Feelings/Loveless” has two parts: First, “Hard Feelings”, which explores the feelings that follow a breakup; then “Loveless,” which shares Lorde’s thoughts about her generation and their tendencies in a relationship.

Favorite lyrics from “Hard Feelings/Loveless”:

“Three years, loved you every single day / Made me weak, it was real for me, yeah, real for me / Now I’ll fake it every single day / ’Til I don’t need fantasy, ’til I feel you leave / But I still remember everything / How we’d drift buying groceries, how you’d dance for me / I’ll start letting go of little things / ’Til I’m so far away from you, far away from you”

Track 9: “Supercut” – “Supercut” is about dreaming of an ideal relationship, a compilation of the positive parts of a relationship. In this song, Lorde appears to be blinded by hope and her own imagination of how a relationship should be and not how it truly is.

Favorite lyrics from “Supercut”:

“’Cause in my head, in my head, I do everything right / When you call, I’ll forgive and not fight / All the moments I play in the dark / Wild, fluorescent, come home to my heart”

To conclude, Melodrama by Lorde is such a wonderfully enchanting album with beautifully written songs, and I’d recommend it to all listeners! Happy listening!

-Lam T.

Music Recommendation

As a music lover, I am always looking for new music that is similar to what I already know I love. My taste has evolved constantly over the years and it’s been an adventure to try and find artists in which I love all of their songs, and not just certain particular ones. Right now, some of my favorite artists are Lewis Capaldi, Alec Benjamin and Harry Styles. There is one other artist who lies more under the radar that combines all of these styles of artists together.

Coming from Australia, one of my all time favorite musicians, Dean Lewis, has a really interesting combination of upbeat and slower songs for whatever you’re in the mood for. He discusses a lot of topics that he himself went through, mostly centered around heartbreak and starting new things (as much music is nowadays). When I first discovered him, I started with some of his more popular songs. As I began to listen more and more, I discovered how much he was like other artists I already listened to, such as Lewis Capaldi. 

If you’re looking for some new music and we listen to similar musicians, I highly recommend Dean Lewis. His songs all carry something special and are completely different songs to one another. You can have multiple favorites of his because his songs span many different types of the same genre. Some of my favorites include, “For The Last Time,” “Don’t Hold Me,” and “Half A Man.” 

-Danielle B.

RENT, the Musical

A playbill from the Original Broadway Cast of RENT.

RENT, the musical by Jonathan Larson, is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I’ve listened to a lot of musicals—and at this point, I can’t really name them all. But RENT makes it near the top of my favorites, because of its music, plot, and beautifully fleshed out characters. 

RENT tells the story of a group of starving artists living in Lower Manhattan’s East Village, from 1989 to 1990. During this period, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was wiping out thousands of people not only in the US, but all over the world. It was a devastating epidemic, and even today, around 35 million people have passed due to HIV/AIDS since 1981. This epidemic plays a huge role in the story of RENT, as different characters—Roger, Mimi, Angel, and Collins—are living with it, and one of them eventually passes away during the musical. 

The main characters include Mark, a filmmaker; Roger, his roommate and a musician; Mimi, a dancer at the local club; Angel, a drag queen and performer; Tom Collins, a professor; Maureen, a performer and actress; and Joanne, a lawyer and Maureen’s partner. All of them struggle to achieve their dreams, and this musical shows the struggle and the cost of wanting to achieve those dreams. RENT shows the discrimination and the stigma that surrounded HIV/AIDS during this time. This same stigma caused the real life deaths of so many people around the world. A disease that could’ve been stopped and prevented sooner, wasn’t, all because of discrimination. And the cost? Countless human lives. 

This is what Jonathan Larson set out to do when he wrote RENT. He lived in the same village the characters lived in, and he wanted to put out something that people could relate to. He based the experiences of the characters, especially the ones living with HIV/AIDS, on some of his own friends. Although, this was very controversial and experimental at the time. He wanted to write a rock musical, and those were rare—even never done before. It took him so many years and work to complete RENT and eventually have it produced and performed. The most heartbreaking thing about it all is that he passed away the night RENT was going to be debuted. He put in all his work, and never got to reap the fruits of his labor. 

But even so, RENT continues to be one of the most beloved musicals in the world, and a classic. So many productions have been performed around the world, and its been translated into so many languages. It also became a movie in 2005. The reason why RENT became so popular and beloved was because it was so real. You could feel the pain these characters were facing, you could relate to their loss, and you could relate to the joys they experienced together. The message RENT is trying to tell us is that no day is promised. No day is promised, and we need to cherish our lives with the people we love, and that is such a beautiful statement. 

No day but today!

Another Day, from RENT

-Claire C.

Music Genres?

In modern society pop music appears to be the most mainstream and popular style of music to listen to. Especially in the younger generations artists such as Ariana Grande, Charlie Puth, and Billie Eilish are some of the most played artists. Though I personally like some pop music, most songs are overplayed and extremely repetitive to one another. As another option, I will be describing some of my favorite songs, artists, and genres to listen to.

Though it is quite underrated in the modern United States, jazz music is very satisfying. When studying or doing homework lyrics often distract students, but jazz is a great substitution. The music always contains great rhythms and crazy solos that leave you wanting to listen more. I personally have listened to jazz for many years and I know finding a place to start is one of the hardest parts. Paul Desmond’s “O Gato” is a bossa nova tune that is soft but yet addicting to listen to. Some of my other favorite players are Charles Mingus, George Bensen, Wes Montgomery, and Sonny Rollins. Their pieces have varying styles of jazz like bossa nova, big band, swing, and bebop. If you are looking for a nice upbeat song Charles Mingus’s “Moanin’” is a great tune to get your feet tapping. Though jazz is the backbone to all music today, it is often overlooked for more modern pieces. But if you analyzed songs today, they all have remnants of jazz written all over them.

Your Name (album) - Wikipedia
This is the album cover to “Sparkle” by RADWIMPS

My newfound favorite type of music as of now is japanese music. In modern society younger generations have been introduced to anime, a japanese style of television. Simurally this is how I began this new area of music. Without prior knowledge I would never see myself listening to Japanese music but now some of my favorite songs originate from openings and ending animes. My personal favorite artists are called RADWIMPS, lots of their songs are soundtracks to popular anime movies like “Your Name” or “Weathering with you”. Not only that but they have beautiful album covers that are card to ignore. Their songs included “Stick Figure”, “Cocoronoaca” , “Sokkenai”, and “Sparkle”. I would seriously recommend these songs, Japanese music in the United States is quite underrated and is not overplayed. Similarly they are great songs to listen to while doing work, since the lyrics are not in English and therefore can not distract you. If you are one of the many people that enjoy watching anime I would seriously recommend researching the openings and closings of your favorite shows as an introduction to Japanese music. 

Lastly I would like to introduce some funk bands that I enjoy. Funk is one of those styles that is always there but never that popular or mainstream. As far as modern bands go, Vulfpeck is my favorite. They combine jazz and modern rock to create some funky tunes. My favorites include “1612”, “Tesla”, and “Back Pocket”. They have great bass lines and drums that just get your head bopping. Vulfpeck has great wind players along with a rhythm section that will blow your mind. Personally I believe that Vulfpeck’s live shows on youtube are even better than their studio recordings. If you ever need some music to vibe to when you feel down or lonely, never underestimate the power of funky music.

-Lilly G.

Intro to Guitar!

With the more free time that has opened up due to quarantine it is the perfect time to find something you enjoy to fill the time. I recommend learning the basics of guitar. If you enjoy any style of music there is bound to be a guitar part somewhere within the piece. The awesome thing about this stringed instrument is once you understand the basics you can learn any song you want with a little bit of practice. Stay tuned to hear some basic tips for getting started on your music journey!

When you pick up a guitar for the first time the first thing going through your head is most likely what are all of these pieces. Right below I have a picture that shows the different parts of the guitar. If you are right handed the fretboard and neck is where you put your left hand while the right goes over the body. If you are left handed it is the opposite, there are actually left handed guitars that are made for any left handed players so keep that in mind when finding a guitar. But, it is not necessary, my brother was left handed but learned on a right handed guitar and never used a left handed one, it is all up to preference. 

As seen in the picture above there are 6 strings that stretch across the fretboard. From top to bottom, or thickest to thinnest, the notes are E A D G B E. An easy way to remember this is by remembering the expression Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie. If you noticed there are 2 E strings. The difference is the first one is a low E while the last one is a high E, meaning they are a whole octave apart from each other. Memorizing these string names is very important when you’re starting to play guitar. 

For beginners I recommend starting on an acoustic guitar so that your fingers can grow accustomed to the thick strings before playing an electric guitar where the strings ate thinner. Many do this so you can build calluses on your fingers as you play. If you start and notice that it hurts everytime you touch the string, that is normal!!!!! After several weeks your fingers will grow calluses that make  any pain disappear. 

When you pick up a guitar the first thing you need to do is tune it. On a guitar the pegs at the end of the guitar is what tunes it. For starters notes can be flat, sharp, or in tune. When it is flat or sharp the notes will sound off and distorted which is why it is important to tune it first. As a tuner I would recommend the “GuitarTuna” app available on app stores. This app will provide a visual representation of whether or not the guitar is in tune each time you play a string. Linked down below is a short and simple video to be used as a visual of how exactly to tune a guitar. 

Instructions on how to tune the guitar are readily available on YouTube!

Music History 101: Harry Styles

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 18: Harry Styles attends the “DUNKIRK” premiere in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Harry Styles. That’s it. That’s the article. 

You may be wondering how this international heartthrob became so famous, so much so that the mere mention of his name gets everyone talking. Well, let’s take a step back in time and examine all his success, his failures: his history. 

Styles was born on February 1st, 1994 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England. As a young adult, he formed his own boy band called White Eskimos, where they won best band at their school. His childhood consisted of working at his local bakery, attending school like the average U.K. teen, and spending holidays with his family. 

At just sixteen years old, he took the stage for the first time as a contestant on the widely popular British show, The X Factor. He auditioned using the all too famous, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately for Harry, he didn’t make it to the second round as a solo artist, but fate had other plans for him. Simon Cowell, one of the judges on the show, was astonished by his performance, and instead put Harry into a group, a boy band for that matter, with four other contestants who also auditioned as solos. These contestants were Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne. 

One Direction, as they were soon to be known as, became one of the most successful and influential bands of the decade. Their hits included, but are not limited to “What Makes you Beautiful,” “Story of My Life” and “Drag Me Down”. The group went on a hiatus in late 2016, and ever since then, the ex-bandmates have been focusing on their solo careers. 

Styles, with only two albums released, has had hits of all kinds. His music genre speaks for itself: a hint of 70s with a hue of rock. Individually, he is known for singles such as “Sign of the Times” and most recently “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore you”. 

Just last week, the global sensation snatched his first win at the Grammys. “Watermelon Sugar” won best pop solo performance at the award show. Barely ten minutes before that, he opened up the show, with a dazzling and impressive performance of, you guessed it, Watermelon Sugar. 

At the award show Styles decked out in all Gucci. His black leather jacket and pants complimented his green boa, that sure made a great deal of his fans go crazy. 

#ProudOfHarry was trending all night, and so was his performance. Who knows, maybe this’ll kick start the beginning of a new era: one filled with green boa’s and sweet, tasty watermelons.

-Haana F.

Music Review: love is not dying by Jeremy Zucker

Often, when listening to music, we tend to only listen to a few songs from one album, but I find that listening to the entire album from start to finish is much more impactful.

I recently listened to Jeremy Zucker’s newest album, love is not dying, and I found that the album, as a whole, is a touching story. The concept of the album isn’t particularly new, as it’s a glimpse at the rollercoaster of love, but the approach that Zucker takes in this album is original and creative—the album is almost like a timeline of phases of a relationship.

There are thirteen tracks in total from this album, which if listened to in order, transition right into one another. The transitions are probably the most well-known aspect of Zucker’s album, however, there is much more to it.

The album starts out with a forty-second track called “still,” which is an intro to the entire album. Next to his apartment in Brooklyn, Zucker samples the everyday sounds of life (birds chirping, a church choir, etc.), which crescendo slowly over the course of the short intro. Zucker says in an interview for Genius Lyrics that “The title came from something that someone said to me once. Everything was moving so fast and everything was so hectic, and this person was like, ‘I just wish we could be still,’ and that phrase really stuck with me.”

Zucker then transitions into a series of songs that represent the ups and downs of a relationship.

The third track, “somebody loves you,” is the start of a relationship. Zucker, through Genius Lyrics, says that the song is about someone he met online and really connected with, but knew that it wouldn’t be the same in real life. Though he feels that he loves this person, he knows it won’t last long, and reassures this person that someone else will love them much better.

The seventh track, “not ur friend,” represents a time where the relationship has become toxic. Using a rhythmic beat and a catchy melody, Zucker explores the concept of cutting someone toxic out of a person’s life and being better for it. He elaborates, “It’s a selfish song, which, in its own way, is a really celebratory thing.”

“not ur friend” transitions right into the next track, “full stop.” The song’s intro is interpolated with a snippet of the pre-chorus of “not ur friend.” The idea behind “full stop” is built right onto the previous track—essentially, what happens after breaking away from someone toxic. Zucker describes the concept as, “Alright, I’ve removed this person from my life, but now what?” The structure is sort of random and nonsensical, as each section of the song is quite different; but somehow it still flows together perfectly. “full stop” is just this complex, spiraling train of thought, which, to Jeremy Zucker, “feels like the sky is falling and the world is crashing.”

The ninth track, “julia,” portrays a point post-relationship where the subject has moved on, and looks back on his relationship without bitterness, finally ready to mentally let go. “julia” was written about a person who many of Zucker’s previous songs were about. According to Zucker, the track was one of the last written about the aforementioned person; as it represents a time of self-realization and closure.

The eleventh track, “always, i’ll care,” depicts a period of time far after the relationship has ended. During the song, through soothing melodies, Zucker sings of the realization that not all of his relationship’s problems were his significant other’s fault. He has moved on completely, and reminisces of memories apologetically, saying he’s still sorry for not being as attentive or responsive as he should have; and promising that he will do better in the future. Zucker concludes that “always, i’ll care” is “me showing how much I care.”

Jeremy Zucker’s love is not dying touches listeners through its gentle tunes. The tranquil sound of poetry shines through in Zucker’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming masterpieces. love is not dying is more than an album—it’s a complete story, calming the listeners with more than just music. This musical story cannot by passed over, being more than just rhyming words set to a tune—it’s an entire story that will completely change the way listeners think of music. Don’t miss love is not dying by Jeremy Zucker; it’s absolutely worth your time.

-Chan T.

Literary References in Taylor Swift Songs

Taylor Swift is undoubtedly a spectacular songwriter and an outstanding singer, but what if she wasn’t? In Vogue’s 73 question interview, Taylor states that if she were a teacher, she would teach English. It’s no surprise that this is the subject Swift would choose, because she’s referenced many literary classics in her songs. Here are some of them:

Romeo & Juliet: It would be hard not to know this one, unless you’re living under a rock of course! in Swift’s song “Love Story” from her sophomore Grammy winning album Fearless, the song follows a romance similarly to that of Romeo and Juliet’s. However, Swift ends the song with a happy ending, allowing the two lovers to get married. The song, Swift said to the Los Angeles Times, was inspired by Romeo & Juliet, and Swift states that “I was going through a situation like that where I could relate.” Though her inspiration from Shakespeare, Swift was able to release a chart topping and timeless hit which peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Scarlet Letter: Swift references this novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne in two of her songs, one of them being “Love Story” once again and the other being “New Romantics”, a track on the deluxe version of Swift’s fifth and Grammy winning album 1989. In “Love Story”, Swift describes her romance as a scarlet letter because of the fact that it is kept secret in shame with the lyric “Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter.” In “New Romantics”, which peaked on Billboard”s Alternative Streaming Songs at #5, Swift sings “We show off our different scarlet letters, Trust me, mine is better.” Using the scarlet letter as a symbol of one’s problems, Swift explores the mindset that many people have where they believe that their issues are worse than everyone else’s. So the use of this novel in Swift’s two songs interestingly contrasts one another, as in one, the scarlet letter is a symbol of shame, and the other a symbol of resilience and proud struggles. This interestingly fits the novel’s depiction of the letter “A”, which is at first a shameful symbol which represented adultery, but then was later a symbol of the protagonist’s, Hester’s, strength and ability to endure all the pain she went through. Hawthorne’s novel provided a framework for Swift’s ideas, as she states in an interview, “I was a big fan of a fairy tales growing up, and you’ll see a lot of references to like Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter, and that’s from my reading.”

The Great Gatsby: Swift makes references to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel in two of her songs, one being from “happiness” , Swift’s 7th track in her 9th album Evermore, and the other being “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, Swift’s 13th track on her 6th album, Reputation. In “happiness”, Swift references The Great Gatsby in a lyric saying “I hope she’ll be a beautiful fool.” This parallels Daisy Buchanan’s line in the Great Gatsby where Daisy acknowledges that there is no hope for her daughter because of the fact that she is a girl and not a boy. Swift uses the line a little differently, telling her past lover that whoever loves him next is “a beautiful fool.” Swift knows that this next lover will have no luck with this man, and she uses the reference from the Great Gatsby to introduce more context into the song. As for “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, the ode to Fitzgerald’s novel comes in the first verse, as Swift says “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year,” while describing an extravagant party scene which she hosts just as Gatsby did. This song explores a very similar theme to the Great Gatsby, both being about how being kind to others makes them skeptical about you. In the novel, when Jay Gatsby throws parties for his guests, generously gifts them expensive things, and is willingly kind to them, they do not seem to appreciate him but rather just speculate about his past and make offensive assumptions about him. Swift, who tried her best to be generous with others, let her friends come on stage with her on tour as a nice gesture, threw parties for them, and got them gifts. However, many of her friends turned their backs on her, and when discussing the song, Swift states “It’s about when people take nice things for granted. Like friendship, or trusting people, or being open or whatever. Letting people in on your life, trusting people, respect – those are all really nice things.”

Taylor Swift is clearly a well read singer and songwriter, as these are just three of many literary references in her 100+ songs. Some more of these include:

Rebecca: “tolerate it” “no body, no crime”

A Tale of Two Cities: “Getaway Car”

Alice in Wonderland: “Wonderland”

The Road Not Taken: “illicit affairs”

Jane Eyre: “invisible string” “mad woman”

All’s Well That Ends Well: “Lover”

-Chan T.