Taylor Swift / Reputation

reputation

Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. One of the leading contemporary recording artists, she is known for narrative songs about her personal life, which have received widespread media coverage.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed with the label Big Machine Records and became the youngest artist ever signed by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her self-titled debut album in 2006 peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and spent the most weeks on the chart in the 2000s. The album’s third single, “Our Song“, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart. Swift’s second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the success of pop crossover singles “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me“, Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest Album of the Year winner.

Swift was the sole writer of her 2010 album, Speak Now. It debuted at number one in the United States and the single “Mean” won two Grammy Awards. Her fourth album, Red (2012), yielded the successful singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble“. With her fifth album, the pop-focused 1989 (2014), she became the first act to have three albums sell a million copies within one week in the United States. Its singles “Shake It Off“, “Blank Space“, and “Bad Blood” reached number one in the US, Australia, and Canada. The album received three Grammy Awards, and Swift became the first woman and fifth act overall to win Album of the Year twice. The 2015 concert tour for 1989 became one of the highest-grossing of the decade. Swift’s sixth album, Reputation (2017) and its lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” topped the UK and US charts.

As a songwriter, Swift has received awards from the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was included in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015. She is also the recipient of 10 Grammy Awards, five Guinness World Records, one Emmy Award, 21 Billboard Music Awards, 12 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award. Swift is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.8 million in the US—and 130 million single downloads. She has appeared in Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world (2010 and 2015), Forbes top-earning women in music (2011–2015), Forbes 100 most powerful women (2015), and Forbes Celebrity 100(2016). She was the youngest woman to be included in the third of these, ranked first in Celebrity 100 and was named Time Person of the Year in 2017 as part of the “Silence Breakers”.

Reputation (stylized as reputation) is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on November 10, 2017, through Big Machine Records. The record was primarily produced by Jack AntonoffMax MartinShellback and Swift herself, who also serves as the executive producer. Featured artists included on the album are English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and American rapper Future.

The album has topped the charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. According to Nielsen SoundScanReputation sold 1.216 million copies in the US during its first week, becoming 2017’s best-selling album in the country, and 2 million copies worldwide.

The Analysis—-

….Ready For It?—-Far gone is the Country Star of long ago…lol. This track is a BANGER…..full of staccato bass lines and hyper kinetic dance floor music that makes you almost want to scream. The magic is the melody line that runs through the song…it never disappears despite the musical changes…it is always there. This is a bit poppy lyrically….but it does suck you in.

End Game [featuring Ed Sheeran & Future]—-Classic sounding Taylor at the onset of this track quickly gives way to the more aggressive sound that covers most of this release. Future delivers line after line of catchy sentences that fit the music perfectly. Swift has an almost venom to her vocal delivery…Sheeran delivers his lines that are pleasant…but the real star of the show really is Swift…who displays her musical advancement in leaps and bounds. A true single if I have ever heard one…this is great.

I Did Something Bad—-As the third song is introduced…I find myself thinking that this all suffers from a slight ‘sameness’ in the sound. Every song seems to be a bot to familiar. The chorus of this song….well…it kind of blows me away…I’m amazed at the growth and the ability to step out of one’s skin. This is catchy as hell….the chorus is addictive. I did not want to like this….but you know how that goes.

Don’t Blame Me—-A slight bluesy feel to this track…a nice change. Swift delivers a vocal that is almost lazy..or at least more relaxed and less driven. The chorus opens up and smacks you in the forehead with a catchy melody you can’t get away from….this is pleasant…addictive and an easy listen. I like this. Took me to Church!!!!

Delicate—-I hate all this vocodor shit…but it works nicely hear. Swift manages to fit so any words in one sentence…I wonder how she manages to do this. There is very little music that is produced these days that actually falls in the realm of POP MUSIC…..but this is pretty successful in that aspect. This is accessible and easy to digest. I love the entire mood of the song.

Look What You Made Me Do—-Returning to the ‘banger’ feel of a few earlier tracks, this was indeed a Swift no one was prepared to hear….but here it is. The song is very aggressive musically and in vocal delivery. there is a nice underlying anger that makes you shake you head and say WHAT? This is nice….the remixes are phenomenal…..truly a change. This track has so many underlying messages…..

So It Goes….—–Magically mixing the sound of the release with perfect song placement, this is a fantastic jerk in sound and delivery. The chorus of this song is literally magical…the music swirls OVER the top of your head…transporting you into an energy that crashes all around you when the chorus smacks you again. This is single material as well….this is a fantastic, well constructed song that literally soars.

Gorgeous—-Vocally static and sounding a bit angry, swift never ceases to surprise me with her growth and ability to move from one feel to the other. This song…sounds a bit angry and full of venom…but is delivered in a nice syrup sweet way….this is really nice.

Getaway Car—-The return of slight vocodor vocal……but Swift still delivers a vocal that is so damn accessible. The whole damn chorus smacks you in the face and makes you forget about everything else you have heard. There is a recipe here that works some kind of magic in your brain that makes you dissolve into some kind of pop music puddle you can’t get out of…..truly magical.

King Of My Heart—-Sedate and wonderfully understated for the first bar….the music explodes in a staccato style that fits the mood of the song…but seems confused to me. Where is this track going? The swings of musical delivers sound un organized to me…a slight falter…but sure…the chorus saves everything….the recipe of a great pop artist.

Dancing With Our Hands Tied—-Everything seems to build slowly…..Swift enters with her vocal….it is surprisingly un accessible to my ears….but line after line, the song builds…and then you get the magical chorus that is in every Swift song….but it does not dig out the dirt….this just seems OK to me….nothing shiny here…..

Dress—-A bit of a haunting sound introduces this track…..Swift sounds angry and a bit dis-embodied as she delivers her vocal. The higher tone….with the music is interesting. There is a bit of a lag here….the magic catchy hooks are gone…but it is listenable….because there is a musical melody line that catches your attention….

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things—-Returning to that present static vocal style that ushers in a banger style song, I’m surprised until the chorus kicks in….this literally threatens me with the ability to live in my brain even though I say NO…..there is magic in this production…..they knew what they were doing!

Call It What You Want—-Hmm……things are surprisingly sedate at the onset here. I still get amazed at how many words Swift can fit in one sentence…..it is a clear indication she understands music. The song….full of lyrics that are full of a bit of venom and anger……does not really catch for me…I keep waiting for that special something….but it never appears…….this is a bit flat for me.

New Year’s Day—-Ending the release with a slight down tempo track, this is the Swift that the tweeners love….full of emotion….sad words and laments of romance……for me not too substantial……sorry

**** out of 5

 

 

The Cranberries / Gold

Gold

The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. Although widely associated with alternative rock, the band’s sound also incorporates indie poppost-punkIrish folk, and pop rock elements.

The Cranberries rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which became a commercial success. The Cranberries have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?No Need to ArgueTo the Faithful Departed and Bury the Hatchet) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart (“Linger“, “Dreams“, “Zombie“, “Ode to My Family“, “Ridiculous Thoughts“, “Salvation“, “Free to Decide“, and “Promises“).

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band recorded their sixth album Roses in May 2011, and released it in February 2012. Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

On 15 January 2018, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was found dead in a London hotel room. She had recently arrived in London for a recording session.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Dreams—-Perhaps THE track that helped to define the sound of The Cranberries, the remarkable combination of Irish tinged folk rock combined with an Alternative sound, allowed the band to be embraced by massive amounts of fans. The driving and wonderful vocal from Dolores is the key to all of these songs here. One of the defining vocalists of the 90’s, I never get tired of the magic found in here voice.

Sunday—-With a beautiful string based intro, the song puts you in a certain frame of mind from the very first notes. The swells of quiet music takes nothing away from the power of the band…instead it shows diversity and musical growth. This is a beautiful track…..when the track finally opens up you are at once comfortable and familiar with the sound. This is quite beautiful.

Pretty—-Again, the music is stark and empty at the onset….really carrying the 90’s Alternative torch with the feel of the song. Dolores sounds ghostly and haunted in her vocal..it literally transports you places with the tone and the urgency. A poignant track considering the singer’s backstory.

How—-A fantastic almost tribal drum introduces the track. The voice is slight and quiet…but still manages to convey an urgency and demand to pay attention. As the song opens up further the vocal becomes louder and almost pleading in sound. This is quite wonderful….a voice like no other.

Not Sorry—-Consistent in sound, the guitars are a bit more pronounced and Alt in sound…truly reminding you of the 90’s Rock sound. Dolores is mystical and magical in tone. Not a favorite track…but it fits in with the collection really well.

Linger—-The opening guitar parts remind you immediately of the track you are listening to. As the flow of the song takes shape, it becomes more beautiful with every bar of sound. The vocal is just hear wrenching…Dolores had a remarkable range and phrasing that stood the test of time. This is a remarkable track…full of emotion and full of memories for me. I love this.

 

Liar—-A very distinct guitar sound ushers in a slight different sound for the band. This seems a bit out of place in the song placement but diversity is key…right? This sounds a bit auto biographical….Dolores sings with a bit of a punch underlying the upfront pleasant vocal. This is full of a great musical display by the rhythm section of the band…full bodied and instrumentally emotional.

Zombie—-Another massive hit for the band, it is hard to forget this track. Full of the fuzzy 90’s guitar sound from Seattle, this is energetic and poignant. Dolores is a vocal power house of this track…..making me almost lose my mind with the urgency and almost pleading style she sings with. The chorus is a masterpiece of power and fuzz…energy and heart break. This was a magical musical moment.

 

Ode To My Family—-Quite poppy and catchy, Dolores even sounds a bit relaxed vocally as the track begins. The almost whispered vocal at the onset is almost buried in the instrumentation. The double track voice gives the song that needed emotional punch in your gut. When the voice moves up front…you feel every single word she utters…a wonderful song.

I Can’t Be With You—-Surprisingly poppy in sound, the guitars are so understated on this track…the saving grace for me is when the chorus hits and opens the song wide open. The vocal…even understated is still full of a certain urgency and magic. this is brighter that I expected…but still has a punch in the chorus.

Empty—-This track….seems slight and starkly naked to me at times. The music is so understated and pushed to the back…you get no power chords at the onset. The magical vocal is very upfront and displays a range that is seldom heard from Dolores….rising and falling in tone and emotion. this is a bit to stripped down for me…but I love when the strings enter and give the song an almost magical quality.

Everything I Said—-So quiet and understated for me, I much prefer the band when the emit those huge power chords and energy. The ballad after ballad on this collection becomes a bit tiresome at times…but it is the catalog I suppose. This is quiet all the way around…even the vocal seems a bit less than inspired…but the words…if you pay attention…may just rip your heart out.

Ridiculous Thoughts—-Stark…I know I have used that word a lot here, musically this is so understated at the onset….and then SURPRISE….the track opens wide open and delivers a more powerful performance that goes back in the glory days of more 90’s inspired Alt-Rock. This is a welcome change after the last 6 tracks. The band sounds phenomenal…and Dolores sounds like a new breath was breathed into her….just wonderful.

Dreaming My Dreams—-Very quiet and delivered almost in a naked way, Dolores almost whispers her way through the song. The guitars are acoustic in sound and the drums are relegated to cymbals and a slight high hat. The cello…or strings lay the foundation of this very understated track.

Daffodil Lament—-Again…..the introduction sets the tone for more lament and regret….the guitars are missing…the piano seems to lead the song…then in the back drop…way removed…there is a magical noisy element to the song that makes me smile and brings me a joy. The song ebbs and flows with power and sadness…but still delivers a magic that I love about the band.

So Cold In Ireland—-Ending the first disc with yet another stripped down and melancholy tack that brings a sadness and haunted feel. The vocal is so full of that Irish brogue….I love the tone….but I need some energy at this point….and then the chorus hits and the song becomes muscular and driving….I love this song.

Disc Two:

Salvation—-Delivering an almost punk sound, this is full of energy and a certain magic the band had in the early days of the career. This is addictive…..energetic and damn entertaining. The instrumentation is driving and inspired…I never get tired of this. The vocal sounds inspired as well…..conveying an urgent message that needed to be heard by everyone. Wonderful.

 

Free To Decide—-Full of a magical melody from the very onset, the vocal seems to wrap around right in the music. the lyrics….seem even more important on this day for me. Dolores sounds amazing and convincing…like she was emerging from a darkness…that never really went away. I love this song so much….makes me really miss her.

When You’re Gone—-Such a sad song now….the thing that I love about this track…the guitar has a magical Johnny Marr sound to it….in fact the entire thing reminds me of The Smiths. The lyrical content is so sad to me….although I love the quasi-50’s feel to the song as well. This is a very favorite track of mine. So important now….

 

Hollywood—-Quiet for the first bar, then a barrage of sound smacks you in the face with a remarkable energy. Dolores sounds almost possessed at times with her driving vocal. This is a wonderfully fantastic song…the lyrics make you sit back and think about your life and the drama you might cause yourself. The huge wall of musical sound is extraordinary…..I love this.

Cordell—-Beautifully melodic and dense from the onset, the guitar is exquisite…even it it’s quiet form. Dolores delivers and understated but incredibly powerful vocal. You can feel the pain and the melancholy…the added double track vocal fills everything out….a rarely heard masterpiece of music.

Animal Instinct—-So full of a magical melody, this track is damn addictive…I listen to this over and over again. The blend of harmonious vocals suck you right into the sound. This is another magical track that does not get played enough….this was a band being so creative and working so well together. I really love this.

Promises—-A slow intro ushers in another magically muscular track that is full of energy and aggression. Dolores sounds driven to deliver her message…I love the huge sound of the music….it matches and at the same time compliments the vocal in a way that only this band could do. This is just fantastic.

 

You And Me—-Quiet and a bit introspective…but it fits my ears perfectly at this very moment. The stark quality of the song is wonderfully welcome and lifts me from my seat in a magical way. The voice literally wraps right around my cerebellum….giving me warmth and comfort. wonderful song placement.

Just My Imagination—-A bit hit and miss for me…..the poppy feel of the song confuses me a little bit. i love the double track vocal…the magical harmonies add a bit of depth to a fairly unforgettable song. That is just my opinion. I love the mood…there is a happy feel to the song…it is rather uplifting.

Never Grow Old—-Haunting and really sad at this current time. I never really listened to this so intently as I have today….it makes me tear up and feel a bit empty inside…I have lost so many personal heroes in these last few years….this is a sad lament…read into it as you will….for me there is a message.

Analyse—-Bombastic and magically aggressive from the very first note, this is a wonderful track. This has that same melody quality that drove certain songs to the top of the charts…I wonder why this was not far more heard on radio and by fans. This is just fantastic….fairly simple lyrically…the feel of the song says more to me than the words actually do…it you can understand that. This is a wonderful moment in time.

Time Is Ticking Out—-Another magically melodic track that is muscular in sound…you still poignant somehow. Dolores delivers a remarkable vocal…the chorus threatens to stay in your brain for days after just one listen….the Cranberry recipe was in full effect here. I love this song.

This Is The Day—-Sounding almost like a continuation from the previous track, this has many elements of songs that really propelled this band into the upper escalations of Modern Rock. Not only the vocal mind you, the music and the feel the band delivers was as important as the voice. This is a huge song…in sound and delivery. I love this.

New New York—-Aggressive and driving guitars literally create a wall of sound that threatens to drown out even the vocal. This track quiets a bit….but carries a true New York energy throughout the entire song….calling Lou Reed to mind. I love the energy of this song…..fantastic. Huge and Muscular.

Stars—-Rounding out this compilation with a nice melodic track that makes me relaxed…and allows me o look back on a beloved band…..love them and cherish that almost every song has a wonderful memory for me in my own personal history. Isn’t that what music is all about….memories…love…joy…sadness…..the humanness of life….thank you Dolores!!!

*****out of 5

 

 

 

 

The Restless Romantics / A SoundCloud Sampler

“The Reckless Romantics were a power trio based out of Los Angeles, CA and lead by Raphael Ascanio. Fueled by beer, whiskey, marijuana, and Raphael’s lament, the trio existed and performed improvised renditions of Raphael’s regrets, failures and lamentations. The band is currently on hiatus until the drummer is out of jail.”

The Analysis—-

Drinking About You—-Wonderfully constructed in the way the best 80’s synth pop was, this takes me back to the New romantic movement of that time. The disembodied vocal…full of a slight pain and loneliness still manages to sound suave and relaxed. A remarkable throwback sound that is at the same time, quite modern.

 

For Aurora—-Literally reeking of the classic Morrissey/Marr compilations of the mid 80’s, the slight and exquisite jangly guitar sound is fantastic. The higher tuned guitar seems to lay right on top of the vocal…creating a wonderful blanket of sound that makes you want to snuggle deep into. Masterfully delivered…this is fantastic.

 

Demo—-This live recording really catches the energy and the raw feel of the band. The style is classic Joy Division to my ears…the bass leads the song…but the crashing drums gives off a remarkable energy. The vocal sound is fantastic for a live demo…the deep baritone literally wraps around my head. This band has really captured me….I anxiously await more material from this up and coming band.

 

**** out of 5