Album Review: Kesha – Rainbow

I think it’s fair to say Kesha has had a terrible few years. She has spent the majority of them being embroiled in an legal battle with American pop producer Dr. Luke after he allegedly sexually abused and assaulted her. She seems to have made her way out of this difficult time even stronger though, which is fantastic news. On the 6th of July of this year, she released the first single from this album, called ‘Praying’ – a triumphant anthem against Dr. Luke and everything he stood for. So here she is, with fourteen brand new songs, and her new album RainbowKesha has claimed that she has been inspired by her ‘true’ musical influences on this record, including Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, and Iggy Pop. So Kesha seems to be finally free on this album, but how is it?

You can immediately see what she means about the influences of this album. This album is full of emotional, powerful anthems, with a few rock influences rather than the electropop she has been known for. Considering that, it is definitely her least ‘mainstream’ album she has come out with, but that isn’t a bad thing. ‘Woman’ is a powerful, but catchy feminist anthem, whereas ‘Let ‘Em Talk’ and ‘Boogie Talk’ feature the Eagles Of Death Metal and are great rock songs in their own right. Everything on this album is new, and unlike anything Kesha has ever made. This uniqueness makes this one of the most genuine and original albums of the year so far. Kesha has never really released a bad album, but with this one she has gone above and beyond anything that she’s done before.

The album is packed full of incredible moments. ‘Hunt You Down’ is a great country-inspired song, showing not only Kesha’s adaptability, but her great voice. Another great moment is ‘Learn To Let Go’, the closest song to Kesha’s previous material, but with a brand new spin on it. Not to mention ‘Praying’, which is an anthemic ballad, yet again showing the best of Kesha’s voice. Arguably the best moment on the album is Kesha’s own take on ‘Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)’, a duet with Dolly Parton herself. Whether you’re a Kesha fan or not, you should pick this album up – it is a triumphant, incredible record, with some of the best songs of the year. Kesha, we’re so glad you’re back.

Best song: Let ‘Em Talk

Score: 9/10

My Top 100 Songs: 60-51

60. Prayer Of The Refugee – Rise Against

One of the most catchy and easily recognisable tracks Rise Against have ever written in their career, this song is an absolute gem. It shows them at their furious, political best.

Find it on: The Sufferer And The Witness (2006)

59. Holding On To You – Twenty One Pilots

I love an intense song, and this is definitely one of those. It mixes all the best aspects of Twenty One Pilots’ work, mixing soaring melodies, intense rapping and great electronic influences to create a song that once you hear, you won’t get it out of your head.

Find it on: Vessel (2013)

58. Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard

This song is yet another example of early 2000’s pop-punk. Great vocals and guitar are combined with one of the most easily recognisable choruses of all time to make an incredible song.

Find it on: Ocean Avenue (2003)

57. Smile Like You Mean It – The Killers

This is one of the songs I’ve liked for the longest on this list. I always had it in my head when it first came out, but I only found out what it was called after discovering The Killers later on in my life. An amazing song.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

56. Team – Lorde

2013’s Pure Heroine was an incredible album, but I feel like this is the best song from it. Not only does it bear all of Lorde’s trademark incredible writing and production, its chorus can get in my head like no other song.

Find it on: Pure Heroine (2013)

55. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains Of Wayne

I may lose my credibility to a lot of people by saying this, but I love this song. It’s as catchy as anything I’ve heard, but not only that, it’s possibly one of the funniest songs ever written.

Find it on: Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

54. I’m Made Of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of? – A Day To Remember

I mentioned loving intense songs earlier, but this is something else. It feature incredible screamed vocals and an incredible chorus, the best of both worlds between hardcore and pop-punk.

Find it on: Homesick (2009)

53. Lost In Stereo – All Time Low

From one catchy chorus to another, this is one of the best songs in All Time Low’s discography. It contains one of the best vocal performances too!

Find it on: Nothing Personal (2009)

52. I Could Have Lied – Red Hot Chili Peppers

There is a beautiful acoustic track nestled in amongst all of the smash hits in Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and it’s this song. It’s serene, beautiful, and features some of John Frusciante’s best guitar work.

Find it on: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

51. This Is Letting Go – Rise Against

This part of the countdown is started and finished by Rise Against, but the songs couldn’t be any more different. While ‘Prayer Of The Refugee’ is filled with anger, this is much more reflective and thoughtful. The lyrics are some of Tim McIlrath’s best work as well.

Find it on: Endgame (2011)

Come back in a fortnight for more of my favourite songs!

EP Review: Best Ex – Ice Cream Anti Social

Best Ex are a band who have evolved. Originally named Candy Hearts, they released a couple of albums as a punk band before making a massive transformation. Lead singer Mariel Loveland recently stated in an interview that ‘Candy Hearts turned into an extension of my anxiety … Best Ex takes everything that Candy Hearts was but without my no-good anxiety’. Obviously this is great news, and it is clear that this EP has been made with much more freedom.

There is a clear difference between this and Candy Hearts music though. Gone are any aspects of the punk from the previous album, replaced by a collection of warm synth sounds and soft, melodic vocals. There is a clear difference in the lyrics too – a new sort of confidence seems evident in Loveland’s voice, contrasted by a more vulnerable edge. Her vocal ability seems to have improved too. All of this has added together to make a lovely little EP, full of songs to sing along to in your bedroom. The warm, happy sound mixed with the vulnerable lyrics are a great combination.

All 6 tracks of the EP show how far this band has come, and even though a couple of songs slightly miss the mark, it shows promising signs from a talented band. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Best song: See You Again

Score: 6/10

EP Review: Night Argent – The Fear

There’s something special about Night Argent’s sound. The production is as massive and epic, and electric elements are used heavily throughout. Having said that, the guitars are always more than present in the mix, driving their songs along. It’s something like if you took the production from Smoke And Mirrors by Imagine Dragons, mixed it with the electronic parts of Twenty One Pilots’ Vessel, and turned the guitars up a lot in the mix. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it really is.

It’s great to have so many different sounds mix together to make something so special. But they don’t just rely on their influences to get them through. These songs stand up fantastically on their own. Their sound is melodic, epic, and complex, creating some massive choruses like in the fantastic ‘Dreamcatcher’, but showing they can turn it down a little in tracks like ‘Dream Of The Ocean’, creating a beautiful soundscape to back up the melodic vocals.

In this EP, Night Argent have created a sound that sounds so comfortingly familiar, yet so widely different from any other. It’s difficult to describe, so do yourself a favour and give it a listen. You won’t regret it.

Best song: Dreamcatcher

Score: 9/10

Album Review: Broadside – Paradise

Broadside have been performing quality pop-punk since their first album in 2015. And it was a strong first album, full of energy, and everything a pop-punk album really needs. Since then, they have gained a lot more fans, through their energetic brand of music, and all of them have been eagerly awaiting this new album. But will they use it and define themselves as a band even further, or will they continue to fit carefully in that typical pop-punk bracket?

Well some of these songs show definite growth. ‘Laps Around A Picture Frame’ is a great song, showing some excellent use of electronic elements, mixed with some guitars that thunder in during the chorus and some excellent drumming. On the other hand, some show very little. The title track is typical pop-punk, and that’s great, but this band have proven that they can make quality pop-punk time and time again. It should be time to branch out – by all means not leaving the genre behind, but adding new elements in, like New Found Glory did excellently with their new album by adding electronic elements.

Unfortunately, this seems the case with most of the album, with songs like ‘Disconnect’, ‘Who Cares?’ and ‘Miss Imperius’ blurring together into a pop-punk haze. If you played all three to me, I’d have difficulty distinguishing between the three. But when they stay from this, it’s great! While sounding like the same pop-punk blur at first, ‘Puzzle Pieces’ is an absolute anthem of a song, with a soaring chorus, and shouted and spoken sections that help to define itself as a great song. ‘Tunnel Vision’ has a great rhythm, and the final track ‘I Love You, I Love You. It’s Disgusting’ uses a ukulele backing incredibly. It’s just a shame that this sort of innovation doesn’t happen frequently enough.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this album shows enough departure from the last but it’s not all bad. Sure there are too many similar-sounding pop-punk songs on the album, but in between those some great songs can be found. There’s a great acoustic song, some fantastic use of a ukulele, and some great electronic influences, it’s just a shame these things are so few and far between. Broadside have proved that they can make some quality songs, so going forward they need to take these innovations, and use them more frequently. This is a band with a lot of promise, believe me.

Best song: Laps Around A Picture Frame

Score: 5/10

My Top 100 Songs: 80-71

80. 1985 – Bowling For Soup

Bowling For Soup have always been an insanely catchy band, but this catches them at their very best. It is important to note that this is not exactly their song, as it was originally written by a band called SR-71, but in this version, the loud guitars were toned down a little, and a great guitar riff was added. It’s an example of how to cover a song perfectly.

Find it on: A Hangover You Don’t Deserve (2004)

79. Pretty Little Distance – As It Is

From one piece of pop-punk perfection to another, this perfectly encapsulates what As It Is are all about. Excellent vocals and a catchy chorus mix together to make a song that I’ve been singing ever since I first heard it.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

78. Hoodwinker – Enter Shikari

Rou Reynolds’ voice is powerful, and this song is a perfect demonstration of it. He both screams and sings on this song, and sounds just as good while doing both. Coupled with the incredible guitar work, this song really packs a punch.

Find it on: N/A (This was released as a single on its own)

77. Reckless – You Me At Six

There is really nothing more to this than the fact that it’s a really fun, well made pop-punk song. The chorus is catchy, the guitar riff is great, and the song as a whole is pretty flawless. It’s just a lot of good fun.

Find it on: Sinners Never Sleep (2011)

76. State Of The Union – Rise Against

If ‘Hoodwinker’ turns things up to a ten, then this song turns then all the way up to an eleven. This is probably the most intense song Rise Against have ever written, and is a scathing critique of America under George Bush. I’d like to say that things have got better since then, but all you need to do is look at the news to realise it’s not.

Find it on: Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (2004)

75. Dosed – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This song is a true masterpiece; the Kiedis vocals and Frusciante’s guitar work blend together to create a truly beautiful song. But not only is it beautiful, it is truly heartfelt, with some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ best ever vocals.

Find it on: By The Way (2002)

74. Diamond Eyes [Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom] – Shinedown

Shinedown have written some great hard rock songs in their time as a band, but for me this rises above all of them. The mix of soft guitar in the intro going into a great guitar riff and shouted vocals works perfectly, and the chorus sound as epic as anything they have ever written.

Find it on: The Sound Of Madness (2008)

73. All You Are Is History – State Champs

State Champs are yet another one of the fantastic up-and-coming pop-punk bands at the moment, and this song is great proof. Often overlooked because of other hit single, ‘Secrets’, I feel that this song is a gem. It has everything a pop-punk song needs and more.

Find it on: Around The World And Back (2015)

72. Witchcraft – Pendulum

This may seem like a bit of a strange choice considering all of the other music I’m into, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. The mix of guitar, a catchy hook, and intense electronic elements makes this a perfect song for me.

Find it on: Immersion (2010)

71. In My Mind – The Amazons

I fell in love when I saw this song live. I’d already heard it, but never fully taken it in before then. The power of the guitar and the great vocals of the chorus really hit me then, and I’ve never stopped listening to it since.

Find it on: The Amazons (2017)

Tune in in a couple of weeks for songs 70 – 61!

EP Review: SAINTE – Smile, And Wave

If there’s one thing I expected from this album, it was colourful, catchy tunes. I’ve played singles ‘Technicolor’ and ‘With Or Without Me’ to death now, not to say that I’m sick of them. ‘Technicolor’s soaring chorus is impossible not to sing along to, and the even catchier ‘With Or Without Me’ is a joy to listen along to with its colourful synths and occasional crunchy guitar. Both songs have a sense of fun that a lot of other modern music seems to be lacking, and benefit greatly from it; an escape from the stress of living in this world.

But having mentioned stress, one person who seems to be completely lacking in it is lead singer Tay Jardine. With this new project she has been able to experiment and push the realms of her music even further than she could have in her main band, We Are The In Crowd. On opening track ‘Eyes Are Open’, she sings ‘there’s nothing to be afraid of’, and she certainly hasn’t been afraid of anything on this EP, embracing a poppier side of her music to great success. The guitars take more of a back seat on a lot of songs, leaving space for colourful swirling synths, and furthermore letting Jardine’s voice flourish even more. This is not to say that they have strayed completely from their pop-punk roots though, as the thundering guitars and crashing drums are never far away, forming a great backbone for all of the songs.

Jardine sings ‘this uncertainty has got me restless’ on main single ‘Technicolor’, but one thing that is certain is that this is an incredible EP. The pop-punk roots, mixed with the poppier new elements fuse together seamlessly, creating seven songs that could all be singles in their own right. This might just be a side project, but this has to be Jardine’s best work to date.

Best song: With Or Without Me

Score: 8/10