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: 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: In This Moment – Ritual

In This Moment seem to have changed a lot as a band since their last album. Gone are the promiscuous lyrics, replaced with what seems like a whole new vocal style by vocalist Maria Brink. The metal riffs are still there, but not turned up nearly as much as in previous albums. Not just this, but electronic elements seem to be used a lot more liberally, and the  The band have completely shed their skin, and thrown themselves into this new album, but is that for the best?

The album is a bit longer than average at 50 minutes long, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the band have chosen quantity over quality. The biggest example of this is a creepy cover of Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Well I won’t disagree that it’s a strange song choice for a metal band, but it is pulled off incredibly. The creepy edge shows the song in a whole different light, and I, for one, love it. But can the rest of the album live up to this?

Well, not exactly. The problem with having such a great track early on is that it sets the bar a little too high for the rest of the album to follow up. Having said that, the album has a lot of good stuff to offer up. For example, ‘Oh Lord’ shows Maria Brink’s voice working absolute wonders, showing a gritty aspect to her voice that has always been there, but never as obviously as here. This belongs to the same style as ‘In The Air Tonight’, a creepy ballad led by Brink’s voice. To contrast this, songs like ‘River Of Fire’ show a lot more metal tendencies. These are not completely in the style of their older hits, showing a bit more of a ‘horror’ themed touch, but definitely hark back to them. Finally, ‘Black Wedding’ is another highlight, not only acting as a nod to a similarly named Billy Idol song, but utilising the talents of Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.

In conclusion, this album is a brave step for In This Moment. The decision to move on and try a different style of music was one that really worked. And while the album doesn’t completely work in some places, it deserves a lot more credit than if they had created a carbon copy of a previous album. It pays to experiment, and this experiment has worked.

Best song: In The Air Tonight

Score: 7/10

EP Review: Bellevue Days – Rosehill

Despite having released 3 EPs now, Bellevue Days are a fairly new band. But they are a band I’m fairly excited about, given that their first two EPs have been highly spoken of by Rock Sound. Not only this, but they have already been likened to bands like Brand New, and to gain that sort of praise at this point of your career isn’t just rare, but extremely special. You’ll be pleased to know that the band have delivered just as much on this, their third EP.

Musically, this EP is fantastic. The band switch effortlessly from clean, atmospheric guitar to heavy distortion many times over in this record, a skill hard to find. The lyrics are yet again pensive and vulnerable, moving from soft to harsh perfectly, just like the music. This isn’t instantly catchy, dancefloor music, but it has more of a complex edge, relying on perfect composition and honest lyrics rather than catchy hooks to do it work.

Every track on this EP is worthy of a place, coming together to create one of the most complex, honest, and vulnerable records I’ve heard this year. But to really experience its’ beauty, you’ll have to listen to it yourself.

Best song: Dead Summer

Score: 9/10

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!

Classic Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

The Red Hot Chili Peppers released what many people considered to be their best ever album in 1999. Californication was a hit that propelled the band into the forefront of the rock world with a great set of catchy songs, defined by the energy of frontman Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea. But how would they follow up this album’s success? They could, of course, release an album of similarly-styled songs to capitalise on the previous album’s popularity. Or maybe make an album of even more easily-accessible songs to push themselves even further into the mainstream. What they ended doing was a change of style, but it was neither of those things. By The Way was a rock revolution.

This album opted for a more melodic sound than the previous album, being led by the beautiful guitar melodies of John Frusciante rather than the energetic bass of Flea. With the exception of a few songs, the songs were a lot slower and focused more on creating a fuller, more beautiful sound. But this wasn’t giving up on their old sound; it was more an evolution of sorts. Each song was masterfully crafted and showed some of vocalist Anthony Kiedis’ best ever lyrics, particularly in ‘Dosed’, a sombre but beautiful ode to Hillel Slovak, the original guitarist of the band, who sadly passed away in 1988 due to drug problems. But not only are the lyrics extremely heartfelt, the guitar in this song is a lesson to anyone who wants to layer several guitar tracks.

While ‘Dosed’ was an evolution for the band, they definitely had callbacks to their older songs, in the form of bass-driven ‘Throw Away Your Television’, and the anthemic ‘Can’t Stop’. Flea leads both of these songs perfectly, using his bass to drive the songs along. He is ever-present in the album, but these represent some of his best work. Songs like these are rare however, giving way to slow ballads and more experimental work. Of this experimental work, ‘On Mercury’ deserves a lot of praise for the inclusion of new instruments, such as the trumpet. It is wonderfully catchy too. Of the slower songs, particularly ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Don’t Forget Me’ stand out. The former experiments with electronic drum sounds to great effect, whereas the latter has the prefect blend of guitar and bass to make it stand out hugely.

To conclude, this blend of material perfectly typified the album. This album was a diverse but perfect departure from Californication that showed the bands ability to make more than just their original brand of funk rock. They pushed themselves even further than they ever had before, and came out with one of the best albums of their long and illustrious career. Whatever type of music you’re into, this album is something you have to listen to.

Best song: Dosed

Score: 10/10