DAVID BERKELEY “The Faded Red And Blue”, A Peaceful Protest

The United States is going through troubled times. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you sit; the US is fighting many cancers. One of the most significant ailments facing the nation right now is division.

This division runs deep, from disagreeing over policies to human rights, many Americans find themselves willingly huddled in a corner without room to budge. Many artists have spoken out on this harsh reality, yet David Berkeley does it differently in his newest EP, The Faded Red and Blue.

Check out the full article here on HAUS Music + Sound. 

ALBUM REVIEW: Jenna Nicholl’s, Radio Parade

Some albums take you back in time, while others make time irrelevant. Radio Parade by Jenna Nicholls is one of those albums.

Released in 2018, Radio Parade consists of seven songs. Each song has a distinct narrative, yet they are cohesive. The album’s orchestrations range from ukuleles to steel guitar all mixed with jazz undertones. It takes you back in time while standing staunchly in 2019.

For the full article check out Haus Music + Sound Spotlight.

ALBUM REVIEW: BeBe Neuwirth, Porcelain

l have fallen in love with the story song. It’s an avenue I’ve always liked, but I had never heard a story song sung by BeBe Neuwirth before till recently. There are not many words that describe her talent, besides genius and brilliant. Her 2011 album Porcelain leaves everything on the table. Nobody tells a story as complete as Ms. Neuwirth.

Now many of us know Neuwirth as Lilith Sternin Crane from Cheers and Fraser and for her show-stopping performances on Broadway. Since moving to New York, I have tried to immerse myself in Broadway performers, so once I found out Neuwirth was a Tony winner, I prayed for solo work.

I quickly found Porcelain and I have had the album in constant rotation since. This record overwhelms me in story, interpretation, and style. Neuwirth cannot simply sing a song, she becomes the song. One cannot see music, but Neuwirth brings each song to near visual life.

With this album Neuwirth, a professionally trained and accomplished dancer uses her dancing techniques through a new channel, her voice. This album opens with “The Bilbao Song.” Each line is met with grace and poise as she tells the story of Bill’s Beer Hall in Bilbao. These elements allude the entirety of the album.

A few tracks later, Neuwirth invites us to the blues, the famous Tom Waits anthem. With “Invitation To The Blues,” Neuwirth is able to massage these lyrics into a new identity. She gives this song brass and vulnerability in this cabaret arrangement. One can feel the dusty hotel room and smell the cigarette smoke.

My personal favorite comes in at track 5. “Mr. Bojangles” is a well-known song done by some of the elites, but like I’ve said before, nobody tells a story like Neuwirth. She takes you on an emotional journey of complete happiness to complete sorrow with a resolve of contentment. Her vocal phrasing nearly brings me to tears as she sings about Mr. Bojangles’ dog passing, yet I smile as she tells the story of his dancing career. This song is one of complete brilliance.

One cannot ignore the Kander and Ebb classics “Ring Them Bells” and “But The World Goes Round.” Each of these songs I knew previously from different artists, but their inertia didn’t hit me the same. Neuwirth tells the story of Shirley Devore with humor to a hoppy piano accompaniment that can only make one smile.

Then there is the passion she gives “But The World Goes Round.” Again, I can feel the kicks in the shins as Neuwirth’s voice whirls around this piece. It’s a big finish and Neuwirth gives her body and soul in this simple arrangement.

This same passion is quietly channeled in another Waits’ classic, “Shiver Me Timbers,” with the final closing of the album “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Again, one can visualize the sand shiftin’ as Neuwirth caresses “Shiver me Timbers.”  All the familiar places come to life in “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Her voice is fragile, as if it can be harmed by a feather, as she bids farewell to a lost lover….or is it her audience?

Neuwirth is divine. That’s the only word I can find to describe her performance on this album. As I mentioned before, one cannot see music. Even as a singer sings, one cannot tangibly grab a note. The closest visual we get to music is from dancers. That’s exactly what Bebe Neuwirth’s voice accomplishes through each story she tells.

ALBUM REVIEW: St. Vincent, MASSEDUCTION

It has been awhile since I have written any of my musical musings and it’s not for a lack of words. I have discovered TONS of great music over the past few months. My job went crazy and my life went into an awkward spiral, but now I’m back, thanks to St. Vincent.

Over the last few months I decided to rejoin Vinyl Me, Please. I was once a member and I don’t particularly remember why I stopped. Through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reading all my browsing history and spying on my personal life, I received many advertisements for Vinyl Me, Please, and November’s record of the month, St. Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION, caught my eye.

St. Vincent Music Review, MASSEDUCTION
Vinyl Me, Please Special Edition

Now, who hasn’t heard of St. Vincent? The record stores back home in Oklahoma take pride in her career because she was born in Tulsa, but my research tells me she moved to Texas before she was 5. I’d like to call her an Okie, but I don’t know if she would accept it.

Anyways, MASSEDUCTION quickly took me by surprise. Although I had seen a lot about St. Vincent’s music, this is actually my first foray into her catalog. I already have more of her albums on order.

To be candid, I really love MASSEDUCTION. This album served perfectly as an intro to St. Vincent’s work. I understand her earlier work is different, but this record has served as my gateway drug.

There are many reasons why I love this album, so many that it is hard to pinpoint exact reasons. Each song is like an impressionist painting. St. Vincent lays out what she sees, yet she leaves much to the imagination. Like many impressionist paintings, this album is also full of color as the orchestration ranges from heavy synthesizers to basic piano.

This album explores many themes, especially in relationships and self-discovery, but the reigning motif for me was self-acceptance. St. Vincent asks to be someone’s flawed foundation in “Hang On Me,” while calling BS on this world’s standards with “Pills” and “Los Ageless.” She knows what it’s like to be lonely and how her decisions have impacted her plight in life with “New York,” Fear The Future,” and “Young Lover.”

St. Vincent Music Review, MASSEDUCTION
The Telagraph.

At the end of all these emotions and trials, she is working on accepting herself, because ” “she can’t help what turns her on” in “MASSEDUCTION.” Although this doesn’t result in her over confidence, because she is still completely vulnerable in tracks like “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “Smoking Section.”

For me, MASSEDUCTION is not a musical journey, yet a musical process, set to the tone of purposeful “pop” if you will (Disclaimer: I think being “pop” is one of the most freeing “genres” of music. It is never a diss in my writings). Through this album’s instrumentation one can find influences of rock, dance, jazz, and electronica. This is easily seen from the rapid tempo of “Pills” to the string arrangement of “Dancing With A Ghost.”

One last note, St. Vincent’s vocals are nearly pristine on this album. Ballads, like “Happy Birthday, Johnny” really show off her “classic” vocal talent. She may be considered an indie or alternative artist, but she can sing circles with the best of them.

MASSEDUCTION completely accomplished it’s title, as it has completely seduced me into the world of St. Vincent and, apparently, I’m not alone. I was online today trying to buy tickets for her shows in New York City this weekend and they are completely sold out. Off to StubHub I go!

Check out St. Vincent’s official website here.

Check out St. Vincent’s Twitter: @St_Vincent.

Check out St. Vincent’s Instagram: @St_Vincent.

Check out St. Vincent’s Facebook here.

ALBUM REVIEW: Good Charlotte, Youth Authority

It’s time to bust out my MADE hoodie and LeVel 27 shirts. Good Charlotte is in the house.

I have been a long time fan of GC, as I have chronicled before (check out my review over The Young and The Hopeless here and my review of The Madden Brother’s Greetings from California here). When I heard they were releasing a new album, I was pretty excited. I could once more hear my mom shriek as she saw Benji and Joel’s tattoos and become flabbergasted by such “hard rock” music from the early 2000’s. Good Charlotte and their image was not quite like the Nsync and Backstreet Boys albums I usually asked for.

FullSizeRenderNow let’s jump back 11 years to the present. I have relentlessly jammed out to GC music since and their last album, Cardiology, had me wondering where the band would go next. Well, wifes and babies is what came next for the members of GC. Unfortunately, I’m still single and my dog died last year.

Furthermore, GC has now released their brand new album Youth Authority. The guys always seem to make an album that stops me dead in my tracks and this album is not an exception.

The lyrics, song choices, instrumentation, and content of Youth Authority have matured from their previous records, but there is still that rebellious flair. The sound of the album may seem lighter at first listen, but the treasure of this record is in the lyrics. This album also doesn’t disappoint in the sound I believe GC created, a universal pop/punk sound.* This is truly an album for the fans.

*Disclaimer: I’m not putting their music down by calling it “pop.” I simply am saying that their music crosses over rock and pop charts causing more people to hear their message and their music. It’s a good thing.

The album begins with “Life Changes,” a song of survival and defying the odds. The key lyrics to remember in this song is “You know that love changes. The pain, it rearranges,” for this sets the tone for the entirety of the album.

From @GoodCharlotte's twitter
From @GoodCharlotte’s twitter

The album then goes into its three singles, “Makeshift Love,” “40 oz. Dream,” and “Life Can’t Get Much Better.”  “Makeshift Love” is a more optimistic and slightly sarcastic take on the GC fan favorite, “My Bloody Valentine.” If only there was a triage for the poor boy in that song. “40 oz. Dream” is an ode to what every 1990’s and 2000’s kid misses about what music used to be. The lifestyles of the rich and famous seemed to have hijacked our sound.

“LIfe Can’t Get Much Better” is one of my favorite tracks off the album. This song comes at a slower pace and contemplates the goodness of life that comes with time. The members of GC have been through a lot and it seems they are finally in a place of contentment with this song.

Flipping the record to side B truly solidifies what GC’s message is with this album. This side opens with “Stray Dogs,” a fun song admitting that our other “halfs” really do make up the best of us. Then we have “The Outfield,” a song directed straight at those of us who were once young and hopeless.

I find “Cars Full of People” and “War” to be the lyrical highlights of this album.”Cars” speaks of the people who reek judgement, but never stop to see the actual situation. This is a song of survival and it contains a middle finger to all naysayers. “War” speaks of the war we go through in our lives, but also the war one is willing to pursue for others. Underneath these lyrics this is a song of love and loyalty.

Thus, I find this album to have three resonating themes: survival, finding yourself in others, and never-changing who you are.

First we have survival. The members of GC have survived many hardships and they faced a  lot of people who didn’t think they could make it, let alone last. This is obvious in tracks like “Life Can’t Get Much Better” and “Moving On.” All members of GC have found themselves in different industries flourishing with success. They have survived this storm and proven many wrong.

Inspiring liner notes from Benji Madden.
Inspiring liner notes from Benji Madden.

Next is how the guys have found themselves in others. It’s all about love and hugs here. So many of these songs are what I consider “you” songs, which are songs that point to someone else who has helped you discover who you are while becoming inseparable to who you have become. They make fun of themselves over this topic in the song “Stray Dogs” while getting serious in songs like “War.” This aspect was also obvious in “Makeshift Love.” On the surface, this song is about a bad relationship, but it is set in the past tense.

Lastly, there is the theme of never-changing who you are, amidst any circumstance. Each member of GC’s lives has taken a 180 since we last heard from them, yet their music still carries the same demeanor and they still play on the same topics. The difference with this album is that their lives have now progressed and evolved around these topics. I found this message in “40 oz. Dream” and “The Outfield,” amongst almost every other track.

Right now in my life I have made a huge move to New York. It’s a world of difference from Oklahoma, but I am welcoming the change. I am progressing. Sure I have my naysayers and a huge fear of failure, but I know I will make it somehow. I’m working toward the lives GC has found and this album inspires the strength of perseverance within me.

Thank you Good Charlotte.

Although, in retrospect, when looking at GC’s entire career, this album has inspired me to move on and realize great things are in store like…

Life. Love. Truth. Trust. Faith. Pride. Love.

ALBUM REVIEW: Adele, 25

One lone morning around a month or so ago, I opened my Vevo app to much jubilation. There was a new Adele song and video! It was love at first listen. At first I was a little taken aback. I thought she was going to do a remake of Lionel Richie’s classic song and the beginning almost had me fooled.

So Adele is back. I was met with excitement and hesitation. I had been a huge fan of her record-breaking album 21. The Grammys that year were like the Superbowl for me. I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs when she won album of the year. If she had not won, I was prepared to organize a campaign to boycott the Grammys. I had a Facebook page ready to go live at any moment.

Adele, 25But I couldn’t help being nervous and hesitant over new music from Adele. I didn’t know how she could ever top 21 or come close. I was afraid she was going to have gone “commercial” and that the songs would not be sung or written from her heart and soul like the rest. I had faith in Adele. The Adele of 21 would always be there, but I have also witnessed record companies ruin artists.

I was met with the complete opposite. As Adele has stated, “if 21 was a break-up album, then 25 is a make up album.” This is essential in understanding the themes and concepts of this album as a whole. She truly makes up with past and who she is within the walls of this album

When I first heard “Hello,” I knew we were in for another extraordinary album. I love the build up of this song. It starts out with just Adele’s vocals and simple piano chords. The song steadily goes up a mountain of trials and regrets. Then you have the chorus and climax that take this song off the cliff. This song proves that true belters still exist. This is a perfect first single as it promises Adele’s loyal fans that she has not lost her center.

“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is an outlier in this album. It does not fit into the album musically, but the song adheres to the concept of the “make up” album. As I was looking over the liner notes, I noticed that this song was produced by the famed Max Martin. That explains the extreme rhythmic dance feel to this song, as well as the slight over production. He is the man behind such classics as “…Baby One More Time” and more recently “Shake it Off.” In the end, it’s rhythmic, almost reggae feel is addicting, but I just don’t find this truly Adele. The words get lost in translation.

adele-hello-video-xavier-dolan-tristan-wildsNext we have “I Miss You.” The opening percussion of this song sets the song for a
dramatic console for Adele’s vocals. She contemplates on how she misses someone even though they are gone. She also gives us a taste of her beautiful head voice in the lines leading up to the chorus. I like how this song is stripped of heavy piano elements like much of her music. The percussion gives Adele’s vocals a new back drop that they thrive under.

The next stand out of the album and now the apparent second single, “When We Were Young” is the sequel to “Someone Like You.” Whereas “Someone Like You” hinged on the immediate emotions of the breakup and the finding of someone new, this song focus on an encounter years later. The song returns with strong piano riffs and melodies, and also mirrors “”One and Only” in its gospel vibe. Then there is that one note…..everybody who has heard this knows what I’m talking about. I won’t ruin it for you.

The piano keeps coming with “Remedy.” Adele’s vocals effortlessly combine with the piano into a stand alone instrument. The repetition of the piano riffs mirrors “Turning Tables,” which is due to Ryan Tedder (an Okie!) being the cowriter on this song as well. This song has many more highs and lows. Adele offers herself like she never has before in a song. She wants to comfort the one she loves by being her partner’s remedy. She is offering her love with no regret. This is something new we haven’t seen from her lyrically.

Adele-adele-29997410-500-375The first song on side B is “Water Under The Bridge.” This song now shows a strong Adele, basically asking what the hell? She asked to be let down gently, because the love she feels isn’t over, yet he still seems to be playing her on with different actions and emotions. The song again ventures off Adele’s typical style with more percussion and replacing the piano with more synthesiser vibes. Lyrically, this song is the prequel to “Set Fire to The Rain.” She still wants to rescue what her and her partner have, but needs to know the direction. She does not have anymore time to waste.

One of my favorite things I love about Adele is the way she intertwines themes in her albums over time. You watch her mature with her music. “River Lea” is today’s “Hometown Glory.” The River Lea is a real place located next to where Adele grew up in the United Kingdom. In “Hometown Glory,” Adele talks about the strength of a small town and what she learned from it, but in “River Lea” she is showing how that story now finds itself in her relationships. She is simply an extension of her roots. This song has a strong bass beat that really flavors up Adele’s vocals into something mystical. “River Lea” is a collaboration of Adele and the producer, Danger Mouse. An odd pairing that created a stirring art work.

“Love in The Dark” finds Adele with a full-scale orchestra. This is a song of strength. It can almost be the levelheaded, mature answer to the full album 21. She explains how she can’t act anymore within a relationship, but she can’t deny that it has had a profound impact on her life. She shows strength with heart. She is not coming from just her own borken heart, yet she wants to end any future or current pain for her partner as well. This song’s orchestral arrangement lifts Adele’s vocals into a hard, yet sentimental place.

photoNext there is “Million Years Ago.” Instrumentally this song is simple, consisting of an
acoustic guitar and bass. The song gives off a folk vibe with a tip of a Spanish tango and some eerie chanting. This song personifies a soul lost. She is trying to put the pieces of her life back together by returning to her roots, yet she seems to be ashamed of what she’s become.

“All I Ask” is a stirring and contemplative piano ballad. Although many of Adele’s songs may be considered ballads, I find this to be the true stripped down, full on emotional ballad of the entire album. She is simply asking that if this has to be the last night she is with someone, she wants to end it romantically just in case she never loves again. This song clearly shows a heart deep in the ocean of love and she does not see herself finding air again.

“Sweetest Devotion” ties the whole album together and is the perfect conclusion. In the previous songs, you find happiness, regret, strength, hardness, vulnerability, and pure heartache, yet this song isn’t about any of that. She explains how she finally has found the face she has been looking for all her life and it is that of her son. This song shows how love  can overcome anything. Although she reminds us, the journey matters. Adele’s vocals take on another image. You can sense the journey of life within her vocals, yet more prominently, she sounds full of contentment and happiness.

adele_2013-650-430d-1That is the message I walk away from this album with, hope. That torn up man, who was comforted by the lyrics from 21, is still here and there is no denying that Adele still deals with her own hurtful past. That hurt person is still inside her, but she is surviving and overcoming. She’s made up with life.

Since 21 Adele has gained a new title, mother. I feel terrible saying this, but I was almost afraid we would have an album of “Because You Loved Me” moments. I was wrong in every sense of the word. She is a different person, yet she is still in tune to where she is from, where she has been, and now where she is going.

Adele leaves her audience with hope in 25. She reminds me to never forget my origins and to learn from my past. She also reminds me that life is not going to be easy, it will continue to ebb and flow, but that my best days are ahead of me. Through strength, ambition, and courage, I will never be defeated.

This album is what happens when you truly set fire to the rain.

ALBUM REVIEW: Good Charlotte, Young and The Hopeless

Some of us were born with an extremely ambitious personality. It is both a curse and a blessing. An ambitious person finds themselves striving for something that they can accomplish, but in many instances it also leaves them speechless when they realize their dreams will never come to fruition.

Along with ambition comes rebellion. One is not ok with how they see the world. They are not okay with the norms of society and they are bound to make a stand against them in any way they can. This is how I am. I have strived to be a musician my whole life with the goal of giving people an escape into a world where all their shortcomings and emotions make sense. I hold this dream to this day. Now that I have become involved in civic matters, I find myself feeling this same strife for social and governmental issues. I often find solace in this frustration and rebellion, that comes with being overly ambitious in the phonography of music.

Good CharlotteNow this is not something new. I have been doing this for years since high school. The first record I completely found peace in was Good Charlotte’s The Young and The Hopeless. They did not accept the norms, yet they had the courage to stand up for a voice that is often not heard. From high school feeling like a jail cell to family problems, each song on this album makes a declaration of ambition.

The album starts out with the holy grail of high school rebellion songs, “The Anthem.” The song is simple, I don’t want to grow up to be just like you. It’s about looking at the adults in your life as a young man or woman and realizing that isn’t what you want to be, that there has to be more to life then what they have alluded to. Life is not about making straight A’s, going to college, and just “doing your time.” Just because that is the way it has always been doesn’t make it correct. With a more than anthem feel musically, this song makes its point clearly.

Then we have “Lifestyles of The Rich & Famous.” This song basically rebukes all those with money who have everything, yet still seem to complain about countless troubles and woes. This is all set to the tune of what I would call dance/punk/pop. How about they take a walk in our shoes for once? Are these the kind of people we want to be or is it exact opposite?

Good CharlotteFinishing out side A, I have to make note of “The Story of My Old Man” and “My Bloody
Valentine.” We all have problems with our family with some having more drastic problems then others, but we always feel a rebellion to the norm that our family wants us to achieve. This is also a song of comfort for those of us who are victims of having divorced parents. It makes you realize you will eventually stand up and see things for what they are, and with a loud screw you, you will be able to deal.

Lastly, I just love “My Bloody Valentine.” It’s a great story song. It tells the story of falling in love hard. With its more metal feel, this makes a point of hard love and gives light to a thought I think we have all had. This is definitely a “don’t try this at home,” or ever, contemplation.

Side B starts out with “Hold On.” This song assures us that although you feel nobody is there for you, there is always a reason to hold on. It will get better. This is the depression that comes when your ambition is not coming in your time. This is a soft rock/punk/pop tune if you will. It is followed by the pure punk, “Riot Girl.” I have always found myself jamming out to this song. It’s a fun medley of “Christina you don’t want to meet her, Britney you better run for cover,” and something all of us guys wish for in a girl, yet we just don’t always admit it.

Good CharlotteMoving over a few songs we come to “The Young And The Hopeless.” This song portrays how all of us have felt, especially when we don’t follow the path that society and our families have laid for us. It’s accepting the fact that yes I’m troublesome, I’m bothered, I’m lost, and that I’m going nowhere, but in the end it’s me against this world. I am responsible for my actions. If I fall, let me. If I succeed, praise me. In the end I’m going to do what my soul is comfortable with.

Then there is the ballad of the entire album “Emotionless,” another ode to those of us ridden with the wreckage of divorce. Although the song projects the abandonment of the Madden brothers’ father, I think it is one that each of us can relate to. Coming from a similar situation, this song strikes almost every emotional cord I have. This song has a twist that normal divorce songs don’t have. Under all the hatred and anger, you still miss your father or in a larger case your family as it was. I am always amazed at how Joel Madden can take his vocals down to such an emotional level.

The last song “Moving On,” declares what we all have to do, those of us who are super ambitious and those that are breathing. This song is about learning from each experience and emotion, and making something of it. You may make the wrong idea of it, but in the end it’s yours and you have to move on. It has a chant like chorus that exclaims emotions from lust and love to hope and truth. “Moving On” isn’t about getting over the injustices you see and feel; it’s about making the most of them.

Good CharlotteThis album came out in 2002. I was just trying to figure out who I was at that time, yet to this day I still think this album speaks truths, not only to high school me, but also to young adult me and beyond. I still haven’t figured out who I am and this album tells me that’s ok. It’s a journey and I may never figure out, but realizing that it’s a hopeless cause reassures me I have to move on.

This album also holds other beliefs I still find true. I still believe that girls don’t like boys, that they like cars and money and I am still happy about wondering what my girlfriend or dog is exactly thinking, but I really don’t want to know the day that I die.

In retrospect, this album has taught me to be the change I want to see in the world. Although my actions may not change the world, it’s my soul I am living with. It is essential that I share with others what I have gone through in life, for it not only releases my pinned up emotions, but it helps those going through the same thing. We are all survivors. It’s a question of what we survived that remains un-answered.

Now I know I left my Level Twenty Seven Shirt some where in my dresser. It’s going to look great with my Made hoody I finally found.