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Music News Reviews

Miley Cyrus and “Midnight Sky” at Midnight

It’s actually only 11pm from where I’m sitting now, eagerly waiting with thousands of others to watch the music video premiere of Miley Cyrus’s new single “Midnight Sky.” Regardless, we’re saying it’s midnight, and 12am is the perfect setting to listen to this song.

I was hoping that this single would be in the same vein as Cyrus’s last EP “SHE IS COMING,” but I’d put it more similar to “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.” Which, honestly, I’m more than okay with! So let’s get into it.

The groovy video starts off with a proclamation that it was directed by Miley herself, and she had announced that ahead of time, too. I was expecting the same sort of boring, low-quality music videos we’ve been seeing put out by artists during the pandemic (and I can’t blame them,) but “Midnight Sky” is full of fun scenes, eye-catching props, and Miley’s bright red lipstick, so it fully kept my attention.

And the song itself? You’ll be at least mentally screaming “I don’t need to be loved by you” along with MC by the end! The lyrics are reminiscent of “Can’t Be Tamed” with lines like “I was born to run / I don’t belong to anyone,” as Miley sings to us about getting out of a relationship of many years. Fortunately, she reminds us that she’s good on her own.

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Music News Reviews

Taylor Swift Drops Surprise Album “Folklore”

Taylor Swift surprised everyone today by dropping a surprise new album at midnight. Here’s the track listing of Folklore, ranked by our favorite songs so far.

The 1

This song is the first on the album, and it’s one of the best. The simple beat leads us into where Taylor mind is at the start of the album. She’s doing her own thing, but reflecting on a lost love. “But it would’ve been fun if you would’ve been the one.”

Cardigan

This whimsical song tells the story of a love that felt like an old cardigan. It was the first music video that premiered at midnight when the album dropped, and shows Taylor hopping into a piano to visit a wonderland, before it turns into a stormy ocean. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite.”

Illicit Affairs

This powerful song is about having a secret relationship, and the toll it takes. “And that’s the thing about illicit affairs and clandestine meetings and longing stares, It’s born from just one single glance but it dies and it dies and it dies a million little times.”

Invisible String

This seems like it must be an ode to her partner Joe, and how all along they were meant to be. We especially love the reference to the colors, and how the string is gold (referencing Daylight on her previous album.) “All along there was some invisible string tying you to me.”

August

August, the eighth song on the album (clever) is about a lost love. We’re in love with the outro. “August slipped away into a moment in time, ’cause it was never mine”

Mirrorball

This vintage-inspired song was co-written by Jack Antonoff and is about accepting a lover for the way they are, “mirrorball” referencing a disco ball. “I’m a mirrorball, and I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight.”

Exile

This song features Bon Iver, who actually starts out the song. The lyrics describe the awful feeling of seeing your ex after a breakup. They each share different perspectives of the relationship, and piano keys highlight the heavy lyrics. “You were my crown, now I’m in exile, seein’ you out, I think I’ve seen this film before so I’m leaving out the side door.”

Betty

This sweet acoustic number is the story of our main character, seventeen year old James, who had a fling with a girl named Betty. Something unfortunate happens, although she doesn’t tell us what, and James spends the summer thinking about Betty. In typical Taylor Swift fashion, he shows up at her party to try to win her back. “But if I just showed up at your party, would you want me? Would you tell me to go fuck myself or lead me to the garden? In the garden would you trust me if I told you it was just a summer thing? I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything, but I know I miss you.”

Peace

Another autobiographical song, this seems to be about Taylor trying to come to terms with the fact that being her partner will always be tumultuous. The simple tempo and electric guitar on this song hold it together with contemplative lyrics. “All these people think love’s for show, but I would die for you in secret.”

My Tears Ricochet

This song was the first written for the album, and is about a relationship ending. It is reminiscent of Teardrops on my Guitar thematically. “Cursing my name, wishing I stayed, look at how my tears ricochet.”

Seven

The seventh song on the album, this is about being seven years old and how beautiful that simplicity is. “Passed down like folk songs, our love lasts so long.”

This Is Me Trying

This ballad is that classic situationship when you’re broken up with someone and trying to figure out how to deal with it. The narrator breaks down, drives to their house, and says, “And I just wanted to you know that this is me trying.”

Mad Woman

Taylor highlights the classic paradox with women in society: they are immediately considered “mad” or “angry” or “upset” when they show their emotion. This song highlights the double standard, in a new folksy spin. She also whispers “fuck you forever” in the song, so we’re here for it. “No one likes a mad woman, what a shame she went mad, you made her like that.”

Hoax

A heartbreaking song, Hoax deals with many themes Taylor has covered in past albums, like believing in someone who lets her down, and the heartbreak of losing love. Her perfectly rhyming lyrics match her soft voice in this song. “Don’t want no other shade of blue but you, no other sadness in the world would do.”

The Last Great American Dynasty

This song highlights Taylor’s unique ability for storytelling within songs. It’s focused on real-life Rebekah Harkness, who was an eccentric woman in the 1900s. The song ends with Swift writing “And then it was bought by me.” She loves highlighting strong, loud and powerful women, and bringing them in to her own story. This song is no exception, and we love it.

Epiphany

The 13th song on the album, Epiphany, is a narrative Swift wrote about her grandfather in the war. It’s a haunting story of the horrors of war, and her voice is soft and eerie. “Only twenty minutes to sleep, but you dream of some epiphany.”

You can stream the album here, and watch the music video for Cardigan below.

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Reviews

Quinn XCII’s New Album “A Letter To My Younger Self”

Mikael Temrowski, better known by his stage name, Quinn XCII, has released his highly anticipated third album A Letter To My Younger Self this week. He says that since his second album, From Michigan With Love, he’s become more centered, the music has gotten more polished and also a little more retro.

We’re big Quinn stans at Crowdsurfer, and we wanted to highlight our favorite parts of the album for new listeners. The album focuses on the nostalgia of high school age and that youthful spirit you have when you’re young and dealing with first love and learning how to navigate through life. Here’s a track by track analysis of the album, we hope you enjoy it!

Am I High Rn (Ft. blackbear)

The title track of the album delivers with a chill beat and a rad second verse by blackbear. The song deals with a mental battle between anxiety and depression, where the subject is trying to decide, “Am I paranoid of being myself? Is my brain overworking itself? Or am I just high right now?”

Favorite Lyric:

If you’re scared, go to church
If you’re shook, meditate
If you’re hurt, just vibe
If you’re mad, walk away, what you think?

Stacy

Written with Jon Bellion, Michael Pollack, and Jodgen Odegard, Stacy is about a no-strings-relationship in high school, and the different emotions that go with trying to deal with it. This was the first single off the album, released in June 2019, and its catchy beat is in opposition to the emotional emptiness of the lyrics.

Favorite Lyric:

You can call me ‘Stacy,’ you can call me ‘love’
You can call me ‘baby’ and all of the above
You can call me late night and I’ll be at your door
You can call me anything, oh, anything you want
Just don’t call me yours

Sleep While I Drive (Ft. Ashe)

This song has major vintage vibes, and we were delighted to find out that Ashe sang on the track as well. Sleep While I Drive is about wanting to get away from all the stress of everyday life, and the daydream of just packing up and driving away.

Favorite Lyric:

If you need me, I can carry the weight
Sweetheart, with you, I know I’m okay
Oh, ’cause home is with you, no matter the place

Second Time Around

This emotional ballad is one Quinn believes is his most powerful song yet. “It’s a song about self-reflection and self-forgiveness. I can be vulnerable, but it’s the first time I’ve shown fans I want to talk about God in my songs. Show them a side of me that’s very raw. Show them I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of in the past, but you can change the way you act as soon as you want to.” (via Flaunt Magazine)

Favorite Lyric:

When I’m asking life for another chance
Before they put me in the ground
Lord, I swear I will do my best
On my second time around
I will live nothing like my past
I will make my mother proud
There will be no mistakes on my
Second time around

Coffee by Quinn XCII & Marc E. Bassy

Coffee is Quinn’s first collaboration with Marc E. Bassy, and notably, the music video for the project was shot during complete lockdown of quarantine, so his wife Macy helped film it from their home on an iPhone. The song is about lamenting for a lover who has gone, and wondering if they will come back.

Favorite Lyric:

I just made two cups of coffee
But you’re not here to drink it now
Forgot you left before the morning
Guess I’ll never know who you were thinkin’ ’bout

Notice Me

This song reminds us of the friction that comes with being a young person trying to figure out the world and yourself. You want to be noticed, to make an impact, to get out of this small town and change the world. Quinn nails it on this throwback track.

Favorite Lyric:

You stand in the middle
Always surrounded like the Sun
And I’m stuck stranded on planets
Where I swear I’m the only one who notices me
Somebody notice me

A Letter to My Younger Self by Quinn XCII & Logic

This song is CATCHY with a capital C. Jazz notes surround a chorus highlighting how when life gets too overwhelming, maybe you can listen to this song and it helps. Quinn is vulnerable enough to bring up difficult topics and put positivity into the world, and this song is at the core of that philosophy.

Favorite Lyric:

Don’t get too far in your own head when you shout
We’ll smile in front of all the things we used to worry about
And I know it may not seem like it, but we figured out
How to live on the run when your heart weighs a ton

More Than Friends

This song is about regretting not telling your crush about your feelings before they start dating someone else. Sometimes you just want to be more than friends. Quinn rapidly raps the verses and adds his signature flair to the song.

Favorite Lyric:

It’s a field day
But not in the sense that we’re in elementary
More like I’m-in-my-feels day

Mad At Me

Interestingly enough, Mat At Me was inspired by the Pixar movie Up. This slow ballad is about a couple where one partner has passed away, and the other is trying to sort through those emotions. It’s heartfelt and moving for sure.

Favorite Lyric:

I still ask the hostess if she can save our favorite seats
And take some bread to that old park bench
For the local birds to eat
Then I go back to that king-sized bed
But it’s way too big for me

Two 10s

This groovy song will have you bouncing along as you’re listening to it, and it proves that sometimes the best songs keep it simple. The song is about a kid wanting to go out with his friends, but he has to convince his parents to give him a $20 (aka two 10s). It’s definitely one of our favorites on the album.

Favorite Lyric:

Listen, I just need a twenty for a real good time
Two tens, I’m not tryna go crazy

Meeting Strangers

This song is about being not over someone, confused about a new love interest, and just needing space to be alone. There’s a fun singalong of “la-la-la-la-la-la-la” at the bridge that we can get behind, and it builds up to a bop at the end.

Favorite Lyric:

You’re making small conversations
Feel like days at a time
My not-so-sly observations
Could stain white beds like red wine

Everything I Need

This song is the perfect ending to the album. It showcases Quinn’s soothing vocals and focuses on enjoying the moment before it’s all over. Everything I Need rounds out the album with a jazzy ending and a perfect line: “Good friends, good memories, That’s all I need.”

Favorite Lyric:

Let’s throw a party if this is really over
Invite all your friends, even the ones that hate me
‘Cause after tonight, everything else is uncertain
But everything I need’s in front of me

Quinn is performing songs from the new album on Facebook today, and you can check it out here.

Stream A Letter To My Younger Self here.

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Music News Reviews

PACO Shares His Loneliness in New Single “Cold Love”

St. Louis native Paco just released his single “Cold Love” today, and we’re ready to keep this track on repeat.

Paco’s music defies the constraints of genre, so we asked him how he would describe the sound of this single. “Soul and R&B are my home-base,” Paco said, “but ‘Cold Love’ has a lot of pop influence, some rock influence, and a lot of electronica.”

Whatever this mashup of influences is, we’re down for it. We’ve already got “I’ve got secrets and no one to keep them / tell me are you lonely, too” stuck in our heads. In fact, we are surprised to learn that Paco didn’t think this was even a good song when he first wrote it. “For me personally, I thought it was the most pitiful song I ever wrote,” Paco told us, “but then I played it for people, and they found it relatable.” And relatability is what we really need from songs, isn’t it? The smooth vocals, music that make you move, and an irresistible chorus are truly the cherry on top.

”’Cold Love’ is all about a lack of intimacy from a desired relationship and the cold feelings he receives as he fills that void with a casual love affair.” – PaACO

Click here to listen to “Cold Love,” and be sure to keep Paco on your radar for more music this year!

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Music News Reviews

NOTD Partners With Astrid S in New Single “I Don’t Know Why”

You might know electronic duo NOTD from their songs “I Wanna Know” featuring Beat Miller or “So Close” featuring Georgia Ku, which came out in 2018. NOTD continues to prove that they can create hit after hit with their latest single called “I Don’t Know Why.”

The song, released today, features Astrid S. Her ethereal vocals complement the upbeat track, resulting in a mix that will make you want to dance and sing along with her. We dare you to try to not break out any dance moves during the chorus! Catchy from beginning to end, you’ll find this song stuck in your head. Even if you don’t know any other words than “I don’t know why / oh, I don’t know why,” we bet you’ll be humming the tune throughout the day.

Images provided by Island Records

Take a listen here, watch the official video here, and be sure to keep your eyes and ears on NOTD! We sure will be!

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Music News Reviews

PUBLIC Follows Up Hit Single “Make You Mine” with “Honey In The Summer”

PUBLIC released a new single today titled “Honey In The Summer,” following up their hit “Make You Mine,” which you’ve most definitely heard on TikTok. And if you’ve been searching for the perfect anthem for this summer, look no further! You might not think that such a song could exist for a season tainted with coronavirus, but PUBLIC succeeded regardless.

“Honey In The Summer” proves that we can do this social distancing thing and still have a great time. “But I don’t have a sweetheart to hold when I’m alone / So I just grab my keys and snag my favorite CD / Cruisin’ and it’s just me in the front seat” sings lead vocalist John Vaughan, reminding us that listening to this song at full blast, windows down, and an open road ahead is all we really need.

Photos provided by Island Records

But don’t just listen to the song! You should also check out the lyric video. Giving us a lovely mix of live action and graphics, our animated band cruises down the road in a bright yellow SUV. It makes you want to hop in the car with PUBLIC as a cute little animated version of yourself and belt out the lyrics alongside them!

So what are you waiting for? Go listen to “Honey In The Summer,” watch the video, and then head out to your car to welcome the summer season!

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Music News Reviews

Shallou creates pure magic on debut album, Magical Thinking

Whether you’re social distancing at home or driving to your (essential) job, consider putting on a track or two from Shallou’s newest album, Magical Thinking. It contains thirty-eight minutes of pure emotional joy that deserves to be thoroughly listened to. The first few seconds of the intro track immediately brought me back to a past summer and pushed all worries I had from this difficult time out of the way. Nothing like a nice drive with ‘‘Forget’’ playing in the background to make you feel like the world is back to normal, even if it isn’t. 

The album surrounds the concept of memory loss, holding onto those intimate moments before they become out of reach. It shifts from the sadness of memory loss to represent the seasons with all of it’s changes and how that relates to people. The album holds an emotional aspect to it; maybe it’s from the introspective lyrics, or the spacious, light tone of the vocals, but it definitely left me with a heavy heart and a breath of fresh air. The production seems slightly opposite from emotional as it stems from joyous electronic pop but does a magnificent job keeping the allure of ‘‘whimsical sadness’’ that Shallou describes in his music. 

The album features collaborators; Ashe, Daya, Zachary Knowles, and many others, that makes it all even more worth listening to as each artist brings their own flair without compromising the overall message in each track. 

My favorite track would have to be, Older featuring Daya. It’s everything you need in a song from the combination of Daya’s vocals, Shallou’s production, and the top-notch songwriting putting it at my number one track on-repeat. The lyrics, ‘‘Maybe one day when I am older, I might understand why love doesn’t happen to everyone who wants it’’ is so beautifully written and performed, it is just the heart-breaking, ambient ear candy we were all looking for. Shallou has built a name for himself as one of music’s most organic artists who successfully gained over three million streams thus far. I cannot wait to hear more from Shallou and expect nothing less than something magical from him on the next release. 

LISTEN HERE 

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Reviews

Audrey Mika Sells Out Legendary Mercury Lounge

Regardless of the rain pouring and the weather dropping, fans couldn’t stay away when Audrey Mika came to town. That being said, I was one of them. Luckily, a perk of writing for a magazine means you get early access to the show and get to avoid catching a cold. Walking into Mercury Lounge, you immediately pass the long and dark bar area until you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. In this case, it was a small, but beautiful stage, lit up with rays of purple, pink, and a hint of blue, calling to be performed on. Artists like The Strokes, The Killers, Jeff Buckley, and more have made a name for themselves all with their legendary performances there and tonight, Audrey Mika added her name to the roster.

Mika opened with her single, ‘‘Fake Heartbreak’’ in which every person in the room sang word for word. With each transition to each song, Mika performed outstandingly, proving her vocal range to be impressively wide all while showing off her dancing ability (which never missed a beat). Maybe it was the pajama-like ​pink​ heart​ pants she wore or the space-bun hairdo, but Mika marked herself as one of the sweetest performers I’ve ever seen. She even made a point to bring up a fellow Paperclip Club (​her fan-base name)member, Kahliya, onstage and credit her for being a superfan and for her support from the beginning. In all my 22 years of live shows, I’ve never seen someone bring a fan onstage without having them be danced on or sang to, but only to thank them. How sweet is that!

Photos by Lauren Lamboy

Sonically, the show sounded even better in person than in headphones. With the help of her band mates, Cam Lee on drums and Joe Avio on guitars, Mika’s performances were fun and light, and you just wanted to dance all night long. She closed the show with, ‘‘Y U Gotta Be Like That’’, an obvious crowd favorite, but one of the most memorable parts of the show for me was her unreleased track, ‘‘Just Friends’’ in which she engaged with a call and response chorus section between her and the audience. The track had never even been heard and the audience responded as if they’d heard it all their life.

I wanted to wrap up with my favorite song of the night, ‘‘​Following’ that was released on her 2019 Album,​ Level Up.This song made me feel everything at once. With just an acoustic guitar and no-band at this point, she sang her heart out while the audience lit her up with their mobile flashlights as the entire stage appeared dark. While the majority of the show was entertaining and lively, it’s the precious moments like this one that took the cake for me. It was raw and pure which depicted the emotions in the song perfectly.

All in all, there is a reason that this show and many others were sold out. Mercury Lounge was lucky enough to have Mika play her music and I cannot wait until her next live show!

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Reviews

#LauvLive at National Sawdust

If you’re a fan of lyrics that put you in your feels, then you’ve probably heard of Lauv. In celebration of his debut album dropping at midnight, Lauv hosted a #LauvLive with Spotify in New York City at National Sawdust, where he played acoustic or stripped down versions of the new songs on the album and talked about the meanings behind them. We headed to Brooklyn to catch all the action.

Everyone in line (and by everyone we mean the 200 people that were lucky enough to make it in the door) got a glowey Lauv wristband which lit up in matching colors depending on what song he was singing. The theme of the new album ~how i’m feeling~ is that no one is made up of one specific thing. There are many pieces to being a human, and many different sides and moods and personalities of each of us.

He explained that his identity is comprised of six characters that relate to a color: red is Spicy Lauv, orange is F*ckboy Lauv, yellow is Positive Lauv, green is Goofy Lauv, blue is Hopeless Romantic Lauv, and purple is Existential Lauv.

Before Lauv came onstage a few minutes past 9pm, fans could grab a drink, munch on some complimentary popcorn, and take a photo in the rainbow-themed photo booth.

The show started in orange as he walked onstage with a guitar and sang a gorgeous rendition of Canada, which led into a neon-blue singalong to Fuck I’m Lonely.

Spicy Lauv came out and the room glowed red when he sang the third song of his set, a new song called El Tejano, swaying the crowd with lyrics about getting margaritas and dancing with a lover. The space shifted to green during Billy, as Lauv told the crowd about a song he wrote about his beloved dog.

He made sure to thank not only everyone in the room multiple times, but all the people that were watching the livestream from their respective countries. Lauv said he had been waiting for this moment (of his debut album release) for so long that he had a lot of emotions processing at once, but that he was so excited for everyone to hear the album.

#LauvLive with Spotify

The crowd came together in a chorus as he ended with acoustic versions of his hits I Like Me Better and Modern Loneliness, following up lines like “To be young and in love in New York City” with “Love my friends to death, but I never call and I never text.”

Lauv, also known by his real name Ari, has been very vocal about his own mental health issues and the importance of de-stigmatizing and normalizing it. He started the Blue Boy Foundation, and has a telephone-booth-like blue box at all of his shows, called My Blue Thoughts, where you can type or record a message about how you’re feeling and share it with other Lauv fans around the world.

The room became a shimmery rainbow as he gave a final bow and left the stage, representing all the pieces of him coming together for his debut album.

I was already a Lauv fan before this show, but this deepened my love for his music and respect for him as an artist. You can watch the livestream in full right here. The new album is out now, so make sure you stream Lauv’s new album ~how i’m feeling~ and let us know your favorites!

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Concert Photography Reviews

Chelsea Cutler at Terminal 5

Let’s be honest, I haven’t ​really​ known of Chelsea Cutler’s music besides her features with Quinn XCII, and Jeremy Zucker. But after tonight’s show, I can definitely say that I am a bigger fan than when I walked into Terminal 5. The whole point of a tour for a ​performer​ is to put on a good show, and for the ​fans​, it is to enjoy it. Knowing all the lyrics and songs is up to the audience. Regardless of my lack of prior knowledge in Cutler’s music, I genuinely enjoyed the music and from the looks of it, so did everyone else.

There were already high expectations as it was her second sold-out show in New York City at Terminal 5. Along with her phenomenal openers, X Lovers, and Alexander 23, Cutler definitely did not disappoint. Visually, her use of lights, colors, and visual pieces made it all the better. The backgrounds painted a beautiful picture for her to be captured in and really kept the audience honed in on her performance, whether it be a ballad or dance anthem. Sonically, her vocals were ​so​ perfect live that it didn’t even feel real. Her tone and texture in her voice remained the same all throughout the show. No cracks, no weak points, it was just spot-on which is incredibly impressive for a vocalist to have that strength and control.

From the beginning of her performance to the end, we’d moved several locations to get a decent spot as the place was packed. And each time, fans everywhere were singing and dancing, lyric by lyric, note by note. It was inspiring to be surrounded by people so in awe from the performance that Cutler exhibited, and we couldn’t get enough. Overall, this performance was raw, fun, engaging, and nothing short of magic. Until the next show!

Photos by Lauren Hayes