Several albums and songs have been released in the past few months from popular artists such as Khalid and also smaller artists such as Midland native Michigander. This is a review of a few new releases, along with recommendations of similar artists.
Twenty One Pilots- Trench
The music duo Twenty One Pilots made up of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun came out of a year long hiatus with the album Trench. Their last album, Blurryface, became the first album to ever have every song achieve at least gold status certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.
“The first song I listened to I think was ‘Jumpsuit’,” junior Enrico Setiawan said. “I immediately knew it was something different and as I listened to the other songs I realized it’s a story and I was like woah.”
Trench tells the story a sort of dystopian universe called DEMA through hidden meanings and lyrics in songs. In the song “Morph”, the listener learns of a character named Nico whose full name is Nicolas Bourbaki, which is the collective pseudonym for the scientists who invented the notation for zero or “empty set”; the Ø used in much of the band’s branding over the years.
The album also entangles with the other ones, building on the storylines of other songs from previous albums. All lyrical meanings aside, the album has a more electronic feel to it than their predecessors. Their single “Levitate” is mostly electronic, as is their popular song “Chlorine”. This gives the album an otherworldly feel. It makes the listener feel like they actually are in DEMA.
The band has also come out with five music videos for the album. This gives visual representation to the music, so it’s no surprise that they are littered with just as much symbolism and conspiracy material as the songs themselves.
“The music videos are creepy, but really interesting,” Setiawan said. “They’re so hard to understand and I’ll read so many YouTube comments and they will contradict each other. It’s really interesting.”
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
Irish musician Hozier released his new album Wasteland, Baby! on March 1st of this year. It is his second album, following his debut album released in 2014. The album has been met with mixed reviews, with some calling it 14 Take Me To Churches, insinuating that it sounds just like his last work exactly.
“His earlier stuff is more sad,” junior Rachel Chichester said. “I really like sad music in a good way, but I think that his new music has a different appeal to it.”
The album contains 14 tracks, ranging from acoustic folk songs like “As It Was” and “Shrike” to electric guitar songs with heavy riffs like “Dinner and Diatribes”. While these types of songs create contrast within the album, there is a sameness to all of them that allows Hozier to carve a place for himself in the future with his next album.
Similar artists: Bon Iver, Florence + The Machine, James Bay, Mumford and Sons
Michigander – Circles
Midland native Michigander has just released a single titles “Circles”. It tells of facing fears and overcoming insecurities despite a feeling of being lost. The songs contains gated reverb drums that became popular in the 80s through bands like Phil Collins, that punchy, almost whip like percussive sound. This gives Michigander a retro feel with all the emotion of a modern day artist singing about modern day problems that others can relate to.
“He’s from Midland which adds a special connection and I also think that his lyrics are meaningful,” junior Ben Vercellino said. “He sings about some of his insecurities. I think everyone should check him out, he’s pretty cool, and he’s a nice guy.”
Similar artists: Coin, The Wombats, Will Joseph Cook, The 1975
Khalid – Talk
Khalid released single “Talk” in February of 2019. It opens with a synthesizer that continues for the rest of the song before Khalid’s trademark voice cuts in.
“I really vibe with his music,” junior Nikki Melichar said. “I love Khalid and I love the American Teen album and I just was waiting for some new music and then ‘Talk’ came out and it’s so good. I just love his music and his voice is angelic.”
Talk will appear on Khalid’s sophomore album, expected in April. Khalid’s inspiration for both the song and the album are the experiences he’s had in the past two years and the growth that he’s undergone. He made the lyrics with the audience in mind, hoping that the songs reach to them.
Similar artists: Bazzi, Halsey, 6LACK, Chance the Rapper, Benny Blanco
Cavetown – Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is a a series of five two-track singles that were released a month apart from each other starting in Nov. 2018 and ending in March. A few songs such as “Boys Will Be Bugs” have found instant popularity, particularly on the app Tik Tok.
“[My favorite song] is a tie between ‘Boys Will Be Bugs’ and ‘Lullaby’,” junior Claire Newman said. “I just love ‘Boys Will Be Bugs’, it’s so good.”
Guitar dominates the collection of albums, ranging from compressed electric guitar riffs to soft acoustic chords. The entire collection gives of a positive and dreamlike aura. It’s reminiscent of soft surf rock.
Similar artists: Mac Demarco, Tame Impala, Rex Orange County, Declan McKenna, Death Cab for Cutie