Hit Reset – The Julie Ruin

In 2016, American garage-rock band The Julie Ruin released their second album, Hit Reset. This hidden gem is reminiscent of lead singer, Kathleen Hanna’s days in Bikini Kill and the Riot-grrrl movement, while staying on point with the cultural, social, and political aspects of life in 2016 to 2018. After releasing a solo album under the alias of Julie Ruin in 1998, Hanna decided to make the band a full time project. In 2010, The Julie Ruin was formed in New York City by Hanna, Carmine Covelli, Sara Landeau, Kathi Wilcox, and Kenny Mellman.

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Hit Reset was received well by music sources and critics, and received an 8.2 out of 10 in a Pitchfork review, making it clear that the record is definitely worth listening to. Since the music falls into the punk-sphere, the album is not commercially known due to the popularity and demand for pop and rap music. I had never heard of Hit Reset or The Julie Ruin until just a few weeks ago, and I consider myself musically diverse, especially in the rock world. After listening to the album on repeat for a few weeks, I’m positive that everyone in The United States needs to hear it. They need to hear Hanna screaming, and feel her pain, and realize her triumphs with her.

I believe that music is powerful, in any capacity. That’s why it makes me upset when pop music on the radio is mindless and inappropriate. Musicians have a huge platform and they should use it to promote positive messages, and stories about their lives that people can relate to and learn from. Hanna uses Hit Reset to tell her story, and I think that people would gain a sense of empathy towards people by hearing this record. By traveling through Hanna’s journey, listeners are able to share her experiences with her, and feel for her. In a review from Pitchfork, the album is described as “The chance to tip her experiences onto a sterile surface and assess each memory’s impact before dropkicking it into oblivion; the kind of process that’s often only possible when you’ve looked death in the face. It’s Hanna’s most personal work” (Snapes). Hanna proves her power and “she triumphs at every decibel” (Powers).

Hanna has Lyme disease and has been battling it for years. It has forced her to take time off from making music, but she has never backed down from a fight. A review from NPR Music describes Hanna as “both the dissembled survivor and the furious avenger” (Powers). In 2013, a documentary titled “The Punk Singer” was released about her life, and that experience rings through Hit Reset. When I first listened to the album, I was a little conflicted. I was immediately reminded of sounds from the 90’s, and of my best friend. My best friend from home has a voice kind of similar to Hanna’s, being that it isn’t perfect or pristine. It’s not technically good, but it’s interesting and passionate. There were songs that I didn’t like at all, such as “Be Nice”, because I couldn’t understand the lyrics through Hanna’s frenzied screams. I’ll be honest, I got a little bit of anxiety as I listened to the album for the first time. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, but the music was definitely anxiety inducing.

I’d listen to this album when I’m pissed off. Maybe I’d be in my room or driving home from work, but this is the kind of music you listen to when you’re so angry but you may not know how to express the anger in a constructive way. This makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, kick things and cry until I calm down. I think that it’s important to feel those emotions every once in a while. Emotions make people human.

While we have learned in class that the Riot-grrrl movement was not perfect, I think it was a great place to start in terms of getting everybody to notice women, see them as legitimate human beings, and understand that every woman is equal to every man. The Riot-grrrl movement only encompassed straight, white, middle class, women, and the documentary is pretty reflective of that. It seems as though most of the women interviewed and showed in the film are white and supposedly middle class (They all met in college, so they could afford a college education). Women of color, transgender women and men, and members of the LGBTQ+ community also needed a voice, as well as members of lower classes. It is unfortunate that so many people were not included in the Riot-grrrl movement, but it is understandable that the very first step in a movement is not perfect. There is no possible way for something to be perfect upon conception, but the important thing is that a first step was taken.

Hit Reset is reminiscent of 90’s punk, and combines techno-rock influences with classic punk attributes such as fuzzy guitar riffs, strained vocals, and manic rhythms. At first listen, tracks can be split up into two categories. The first kind of song you’ll hear on the album is wild, all over the place, and frenzy-inducing. These songs mimic classic punk and bring about a manic style. The second type of songs are almost monotone sound, following one rhythm, have repetitive lyrics, and could be classified as punk ballads. After listening to the album a few more times, it is obvious that each song follows a similar style that is unique to The Julie Ruin. The “New-wave romp didn’t lack energy, some of Hanna’s lyrics were unusually tentative” (Snapes). The album is cohesive, and follows Hanna’s experiences and thoughts as a female artist.

There are a few running themes that are apparent and maintained throughout the album, and tell a story. Love, being feminine, feminism, and identifying as a dreamer, can be found woven throughout the lyrics of each song. While Hit Reset cannot necessarily be considered a rock-opera like The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers or The Who’s Tommy, it definitely follows a theme and tells stories. The lyrics all seem autobiographical and personal, even in the songs where many of the lyrics could not be understood. They still felt unique and distinctive, because  “Hanna faces down the abuse she’s suffered in her own life” (Powers). Half of the songs, such as  on the album sound manic, and anxiety inducing. The lyrics are screamed with a high-pitched-frenzy and the instruments are all over the place, creating a craziness. The other half of the songs, such as “I Decide” and “Time is Up” sound almost monotone and flat, but not boring by any means. They seem so much calmer than the other songs on the album. Both of these styles work together to create a unique record.

A song that immediately stood out to me on the album was “Rather Not. It sounded so familiar, and I could have sworn that I’d heard it before.I think that my subconscious knew it was a song I personally needed to hear. The low, catchy bass and guitar riffs that are continued throughout the song are reminiscent of Pixies’s “Here Comes Your Man, and they compliment Hanna’s unique vocals perfectly. Hanna’s voice is one-of-a-kind. She’s no opera singer, but in her context and situation, there is no other way these songs could sound and still have the incredible weight that they possess. With lyrics that are pointed and deliberate, “Rather Not follows a disastrous relationship that has ended. Although there is significant history, Hanna sings about throwing all of that history away for the sake of moving on and feeling comfortable and alive again. She sings “If you love me I’d rather not know” over and over throughout the song, which resonates with anyone who has fallen out of love and the relationship keeps coming back to haunt them.

Another interesting song is “Mr. So and So”. It starts with a catchy guitar riff and then Hanna comes in with a monologue. The lyrics up until the chorus are spoken as a speech, detailing an awkward and inappropriate encounter she had with a male fan. When the chorus starts, the lyrics echo “You can’t say goodbye until I get my hello. Mr. So and So. It’s all just for show.” It’s heartbreaking and makes me angry to hear about the uncomfortable things male fans have said to her.  “Mr. So and So” is “an anti-ode to an entitled male fan” (Powers) that allows listeners to feel the same disgust that Hanna does.

 

Works Cited

Powers, Ann. “Review: The Julie Ruin, ‘Hit Reset.'” NPR Music, NPR, http://www.npr.org/2016/06/30/480605934/first-listen-the-julie-ruin-hit-reset. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

Snapes, Laura. “The Julie Ruin Hit Reset.” Pitchfork, Conde Nast, 16 July 2016, pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/22073-hit-reset/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

-Swaggie Maggie

Seeing Artists More Than Once

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is why we see artists and bands more than once. As a working college student, I’m always trying to save money. This can be difficult when there are so many concerts I want to make it to. The price of concerts tickets adds up, even when they are held at smaller venues that don’t cost as much per ticket as concerts held in stadiums would. However, as hard as I try to save money, if one of my favorite bands is coming to town I’ll go see them, no matter how many times I’ve seen them before.

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Recently, I bought tickets to see All Time Low with a few of my friends. The concert is being provided by the residential services of my college, so the tickets were relatively inexpensive, and I was able to get great seats! After purchasing the tickets, I started thinking about why we want to see bands or artists more than once. Take All Time Low for example. I have seen them once before, but that was back in 2015 before the release of their latest album. Often times we see bands more than once because we want to experience their new music live.

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There are some bands that I’ve seen more times than I can remember off the top of my head. I’ve seen both Mayday Parade and Sleeping With Sirens 6 times each, and in multiple settings. I’ve seen them at festivals, at headlining tours, and in intimate venues. A few times, I saw the bands when they hadn’t released any new music. The setlist sounded similar to the one at the previous show, but I still had the time of my life!

My personal philosophy when it comes to buying concert tickets is simple. I ask myself three questions before purchasing. 1. Can you afford it?  2. Will you have fun? And 3. Will you be sad if you don’t go? If I can answer yes to those, I know that buying the ticket will be worth it.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Album Excitement 2018

We are less than a month into the new year and we already have new music to be excited about! 2017 was a great year for music, but I’m betting 2018 can top it. As of now, there are already a few albums that have piqued my interest and I can’t wait to hear them in full when they are released! Here are a few albums I’m most excited to listen to in 2018.

  • IMG_6684Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows February 9

    • I’ve been a casual fan of Dashboard Confessional for years, but once I saw them live this past summer I became obsessed! As soon asI got home I decided to listen to their entire discography and began wishing for new music. They have released two singles from the album, “We Fight” and “Heart Beat Here” and fans are more than ready for the album todrop tomorrow!
  • MGMT – Little Dark Age – February 9

    • Again, as a casual fan, I learned about MGMT’s new album in one of my classes this semester. I was a huge fan of their song “Kids” and when I heard about their upcoming album I got excited! Catch MGMT performing at a slew of festivals this summer.
  • Moose Blood – I Don’t Think I Can do This Anymore – March 9

    • I love Moose Blood and listen to them anytime I feel like I need a good cry. Their emotional expertise comes through in their lyrics, and their instrumental ability is amazing. I can’t wait for this album to come out!!
  • Jack White – Boarding House Ranch – March 23

    • Jack White is a Michigan Native, so I’ve been listening to his music since I was a kid. He recently announced his upcoming album and accompanying tour, which always brings excitement to residents of our state. I always feel a sort of pride for all Michigan Made musicians. There is some conversation surrounding his tour, seeing as he’s pushing for fans to check their phones at the door and go technology free.
  • The Vaccines – Combat Sports – March 30

    • The Vaccines have made their way into every single one of my playlists since I was a senior in high school, so I was obviously excited when they announced new music. So excited that I actually chose to study the release of Combat Sports for my music production course!
  • The 1975 – Music for Cars – 2018img_3403

    • While we don’t have a confirmed date for the album, The 1975 have been teasing Music for Cars on their social media accounts for the past year. The third, and final installment of The 1975 era is sure to be their greatest yet! While I’m definitely sad that this final album marks the end of one of my favorite bands of all time, I’m happy that I’ll at least have one more record to play on repeat.
  • Kanye West – Turbo Grafx16 – TBA

    • Okay, so nobody actually knows when Kanye’s newest album will drop, and it may not even come out in 2018, but I’m still excited about it!

So there are the albums I’m most excited for this year! Are there any that I should check out before these drop? Let me know in the comments!

-Swaggie Maggie

Bucket List Concerts: The Killers

I’m not the first or only person to say this, but I’ve been a fan of The Killers since I heard Mr. Brightside for the first time years ago. It was one of those songs that was just so addictive, you had to look up the artist and listen to everything they’ve put out. Over the years, Miss Atomic Bomb, Dustland Fairytale, and Sam’s Town became my anthems and The Killers claimed a spot on my bucket list concerts.

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In August when the band announced their tour dates for their newest album, Wonderful Wonderful, I was beyond excited. The Detroit date was finally one I could make, and I had enough money set aside from my summer job to buy a general admission ticket.After months of anticipation, the day of the concert finally arrived!

I’ve said this a few times before about different shows I’ve been to but seeing The Killers was sort of an out of body experience. I can compare it to the line in The Great Gatsby when Nick Carraway says “I was within, and without”. I could feel myself dancing and singing and experiencing the show, but I also felt like I was watching myself and the rest of the crowd enjoying every moment. The power of music never fails to astound me.

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The Killers are also insanely talented. They sounded even better live than they do on their albums, which often times does not happen. They are also energetic and considerate of their fans. Lead singer Brandon Flowers stopped to acknowledge that he understood that people were there for different reasons, but we were all experiencing the same thing at the same time. It was pretty cool if you ask me.

If you get a chance to see them live this summer during festival season, you’re in for a treat! I know this isn’t the last time I’ll see the band on tour.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

 

Top 10 Swaggiest Albums of 2017

It’s undeniable. Parts of 2017 were definitely messy, but, when you think about it, it was an amazing year for music. Every time I heard something new this year I’d think “Okay, they’ve done it. It can’t get better than this.” and then somehow it got better and better each time an artist released something new! Trying to pick the best albums of 2017 is a difficult task, but I’ve ranked the top ten so you can start the new year by remembering the best tunes.

10. Wonderful Wonderful – The KillersWonderful Wonderful

This highly anticipated rock album was released in late September and is The Killer’s 5th studio album. Fans had to wait 5 long years for Wonderful Wonderful and it didn’t disappoint. The album is mostly upbeat with synth-pop influences and fast tracks, but the lyrics are littered with edgy motifs. Catch the Killers on tour this winter!

9. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life – Japandroids

Near to the Wild Heart of LifeI’ve been a fan of the Japandroids for a few years now, and I absolutely love their sound! Their edginess and angsty vibes are perfect for when you want to scream sing in your car, and they are so unique. Their latest album was released last January, and it is really beautiful. My favorite track is I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner), so make sure to go check it out!

 

8. Last Young Renegade – All Time Low

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All Time Low built the hype for Last Young Renegade last spring and its release in June was huge! The album is kind of haunting, but still has the energy that makes All Time Low so appealing to fans. The songs and themes are a lot more mature than their previous albums, and I love that you can see that growth!

7. Flower Boy – Tyler, The Creator

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The first time I ever heard anything by Tyler, The Creator was this summer when I saw him live at Mo Pop Music Festival in Detroit. I had heard of him, but I’d never heard any of his music. As soon as he took the stage I was instantly hooked, and began listening to Flower Boy constantly! The album seems like Tyler, The Creator’s diary where he navigates his emotions in a brutally honest fashion as he takes turns from angsty to soulful. I recommend seeing Tyler, The Creator live to get the full effect of his music.

6. Heaven – The Band CAMINO

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I stumbled upon this band through one of my Spotify Discover Weekly playlists and I am obsessed! The Band CAMINO is definitely one to watch in 2018, and they have potential to take over the music scene. Their sound falls perfectly between The 1975 and LANY, and their EP Heaven is exceptionally executed. The songs are upbeat and energetic with lyrics that cut you to the core. Catch The Band CAMINO on tour this winter with The Dangerous Summer!

5. Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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If you weren’t excited for Harry Styles to finally release a solo album you’re lying to yourself. Former One Direction singer took notes from his bandmates and tried his hand at a solo career. His self-titled album was the perfect way to transition from boy band heartthrob to emotional young man and I’m here for it. Every song on the album is unique and shows a different layer of Harry’s vocal, lyrical ability as well as vulnerability. If you can score tickets to his tour this summer, you’re in for a treat.

4. Lust For Life – Lana Del ReyLust For Life

I’ll be honest, I did not like Lana Del Rey’s last album very much, so Lust For Life was on my radar since Lana announced its release in February. I knew from the first single, Love, that the album was going to be amazing. Lana stays true to her retro image and even features some of the greats including Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. My favorite track from the album is Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind because it perfectly displays every aspect of Lana that appeals to her fans. Her vocal ability is unmatched as she seamlessly marries old Hollywood glamour and new indie rock. Lust for Life has the type of music you just have to experience live, so catch Lana Del Rey on tour this winter!

3. Sleep Well Beast – The National

Sleep Well Beast

I’ve been a fan of The National since I was in high school and my English teacher assigned a comparative essay of the band’s Don’t Swallow The Cap and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The National is an alternative rock band that uses folk and punk influences to create a unique sound that can’t be replicated. The band takes a different approach to songwriting by building the lyrics onto the melody of a song that they are in the process of writing. Each song on the album floats through dreamy instrumental sequences that are elevated by cryptic lyrics. Sleep Well Beast is totally different than anything else that was released this year, and the passion that The National put into the album is obvious.

2. Lovely Little Lonely – The Maine

Lovely Little LonelyYou all know how much I love The Maine, but it’s hard not to when their music is just so good! Lovely Little Lonely is the band’s 6th studio album and it was definitely a passion project. The Maine initially began writing the album in Fall of 2016 in Brooklyn but took production to an Airbnb in the mountains in California where they were able to find inspiration and explore everything that the album had the potential of becoming. Lovely Little Lonely is a cohesive, experience album that travels through the mysteries that life throws at us. With tracks actually named LovelyLittle, and Lonely that are instrumental interludes and songs that range from vulnerable revelations to good spirited anthems. One of my favorite songs from the album is How Do You Feel?, so take a listen and find your favorite!

1. Melodrama – Lorde

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I’m not going to lie. It took me a while to bring myself to listen to Melodrama, but I’m so glad I finally did! Lorde’s heartfelt songwriting created a masterpiece of an album that is truly beautiful. Every single second of the album gives me goosebumps. This labor of love is a journey through her life as she experiences the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Before hearing Melodrama I had never heard something that so accurately depicts being a young woman and it was liberating to hear something that is so relevant and relatable to my life. As you listen to the album, it’s obvious that everything is deliberate and meaningful. That’s how music is supposed to be. It’s supposed to mean something and it’s supposed to affect people and help them through the tough times while elevating the good ones. If you don’t have tickets to see Lorde live this spring, get on that now!

So there are my top 10 swaggiest albums of 2017! Did your favorites make the cut? I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store for music, but for now, I’ll just play these on repeat.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Maze – Lorne

On November 23 English artist, Lorne released Maze, his debut EP, and I’ve had it playing on a constant loop since then. The four-track is incredibly unique, seeing as Lorne is a classically trained pianist who is using his talents to create beautiful songs that incorporate both his classical roots and modern sounds.

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For an EP that is so short, the diversity between each track is astonishing. The songs go from deep and brooding to uplifting and poppy with ease. Not only are the instrumentals stunning, but Lorne’s vocal ability is impeccable. His voice is pristine and filled with emotion through each track. Lorne obviously puts every ounce of energy and passion into his music, and all that hard work definitely pays off!

Check out Maze by listening above, and follow Lorne on Instagram @lornemusic!

-Swaggie Maggie

One Way Trip – ALPHA

I’ll let you in on a little secret, seventeen-year-old Jai Garcha aka ALPHA is the next big thing. A year ago he embarked on a mission to create an emotionally charged, debut visual EP that chronicles the serious issues he has had to face in his youth. One Way Trip features edgy songs are backed by RnB and urban sounds with smooth vocals.

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I spoke to Jai about the most important part of the creation for this EP and he gave some great insight into his process. “One Way Trip revolves around this idea of life and the time it’s made of being a continuous, unstoppable motion. I have always been interested in how this affects the lives we lead in terms of the decisions we make and the things we aspire to be.”  Take it from me, you do not want to sleep on ALPHA! He is so young and already tackling real-world issues through his love for music. He is also creating a new standard for young artists. It isn’t as simple as having the talent anymore. In today’s ever-evolving creative community you have to be talented, driven, passionate and have a unique vision. ALPHA has all that and more.

One Way Trip consists of 5 songs that were produced by Jai’s own production company, Alpha Bravo Studios, and features other upcoming artists from London, Cambridge, and Hertfordshire. Upon recalling the physical process of writing and recording the tracks, Jai realized that “through spending hours with some beautifully talented people, and spending hours alone in the studio I found that my narrative was being shaped by the process of making the EP itself.” Each of the songs has an accompanying short film and they do not disappoint. One Way Trip will be available on all major music streaming services including Apple Music and Spotify on the 18th of November, so make sure to check it out!

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Every Nite is Emo Nite

It’s not a band. It’s not a DJ. It’s a party to celebrate the music they love. Emo Nite LA was founded in December 2014 and they’ve been taking the scene by storm ever since.  By bringing fans both young and old together to revel in the nostalgia of emo classics, Emo Nite has become a nation-wide force, recognized by artists of all genres, music publications, and, of course, fans.

Emo Nite LogoThis fall, Emo Nite LA has been touring across the United States, bringing the party to fans who can’t make it out to Los Angeles to participate. With dates continuing through December, emo devotees across the country can come together and have a great time.

For those who aren’t quite sure what Emo actually is, it’s a genre of rock music that is created through melodic, and often intricate musicianship. The lyrics are meaningful, confessional, and obviously emotional. Emo artists include Brand New, Dashboard Confessional, Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday.

October 20th, The Loft in Lansing will be hosting Emo Nite, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the vibes! Emo Nite promotes an inclusive community where the only requirement is a love for music and good times. Tickets can be purchased for $10.00 here, and you can keep up with Emo Nite by following them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify!

See you there!

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Photo and Video courtesy of Emo Nite LA

I Can Dig It: Music Festivals

I’m totally late to the game, but nevertheless, I’ve arrived! A few weeks ago I attended my first-ever music festival, and I’ve been transformed! The only festival-like-concert I’ve ever been to was Warped Tour, but I think that Warped belongs in a completely different category.

IMG_6731Mo-Pop in Detroit was celebrating its 5th year of existence, and the lineup did not disappoint. With Foster The People, alt-J, Tyler, The Creator, Vance Joy and much more, I knew I had to get tickets. After an attempt at buying one single day ticket turned into a pair of weekend passes, I was beyond excited!I went with one of my close friends from high school and we had the best time.

Something I’d never pictured myself doing was camping out in the front row of the main stage. When we got to the barricade at about 4:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, we knew we had to stay put! We were able to see PVRIS, Run The Jewels, and Foster The People from the front row on day one! I’d never heard of Run The Jewels before, but they ended up being one of my favorite sets of the weekend! Their energy, passion, and talent can’t be beat!

Day two was a lot hotter than day one, but I made it my mission to be at the barricade for alt-J. It was definitely a journey to get to the front. It wasn’t until I was separated from my friends, got pretty much beat up during Tyler, The Creator’s set, made friends with a mom next to me, that I made it to the front. I know I’ll sound mildly insane when I say this, but alt-J’s set was seriously an out of body experience. The music, the lights, the crowd…it was all so surreal!

I’m so glad I found such a fun festival in my own home town, and I’m excited to go to many more music festivals in the next few years! If you’re going to a fest and don’t mind standing in one place for upwards of 8 hours to reserve your spot in the

front row, you should definitely do it! Seeing a show from the front is different than being in the back, or lost in the crowd, but really, you’ll get amazing vibes anywhere if the band is talented and passionate!

-Swaggie Maggie