Best of 2020…So Far

swaggie maggie quarantine edition

this week has been a long year

It’s hard to remember that we’re actually at the beginning of 2020. The absolute craziness of this year has caused the first few months to feel like multiple years instead of weeks. We started the year with terrible wildfires, #worldwar3 trending on twitter, and now COVID-19. It’s not the best start to 2020. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the world, but I want to remind everyone that good things are still happening.

Even while it feels like the world is falling apart, there are many things to be happy about. The sun is shining where I live, I’m home with my family, and I have a wonderful job with wonderful coworkers that will be waiting for me when the dust settles. There is also a lot of new music that has already been released in 2020! Here are a few of my favorite songs of 2020 so far.

the 1975: me & you together song

This wouldn’t be an article on Swaggie Maggie if I didn’t mention my love for The 1975. Their newest album Notes On A Conditional Form is set to release on April 24th, and this single has gotten me so excited for it to finally be here! “Me & You Together Song” is a song I’d want to listen to in my car at night during the summer. It’s breezy and youthful with punk undertones and a poppy melody. This is the kind of song that makes me think of summer love and sunsets. If this is what I have to look forward to on the rest of the new album, I’ll be one happy girl!

The Killers: Caution

I’ve been waiting for new music from The Killers since I saw them live back in 2018. Their stage presence and pure talent made me fall deeper in love with their music and become a super-fan. Their upcoming album “Imploding The Mirage” is sure to be a musical masterpiece, much like their other albums have been. The band throws “Caution” to the wind as this upbeat cry of restlessness and storytelling.

all time low: getaway green

In this time of uncertainty, it’s always nice to find something that is familiar yet new and exciting at the same time. Enter All Time Low’s new song “Getaway Green.” The band has blessed 2020 with something we all need: a classic pop-punk song. It’s upbeat, gritty, and tons of fun to sing along with. It reminds me of long summer days and working hard.

the weeknd: in your eyes

I’ve always been a casual fan of The Weeknd. His music has been a staple in the soundtrack of my life pretty much since he hopped onto the scene. It always seems like one of his songs ends up being important in my life, even though I’ve never actively sought out music by him to listen to. His latest album After Hours caught my eyes because of all of the hype I’d been seeing about it through work. The first song I decided to listen to was “In Your Eyes” and I was HOOKED. It’s sexy, groovy, and both so typically The Weeknd as well as so new.

haim: the steps

While the HAIM sisters have unfortunately had to postpone the release of their new album Women in Music Part III until summer, they’ve still given us an EP to tide us over! The Steps is a perfectly balanced EP with only 4 songs. It includes “Summer Girl” and “Now I’m In It,” two of my favorite songs to blast in my car. They’re typical HAIM, but truly so good. Plain and simple.

2020 vision but for music

There have been so many new songs and albums released in 2020 so far, and it makes me excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for us! No matter how crazy things get or how stressful life is, there’s always new and old music to turn to.

-Swaggie Maggie

Let’s Stream Live Music

swaggie maggie: quarantine edition

The age of live stream. It’s a way of life at this point. Especially when we’re all quarantined within our own homes. There’s no secret, we’re dealing with a global pandemic, unlike anything we’ve ever lived through. It’s scary and stressful. Fake news and scare tactics are abundant. We’re all stuck inside to stop the spread of COVID-19. For many of us, this is uncharted territory. In times of uncertainty or anxiety, I always turn to music for an escape.

Personally, my favorite way to consume music is live. That’s why I found a career in the live music industry. But going to a concert isn’t something I can do right now. Everyone is looking for ways to consume live music from the comfort of their couch. It’s also obvious to me that musicians and artists are looking for ways to provide music, art, and comedy with their fans who need it. That’s where streamable concerts come in.

Instagram live Stream

Many artists are turning to Instagram Live as a way to connect with their fans. Some are using the platform to stream concerts or acoustic sets. Others are using it in more of a Q and A or talk show setting. I’m a big fan of John Mayer’s “Current Mood” series and I’ve been enjoying watching Miley Cyrus’ “Bright Minded” as well.

As far as live concerts on Instagram go, there have been many that I’ve loved watching. John Legend’s piano set with Chrissy Teigen was both funny and sweet. The perfect balance of entertainment in a stressful time. Legend partnered with WHO and Global Citizen to contribute to their #TogetherAtHome campaign which promotes a sense of community even though we are all staying home and practicing social distancing.

npr Music’s Tiny desk concert

One of my favorite things to stream (even before this craziness) is NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert. These concerts are short and sweet, but they definitely pack a punch. They’re heartfelt and intimate. It’s like watching the biggest artist perform just for you. I really enjoy seeing which songs artists choose to include in their concerts because there are so many to choose from. You really get a sense of which songs they love performing. Here are a few of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts.

Technically this isn’t a Tiny Desk Concert, but Hobo Johnson’s entry for the Tiny Desk Contest is one of my favorite live performances to watch period.

Stream

wgbh music

This Boston radio station is an incredible resource for live music lovers. I have watched multiple concerts on their YouTube channel and have felt like I was actually there at the show! Their channel features a series called “Front Row Boston” which provides fans with high quality, full concert videos to stream. If you’re looking to watch something longer than an Instagram hangout or a Tiny Desk Concert, head to WGBH Music on YouTube to stream countless concerts!

concert memories

My last suggestion depends on how many concert videos you have saved from your favorite shows you’ve been to. Sure, they take up a ton of space on your phone, and nobody really cares about watching them on your story, but this is the PERFECT time to re-watch them yourself. You can re-live your happy memories of seeing your favorite band live. You might be surprised by what you decided to take video of during a show. I love looking through videos I’ve taken at concerts and remembering how happy I was to be in the room with my favorite musicians.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to find more ways to consume live music, even while we are all stressed out at home.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

How To Make the Perfect Playlist

Swaggie Maggie: quarantine edition

It’s official. We’re all stuck in our homes until further notice and there’s nothing to do. We all are experiencing the same thing. You wake up, drink a cup of coffee with breakfast, waste your day on the internet, eat dinner, drink some wine, and go to sleep. The next day is the same. And so is the next day. I’m going to challenge myself to change my routine and I hope you will too. On the blog, I’m planning on writing something every day. These could be opinion pieces, how-tos, a playlist, or throwback memories. Honestly, the options are endless.

This first post is dedicated to helping you create the perfect playlist. I make playlists constantly. They become the soundtrack of my seasons and they help me process my emotions when things in my life get crazy. Consider this your all-inclusive, step-by-step guide in creating a playlist. By using this formula, you’ll be able to create the perfect mix of songs for any occasion.

Quarantine and chill

First things first; name your playlist. For this playlist, I’m going to name it “Quarantine and Chill”. I like to create a name that makes me smile when I look at it and that is related to what the playlist is actually about. For example, a spring playlist would be called “Spring has Sprung” or simply “Spring.” A playlist about falling in love could be named “Falling” or “My Heart Went Oops.” You get the idea. My friend Olivia made a quarantine playlist called “Quarantunes” and its genius. So pick a name and move on to step two.

The Playlist

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to choose which songs should go into your playlist. Here’s how I do it. I start with a song that I have been listening to on repeat for the past few days or weeks. I know that it’s what I want to hear so it’s the first thing song on the playlist.

For the second song, pick something that makes you feel nostalgic. This could be a song that you loved in the past or a song that makes you think of simpler times. This one should be personal for you. When I’m feeling nostalgic, my brain floods with memories and I feel a little wistful and romantic. For my nostalgic song, I’m picking “America” by Simon and Garfunkel because it reminds me of travel and freedom.

The next song should be something that literally pertains to what you’re making the playlist about. So for my third song, I’ll choose something that is about staying inside, being alone, and taking one for the team.

Now, pick a song that always makes you smile when you hear it. This can be any song, it just has to make you smile. And not a little grin, a big, stupid, full-face smile that’s plastered there the whole time the song is on. You know what I’m talking about. If you have to think about this one for a little while that’s okay because the point is to have something in the playlist that makes you truly joyful while you’re listening to it. For this playlist, my happy song is “I Think He Knows” by Taylor Swift. I’ve been obsessed with Lover since it came out and this song just gets me to smile every single time I hear it. And, if you know me, you know I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan so I have to have one of her songs on this playlist!

Throwback vs. nostalgic

Okay, so for the fifth song you should pick a throwback song. This could get a little confusing because it is not the same as your nostalgic song. While most throwback songs are nostalgic, not all nostalgic songs have to be throwbacks. A throwback song should take your mind to an exact moment of your life when you hear it. This song should be something you used to listen to constantly or something that reminds you of a specific time or experience.

Now it’s time to slow the playlist down a little bit. This song should be calming and mellow. It should make you feel at ease. The benefit of choosing to put a smooth song in the  middle of your playlist is that it will give you a chance to just lie down and listen to the music for a few minutes. A lot of times, when I’m listening to music I can’t help but start dancing if it has an upbeat tempo, so including a calm song creates a nice contrast.

For the seventh song, you should choose a song that you genuinely just want to listen to. Like if you were going to play a song right now, you’d probably choose this song. This will make you more likely to press play on this playlist when you have the opportunity to.

Now, pick another situational song. You want the playlist to be a bit thematic. You should think of another song that is relatable and adds to the entire mix by being relevant.

For the ninth song, pick something that makes you feel invincible. You know the songs that make the hairs on your arms and on the back of your neck stand up? And you get butterflies? And sometimes you tear up a little bit?

Time for a dance break! Pick a song that makes you want to get up and dance every single time you hear it. Because this song makes your toes start tapping and you can’t help but move.

Bonus Songs

After about ten songs, you can start either repeating the process above or doing some freestyle within the playlist. I usually like to add a song that makes me cry, a song I know all the lyrics to, and a song that I haven’t listened to in a long time. You can make your playlists as long or as short as you prefer, but I like to keep them at about 10-20 songs.

Enjoy the playlist

Finally, it’s time to enjoy the playlist you’ve created! Crank the volume all the way up and let the sounds and lyrics and rhythm touch your body and soul. Dance like nobody’s watching, sing at the top of your lungs and cry if you feel like it (I promise, it’s healthy). I hope you like this Quarantine and Chill playlist, I certainly do. Now you can create the perfect playlist for any situation or experience without any hesitation. Have fun!

-Swaggie Maggie

Unique Venues in Detroit

As a music lover, Detroit Rock City was a great place to grow up. The city is filled with music history, local bands, and venues fit for any artist. Each musical venue that the city has to offer is unique. The artists that play there, the vibes, and the historical significance combine to create thrilling concert experiences that are exclusive to the motor city. Here are some of the most unique concert venues you should check out when you are in Detroit.

 Saint Andrew’s Hall

Built in 1907, Saint Andrew’s Hall was used as the meeting place for the Saint Andrew’s Scottish Society of Detroit. During World War II the membership dwindled and other groups began renting the building for concerts and events. In the 80s, Saint Andrew’s became highly regarded as a trendsetting music club. Breakthrough artists such as Iggy Pop, NirvanaPearl Jam, and Bob Dylan have graced the stage at Saint Andrew’s. More recently, the hall has become a launching pad for up and coming artists. Pierce the Veil, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and more have played here before moving to larger venues. With a 1,000-person capacity, Saint Andrew’s is a mid-size venue that allows for personal interaction between artists and fans. With a full-service bar, ADA seating, and Greektown right down the street, Saint Andrew’s Hall is a great venue for every concert goer.

The Shelter

Located beneath Saint Andrew’s Hall, The Shelter is one of the more intimate venues in Detroit. While it is connected to Saint Andrew’s, a show at The Shelter is unlike any other. It’s an intimate venue with capacity at 400 people. Visitors can get as close to the stage as humanly possible without being up there with the performers. Something interesting about The Shelter is its role in Eminem’s musical career. While the venue was featured in “8 Mile” Eminem actually rapped there in the early years of his career. More recently the rapper hosted a “Mom’s Spaghetti” pop-up event at The Shelter to promote his latest album “Revival” and he went back to his roots to film some freestyle rap in 2018. Eminem’s unique relationship with The Shelter makes it one of the most fascinating venues in Detroit. While you may not find Slim Shady at The Shelter on a random night, there’s no denying the energy that the venue holds in its bones.

The Masonic Temple

The Detroit Masonic Temple is one of the most beautiful and historic music venues in Southeastern Michigan. Architectural firm, George Mason and Company completed construction in 1926. The first performers at The Masonic were Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The building itself is full of interesting rooms. There are three theaters in the venue, but one is currently used by film production. Other rooms include a chapel, two ballrooms, office spaces, a cafeteria, a dining room, a barber shop, and sixteen bowling lanes. Today, the venue hosts countless concerts, building tours, private events, and weddings. Artists that frequent The Masonic are Lana Del Rey, Tyler, The Creator, and The Killers. With a diverse range of music that rolls through, the venue offers something for every concertgoer. The venue sits on the corner of Temple and Cass which is now a part of “The District Detroit” which offers countless trendy restaurants, breweries, and small businesses to check out before a show.

Little Caesars Arena

The opening of Little Caesars Arena is one of the most exciting things to happen in Detroit recently. During its inaugural year (2017/18) LCA easily became a staple of Detroit by hosting a myriad of exciting events. The arena is home to Red Wings hockey, and Pistons basketball, but it also hosts the hottest artists that come to town. Superstars from every genre and generation including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Lorde, and Janet Jackson have brought their shows to town. The eight-story, bowl-shaped arena’s floor is 40 feet below street level. There are no bad seats in the house! Around 20,000 fans can fit into the stands and there is innovative “gondola” seating that is suspended above the stands. LCA also offers ADA accessible seating and parking as well as first aid stations. There are countless restaurants, bars, and VIP sections throughout the arena, making it a full-blown destination.

Historically, Detroit has been overlooked by the rest of America. People seem to think that its heyday was in the past and that the city is crime-ridden and somber. In recent years, Detroit has been anything but! Its interesting history combines with the influx of new residents and businesses to create an exciting downtown area.

One of the most special things about Detroit is its music scene. Growing up just fifteen miles from downtown, I got to experience all that the city has to offer. The music history, the bands, and the venues. My exposure to the rich music history of the city and love for live music inspired me to pursue a career in the music industry. I have been frequenting The Shelter since I was in High School and I was fortunate enough to work at Little Caesars Arena over the summer. While the venues I have detailed above are certainly not the only concert spaces the city has to offer, they are unique places to begin falling in love with the sounds of Detroit.

 

 

New Music, New Year

The new year has finally arrived after the craziness that was 2018. While there are many things to look forward to in the new year, I’m most excited about new music. Only a few days into the year and we already have releases like  Longshot from Catfish and the Bottlemen and Land Of The Free by The Killers. Since it is so early in the year, I’m sure that this must be a prediction for what’s to come.

Based on some theories, facts, and new singles there are quite a few artists who are releasing new music in 2019 that I am excited about. Maggie Rogers, Bring Me The Horizon, FIDLAR, and Lana Del Rey are just a few artists releasing albums this year. While some of these are just predictions, it will still be interesting to see what’s in store for listeners.

Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers is releasing Heard It In A Past Life on January 18th. She has been promoting the album by posting hand-written lyrics on her Instagram feed. The single Light On is an upbeat love song that resembles more a modern girl’s anthem. Roger’s pop instrumentals and folky vocal style work well together to create a playful yet nostalgic sound.

The 1975

One of the most acclaimed albums from 2018 was The 1975’s brilliant A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relations. In an interview with Annie Mac for BBC Radio 1 lead singer Matt Healy, revealed that the band would be releasing a two-part update to their catalog of music. Fans were delighted by this news. Healy had previously stated that The 1975 would release only 3 records. Look out for Notes On A Conditional Form in May 2019!

The 1975 Concert

One of my new year’s resolutions is to incorporate more media into my posts by starting a YouTube channel. There I’ll be doing new music reviews, covers, concert vlogs, and more. I also hope to write blog posts more frequently. Which artists are you most excited to hear new music from this year?

Seasaw, Canceled Plans, Young Ritual Local Show at Mac’s Bar

If you’re having summer concert withdrawals and are looking for the perfect fall show, look no further! As soon as I heard the news that Seasaw, Canceled Plans (solo set), and Young Ritual would hit the stage at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on October 3rd I’ve been buzzing with excitement! I spoke with Michaela Stock of Canceled Plans and Dylan Grantham of Young Ritual to get the scoop on the upcoming show.

Both Stock and Grantham are excited about the gig and are eager to share the stage with some new faces. “I’ve never shared the stage with seasaw or Young Ritual, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been gigging since April of 2017, and I’ve never gotten to share the stage with another girl who runs the show. I’m a big fan of seasaw and their work, so it’s an honor to have this first and this show alongside two talented and beautiful women.” Stock writes. It’s remarkable to see such genuine support for other female artists in a male-driven industry. One of the things I love most about supporting my local music scene is seeing the interactions and friendships forming between artists that share the stage whether it’s for a single gig or for a tour.

IMG_3108Not only are Stock and Grantham ready to play with some new faces, but they are also thrilled to get back to Mac’s Bar. For Grantham, this is his first time in performing in Michigan’s capital. “This will actually be my first show in Lansing, so I can’t wait for that part. I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve to make a good first impression.” I’m eager to see what kind of tricks he has to make this show a memorable one. Grantham has been working on finishing up his first EP, and released the first single “Prime” last month! He’ll definitely be playing some new music at the upcoming show along with old favorites.

Stock, on the other hand, is a Lansing native and she’s pumped to get back to her hometown and play at one of her favorite venues. “The last time I played at Mac’s was in September of 2017. It was my first full-band show, and I was opening for Michigander, a band I had followed as a fan since high school. That was for sure a night I’ll never forget. Every time I walk through the doors at Mac’s I’m hit with gratitude and nostalgia for the space. I have so much more to say, but I’m going to leave some stories for the show!” I’ve never seen

IMG_7791While remembering Mac’s Bar and what the venue means to her, Michaela lights up and goes into every detail of the venue and how much she loves it. “I spent the latter half of my teenage years studying the scribbled walls in Mac’s Bar at shows. It was my first “dream venue” to play a show in because I had some of my first experiences with live music in that space. I even met my best friend at Mac’s at a concert. We screamed all the words to the headlining band’s set, and it’s been history ever since. Mac’s Bar did, in fact, end up being the first place I’d ever played a billed gig with tickets, a sound-check, and other artists back in April of 2017. I remember wearing a black dress, carrying my guitar case and pushing open the big wooden door thinking, “What the HECK has my life come to?” (For the record, I’m still figuring that question out.) It was so special.”

Do not sleep on this concert! Each of the acts has a different energy to bring to the stage and it’s sure to be a good night. Get tickets to the show here!

-Swaggie Maggie

The Story of My Summer (part 1)

 

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Hey! Welcome back to Swaggie Maggie’s View from the Pit. After a quick hiatus, I am back with more stories to tell than ever. For those who know, I spent the last four months interning with Live Nation in their Detroit office as a production assistant. It was the best, craziest, most life-changing experience I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

If you don’t know, Live Nation Entertainment is the global leader for live entertainment. More often than not, if you’re going to buy tickets to a show it will be on Live Nation’s website. Back in 2010, when Live Nation only did event promotion, they merged with Ticketmaster to become this all-in-one company that resulted in a massive industry powerhouse that covers everything from ticketing to promotion, to production, to management. When I say that Live Nation (and the people who work for Live Nation) does it all, I mean it!

When I applied for my job with Live Nation’s Detroit office, I didn’t know what I would be getting myself into. I had heard about the opportunity from a few previous interns who were certain that I’d be a great candidate for the job. I applied, sent in my resume, and I was hired on the spot in my interview. I had to patiently wait from December until May to begin my adventure. This was my first shot at making it in the music industry. Everything I had was riding on this experience.

Over the past few years, I had changed my mind about going to graduate school immediately after undergrad. I had changed my major from arts and humanities to professional writing. For the past two years, I have been telling people that my dream was to write for Rolling Stone Magazine, and I was always met with excited responses and congratulations for something I hadn’t even achieved yet.

Of course, my excitement was also plagued with uncertainty. What if I wasn’t good at it? I’d be crushed. What if I didn’t like it? I’d have to start over from square one, again. I’d have to change my hopes and dreams, and figure out new ones. I don’t know if everyone else has this kind of anxiety at the start of something new, but I was just as terrified as I was excited.

Everything I thought I knew changed last summer. Isn’t that dramatic? I always thought people who said crap like that were full of it and trying too hard, but I get it now. Sometimes you just experience something so magnificent it changes you completely. Over the course of 3 months I grew in ways I didn’t know possible. I watched myself change from a girl with a dream to a young woman with drive and the tools to make those dreams happen. I grew professionally and realized that I didn’t have to have just one career goal. I grew personally and learned that I am still so much stronger than I think.

I can’t wait to share more of my experiences and stories with you so come back next week for Part 2 in my new series!

-Swaggie Maggie

Bucket List Concerts: Dr. Dog

A week ago I finally got to see Dr. Dog after three years of loving their music. Over the past few years that I’ve been a fan of their music, all of my attempts to see them failed. I was either out of the state while they were in my city or I had no way of getting myself from college to the venue. When I first started listening to Dr. Dog, I quickly found that I preferred their live album to their studio recorded work. There was just something about the way they sounded during their performance that made me feel like I was experiencing something special. When Dr. Dog announced the release of their latest album Critical Equation, along with an accompanying tour I bought my tickets right away. Their Detroit date miraculously fell on my first day of summer break and I knew that I would definitely be in town for the show.

IMG_1040

When my semester finally ended, the only thing on my mind was seeing Dr. Dog. I had been listening to all of their music in preparation and I was getting ready for a great concert. I didn’t want to get my hopes too high, but I definitely was excited. When I got to the venue I weaved my way through the crowd toward the stage and found a spot that was close to the action. One thing I noticed is that I was definitely one of the youngest people there. I’d say that most of the fans were between 25 and 35 years old and they were all having a great time. As I waited for Dr. Dog to take the stage, I wondered which songs they would perform. They have a huge catalog of music and it would take them all night to play every single fan favorite, but I knew that they would for sure play their most popular songs as well as songs from Critical Equation.

IMG_1039As far as the performance goes, it’s undeniable that Dr. Dog is incredibly talented. They knew exactly when to bring the energetic fire to songs, but they also knew when to pull back and take a more emotional route. The band and the fans worked together to create a dreamy concert experience. I danced, sang, and cried along to their songs, and felt the music in my bones. That doesn’t happen at every show, so when it does I get excited. Dr. Dog was so comfortable up on stage, and it was refreshing to see a band that commanded the energy of the room through music so effectively.

 

Dr. Dog’s song “Shadow People” is one of my favorite songs of all time, so when the opening line rang through the venue I was content. Honestly, I think that the band could have performed that song on a loop for an hour and I would have been completely happy about it. Although, I was happy about the variety of songs they chose to add to the setlist. They played all of my favorites and helped me appreciate their newer songs as well. Like I said, they do their best work live.

-Swaggie Maggie

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.

Hit Reset.jpg

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