By Kenny Garner
Note: I am not an expert in music theory. I’m simply a consumer with opinions. Please don’t hate me after reading this. Thanks!
Olivia Rodrigo – Sour:
As someone who isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of teen pop music, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “Sour” caught me off guard in the best way possible. This record tells the tale of a teenage love story gone horribly wrong in a way that feels authentic. Olivia’s dynamic vocals and effective emotional delivery makes me believe every word coming out of her mouth. In addition to that, this record presents a diverse set of songs, from the alt-rock inspired “brutal” to the bass-driven pop earworm “jealousy, jealousy”. This album feels alive and engaging throughout its entire 35-minute span. Every song on this record feels like a hit, and for a debuting artist? That’s something to be proud of.
Favorite Tracks: brutal, drivers license, good 4 u, jealousy jealousy, hope ur ok
Lorde – Solar Power
Off the heels of 2017’s critically acclaimed “Melodrama” comes Lorde with her newest release “Solar Power.” This album starts off with a string of enjoyable tracks, including the fantastic title track “Solar Power.” I love the use of acoustic guitars throughout this project; I wish we got more of that in pop music. As we enter the second half of this album, though, things begin to get a little too repetitive and dull for my taste. For example, songs like “Dominoes,” “Big Star,” and “Leader of a New Regime” don’t interest me at all. All three songs feel rushed and uninspired. The vocal work and lyrics aren’t the issue here; I think Lorde is a very talented vocalist and I love how she touches on lyrical topics many pop artists wouldn’t dare touch upon. Musically, however, I feel this album lacks depth. Fortunately, this release ends on a high note with the insanely catchy “Mood Ring” and the six-minute ambitious closer “Oceanic Feeling.” Overall, however, this record does nothing but make me want to listen to “Melodrama.”
Favorite Tracks: The Path, Solar Power, Mood Ring, Oceanic Feeling
Myles Kennedy – The Ides of March
In 2018, Myles Kennedy launched his solo career with “Year of the Tiger,” an outstanding and emotional adventure about the death of Myles’s father during his childhood. For this year’s “The Ides of March,” Myles decided to take a more straight-forward and standard writing approach, touching on his time in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. While I don’t believe this record is better than his last, there are plenty of high spots here. The title track, for example, is a dynamic epic that starts off with a slow and soft acoustic section before hitting you in the face with soaring instrumentation and a powerful chorus. It’s a song fans have come to expect and love from the Alter Bridge vocalist. If you’re a fan of blues rock with a hint of country, you will most likely adore this record. Personally, I don’t think this style is for me. That’s alright, though. Not every album has to cater to me.
Favorite Tracks: Get Along, In Stride, The Ides of March, Wanderlust Begins
Gojira – Fortitude
While still heavy compared to many other mainstream metal bands, Gojira’s seventh studio album “Fortitude” is noticeably lighter than their past works. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but those who were wanting “Flying Whales” era heaviness and aggressiveness from Gojira this time around may be disappointed with this new record. Still, there’s a lot to like about this release, such as the diversity. From the fast opener, “Born For One Thing,” to the slow melancholic atmosphere built by the title track, there seems to be something for everyone, even if you’re not a fan of Joe Duplantier’s harsh vocals. “The Chant”, for example, is a song that could possibly be a successful radio hit. Featuring intense drumming and thick riffage, the closing track “Grind” will for sure satisfy those seeking Gojira’s famous death metal sound. All in all, “Fortitude” is a solid piece of work. It’s not their best album to date, but it may just be one of the best in the metal genre this year.
Favorite Tracks: Born For One Thing, Amazonia, New Found, Grind