Album Review – Set It Off, “Duality”

set-it-offI fear it has been too long since I posted here. Obviously, I will need something quite enticing to gain back my audience. To those loyal viewers who stayed in my absence, you sure are in for a treat.

Meet Set It Off, a Tampa, Florida-based rock/punk group who have been making music for about 7 years now. The band is known for frequenting Vans Warped Tour, even this year when I am extremely underwhelmed by the lineup otherwise. Originally, this article was going to be an “Artist Recommendation” page. That was, until I realized I could not pick a few individual songs I liked above the rest and that this would be my new favorite band. Every song is unique, and while Set It Off have a track record of good music, Duality is their greatest feat yet.

So what makes this album so incredible, that I waited this long to share it? Well, the only way I can explain that is if I break it down track-by-track:

1. “The Haunting” – Even though “The Haunting” was not the first impression that I was given of the band, it definitely helped me decide on whether or not I would dive into this album. While cruising about 35,000 feet in the air, my overpriced and crappy plane wifi allowed me the signal to get through one song on this album: This one. After being impressed by the introduction, and recognizing a couple of other good songs, I decided I would save this LP for later listening. I am sure glad I did, as “The Haunting” has the angry, passionate tone that plenty of the album has to offer, which appealed to me. It is a great example of what to expect, though each song is given its unique style to set it apart.

9.25/10

2. “N.M.E.” – When I heard the first thirty-or-so seconds of this song, I began to reminisce about pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy. Then, at this moment, I realized that I liked this band even more. The production on this song is diverse and I love the many instrumentals that go into making this piece so enjoyable. It has a similar tone to the previous song, but a hook that I find easier to pick up and an even better rhythm to it.

9.5/10

3. “Forever Stuck In Our Youth” – Despite not being able to keep up some of the words, I still find myself blurting out this song all of the time. The pacing is excellent and the lyrics make this an awesome love song. I was a bit bummed out that the bridge is basically just a repetition of the hook, when this band has already proved that they have mastered this section of the song anatomy.

8.75/10

4. “Why Worry” – This was the first solo Set It Off song I heard, and introduced me to the style of the band’s sound. It is one of their more popular singles, with good reason. The rhythm to the song is strangely likable despite being a bit odd, and the tone combines joy and angst in the perfect way. I have a knack for lyrics that address the listener in a way that feels personal, and this song does that quite well. “Why Worry” also features a solid bridge and great transition into the final couplet of choruses.

9/10

5. “Ancient History” – “Ancient History” was the second song that introduced me to this band, and ultimately what made me begin to love them. The song has a flavor of pop but has an aura of emotion that makes it interesting. The chorus is short but easy to pick up and enjoy. Then the bridge comes in, and the whole feel of the song shifts. It really is remarkable how well this group can transition back and forth, and this is a prime example of it. Also, that guitar riff before it just makes me smile every time.

9.5/10

6. “Bleak December” – “Bleak December” is exactly what the title suggest: bleak and cold. The band goes back to its angry, bitter post-breakup attitude and acts like it never left. The song gets a bit more explicit, but the lyricism does not suffer from this. You can feel the high levels of “done” that the song portrays with whoever this lady is, and the calmer, more collected bridge affirms this attitude of wiping their hands of her.

9.75/10

7. “Duality” – As we reach the title track, we look back and start to see how much the album has made each song unique and intriguing to hear more. “Duality” only provides another example of that, as the production is some of the album’s best. The hook is long but finds itself stuck in your head with a simple brain-washing “Do-do-do-do-do” repeated a number of times. Of course, it is followed by another excellent bridge that gives the song’s style a bit of a darker feel.

9.25/10

8. “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (ft. William Beckett)” – “Ba-Ba Black Sheep, have you any soul?” I wonder if this album is aimed at one girl, or if the band has just been screwed by so many devilish women? Regardless, this song is everything you would expect. More bitter feelings, but it does it with great analogies and an absolutely amazing chorus. The bridge sticks to the song’s original pace but switches up to some lyrics that are, well, not so friendly. I’m surprised this girl is “sleeping easy” after hearing these lyrics, but who doesn’t love a great breakup song about karma and deceitful women?

9/10

9. “Tomorrow (ft. Jason Lancaster)” – More Fall Out Boy vibes come forth in “Tomorrow”. I never said I didn’t like it, though. It is refreshing to get some optimism from the band after a couple of less smiley pieces, and while the song is Pop-y, it has a serious taste of Rock and loner-love Punk. Jason Lancaster shows that Set It Off aren’t the only ones who can make a great bridge as well.

9/10

10. “Bad Guy” – Something about this song feels a bit generic, but I still do enjoy it. I love the various sounds of the song and the pacing. The sound of “Bad Guy” gives the feeling that the album is coming to a close as it slows things down to close out. Not a whole lot to say about this one though, I enjoy it but compared to its predecessors it just feels a bit slow.

8.25/10

11. “Miss Mysterious” – If so some reason you decide not to listen to the whole album, make sure you go out of your way to listen to this one. The flow of it is elegant, the lyrics are inspiring and the meaning is very reflective. The song closes out the album perfectly, as it is literally a perfect song. The rhythm reminds me of “Drops Of Jupiter” and the meaning strikes comparisons to “What If”. These are both favorites of mine, so it is no wonder that this song is just beautiful to me.

10/10

So overall, the album averages out to about:

9.25/10

Duality is one of my favorite, if not the #1, albums I have ever heard. Each song is unique and enjoyable, and the 37 minutes it takes up is perfect for a shorter attention span like mine. I could give this whole album a perfect 10/10, but I know that no band will ever be that perfect. However, Set It Off comes damn close to being that. I honestly cannot wait to hear more from these guys, whether it be through their next album or live.

I highly recommend you listen to the full album, but if unable I would give the songs at 9.5 or over a chance. Stream it in full below and/or purchase it on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/duality/id911196612

Give the album some love on Spotify below:

P.S. – Did you miss me?

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Hear It First – Martin Garrix ft. Ed Sheeran, “Rewind Repeat It”

martin-garrixFreshly premiered at the Ultra Music Festival is Martin Garrix’s “Rewind Repeat It” featuring Ed Sheeran. The song follows up on one of Garrix’s popular hits currently featuring Usher, “Don’t Look Down”. Martin Garrix is starting to look like David Guetta recruiting all of these major acts.

You can stream the song below and hear it first:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Falling In Reverse, “Just Like You”

falling-in-reverseIn an attempt to go out of my comfort zone and dive into the genre that is “Punk”, I gave Falling In Reverse a chance when I saw they released a music video for their hit “Just Like You”. I have never been a good nightly companion for the kinky Punk music, but I did find a spot in my heart for “Just Like You”.

The song is perverse, angsty, and talks about being lonely. It follows all of the rules to be “Punk” and might go even a bit overboard. I do find it quite catchy and found myself coming back to it more than I expected until it ended up becoming a favorite song of mine.

That being said, some of the vocals come off a bit raw and may not be your shy friend’s favorite tune. Falling In Reverse are not exactly known for light-hearted lyricism, but this might have a lower appeal rate. This is because it just tries too hard to check off every requirement in the “Is this really punk?” checklist.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

8.5/10

You can give the song a listen below (Song starts at 1:02):

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Artist Recommendation – Tes Swanks

tes-swanksWell, I am back. I gave myself a week, and my first inclination to write was about RnB up-and-comer Toni Swanks, otherwise known as Tes Swanks. Swanks’ presentation as an artist strikes immediate comparisons to Tinashe’s style, especially vocally. Her sound is soulful but catchy, much similar to that sound Beyonce.

The music of Swanks shows great instrumental influence and she finds a way to balance her voice with the beat. The effects production add to her voice are presented well, especially when high notes comes so natural to her.

My favorite songs come from her lone debut album, Heart Stringz. These include “Under The Influence”, “Won’t Turn Down”, and her first recorded song, “Who Am I”. Her music is perfect for any RnB fan and I highly recommend it.

Overall, I would rate her music at:

9.5/10

You can give her music a listen by checking out her bio on MuzicNotez.com by clicking here:

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Thowback Thursday – Chic, “Everybody Dance”

Chic-everybody-danceYou may have killed 10 minutes by listening “Everybody Dance” already, whether it be through its popularity as Chic’s second single from their self-titled debut album, or from the Grand Theft Auto video game series, being a part of The Ballad Of Gay Tony expansion pack. Either way, this song has been stuck in my head for a solid couple of days and I figured I would share my suffering with my whole 20 readers.

The song is surprisingly repetitive for a song at almost 10 minutes in length, but you gotta love that low bass and killer instrumental overall. That is quite a lot of the song, along with the phrase “Everybody dance” whispered enough times so as to convince you that this method could have inspired Nazi Germany to just follow Hitler right away had he whispered it enough in his own disco song.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

7.75/10

The song serves it purpose, it’s mad catchy and makes you want to dance because of its simplicity. It was a great way for Chic to get a following and I’m sure any club-hopping turnt-up adult from the 70’s can half recognize the tune from a drunk night on the town. You can listen to the song below:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Jasmine V ft. Jeremih and Problem, “One Night”

Jasmine-V-One-NightI covered Jasmine V’s debut EP That’s Me Right There months back, but I had to give her first single for her first studio album a write-up as soon as I heard it. The song aims at a more low-key and sensual tone, and Jasmine V pulls it off quite well. Her voice gets low and gives her sound a bit of a Hip-Hop vibe as she requests her man stays “just one night”.

Jeremih finds a suitable spot on the song, and while the build-up for his role makes the listener giddy, his stanza is ultimately underwhelming. Problem is basically non-existent, and the song would have been just as well with only Jasmine’s vocals.

Production does its job of manufacturing the classic “Make this a hit” Hip-Hop beat, though I do find it fitting to Jasmine’s sound. Overall, I would rate the song at:

7.5/10

This is a solid start to Jasmine V’s debut, but some aspects of it just feel forged. The features, the lyrics, all do not feel genuine. That’s Me Right There had a more personal way about it that I hope Jasmine V sticks to, as her voice is able to convey her emotion quite well.

You can check out the new song below and see what you think:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Jason Derulo, “Want To Want Me”

want-to-want-meOnce upon a time, I really liked Jason Derulo’s music. Then I turned 14. Actually it was around 17, when he came out with songs such as “Wiggle” and “Trumpets”. While a couple of Future History‘s tracks rank in my all-time favorites, its follow up sincerely disappointed me. That may be why I really like “Want To Want Me”.

Also, just want to point out that the cover art makes it appear that Jason Derulo has really long nose hairs. PSA over, moving on.

Originally, this article was meant to be a “Hear It First” (and it still kinda is), but I found this song feeling like everything I wanted from him in the last two years. The rhythm is catchy, the song is easy to pick up without being too repetitive, and the upbeat sound makes it a fun listen. While I did notice a bit more work on the vocals than I was comfortable with, it did not take away much from my general enjoyment of the song.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

8.75/10

This is an excellent way for Jason Derulo to start 2015, and I really hope that we get more of this. The artist has proved he knows how to change up his sound, but will this be his signature look for album #4?

You can check out the song below (and hear it first):

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Album Review – Foxes, “Glorious”

foxes-gloriousIt has been far too long since I did an album review. Or maybe not, most readers find themselves more attracted to hordes of wasps than reading a long wall of text. But fear not, I will keep the song descriptions brief. Actually, I probably won’t, or else I would not open every album review with “This will be shorter than usual.”

With that all said, let’s dive into Foxes’ debut album Glorious and break down why I enjoyed it as much as I did:

1. “Talking To Ghosts” – The album kicks off with “Talking To Ghosts”, which immediately sets a soulful but up-pace tone to the album. The rhythm is peculiar, but the sound is intriguing and keeps the listener’s attention. The instrumental is complex, and a little overpowering, but the song stands out and makes the next song worth tuning into. The lyrics become a bit less reflective by the end of the song, but the sound remains containing that attention-drawing complexity throughout the whole track.

8/10

2. “Youth” – “Youth” may be arguably Foxes’ most popular solo song (Afterall, nothing will ever reach the success that “Clarity” did). While the rhythm becomes easier to catch up with, the chorus comes and go rather fast. It takes the second round, at around one and a half minutes in, until the song’s anatomy makes more sense. Production does go a bit overboard with echoing, autotune, and forced voice-cracks until the bridge (which is just the chorus replayed again, but with less instrumentals). The conclusion of the song, however, features a climax of the beat and just the right amount of echo on the vocals of Foxes. That last third of the song makes the whole listen worth it for me.

6.75/10

3. “Holding Onto Heaven” –  At this point, I began to really enjoy the album. “Holding Onto Heaven” feels like the right balance of complexity but mindless Pop that Foxes is clearly attempting at. While she will hit it again in a few more songs (Hint hint at my favorite), “Holding Onto Heaven” is a great way to keep the listener saying “Well, let’s just see how this pans out.” The vocals do feature a bit of cosmetic work done over them, but the final product turns out better than the first two songs.

8.75/10

4. “White Coats” – “White Coats” goes back to the original pace that the album set, but does a much better job of carrying the mysterious aura of the sound of Glorious. I find “White Coats” the perfect “album” song, in that you enjoy it when you are listening to the album in full, but as an individual single it just feels out of place. The way it is placed in the album is perfect, and that gives the song a big extra couple of points. The chorus is noticeable, but still contains that lyrical complexity that peaked your interest in the last few songs. If you enjoy the raw sound of the chorus, you should find the bridge quite nice as well. The song

8.25/10

5. “Let Go For Tonight” – This song immediately represents a fast shift in the song’s tone, and while it may serve as a catchy individual piece, it just feels off with the album’s design. I admire the change and diversity, though the jump feels obnoxiously fast. It features less complexity, and more of an upbeat and happy-go-lucky Pop feel. While “Holding Onto Heaven” did well balancing the two, “Let Go For Tonight” feels unnecessarily repetitive and off balance from the original sound the album does well in keeping through the rest of the album.

6.25/10

6. “Night Glo” – And we find ourselves back to the original feel of the album, but the quick transition back makes “Night Glo” almost a tad boring. You might miss the chorus because there is virtually no change in pace until about half way into the song, and even that progresses slower than the American government system (shots fired). You may not notice this song play, but if you do you might see that it is actually a calming melody. Placing on the tracklist ruins it more than anything.

7.25/10

7. “Night Owls Early Birds” – I found this song featuring a solid balance (Not an artist, but a dope ass name for a band), similar to “Holding Onto Heaven”, but it seems production hit it and quit it on “Holding Onto Heaven” and left a bit to be done on the vocals. The raw sound feels dominated by the upbeat instrumental, but I can still admit the song is catchy. Still does not do the balance as well as some of its other siblings in Glorious, and feels like the first real “skippable” track on the album. Though that might be because of how abruptly it ends (It went to the next song and took me by surprise, but a very pleasant one. Hint hint #2).

5.75/10

8. “Glorious” – The title track of Glorious comes on the eighth piece, but boy is it worth the wait. Before I go into this, I will admit this is not the perfect song; However, it comes damn close. The lyrics, tone, and rhythm sum up the album perfect, making this song serve as the perfect title track. The chorus drops some of the lyrical complexity, but production and vocals do their part to make the whole work great. The bridge starts out slow but transitions into a chanting chorus that just caps the song off perfectly. This has to be my favorite song on the album, and while it may not appeal to everyone’s tastes (much like the artistry of Foxes), it is definitely a fine piece of music.

9.75/10

9. “Echo” – I actually like “Echo” quite a bit too, but it simply cannot compare to its predecessor. The rhythm is still unique and the tone of the vocals and lyrics are just mesmerizing. The chorus is long, but barely repetitive. The song represents the sound of Foxes quite well, though it does try a bit too hard to be like the title track by the end. Still a great song and one of my favorites on the album. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

9.25/10

10. “Shaking Heads” – Is dangerous and not recommended for children under 3 years old. That probably was not a good joke, so we’ll just move on. This song is decent, though the chorus cuts off rather abruptly. “Shaking Heads” does fail at following up “Glorious” and “Echo”, but does do well in conveying that the album is beginning to come to a close. I enjoy the song, but does disappoint after the last two.

6.75/10

11. “Count The Saints” – I did not know what to expect from the final song on the album, but I knew it would have a tremendous role in the score of the album as a whole. As it opens, I notice a similar rhythm to “Glorious” on the piano. The complex and ominous feel to “Count The Saints” as it progresses does a great job of summing up the sound of the album and end the album with a reflective tone. The vocals echo more and more and the song concludes with a great surge of sound before it mellows out and fades out through one last chorus and soft piano. “Count The Saints” is definitely one of the better tracks and ends the album very well.

8.75/10

So overall, the album averages out to about:

7.75/10

While Glorious can almost reach for 4 stars, the album just does not find its way up. It is a great change to Pop and has a unique feel that makes the album as a whole seriously worth a listen, but it contains a couple of highlights and otherwise filler songs. Had it been cut down to an EP and featured the songs that scored above 7.5, it would have gotten a better score. Just beware of songs that you kinda hope are under four minutes due to either not feeling enjoyable or just sheer boring. Most of these are not exactly “sing loud in the shower” types.

I did enjoy the album and loved a few songs on here, and will be keeping an eye on music by Foxes in the future. In the meantime, you can check out the album below (Yay, I got it done! So much for keeping it short):

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Music Recommendation – Single – Kid Ink ft. Trey Songz, Juicy J, 2 Chainz, and Chris Brown, “Show Me” (Remix)

show-me-remixIn case the original “Show Me” did not have enough Trey Songz, Juicy J, or 2 Chainz for you, the remix should definitely do its job. I really admire this remix in that it overs a solid rap verse from Juicy J (in fact one of his best), sensual RnB from Trey Songz, and an alternate piece from Kid Ink. Add that with Chris Brown’s already dope role, and subtract a couple of points for 2 Chainz, and you have a remix that gives you everything you may have wanted from the original.

Combining Chris Brown and Trey Songz vocals has proven to be a great thing, but the way that these two overlap on this song turns out incredible. The lyrics feel a bit too raw (and slightly cringeworthy) at times, but these artists are not exactly known for keeping it subtle.

Overall, I would rate the remix at:

8.75/10

You can hear the remix below:

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