New Album Review

Hojean “Bluffin” Song Review

“Bluffin”, like all of Hojean’s releases, is an R&B/soul single. 

The song grabs you in from the start with an acoustic guitar intro with Hojean’s voice joining in shortly. I may be biased as a Hojean fan, but something about this song pulls you into the melody immediately and makes you start tapping the rhythm with your feet. The song is simple and is purely written for the vibes. 

With the repetitive chorus and lyrics that quickly get stuck in your head, it’s not difficult to enjoy the song. 

A particular verse of the song that felt memorable was “Girl you’re good at bluffin’ | You know we’re onto something the way | I got you blushing tonight | Feelin like we’re running | So why not get to stoppin’ | I feel like we been doin’ alright.”

The premise is traditional – Hojean is singing to a girl telling her that she’s been on his mind and wants to make her his girl. Essentially, he knows they both have something and wants her to stop pretending it’s not there. He wants her quite literally to stop bluffing.

With Hojean’s distinct style, he adds his own twist on the typical. The song is easy to enjoy regardless of whether you focus on the lyrics or the melody of the guitar.

If you’re looking for a new song to add to your summer playlist this might be one to look out for. It’s the perfect song for listening to while laying out in a hammock under the sun or while you’re sitting by the lake with your friends watching the sunset. 

Make sure to check out the lyrics video of “Bluffin.”

New Album Review


Although I typically write reviews for R&B and hip-hop releases, I figured I’d step outside of my comfort zone and talk about an album that’s been on constant repeat for me. 

Before I begin my review, I have a couple of embarrassing confessions to make. First of all, the only reason I even listened to “CRASH” was that a lot of the creators on TikTok that I follow were talking about it, with mostly positive things to say. I was even more intrigued because internet personality, music critic, and YouTuber Anthony Fantano gave it a 5/10, and in my experience, I tend to really enjoy albums that he rates poorly.

My second confession is that I had never really listened to Charli XCX before this album. I was pretty unfamiliar with her work aside from her hit song “Boom Clap” and her feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.”

“CRASH” comes at an awkward moment in Charli XCX’s career, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s the final album of her record label deal. Because of this, the album was made with a lot of intent of showing the culmination of her music career (she discusses this in her interview with Zane Lowe).

Secondly, the rollout of “CRASH” was met with lots of criticism and mixed reactions due to fans being disappointed with Charli’s change in sound. Charli XCX has always been at the forefront of experimental and avant-garde pop (this could honestly be its own blog post), and the singles she released in preparation for “CRASH” showed her shifting to a more mainstream, accessible sound. And well, let’s just say that Charli didn’t take her fans’ criticism very well. 

However, despite the mixed reactions from its rollout, “CRASH” proves to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and another impressive addition to Charli XCX’s discography. Though sonically different from her past releases, Charli XCX uses this new direction to showcase that her talent isn’t limited to avant-garde or experimental music; she’s already transformed pop music and left a significant impact on its landscape, so it’s only natural that her version of “experimenting” is simply making mainstream, accessible pop.  Her execution and performances negate any need for further experimentation.

I have a difficult time critiquing this record, not because it’s flawless, but because Charli XCX’s ability to make such colorful and infectious music outweighs any valuable criticism I can provide. That being said, there are certain tracks that didn’t speak to me as much as the other tracks, such as “Every Rule” and “Move Me.” Some tracks I didn’t initially enjoy, but have since grown on me, such as “Lightning” and “New Rules (feat. Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek).” Other tracks, such as “Twice” and “Yuck” are just incredible. They show a mastery of pop music from Charli XCX, and make for such a nice addition to her catalogue.

Although “CRASH” represents a sharp turn from Charli XCX’s PC Music days, it also shows a culmination of her talent, as well as what she’s capable of. She’s shown that she has nothing left to prove as an artist and that her talent and creativity aren’t limited to her reputation. “CRASH” not only represents Charli’s growth throughout her music career, but her impact on pop music, and I highly recommend you give this album a listen.

New Album Review

“Turning Red” Soundtrack

I recently had the pleasure of watching “Turning Red,” the new Pixar film. I went into the movie pretty blind and thus had no idea what to expect other than the one song I had seen going around TikTok. The plot of the film is that a young Chinese-Canadian teenager discovers a secret her family is hiding and has to find the balance between pleasing her family and having her own personality. A big safe haven for the main character, Meilin Lee, is her friends and their collective love for the boy band 4*Town. The sound I heard going around TikTok was the main song that 4*Town sings in “Turning Red,” “Nobody Like U.”

Sibling duo Finneas O’Connell and Billie Eilish wrote the three songs that 4*Town sings throughout the film: “Nobody Like U,” “1 True Love” and “U Know What’s Up.” They struck pop music gold on “Nobody Like U.” You know that scene in “Easy A” where Emma Stone’s character can’t stop singing “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield all weekend after she got that birthday card? That’s been me with “Nobody Like U” since I watched the movie. 

The highly talented Ludwig Göransson was responsible for the film’s score and he did an excellent job at making a Pixar film score (which are always top notch).

The film and its soundtrack really brought me back to my tweenhood of being obsessed with One Direction and feeling like my whole world was ending all of the time (which for Meilin, was somewhat true but that’s neither here nor there).

If you’re looking to reminisce on middle school in a more positive light or if you just want a cute movie to watch, I highly recommend “Turning Red.” Or at the very least let the earworm that is “Nobody Like U” grace your ears.

Until next time,


New Album Review

Jazmine Sullivan “Heax Tales, Meux Tales,” Album Review

The name of this album is actually “Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales,” but I couldn’t resist the opportunity. The album is a deluxe edition of the most recent Jazmine Sullivan album “Heux Tales,” which came out at the very beginning of 2021. In a year where a lot of albums just ran right through me, “Heaux Tales” was one of the few that grew on me across 2021. Led by the R&B hit “Pick Up of Your Feelings” and built around a compelling concept, the album was killer. The concept is executed effortlessly without sacrificing the quality of a single song. I was pleasantly surprised to see it topping more than one publication’s top albums of the year, and even more pleasantly surprised to see it get such strong radio play for a independent release.

Around a year later, Sullivan has come out with a deluxe edition. So-called “Deluxe Editions” published incredibly soon after an album’s publications for streaming optimization are a trend that has worn thin incredibly fast. Lil Uzi Vert, who started the trend, did alright by effectively releasing a double album, but since then I’ve started instinctually tuning these out. I’m glad I broke that rule for Sullivan, because “Mo’ Tales” is an excellent exception to the rule.

The main album is built off of interwoven songs with testimonials from various women talking frankly about their sex lives. The extended edition is more rigid, with each new track having exactly one spoken section that reflects the topic of the song quite directly. This makes a direct front to back listen a little tiring since around a third of the new runtime is spoken word, which is presumably part of why the tracks were cut. The new songs are worth it though, each one feels like it was cut from the full album not because of its quality, but because it would interrupt the flow of the album. Seeing the incredible restraint Jazmine Sullivan used when building the track list really does inspire a new appreciation for the strength of the main album, which is an incredible thing for a deluxe edition to do.

Some songs were clearly cut for thematic clarity. While the song is a nice counterpoint in the extended edition, including “A Breux’s Tale” (I did not change that one, that’s the actual name of the song) and the intentionally callous song from Sullivan that accompanies it on the main album would have distracted from the overall progression. Anderson Paak’s brief feature was all the counterpoint needed on the original album. Same goes for songs like “Tragic,” which while fine in this context, wouldn’t have worked out as well on the main album.

 If you listened to “Heaux Tales” and haven’t really returned to it, this deluxe edition is an excellent excuse to give it another listen. And if you’re entirely unfamiliar with Jazmine Sullivan, give the main album a shot, it’s an album that really appeals to everyone.

New Album Review

A Beginner’s Mind Album Review

About A Beginner’s Mind

Released in September of 2021, A Beginner’s Mind is a collaborative effort from Sufjan Stevens and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine. Each song has a distinct film inspiration, as listed at the end. These are unusual movies to to write a dreamy-folksy-indie-pop album about. Most titles are either commonly criticized, sequels, or simply left out of today’s pop culture scene. Many of the songs take on the point of view of misunderstood characters of movies. Notably, “Pillars of the Soul” and “You Give Death a Bad Name.” This is a unique take on an album that I have never seen done before. The songs aren’t gimmicky or obviously based on such films; instead, they feature tasteful nods. 


In an article for Pitchfork, Nadine Smith explores the particularly “problematic” territory of the song “Cimmerian Shade” through the lens of a trans woman. The song is supposed to be from the point of Buffalo Bill, a character that has been weaponized against the trans community. Notably, she calls out the use of the word “autogynephilia” in the song, an outdated term that “dismisses transness as a sexual fetish isntead of a valid identity” (Smith, Pitchfork). Buffalo Bill is a character that represents institutional oppression for trans folks, so more caution may have been needed with word choice from Sufjan and Angelo. “Cimmerian Shade” was my favorite song off of this album, and I had no idea of its origin until reading Smith’s article. I’ve learned how valuable reading other perspectives is.

My Thoughts

Angelo and Sufjan’s beautiful album creates a sense of longing, and feels as if it should be the backing for Greek mythology indie movie. With elements of their own music, A Beginner’s Mind is more vocal heavy, with angelically layered voices. Angelo and Sufjan put out amazing work individually, and this album is some of my favorite work of theirs. I really look forward to any future collaborations between these two.

Check out Nadine Smith’s beautifully written review for Pitchfork here.

  • “Reach Out” inspired by Wings of Desire
  • “Lady Macbeth in Chains” inspired by All About Eve
  • “Back to Oz” inspired by Return to Oz
  • “The Pillar of Souls” inspired by Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
  • “You Give Death a Bad Name” inspired by Night of the Living Dead
  • “Beginner’s Mind” inspired by Point Break
  • “Olympus” inspired by Clash of the Titans
  • “Murder and Crime” inspired by Mad Max
  • “(This Is) The Thing” inspired by The Thing
  • “It’s Your Own Body and Mind” inspired by She’s Gotta Have It
  • “Lost in the World” inspired by The Last Wave
  • “Fictional California” inspired by Bring It On Again
  • “Cimmerian Shade” inspired by The Silence of the Lambs
  • “Lacrimae” inspired by Lacrimae Rerum
New Album Review

Uhhh…… Kim Petras? Are You Okay?

In my last article covering Kim Petras in September, I made the comment that I hoped to hear something riskier and less polished from her. In what is not the first instance of my articles on the websites acting as a monkey’s paw, she’s released a new ep titled “Slut Pop” that, well… it’s definitely less polished.

I’m the editor here and even I’m confused as to whether I can post the lyrics to any song on this album here, so here’s my attempt at a NCSU appropriate version of some lyrics, just so you get a feel for this ep’s tone:

“Treat me like a [redacted]
Little [redacted], I love to [redacted] I wanna go harder
I wanna [redacted] faster
I wanna [redacted]
I wanna [redacted] it, [redacted] it, bite it, get [redacted] it
Come on, touch my body”

Yeah the whole “Slutpop” theme is not just an aesthetic choice for the album cover, this whole ep is a concept album of “trashy, but make it self-aware.” The model for this style of music, especially in the concept of dance and electropop, is clearly Ke$ha, which brings us to the other notable feature of this album, it’s produced by Dr. Luke, a man most famous these days for alleged abuse against his signees, Ke$ha in particular.

This association would probably overwhelm the ep’s reception even if it was Kim Petras’ best work, but either fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, this is far from her best music. The album seems almost like unintentional parody of Dr. Luke’s M.O. in the 2000’s: taking a generally likeable and intelligent female singer and decking her out in enough misogynistic tropes to make her persona insufferable, except when he did it to Ke$ha, the music was actually good.

As to why Petras decided to make an entire ep with Dr. Luke, I can’t begin to tell you. Her career was doing well before his involvement, and considering her main single at the moment is the bright and cheery “Coconuts” it seems unlikely that this is a drastic image change. The ep’s relative commercial failure is a saving grace as well, while #freeKesha has made some waves in response to this album, it’s so far been too small a blip to meaningfully hurt Petras’ reputation. All I can say is I hope this whole debacle will end Dr. Luke collaborations for good, at least then we will have gained something from the album.

New Album Review

“Billions” by Caroline Polacheck Review

Caroline Polacheck has had a year. After years of releasing quality yet underappreciated work, carryover support from her first solo album “Pang” and the success of single “Bunny is a Rider” has built into a hype train with a head of steam. It’s well deserved too, almost every song she has released since leaving synthpop duo Chairlift has been an absolute banger that plays into pop conventions while also having a very distinctive voice and musical language.

“Billions”, a two-song single, slightly lacks some of the immediacy and punchiness of her best solo work but carries over her unique pairing of swing-for-the-fences maximalist vocals with minimal, haunting production which both adds value with fun motifs and knows when to get out of the way and let Caroline loose on the mic. Titular track “Billions” highlights a lot of these strengths, drawing memorable moments from unconventional methods, such as a hook where she stutters through “say, say say say something to me” which comes after mentioning “the pearl of the oyster” almost in non-sequitur. Unique word choices are a key strength of Caroline’s music, earlier in the track “salted flavor” is given an entire line in the verse to impart a lot of imagery and visceral feelings from just a couple of words, and this use of hyperspecificity with words that have a very particular association with them really makes the short verses feel much longer and more resonant. There’s a strong contrast from the first minute or so of the song, which steps back and lets Caroline do her thing, to the back end that lays down the rhythmic chanting and forceful production, creating a cool flow across the entire song to accentuate the individual moments.

“Long Road Home” is maybe the more straightforward of the two, atop a glittering backbeat with a fun drumline that makes the perfect soundstage for emotional howls and a delivery that stretches lines out to add significance. There’s a powerful violin line that keeps things moving which lets those haunting moments not also slow the pace down to a crawl, an ideal happy medium for songs structured to provide a lot of impact in not a lot of time.

“Billions” was a release I was massively anticipating, and it certainly delivered. It’s definitely not just more of 2019 Caroline Polacheck, and I’m glad that’s the case, I never want an artist to stagnate and just try to copy what worked before. This is 2022 Caroline Polacheck, maybe a bit more experimental and slower but just as incisive and, above all else, fun to listen to.


Blog New Album Review

“Year Of The Snake” by Softcult EP Review

“Year Of The Snake” has been a long time coming. The first single, “Spit It Out”, was released in July 2021 and the other singles have trickled out since then, building anticipation for the final product that was released on February 4, 2022. And while all of the singles are individually brilliant, hearing them in one coherent order with the flow the artist intended really highlights the sonic intention behind every line.

The energy of the tracks is probably my favorite part. There’s an extremely fine line where music is able to sound effortless and be drowning in feedback-laden guitars without also sounding bored and laconic, and Softcult spends the 6-song EP dancing on that line. Verses are often broken up by instrumental sections creating a disjointed structure that adds to the nervous excitement that defines “Year Of The Snake.” Album highlight “House Of Mirrors” uses a very call and response setup for the chorus – “Who knows? Who cares? (It hurts to see the truth)” before quickly bleeding into the next verse, and both of those were propelled by the staccato guitar solo that happened before it.

Lyrics are also a crucial part of the world Softcult builds on this EP. Lead singer Mercedes Arn-Horn puts a lot of emphasis on vocal deliveries that approach shouting, which sounds really cool over the instrumental, but pay attention to what she’s saying and the songwriting is just as interesting, with lots of clever wordplay that fleshes out the characters and events depicted. “Looking back at a face, barely recognize you // But the eyes are a shade of the same perfect blue //I watched you change into someone new // Saw it all degrade into deja vu” off the track “Perfect Blue” is an entire emotional arc, and this is the chorus, this attention to detail and straightforward yet intriguing method of building imagery in the mind of the listener.

When I listen to music, I imagine a void, a corner of deep space, and the song fills that void with something; a guitar line so memorable I can picture the artist playing it or a moment of songwriting clarity that paints a mental picture. Softcult embraces this darkness and blends perfectly into the void, with instrumentation that is often minimal in scope but feels expansive and evocative, drawing you in alongside the songs about conflict and danger, a film noir made of sound that would make Hitchcock proud.


New Album Review

“That’s Our Lamp” by Mitski: Track Review

Mitski’s sixth album, “Laurel Hell,” came out on Friday, February 4. While I haven’t had time to collect my thoughts on the album as a whole, I know one thing for certain: “That’s Our Lamp” is one of my new favorite songs of all time.

The song opens with bouncy-sounding synths and steady percussion and quickly blossoms into full-blown 80s synth-pop inspired instrumentation. The lyricism is simple, and consists of Mitksi accepting that her relationship with someone has come to an end. 

The crux of the song lies in a collection of lyrics. In verse one, she states “You say you love me / I believe you do / But I walk down and up and down / And up and down this street.” Immediately following this, the first chorus kicks in: “’Cause you just don’t like me / Not like you used to.” Finally, in the second verse and second chorus, Mitski lets go of this love: “We may be ending / I’m standing in the dark / Looking up into our room / Where you’ll be waiting for me / Thinking that’s where you loved me / That’s where you loved me.” The outro then repeats “That’s where you loved me” over and over into eventual oblivion.

These lyrics tap into a feeling that’s hard for me to put into words besides the ones she used to make me feel them. The hopelessness that comes with knowing you’ve grown out of someone’s love, and they’ve grown out of yours. Being in the places where you used to love each other into ecstasy, and feeling foreign in them. Knowing that time is waiting to embrace you with open arms, but not totally being ready to move on from the past– pushing forward anyways.

Mitski brings a new light to this hopelessness, juxtaposing her lyrics with the aforementioned 80s synth-pop backing instrumentals. The end builds and builds, layering in sounds of people laughing and talking, representing that there’s always a new love after old loves and friendships fade away. So it goes.

Mitski is going on tour in support of her sixth album “Laurel Hell,” starting in North Carolina. The first two dates are in Asheville and Raleigh, on February 17 and 18 respectively.

New Album Review

“Posey Hollow Quartet” by Ably House Album Review

It’s not an ordinary day when you stumble upon a hidden gem of an album. The kind of album that you try to talk to your friends about, only to be met by blank stares. The kind of album that you expect to be the magnum opus of an already famous band, only to discover they have less than 1,000 monthly Spotify listeners. That’s the kind of day I had last March when I discovered “Posey Hollow Quartet” by Ably House.

The whole album has an eerie feel, fitting for a band named after a famous haunted house. Many tracks have strange, unidentifiable instruments and distorted, experimental guitar parts that are simultaneously satisfying and suspenseful. Not only that, but the album is incredibly cohesive; I am a strong believer in the art of the album, and Ably House knocked it out of the park with this one. Some tracks blend seamlessly into one another, while others have small breaks in between them for the listener to get a breath.

Along with being an incredibly cohesive album, “Posey Hollow Quartet” encompasses multiple different vibes. “Melancholia,” my favorite track on the album, has a distinct 90s indie feeling to it. Meanwhile, “Balcony” and “Down on the Farm” have the feel of a Revolver or Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles song with a more modern twist. And “Grave Song,” with its rhythmic bassline and impressive guitar solo, reminds me of a psychedelic rock song from the 60s; if you told me it was a cover of a Creedence Clearwater Revival or the Doors deep cut, I’d probably believe you.

I’m still not completely sure how I stumbled across such a diamond in the rough. With its so few monthly listeners and almost no social media presence, I know close to nothing about the band itself, but there is one thing I do know: they created a no-skip gem of an album with “Posey Hollow Quartet.”