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After Laughter by Paramore

With Paramore’s newest album, the pop punk band that embodied all of our middle school angst changes up their sound. After Laughter pulls heavily from the 80s and early 90s, evoking all the neon and windbreakers your heart could desire by pairing the synth and electronica of those bygone eras with lyrics of classic emo Paramore. “Rose-Colored Boy” is a great example of the contrasting tempos and themes, and it also happens to be one of my favorite songs on the whole album; Haley Williams sings about her loss of idealism in the face of recent events while backed by a springy snare drum and keyboard to cancel out the morose tone. Similarly, “Hard Times” strikes the listener as a feisty anthem about the difficulties in life juxtaposed with a tropical track of marimba and maracas. This change is a welcome one which, in my opinion, breathes new life into a tired genre. With two hit songs already released from this record, it seems Paramore has just hit their stride; After Laughter is sure to become a fan favorite in no time. Overall Rating: A-
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A/B by Kaleo

The Icelandic indie/rock band Kaleo is back with their second album titled A/B. This quartet has been slowly garnering attention in the music scene since their debut in 2013 at South by Southwest, and the tracks on this record blend the very different genres of indie, rock, and country together into a soulful, passionate album. “No Good” is the perfect song for a little confidence pick-me-up – just add black leather boots and some attitude. Slow down with the mournful rock hymn “Way Down We Go,” which laments the singers’ journey through the fiery underworld for all their misdeeds. After the lament, rebound with the clear, sweet voice of lead vocalist JJ Julius Son in “All the Pretty Girls,” where he sings about greed and all things love. Finally, listen to the lyrical lilt of the band’s native Icelandic in their cover of “Vor í Vaglaskógi," a song about the gorgeous, green, springtime forests of Vaglaskógur, one of the largest forested areas in Iceland. This band has a song for just about every listener, and there is something on this CD for everyone to enjoy. Overall Rating: B+
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Divide by Ed Sheeran

In my opinion, Divide is Ed Sheeran’s best release yet. In the latest album from the singer/songwriter, he experiments with different song and sound styles in a way that is fun and musically entertaining. Sheeran incorporates a lot of personal storytelling motifs with songs like “Nancy Mulligan” (written about Sheeran’s grandparents) and “Supermarket Flowers” (an emotional lament for his grandmother’s death narrated from his mother’s point of view). The CD packs a serious emotional punch while also delivering an engaging and enjoyable listening experience. Tracks like “Barcelona” and “Bibia Be Ye Ye” use international cultural motifs and rhythms that result in extremely catchy, danceable songs. Included in this CD are also the radio smash hits “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” which have become instant favorites. This newest album shows that his sound has really matured since his first, Plus, released in 2011. The deeper, more complicated narration exemplifies how Sheeran has grown as both a person and an artist in the past 6 years. Overall Rating: A+
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Collage by The Chainsmokers

The newest EP from the EDM duo has some good songs that we all know and love. Overall, what I really want to hear from this group next is a full length album with some new instant favorites. Since their explosion onto the mainstream media scene in 2014, The Chainsmokers have rolled out hit after hit that have left me and the rest of the public wanting more. This release has 2 of their newest hit singles (“Closer” ft. Halsey and “Don’t Let Me Down” ft. Daya) as well as some newer songs that have not had major radio play yet – including “All We Know” ft. Phoebe Ryan and “Inside Out” ft. Charlee. This group has certainly found their niche in the music industry combining the enthusiastic bass and rhythm of the dance music genre with features from popular indie singers to create extremely catchy and fun songs that instantly lift any mood. These are some of my favorite songs to listen to when driving or working out, and I often find myself singing along. This EP was a good listen and extremely entertaining. With the way in which this group has been performing – I’m sure a full album is soon to come. Overall Rating: A-
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