Monday, December 9, 2013

Britney Spears Gets Personal On New Album

Britney Spears has always had hints of personal moments in her music. From her smash single "Everytime" off of her 2003 fourth album In the Zone in which Spears regrets the pain she caused ex Justin Timberlake to "Piece of Me" off of her 2007 comeback album Blackout. While the later wasn't even composed by Spears, it struck a chord with her. While the album isn't as personal as we were led to believe it does shed light on Spears' life, she had a hand in writing all of the songs on it.
So earlier in the year when Spears announced her eighth album and said that it would combine all of her previous records, including the "personal" Circus, fans were excited. In September Spears released the first single "Work Bitch" which is all about positive thinking and confidence. The second single came two months later. "Perfume" is a very personal song about a love triangle. Both songs were written by Spears and got fans excited for Britney Jean, Spears' eighth record.
Released last week the album is far from Spears' best record, but it also isn't terrible. Spears starts the album off on a personal note with the Madonnaesque "Alien." The song is about Spears feeling like she is an alien and like she doesn't belong. Spears is rarely this honest with us. This song is experimental and could very well be an outtake from Madonna's Ray of Light. Up next is the first single "Work Bitch," the EDM anthem practically made for treadmills. After that is "Perfume." This song isn't Spears' best ballad but it's a great song.
Next up is "It Should Be Easy" which is a duet with who had a song in producing many of the songs on this record. The duet is a quasi touching love song that has some touching moments and the dance breakdown after the chorus is just killer. Next up is another collaboration, "Tik Tik Boom" with T.I. This song shows off an experimental sound. The chorus has an urban thump to it but then during the verses Spears sings over a minimal beat with acoustic guitars. Both these songs are album highlights and would make great singles.
Next Spears gets sexy on "Body Ache." While this song isn't bad, it isn't the best sexy song Spears has had and it doesn't hold up next to the other songs. The song is followed up by the best song on the album "Til It's Gone." This song is a dancy number with elements of dubstep and lyrics about a breakup. This song should definitely be a single. It would tear up dance floors all over the world. Spears shows vulnerably on this song. The bridge is a very good example of this.
"All the memories I'm saving/ So your love is never fading/ Holding on my heart is breaking/ Can't let go," Spears sings.
On the next song, "Passenger," Spears is a little more upbeat. The song is about Spears' giving up control in a relationship. It's about falling in love after a hard breakup and Spears' vocals shine on this guitar driven rock/dance hybrid. Katy Perry and Diplo wrote this song and Diplo produced it.
Next up is the worst song on the album. The kind of pop, kind of country, kind of stupid "Chillin' With You." This song is a duet with her sister Jamie Lynn who out sings her sister ten fold. The song is silly and could be done without.
Spears closes the album out on a high note. "Don't Cry" is a ballad that is part "Everytime," part Adele's "Someone Like You." This song is a touching look at the end of spears engagement. This song is a great way to end the standard edition of this album.
The deluxe edition of the record has a few great songs. "Brightest Morning Star" is a touching love song and has Spears sounding less auto-tuned than usual. "Now That I Found You" is a quirky club anthem about finding love and it's a great song and both these tracks should have been on the actual album. "Hold On Tite" is a boring song that doesn't need to have ever taken place. "Perfume (The Dreaming Mix)" is a stripped back version of the second single that makes it sound more fragile.
While this album doesn't top Spears' best records Circus and Blackout, it is a great record that is better than her first three filler filled albums.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Day to Remember Release Standard Album

A Day to Remember self released their fifth album in October. Common Courtesy received a full physical release last month and it's more of the same for the band. The band, led by frontman Jeremy McKinnon, mix in elements of metalcore, pop-punk,, emo and post-hardcore to form a catchy and aggressive sound that is all their own.
While this record isn't the band's best, it is a step up from their last release What Separates Me from You, which had tons of filler and only a handful of great songs. While this record isn't as great as their best album, their sophomore release For Those Who Have Heart, it still reminds fans why this band is so great. The band mix in hardcore bangers, pop-punk anthems and emotional ballads.
The band have gotten heavier on this release and with songs like "Sometimes You're the Hammer, Sometimes You're the Nail," "Violence (Enough Is Enough)"  and "Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way" are all sure to open up mosh pits in the future and are signature A Day to Remember. "Best of Me" is for sure the album's best heavy song. The song mixes in pop-punk melodies and is what the band do best.
The pop-punk inspired songs also shine. "Life @ 11" is a great example of this. The album's two best pop-punk songs are the first two on the album "City of Ocala" and "Right Back at It Again." These songs have the aggression of pop-punk and truly make the listener move.
Some of the album's best tracks are the ballads. "I'm Already Gone," "End of Me" and the album's best song "I Surrender" are all emotional and soft while still maintaining rock elements.
While most of the songs on the album are good some just don't hold their own next to such great songs. "I Remember" and "Dead & Buried" aren't as memorable as the other songs and could be done without.
The rereleased version of this album has three bonus tracks. The acoustic opener of "Leave All the Lights On" soon starts out a bounce that recalls older Kelly Clarkson songs. This song is a pop-punk rocker that is a good addition to the album. "Good Things" is a kind of Blink 182 throwback that also adds to this record. "Same Book But Never the Same Page"  is a good song but it isn't as good as some of the album's other great tracks and comes off as having been done before.
All in all Common Courtesy is a great record and while it isn't the band's best album, isn't the worst thing they've done. It shows that even in adversity a band can stick together and make great music.