DNCE, Tyler Glenn, and Jane the Virgin

Happy Wednesday! Here’s a little roundup of what I’ve been loving lately 🙂

DNCE

BE STILL MY JONAS BROTHERS HEART!!!! I thought I was completely satisfied with the Jonas brilliance when Nick released Last Year Was Complicated…but DNCE took it to an entirely new level for me. Basically, this group lives up to their name. I dare you to listen to this debut album without immediately feeling the need to dance around. I joked with a lot of my friends that every song on this album passes Tom Haverford’s “is it a banger” test, and while that’s totally accurate, the best part about this album is how unique it is. When DNCE came out with their first song “Cake by the Ocean”, I was instantly intrigued. Their sound, their look, their entire vibe was something new to the pop scene. Of course, as comes with the pop territory, DNCE’s songs venture into the repetitive constructs of radio tunes we love to sing along to, but I think their approach and the group’s overall style is a way for them to combat the predictability a lot of pop artists face today. This album achieves cohesion while also giving you a taste of everything from dancey, upbeat tunes to slower jams with thoughtful lyrics. They have a funky sound that weaves its way through the entire tracklist, thanks to the work of notable songwriters like Justin Tranter and Mattman & Robin. Basically, these dudes are geniuses and their work definitely shines through with DNCE.

Also, I would give anything to be their bass player. JinJoo can hit me up anytime.

Excommunication

Some of yall may be familiar with Tyler Glenn from the group Neon Trees (“Animal”, “Everybody Talks”). Excommunication – largely written by Tyler Glenn himself along with Tim Pagnotta – is his first solo album, and let’s just say, if you didn’t know who he was before listening to it, you’re about to find out some really deep stuff. I vaguely remember the media circulating around him when he came out a few years ago, but other than that, I went into listening to this album with the sole thought of really digging Neon Trees and interested to hear what Tyler’s own sound would be like. As I listened to the tracks, the theme of religion was hard to miss. The titles of the songs like “G.D.M.M.L. GRLS” (God Didn’t Make Me Like Girls), “Gods + Monsters”, “First Vision”, and finally, “Devil” set you up for very profound stories, and I was intrigued to dig deeper into the album. A simple Google search helped me connect all of the dots: the album’s title is a nod to Tyler’s Mormon family and the anti-gay policies of the religion.

Radio.com’s piece about Excommunication set a completely new tone for the album as I gave it another listen. I paid special attention to the order of the track list and was completely taken by both the profound stories from Tyler’s personal journey and the well-matched sounds mixed on each song. When you listen, you can physically feel how much of himself is poured into this album. The style is still very much his own, with electro-pop, rock vibes, but adding in lyrics like “I found myself when I lost my faith” and the exploration of truly understanding what you believe in really drives home this compilation of songs. I haven’t experienced many albums recently that are theme-driven and specifically focused on the different phases of an ongoing story, so listening to Excommunication felt like something totally brand new in the modern pop-rock genre. I really can’t stop listening to it.

Jane the Virgin

I know, I know, this review is WAY overdue. It’s widely known that getting me to start a new television show is nearly impossible, so the fact that I not only caught up with Jane but also continued watching it is a very big deal.

Not surprisingly, the ability for TV shows to skillfully feature what are considered difficult issues is always impressive to me. Jane has been achieving this from the beginning of the first season, tactfully and efficiently discussing the topics of religion, abortion, and immigration. The show is structured from telenovela storytelling, which is known to be overly saturated with drama, romance, and suspense – all of the qualities people tend to love most about current TV dramas. But Jane offers so much more. There are three generations of women of color as the main characters, one of which is an immigrant who solely speaks Spanish, and they are suddenly surrounded by scandal. The writers of this show make very thoughtful decisions about how these women navigate the obstacles they face. Their decisions are very much based around family values and relationships, rather than being dictated by the guys they are dating. The writers craft a plot in which the characters are fully immersed in real life struggles – grad school, conflicting feelings about significant others, and early parenting – while still maintaining the thrill of cleverly planned unsolved mysteries. Not to mention, the fact that it’s narrated like a classic telenovela gives just the right amount of structure and humor. Each season, the writers unfold more and more about the lives of these characters, leaving the audience constantly engrossed in their stories. Now on its third season, Jane somehow manages to be a totally unpredictable show with a completely predictable structure. So long as the writers continue to stir up this seemly perfect magic formula for storytelling, I’ll keep watching.

 

What music/show/entertainment has you hooked right now? I’d love to hear!

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What’s My Age Again // Playlist

My music taste is often hard to describe because I like so many different genres for different reasons, but quite consistently, my favorite jams tend to fall into the realm of pop/rock. From my booster-seat days listening to Guns N Roses with my mom and The Beatles with my dad, to my teenage days listening to Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato with my sister, I gravitated toward anything that was able to catch my attention and peak my interest further than the three minute track. And with so many influences, I found myself interested in these songs and artists on a nuanced level. I wanted to learn why certain songs were catchy, and I was intrigued by artists’ abilities to share such intimate experiences. My music library grew and I remained captivated by the magic of it all.

All of this to say, I’ve noticed something interesting about a lot of the artists I’ve been listening to lately. I think the first time I made a connection was with Betty Who’s track “Somebody Loves You” – it was such a fun, catchy song, and along with the vibrant music video, I was struck with the song’s 80s vibe. There were obvious elements that you hear in typical pop and upbeat dance tracks, but there was also a mix of the new wave that was so popular during the post-disco era. It sounded different than the Britney Spears/boy band pop that I was so used to (and absolutely enjoyed, don’t get me wrong).

I had also jumped on the Walk the Moon train during this time, and I was struck with the disco-y, dance-y, rock sound they managed to capture in every song on their first album. Tracks like “Shiver Shiver” and “Lisa Baby” reminded me of a solid mix of Bowie and Queen, and I fell in love. And then when their second album hit, “Aquaman” reeled me right back in with those 80s flashbacks. Not to mention the “Shut Up and Dance” video that set the perfect tone – “Aquaman” plays in the background of a school dance scene completely reminiscent of John Hughes classics.

I could go on and on about how often I’ve had these moments, but instead, I made a playlist. While I listen to these songs, I can’t help but notice influences from top artists like Heart, Madonna, Joan Jett, and other big names from the 80s…which happens to be before I was born, so cut me some slack and enjoy.

PS. Honorable mention = “New Romantics” by Taylor Swift