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From the Vinyl Vault - 1/3/19

Frankie - Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence 

I’m surprised with myself that it’s taken me this long to write about Lana Del Rey. The frequency in which I play Ultraviolence could double the frequency of any of the other albums I play, at least. I love Lana Del Rey as a musical genius and a body-positive female artist equally. I love Lana’s signature bluesy old-school sound as a reprieve from a pop-heavy industry. In her third studio album, she keeps alive her blues inspired vocals while also bringing to the table a more guitar heavy psychedelic rock tone. Elizabeth Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, has absolutely stunned the music scene with her unmatched sound, and I think she’ll always be able to consider me a fan.

The album starts off with a six-minute banger “Cruel World” that redefined the genre of break-up songs, and sets the 70’s rock, reverb vibe for the whole album. From there, the album doesn’t really stick to an overlying theme, but rather that same jazzy atmosphere that “Cruel World” kicks off. My favorite song on the album, “Brooklyn Baby” dredges up some of my favorite imagery from the album. It’s all beat-poetry, jazz vinyl, Lou Reed, free-love culture that enforces Lana Del Rey’s character as an old soul and sends the listener back in time. The following song conjures the same era but on the opposite side of the country, appropriately titled “West Coast” with its dark surf-rock vibes. “West Coast” premiers Lana Del Rey’s experimentation with tempo and style, a huge shift from her second album “Born To Die” which is still unique, but was very pop inspired at it’s core. “Pretty When You Cry” may be one of the most melancholy songs on the album; discordant and sad, Lana Del Rey reveals a vulnerable, trembling falsetto side of her character that she doesn’t show often.

Ultraviolence is an explicit yet easy listen that I always look forward to spinning. It has an entirely different tone than any other album I own, and that’s just one reason I love it so much. Lana Del Rey is also a positive feminine role model and her music has always made me feel like a strong, proud woman. I had the privilege to see Lana Del Rey this time last year as a birthday present from my boyfriend (he took three girls to see a Lana Del Rey concert, no man is braver than him) and it only affirmed my love for my Gemini queen. I think he was even impressed when Lana Del Rey came onstage alone with just a guitar and played her own song, almost unheard of by pop stars. I encourage those that haven’t given Lana the time of day to listen critically to her music; realize her style, her nod to genres that came before her and how she embraces them to generate a unique sound compared to other artists in her category of music. She is truly a unique individual in modern music and should not be overlooked.

Michael - Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel 

Courtney Barnett is one of those artists who's music just gets me, or is it that I feel like I just get her music? Who knows, point is, I click with it. First, she brings it lyrically, every. single. time. No one turns a phrase quite like Courtney Barnett does, her cadence in doing so has an almost hip-hop feel to it at times. For my money, she's the best in the business at it. She's also a master of improper rhymes, many times in which she uses her Australian accent to highlight. Also, she's a straight banger on her guitar! I particularly loved her work on the collaborative album she did with Kurt Vile where the two played so well off of one another, she's got skills. Right now if I'm thinking off the top, Courtney Barnett is in my top 10 current artists, she's that good.  

Anyway, let's talk Tell Me How You Really Feel, her latest release. It's full of so many fantastic tracks and I am happy to have it in vinyl collection. "City Looks Pretty" is a feel good jam that you can't help but move to. It features Barnett's signature vocal style and guitar combination, it's just a damn good track. "Need A Little Time" which recently appeared on former President Obama's top tracks of 2018 is also a great song. It has a downright hypnotic hook. It just dares you to sing along to it as Barnett slides slowly into a low register falsetto. In "Nameless, Faceless" Barnett sends a message about rape culture that comes in an otherwise unassuming sounding song. Lyrically, it's brilliant, Barnett belts "I wanna walk through the park in the dark,Men are scared that women will laugh at them, I wanna walk through the park in the dark, Women are scared that men will kill themI hold my keys, Between my fingers". With lines like this, she calls the "men's rights" movement for what it is, bullshit and I absolutely think it needs to be said.

Tell Me How You Really Feel has a little something for everyone, some tracks that absolutely kick the door in and some others that are more chill jams that are traditionally associated with Barnett. Regardless I love all of them, as Barnett again highlights why she is viewed as one of the strongest songwriters in music today.   

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