New semester, new music

Emotion Side B – Carly Rae Jepsen by Eva Zhu

Emotion Side B is an extension of Carly Rae Jepsen’s third studio album Emotion, which came out in mid-2015.

Side B is an EP full of pure ‘80s synth-pop with big choruses that will get stuck in your head and be played over and over. The whole thing kicks off with “First Time,” a song about having a heart that breaks easily but wanting that one-night stand to know the repercussions.

These tracks portray Jepsen as the victim of relationships gone awry, but in a refreshing way. The weakest track is “Store,” which sounds more like a nursery rhyme and doesn’t flow well with the rest of the EP. “Higher” and “Roses” are two of the best tracks, and show the positive side of relationships.

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out this EP. It’s some of Jepsen’s best work to date.

How to Be a Human Being – Glass Animals by Jaiden Dembo

What does it mean to be human? Glass Animals explore this idea through an amalgamation of character studies resulting in their new album How to Be a Human Being.

Glass Animals strive to create an atmospheric sound, while maintaining the experimental side reflected on their first album Zaba. How to Be a Human Being lacks the jungle vibes of that album, but features the occasional bongo or wind instrument as an homage to their previous sound. It plays with unconventional sounds and shows that the band is stretching its musical wings.

From the video game-like echoes in “Season 2 Episode 3” to gentle contemporary pop in “Agnes,” Glass Animals test their artistry with a wide range of tones.

My Woman – Angel Olsen by Natalie Serafini

Angel Olsen’s My Woman is full of love stories, but it isn’t saturated in sap. Even in her softness, Olsen is powerful.

Her musicality hasn’t changed drastically from 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness: simple yet compelling lyrics, and a voice that slips easily from strength to sentimentality. The album opens with “Intern,” a song that smacks a little of Twin Peaks. That wavering, wistful tone is left behind as Olsen bemoans that you’ll “Never Be Mine,” and yells at you to “Shut Up Kiss Me.”

None of the tracks are clearly defined by genres: many are indie-folk-inspired, but still skip between rock (“Shut Up Kiss Me”), country (“Sister”), and dreamy ‘60s nostalgia (“Those Were the Days”). Even with this genre-hopping, none of the tracks sound out of place. They are all distinctly Olsen, strung together with a voice that is unflinchingly emotional.

Kiss Me All Night – Junior Boys by Tanya Humeniuk

Looks like the Canadian electronic duo Junior Boys have been having a super productive 2016. Earlier this year they released a new album called Big Black Coat and now, six months later, they have a new EP.  

It’s called Kiss Me All Night, a romantic title which suits its sensual and laid-back atmosphere. It would make for great late-night make-out music. Unfortunately, the EP only runs for 18 minutes and 20 seconds front to back — hardly enough time to kiss all night. Oh well.

There is still much to love about this record. I especially love the start of the second track “Baby Fat” when the heavy bass kicks in underneath a high-pitched synth erratically dancing around. And the EP is full of great moments just like this one.

Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not – Dinosaur Jr. by Tanya Humeniuk

Dinosaur Jr. has three eras: their early era, post-breakup era (when bassist Lou Barlow left), and post-reunion era (when Lou came back). I’m a big fan of their early stuff, but I could never get into post-breakup Dinosaur Jr. Now, a few LPs into their post-reunion era, Dinosaur Jr released Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.  

I was a little worried when I started listening to the LP. The first two tracks sounded too post-breakup era. They followed a formula: J Mascis’ reticent vocals slightly drowned in crunchy guitar, with a Mascis-ian guitar solo two minutes in.

After those tracks, things got better for me. “Be a Part” reminded me of Built to Spill’s cover of “Cortez the Killer.” “Love Is” was intense and full of passion. And “I Walk For Miles” saw Mascis step out of his usual vocal range.

Kinda Don’t Care – Justin Moore by Courtney Miller

This fourth album from Justin Moore is a classically contemporary country record, filled with quintessential, if a little clichéd, themes.

The title track is all about trying to do everything right, and then saying “fuck it” and doing the things you want to do instead. The lead single “You Look Like I Need a Drink” is extremely relatable, and characteristic of the genre. It tells the tale of your boyfriend/girlfriend/boo coming by to break up with you, and you can see it in their face. So, of course, the only proper response is to need a drink in order to handle whatever they have to say.

Because just about every country record has at least one, “Hell On a Highway” is the upset, melancholy, yet a little nostalgic throwback to a heartbreak.

The album isn’t anything special, but it makes for some easy listening for your backyard or for rolling along in your car with the windows down.

Morning Report – Arkells by Courtney Miller

Morning Report is Arkells’ fourth full-length album, and the record continues their alt-rock vibe. The first single is “Private School,” but it’s mediocre for these Canadians. The vocals are lacking as they acquire an uninspired and irritating buzzing quality that appears in spurts throughout the chorus.

On the other hand, the haunting introduction to “Passenger Seat” captures attention efficiently, and the tale spun by Max Kerman meshes really well with the meditative, reflective ballad-style song he’s got going.

“Making Due” has more of a classic rock vibe — it would not be out of place in a John Hughes movie. Another similarly upbeat track is “Round and Round,” which opens with one of my favourite lyrics off the album: “I had the grace of a diplomat on his best behaviour.” The best track is “Hung Up” which is catchy, with solid bass, and danceable drum riffs.

The album is a solid listen overall and could easily serve to pump you up while writing papers.