“Sawayama”

By: Rosie Mendoza-Bautista

Rina Sawayama’s full length debut album, “Sawayama,” is filled with a wide array of music genres coming from her experiences being Japenese-British. On top of all this, she incorporates R&B, pop, rock and electric pop. To me, this gives the album an early 2000s feel; it makes you think of soundtracks from early 2000s coming-of-age movies. 

Some of the highlights from this album are the topics it covers. With subjects such as family issues, capitalism, microaggressions, reclaiming femininity, self love and losing connections with people, not only are these subjects relatable to many, but it is insightful to listen to the perspective of a woman of color and her experiences as a first generation immigrant; the vulnerability of her experiences is what adds to the already great music on this album.

This album is good to listen to when you’re feeling moody and reflective. It’s equally good to listen to when you need something to boost your confidence or you need something to dance to. Or, even if you’re feeling nostalgic for the early 2000s after watching movies like “The Princess Diaries” or “The Lizzie Mcguire Movie. My favorite tracks on the album are “XS,” “Akasaka Sad” and “STFU!” Although this is only her debut album, “Sawayama” makes you excited for Rina’s future projects and albums. 

Track list:

  1. Dynasty
  2. XS
  3. STFU!
  4. Commes des Garcons
  5. Akasaka Sad
  6. Paradisin
  7. Love Me 4 Me
  8. Bad Friend
  9. Fuck this world
  10. Who’s gonna save you now
  11. Tokyo Love Hotel
  12. Chosen Family
  13. Snakeskin

Rainbow” by Kesha

By: Lore Zent

“Rainbow,” Kesha’s third album, is her first after a three year legal battle against her producer Dr. Luke to nullify her contract to create six more albums under the pre-existing label. In the 2014 lawsuit, Kesha charged Dr. Luke with “sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, unfair business practices, and infliction of emotional distress,” also claiming that Dr. Luke forced drugs upon her while performing and recording her content. While Kesha was unable to be released from her contract, in 2016 Sony allowed her to release music under their label with a different producer. While this wasn’t the perfect solution, it was a start.

“Rainbow” stands away from Kesha’s previous albums as a revival of self. Her songs range from acoustic hymns to the electro-pop we are used to seeing from her. Despite this, from “Woman” to “Boogie Feet,” her dance music seems much more like a battle cry. It is cathartic to listen to “Praying” and “Learn to Let Go,” feeling the emotions as she is burned then risen from the ashes.

In an interview with New York Magazine regarding the album, she responded that she wanted to encapsulate a “real person having a human experience.” She continues that “to this day, I’ve never released a single that’s a true ballad, and I feel like those are the songs that balance out the perception of you because you can be a fun girl. You can go and have a crazy night out, but you also, as a human being, have vulnerable emotions. You have love.”

Some time has passed since this album was released but it continues to be one of my favorites. It perfectly captures the complexities of the human experience. We may all walk a different path in life, but we all feel.

“For the First Time” by Black Country, New Road

By: Henry Nguyen

Ever since their debut single titled “Sunglasses,” Black Country, New Road made a lasting impact on the post-rock indie scene and left a lot of prospecting fans hungry for a debut album. To my surprise, the band formed in London despite having a nostalgic midwestern sound and adopting a small town USA aesthetic as per their music videos. Their blend of experimental rock, post-punk and post-rock can be compared to similar acts such as Slint from the 90s or more recently, Black Midi. Fast forward to February of 2021 and the band has truly delivered a special experience for those patiently waiting on their debut. 

“For the First Time” by Black Country, New Road is the band’s debut album consisting of six tracks that average about six to seven minutes each. “For the first time” is a wild ride as the album starts off incredibly strong with the track “Instrumental.” Despite its on the nose title, the opening track does a great job setting the tone for the rest of the album. The album’s narrative can get really ridiculous at times and comical at others, such as the story that plays out like the birth of a villain taking place at a science fair in the track “Science Fair.” 

If you’re looking for an experimental rock album that pushes the boundaries of what the genre has to offer, then I would highly recommend checking out Black Country, New Road’s debut album.

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