Taylor Swift - 1989 (2014, USA) | Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Blank Space; Style; All You Had to Do Was Stay; Out of the Woods; Clean; Wildest Dreams; This Love; Bad Blood
Taylor Swift's music has often been a guilty pleasure for me. Red was the favourite album until the release of 1989. There have been times when this album has been the soundtrack to my drive home. This is one of those albums where I enjoyed every song from start to finish. Miss Swift knows how to craft catchy songs that really sink into your memory. I'm pretty sure there are people who have Shake it Off or Bad Blood stuck in their heads even if they don't like her music. Her lyrics are well crafted and memorable. Some might try to take credit for her success, but it rests firmly on Miss Swift's considerable charms. She's the girl next door singing about the relationships that come and go throughout her life.
Highly Suspect - Mister Asylum (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Mister Asylum; Bath Salts; Bloodfeather; Lydia
This was a band that I was made aware of through listening to a local modern rock station. The song that I heard first was Lydia. I keep going back to it over and over. Every time it's on the radio, I crank the volume up and sing along at the top of my lungs. Bloodfeather had the same effect on me. The comparison to bands like Queens of the Stone Age are fairly accurate as far as the gritty style the band has. Johnny Stevens, vocalist and guitarist, has a memorable voice that blends well with their slightly chaotic sound. It's an ambitious first album. I'm looking forward to seeing how they follow it up.
X Ambassadors - VHS (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Renegades; Unsteady; Gorgeous
This is another debut album that has been quite successful as far as the singles go. What makes the songs so catchy though is the lyrics. Unsteady is quite poignant with lyrics about a potentially broken family. There's one sad thing that has stuck with me throughout listening to the album. The songs would be so much better stripped down to the way that Renegades, Unsteady and Gorgeous were for the Upstate Sessions that the band posted to their youtube/vevo channel. I find myself going back to those versions over again.
Raglaia - Creation (2015, Japan) | Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: Remember; Break Down
Raglaia is the band that brings us the return to music for the former vocalist of Aldious. Rami has paired with K-A-Z (SADS), Ery (KillKills) and YOUTH-K!!! to form a band a bit similar to the one she left. One of the strengths of Raglaia is having K-A-Z on guitars. He's a skilled guitarist who has spent years working with a visual kei legend (Kiyoharu). My issue with this band lies entirely with Rami's vocals. There are times when it feels like she's stretching herself beyond her limits to hit notes that she shouldn't attempt. I'll stick with them a bit longer as I'm a fan of K-A-Z's guitar playing.
L'Arc~en~ciel - Wings Flap (2015, Japan) | Rating: 3/5
When L'Arc~en~ciel releases a single, it's easy to have expectations on what the song will sound like. Wings Flap fits in quite well with what I'd expect from Hyde and co. However, that's also where the downfall comes in. It's a decent song with all the usual flare from Hyde's vocals. Yet, it's not memorable for those reasons. Honey ~L'Acoustic version~ falls into that same feel. I don't know if I would seek these out on my ipod, but I wouldn't skip them if they played.