Album Review: The Weeknd – Kiss Land

Before I selected an album to review, I went through the same thought process as Keith and Dan did with their most recent reviews (click on their names and read theirs too!). I wanted to review an artist, or band, that I wasn’t a passionate fan of because it would cause substantial bias (ahem, my Taking Back Sunday review was essentially me writing an open love letter to the band). So I decided to do just that, and I believe I will go with…

The Weeknd! (Birth name: Abel Tesfaye)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

To be honest, I’ve never even listened to a song by The Weeknd – accidently or purposefully. That may be absurd to many because he has a relatively large following in my age bracket – at least most of the people I’m friends with religiously listen to The Weeknd – but those same friends likely realize that I do not listen to much R&B (or more specifically PBR&B as it is known for The Weeknd’s case). I only even know of The Weeknd because of those same friends retweeting Mr. Weeknd, or tweeting his lyrics.

This album review will be as objective as they come, though, so that’s a positive. I will also say that since I have never listened to The Weeknd that I may not be able to pick up on any subtle themes or style he employs in his music. Feel free to tear me limb from limb if I incorrectly assess any lyrics or themes. I’m going in with zero knowledge on The Weeknd, which I think will be fun for this review.

The album to be reviewed is The Weeknd’s latest album Kiss Land, which was released September 10, 2013. You can buy that album at Amazon, iTunes, The Weeknd’s Site, or your local music store/Target. Remember, not every artist is living in a luxurious mansion; this is their passion as well as their means to make a living.

The album cover of Kiss Land can be seen here.

So let’s get this baby started right? Well first let me tell you how this album will be graded in this review.

I will be color coding each song title track with one of these colors: Purple (favorite track), Green (solid songs), Blue (listenable), and Red (I don’t like it one bit). Got it? Then I will be giving reasons why those songs received that grade, and the overall grade of the album will be listed at the bottom out of ten.

I like to grade the albums this way because it is easy for readers to quickly grasp my opinion on the individual songs, as well as the album, without having to search high and low for it. It is simple to just make a blanket statement about an album without really giving an opinion on the majority of songs, but with this means of grading it shows my feelings towards each song.

Here we go, and, again, thanks for reading!

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

Purple Level Songs:

Wanderlust

Explanation:

‘Wanderlust’ appealed to me because it was different, but not so different that The Weeknd lost his style. The intro with the guitar warmed my heart, and the faster pace music made me appreciate The Weeknd’s lyrics much more considering nearly every other song on this album is mellow, or too slow for my blood. The only critique I have is The Weeknd may be incorrectly using the word ‘wanderlust’ in his lyrics. (Here’s the literal definition.)

Look here at a snippet of lyrics:

You’re in love with something bigger than love
You believe in something stronger than trust
Wanderlust
Wanderlust

You’re too shy away from me
Just sacrifice your every last inhibition
I’m on your side
Don’t patronize
You know tonight
Is the only time we’ll have each other
Why would you try to waste this precious time?
Cause tonight I’ll be right here
And tomorrow you won’t care

There is no concrete mention of travel (essentially what wanderlust means); there is mention that ‘You’re too shy away from me’ and ‘I’ll be right here, And tomorrow you won’t care.’ Whether or not that is insinuating travel, or separation from The Weeknd, is ultimately up to you to decide – I frankly don’t believe that to be the case in the grand scheme of the song. I believe The Weeknd slotted the word wanderlust into the song and it fit perfectly. I apologize for that mini-rant/explanation over semantics.

Overall ‘Wanderlust’ is a catchy song with a mildly fast beat (in comparison to the rest of the album) and is a must listen on Kiss Land.

Green Level Songs:

Professional
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Odd Look

Explanation:

The first song of this album ‘Professional’ does a stellar job of starting off Kiss Land. ‘Professional’ quickly lent me The Weeknd’s style when it came to lyrics and music. I should have realized that an R&B album would be sensual, but ‘Professional’ again helped me realize that quickly (not saying it is a bad thing just that I should have thought about that before listening!).

‘Love In The Sky’ follows the theme of love, fame, and desire that oozes from every song on Kiss Land. ‘Love In The Sky’ takes a slightly different approach that makes it likable. Instead of reminiscing solely on their past endeavors, The Weeknd speaks to his lady friend that their love is not made for the world that they live in – that their love is too powerful to be fully explained, or felt in this reality. I understand that the ‘sky’ referenced in the song does not mean the literal sky, but a higher plane of reality – possibly heaven. Of course, The Weeknd slips in several non-subtle sensual lyrics that only adds to his exuberant feelings for this woman and the meaning of the song.

The fifth song of the album, ‘Belong To The World’, is similar to track four (‘Love In The Sky’), in that The Weeknd references his love for the woman and her backstory more than his fame or backstory. He acknowledges that she is ‘dead inside’ yet that she may be the first woman that actually made him have feelings of love. Though The Weeknd may have feelings for this woman, he recognizes that she ‘Belongs to the World’ and no person is worthy of this woman’s love because she is the penultimate woman (in The Weeknd’s mind). My only complaints are that the song drags on at the end, and the meaning of the song becomes horribly watered down by the repeating of the chorus.

The final song on Kiss Land is the song ‘Odd Look.’ Oddly enough, The Weeknd did not create the beats (and possibly lyrics) for this song – French House Music artist Kavinsky did! Nonetheless, ‘Odd Look’ capitalizes on The Weeknd’s raw soulfulness and angst. Hearing The Weeknd in a fast paced song is a literal change of pace from most of the songs on Kiss Land, and his voice, accompanied with Kavinsky’s beats/lyrics, knocks it completely out of the park.

Blue Level Songs:

The Town
Adaptation
Pretty

Explanation:

‘The Town’ just didn’t provide for me as a song. It was generic sounding for a genre that I believe sounds the same a lot of the time, but those songs that ‘sound the same’ at least try to mix in a few differences to spice up the song. ‘The Town’ does nothing out of the ordinary, but isn’t terrible.

Like ‘The Town’, ‘Adaptation’ did not feel like a song I will remember by name if I happen to hear it played at a bar, at a friend’s house, or on satellite radio. Being right after ‘The Town’ on the track list, it seemed to me like a continuation of ‘The Town.’ The lyrics in ‘Adaptation’ are much better than ‘The Town’ lyrics simply because I don’t believe I have heard an artist lament his fame and life (after he became famous) quite like The Weeknd does in ‘Adaptation.’ Intriguing lyrics, bland sound.

‘Pretty’ doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other song on this album (or any other R&B track for that matter). The Weeknd is lusting after another woman, and he describes to her how beautiful she is and all that jazz. It’s the simple recipe for most love songs written by men. Yet the instrumentals in this song are what keep it blue level instead of red level. If the lyrics weren’t so simplistic in this song, it may have very well been my favorite of Kiss Land. The French lyrics at the end are lovely, but The Weeknd should’ve worked those lyrics into the entire song.

The track directly after ‘Pretty’ is ‘Tears in the Rain.’ Just like ‘Pretty,’ ‘Tears in the Rain’ suffers from simplistic lovey-dovey lyrics (though more angsty in ‘Tears in the Rain’), but is saved by stupendous instrumentals. There isn’t much else to say about ‘Tears in the Rain.’

Red Level Songs:

Live For Feat. Drake
Kiss Land*

Explanation:

Drake was completely unnecessary in ‘Live For.’ His feature did not want to end. Drake rattled on and on about how he’s toured the world, received plaques (just refers to his ‘plaques’ – I’m assuming they’re for rapping? Sports? Being Canadian?), and nothing more than partying – so totally epic. He mentions his family, but nothing substantial to make a point. The Weeknd’s lyrics are pitiful compared to his other songs because this song is more of a ‘party’ or ‘hype’ song. This isn’t the introspective The Weeknd that is heard in every other song, but rather it is The Weeknd that decided to create a song to fit in Drake to possibly pump up his popularity? I am unsure, but ‘Live For’ is not The Weeknd’s best work (and I’ve only listened to the songs on Kiss Land). I applaud The Weeknd for trying to step out of his comfort zone, though.

I am torn with the song ‘Kiss Land.’ The first half of the song makes me feel uneasy because of the shrill, terrified screaming of the woman in the background music. The lyrics aren’t too strong either, but the first half of lyrics is just The Weeknd urging the girl (and possibly himself?) that all he wants is her body and to set her up as his ‘west coast girl’ – among other things. These lyrics aren’t much different than other lyrics from other songs on this album, but I was expecting more from the album’s title track (and not the screaming of a woman that is terrified in the background for no apparent reason). Yet the second half of the song (Verse 3) The Weeknd turns it up lyrically, and the song slows down slightly. Verse 3 The Weeknd begins to explain how his fame was gained quickly after 21 years of ‘staring at the same four walls.’ This is the second song on the track where The Weeknd laments his fame (or at least his quick ascent to fame in ‘Kiss Land’), but he continues to pour his soul into Verse 3 with his problem with drugs, sex, and life in general. Aside from the disastrous first half of the song (which was so horrid that it made this song a red level song), ‘Kiss Land’ is the *rawest song The Weeknd has on this album.*

Overall:

Kiss Land is an album that I would recommend to any of my musically inclined friends. It has a lot to offer for people that want to ‘relax’ their mind, or want to think about life in general. It is a peaceful, yet thought-provoking album. The only slants I have against Kiss Land are the songs seem to run together in some instances (meaning they’re too similar sounding – lyrically and instrumentally), and the lyrics could be much stronger in four or five of the songs on the album. Nonetheless, Kiss Land is a solid album from an artist that I have never listened to before in my life. You gained a fan The Weeknd.

Final Grade: 7/10

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let us know! Thank you for reading.

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Here Are The Known Albums Dropping This Month

November is not typically a month where an artist/band drops an album, but here are several albums that will be dropping this month regardless of November not being a typical album drop month! Since today is November 5th, and not the first of the month, there are a few albums that are already out this month!

November 1st:

  • Celine Dion – Loved Me Back To Life
  • Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne 
  • Cut Copy – Free Your Mind

November 2nd:

  • Buckethead – Thank you Ohlinger’s AND The Pit (that’s two separate albums)

November 4th:

  • James Arthur – James Arthur
  • Shane Filan – You & Me
  • The Wanted – Word of Mouth
  • Tinie Tempah – Demonstration

November 5th (Today!):

  • Dream Theater – Live at Luna Park
  • Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
  • M.I.A. – Matangi
  • Kelis – Food
  • Scott Stapp – Proof of Life
  • Punk Goes… – Punk Goes Christmas

November 8th:

  • Lady Gaga – Artpop

November 11th:

  • Keane – The Best of Keane
  • Get Scared – Everyone’s Out to Get Me

November 12th:

  • Polar Bear Club – Death Chorus
  • Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2

November 25th:

  • One Direction – Midnight Memories

November 26th:

  • Hopsin – Knock Madness

There are all of the confirmed albums for this month! There are albums that at TBA (to be announced) for Wu-Tang Clan, and Jennifer Lopez, but nothing succinct just yet.

What album are you most excited for this month?

For me it’s Death Chorus from Polar Bear Club!

 

November 5th: Music News

Here is your daily prescription of music news:

Alternative Press: 10 ridiculously snowy music videos that will get you excited for winter

Alternative Press: Paramore premiere “Daydreaming” music video

Buzzfeed: Eminem Doesn’t Understand Why People Keep Saying He’s Homophobic

Highlight Magazine: Lake Street Dive Share Album Teaser Trailer

Kerrang!: Fall Out Boy unveiled as main support on Saturday Night of Download Festival 2014!

Music Connection: “You have to actively search [royalties] out and get the right companies to represent your music.”

NME: Has iTunes killed the hidden track?

NME: Man attempts to sell an entire London record shop on eBay

Rolling Stone: Pitbull will host the AMAs and perform with Ke$ha

Rolling Stone: Ellie Goulding says she’s ready to begin recording the follow-up to her breakthrough album ‘Halcyon’

SPIN Magazine: Stream Vaadat Charigim’s radiant shoegaze album ‘The World Is Well Lost’

SPIN Magazine: Bad seeds: Katy Perry’s deluxe ‘Prism’ packets sow biohazard fears down under

As always, if you have any pertinent music news, or want us to post more about a certain artist/band/genre/magazine, let us know in the comments section!

Here’s Rick James with his hit ‘Super Freak.’ R.I.P., big guy.

I Asked Reddit: Where Do You Buy Music?

In this thread, I asked members of /r/Music where they buy music when they buy music since I wrote this piece on where I would buy music from. I garnered several good answers, and only one troll comment! Success!

Here are some good replies (names below are spelled as they are on reddit):

From roguedevil:

At the local store, though it’s not that local. I always make it a point to buy an album from a band’s merch table at a show if I do not have it already.

From ThatParanoidPenguin:

Usually from Amazon, because you get a digital version and the disc version if you buy the disc. I also sometimes buy it from Google Play because their sales are amazing. I picked up Licensed To Ill, 2001, and Late Registration for less than $10 for all of them. Target also is good for buying music as they sell the explicit versions and sometimes have special bonus tracks.

From johnny_christ:

I live pretty close to NYC, so I wait till I have a list and take the train. I used to go to Virgin Records in Time Square (it was like the Wal-Mart of record stores. They had pretty much everything). The best one’s IMO nowadays are Black Gold Records and Heaven Street.

I’ve also been making regular trips to Los Angeles (I’m thinking about moving there) and I love heading over to Amoeba. That place is pretty rad.

I like having the physical copy though. I don’t believe in buying off iTunes or whatever unless it’s the absolute only place I can buy a certain release that I’m looking for. I’ll order off of Amazon or eBay before I buy off iTunes.

From ashowofhands:

Almost exclusively amazon. Their prices for brand-new CDs are generally reasonable, and marketplace is amazing for out-of-print and import CDs, and just finding awesome deals in general. There have been a couple times that I’ve snagged stuff from the marketplace that I couldn’t find anywhere else on the entire internet.

If it’s a new mainstream release, I may just pick it up at the first place I see it (often Target, as they’re the closest store to my house that actually sells CDs). If I see something else interesting there I may buy it on impulse as well. Ordering them online is great and all, but no form of buying or otherwise acquiring music will ever beat the feeling of cracking open a brand-new CD case, popping the disc into your car stereo and listening to it for the first time ever on the drive home.

When all else fails, and I still really want to buy a hard copy, I’ll just order directly from the band/record label. I preordered the latest Reign of Kindo CD directly from Candyrat because it wasn’t for sale on amazon until a couple months later. I ordered Circa Survive’s Violent Waves directly from them because it was the only way to get it on CD (still isn’t available on Amazon, even now). It took them months to ship it though – by the time it came in the mail I had already forgotten that I even ordered it in the first place. That’s one of the disadvantages to ordering directly from a label, especially a smaller one.

Finally, here is a reply to a comment about buying through iTunes from Chill_Vibes:

Also, the band gets less money if you want to support them.

This is the mascot for Reddit.com, simply known as the 'Reddit Alien.'

This is the mascot for Reddit.com, simply known as the ‘Reddit Alien.’

Thanks again, Reddit for answering my question!

Where do you all buy music?

Best Places To Buy Music

For over a decade pirating music has been frowned upon [by mostly the music industry, and well known artists/bands], and I would like to give you options on where to actually buy music. Not only does buying music give you a physical copy of the music (unless buying on iTunes, etc.), most CDs and records come with awesome album artwork, and several ‘extras’: lyric sheets, a poster that is unfolded, and occasionally a ‘secret’ track! It just feels right buying music, especially from your favorite artist, because you’re legitimately helping them (though I urge to go to see your favorite band live too.)

Fun Fact: music pirating was a problem before the Internet. People would record music off the radio with their cassettes!

Here are five places to buy music:

1. Your Local Record Shop

This is the ultimate option. Not only do you get to help out your favorite band(s), you get to help out your local record shop! Great people are also likely shopping here that share similar music interests as you, or people that have a different perspective on music that you can learn something from! This is something I miss from being in my university’s town! (Shout out to Finders Records!)

2. Target

Though Target is a big box store, the prices at Target at much friendlier than other big box stores. Target also stocks music with ‘adult content’ on it, which many other big box stores do not. Bought my first CD ever from Target (The Black Parade), so I have a bit of a bias towards Target. Don’t buy music (or anything really) from Wal-Mart.

3. iTunes

I am hesitant to put iTunes on this list because of their pricing (which slowly keeps rising), but the sheer volume of music alone on iTunes warrants it to be on this list. Downloads are typically swift and those songs are linked to your account (at least they were when I last bought from iTunes over a year ago), so incase the songs are deleted you will still have them on backup. (If this is incorrect please let me know.) I do advise that music from a CD or record sounds much better than most digital versions. If you don’t like giving money to big corporations (same with Target, etc.) then check out the next two options!

4. Flea Markets/Garage Sales

Neither Flea Markets or Garage Sales may be prevalent in your area, but they can be goldmines when it comes to rare and older music. Records, old CDs, cassettes, even 8-track can be found at flea markets or garage sales if you look hard enough! Prices are normally low (unless you want to buy an uber rare album), but the condition of the album varies. You will likely have to pay with cash.

5. The Band’s Website

This is a bit tricky, however, because many up and coming artists/bands will redirect you to their record label, a store similar to Target (or even Target), or iTunes. Established bands occasionally will let you download straight from their website, and the band likely has it’s own record label (Counting Crows comes to mind) so the money goes straight to the band!

Where do you typically buy your music from?

Album Review: Mayday Parade ‘Monsters In The Closet’

As I stated yesterday I would be doing an album review of Mayday Parade’s Monsters In The Closet. 

This is that aforementioned review.

Cover art for Monsters In The Closet (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Cover art for Monsters In The Closet (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll preface this review by stating I have not listened to many older Mayday Parade songs recently, and am a casual fan of their’s, so I do not have a bias one way or the other for them. I’ve seen them live (Warped Tour ’12) and thought they were quality. I will also say that I have listened to the album on repeat several times (six or seven) without paying attention to titles, then I listened twice through while paying attention to which song was playing.

With that said, I am excited for this album because there are several songs from Mayday Parade that I enjoy and get excited for when my iPod shuffles to one of those songs. I love most pop-punk music, even if most pop-punk music caters to the ‘lovey-dovey’ pseudo-punk types. Let’s see if there are any songs on this album that will give me that same excitement!

Here are the songs (in order) that are on Monsters In The Closet:

  1. Ghosts
  2. Girl
  3. Last Night For A Table Of Two
  4. 12 Through 15
  5. The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing
  6. Even Robots Need Blankets
  7. Repent And Repeat
  8. Demons
  9. Sorry, Not Sorry
  10. Nothing You Can Live Without, Nothing You Can Do About
  11. Hold Onto Me
  12. Angels

To my knowledge there are no hidden tracks (yet), nor are there any bonus tracks garnered from special purchases through iTunes. This is it.

Photo Credit: Tom Falcone

Photo Credit: Tom Falcone

I will be giving my overall grade (on a scale of 1 – 10; 10 being the best) of the album at the end, but instead of reordering the songs into ‘best to worst’ order I will be using colors to visually demonstrate which songs I like the most, least, and the songs I am apathetic about.

If a song is green – I like it and will continue to listen to it daily; if a song is blue – It’s listenable, but not a favorite; if a song is red – I don’t really like it. I may expand upon the colors in the future to showcase a wide array of different feelings towards songs. I may include values (+1 or -1 for instance) to come up with a score for the entire album as well.

I will explain below why songs have been given their color.

  1. Ghosts
  2. Girls
  3. Last Night For A Table Of Two
  4. 12 Through 15
  5. The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing
  6. Even Robots Need Blankets
  7. Repent And Repeat
  8. Demons
  9. Sorry, Not Sorry
  10. Nothing You Can Live Without, Nothing You Can Do About
  11. Hold Onto Me
  12. Angels

Green Level Songs:

2. Girls
5. The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing
8. Demons

Explanation:

These songs are great and I truly enjoy them. I will enjoy them for a while too because these are the type of songs that I put on workout playlists, travelling playlists, and just my daily driving playlist. Each such evokes a weird, but terrific, emotion in me that I like to receive from listening to music.

Blue Level Songs:

1. Ghosts
3. Last Night For A Table Of Two
7. Repent And Repeat
9. Sorry, Not Sorry
11. Hold Onto Me

Explanation:

For the most part these songs are enjoyable and I will be giving them several more listens as the weeks pass by, but other than the occasional shuffle to one of these songs I won’t be going out of my way to listen to them. I also dislike the name of the song ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ but really like the sound of the song. It put me in a quandary on whether I should rank it green or blue.

Red Level Songs:

6. Even Robots Need Blankets
12. Angels

Explanation:

Now being a ‘red level’ song doesn’t mean the song is bad, per se, but that I just didn’t enjoy it at all. And by ‘all’ I mean the lyrics, the song title, the music (instrumental) in the song, and the pace of the song (among other things). These songs just don’t do it for me at this point in time. As I have heard before: ‘Different strokes for different folks!’

Overall Grade: 6.5/10

Not a terrible album at all, but not an album that is groundbreaking or award worthy to be honest. There are some great songs on this album, ‘Girls’ is my favorite, and, who knows, I may come around on the others in due time! If you have a comment, good or bad, about my review please let me know why in the comment section! Thank you for reading!

Soon: Mayday Parade Album Review

Once I have thoroughly listened to Mayday Parade’s new album Monsters In The Closet I will post a review on it!

Expect to see it later on tonight, or tomorrow! (Tomorrow I will be posting all my usual staples that I have missed posting due to illness, so don’t fret!)

Cover art for Monsters In The Closet (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Cover art for Monsters In The Closet (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Buy Monsters In The Closet in stores, or on iTunes, now!