Album Review: “Reawakenings Vol. 2” by Hidden Citizens

I have been looking forward to this for over two months. I think in a couple of weeks, I’ll write a post about my favorite modern cinematic composers/producers, so you can see that there are many others out there that are really interesting. Hidden Citizens were probably the second act that I found once I started on this crazy journey. I look forward to every new single, EP that they release but here we actually have a new album. One thing to keep in mind with these guys is that they mainly reinvent older songs, so you’re hearing covers of generally cinematic and trailer music.

For this album, there are a total of 12 songs with some songs you may or may not recognize, plus some special guests that you might’ve heard on their previous releases. We have a long list to get through so I think we should just start it.

We begin with “You’re No Good” and I have to say, it’s the only song that I have listened to prior working on this review. It features Ranya, who has worked with them before and you will continue to see her throughout this album as well. I really like the strong introduction, Ranya has a strong presence on it too. I like the fact that we start very strong and have an oddly heavy metal sound. There are a few songs on here that I know to be in that genre, but with this one I’m not really sure about but I definitely like this version. The second track is “Shattered Dreams” and it features VE. To me, it’s a little bit more mellow but I like the softness of it. Whenever you have a large selection of cinematic songs, it is best to have a couple gentle ones in the mix to let everything breathe. So, it’s okay for my standard – I think I would have loved it more if it was down the list honestly.

Now this next one, I have heard before, but I had to look up who it was originally by, ahh Pat Benatar! Once I saw it on the tracklist, I instantly heard a female singing in my brain. It’s definitely more of an 80’s song than anything else, so to see it with a modern flare is very interesting! What’s even cooler is that instead of using a female singer for this, we have Adam Christopher. He has a high falsetto voice so it mimics what you remember, but with everything added in, he makes it ‘cooler’ for this generation. Now, unfortunately, if I were to let my parents–especially my mom–I don’t think they would approve but that’s expected sometimes! For anyone born in the 90’s, might remember this 2000’s pop classic “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. I grew up on pop music so the fact that I knew the lyrics to this one, but could not figure out who it was by at the top of my head is somewhat sad. Anyways, this is actually very good and quiet too. Tim Halperin was a very interesting choice for this rendition, but I actually enjoyed it!

Our next song is “Paint It Black”, now I’ve heard R&B singer Ciara’s version of it for The Last Witch Hunter soundtrack but I haven’t found any others that I liked just as much. Overall, the song is pretty and dark, even Ranya’s voice is gorgeous on it, but I still prefer this other one right now! We move on to “Nowhere To Run” with Keeley Bumford. I really love this song! It’s fierce, ominous and pulls you right into the ride. I’ve always had a weakness to these types of songs!

We are nearing the end of our adventure with the last six songs, “Crazy On You” is where we go to next. Ranya is back. I really liked this one as it was fast paced and really strong. However that’s all I can say about it! Leave it to me to forget one while writing them out the list on my notepad. We’re back to normal now, and Adam Christopher comes back with “Everywhere” and I really liked the softness of it.Of course, it does branch off with a heavier tone later on but Adam has a really nice voice for all genres, it’s not overwhelming at all. It’s like smoke, it just flows away slowly. I never thought I woul ever have to use that metaphor but here we are right?

“No Easy Way Out” by VE is on now, and we have another still type of song but out of all the songs on the album, I think this is my favorite. It was very emotional and I have found out recently that I am a sucker for these types of songs now! I guess it’s a side effect of listening to a lot of epic music! This is our final track with Ranya and it is “Beware Of darkness” and I was really hoping for a desolate type of song and that’s exactly what I got, but instead of it being in your face at all times, it is still pretty mellow for the majority of it. I still loved it though!

Tim Halperin makes his last appearance with “We Are All Made Of Stars” and again, we have this rock sound but what I really like about it is that it gives the song this extra edge but it still has a nice beat to be used as part of your workout playlist. It’s a unique song! Lastly, we have “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be” now the singer on this track is a favorite of mine because she was once apart Celtic Woman: Chloe Agnew. I’m not really sure if this is a Irish song but I love the fact that it has this quiet almost like a lullaby but the built up gives it a nice mysterious flare. It’s really beautiful and exactly what I want for the perfect finish.

This album as a whole was good; unfortunately I can’t say I loved it either. I was a little torn with it, because I did this to myself on the fact that I expected it to be amazingly awesome, when in reality it really wasn’t. A part of me thinks it was because of the amount of times that some of the artists come back throughout the album. There wasn’t a variety of voices in the songs as maybe I would have liked, but don’t get me wrong the artists are really great but I wanted more than what we were given! Of course, this is only my opinion.

Are you a fan of Hidden Citizens? What were your thoughts on their new album? did you enjoy it just as much as their previous releases or not?

October Playlist

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Howdy!

October is almost over, like tomorrow is Halloween people! It doesn’t real that 2018 is fading away slowly and it’ll be 2019 in no time, but let’s not dwell on that right now. This past month has brought a lot of new music with it. I’ve been trying to listen to as much as I can in these last couple of weeks, since I’ve been sort of preoccupied with album releases that came out in late September. I want to complete those on here before I really attempted to dive in with October’s offerings!

At the start of the month, I was really in the mood for Britney Spears. It was so bad that I was listening to her older albums on my iPod (because that’s all I have on there!) just before bed and I was so impressed with my dad when he actually guessed her on the fly, and he admitted that he’s always liked her voice. I didn’t actually know that, but in my defense he hasn’t really liked any of my sister and I’s music! If you like Britney Spears growing up, which album is your favorite? Mine is either “Britney” or “In The Zone”

I wish I could say that the music has changed to fit the new season, but that’ll never happen so half the songs I’ve been listening were released sometime in the summer but since nobody really wants to embrace the colder temperatures outsides, they’re the only things keeping the fun times rolling just with the warmth of pumpkin spice lattes keeping us in those summer days. I have been looking into raggaeton musicians lately and I’ve been collecting a vast amount of songs to keep me dancing and of course, happy too!

Here are my Top 10 songs for October!

Taki Taki by DJ Snake featuring Ozuna, Cardi B, & Selena Gomez
Rare by Ruth B
I’m A Mess by BeBe Rexha
Barbie Dreams by Nicki Minaj
Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne
Raggaeton Lento (Remix) by CNCO featuring Little Mix
Done For Me by Charlie Puth featuring Kehlani
Happy Now by Zedd featuring Elley Duhe
Happier by Marshmello featuring Bastille
Eastside by Benny Blanco featuring Khalid and Halsey

If you’re a Spotify user, you can go check out the WHOLE playlist here right now!

I was pretty proud of myself since I was able to go back to reviewing music again. I only talked about five albums by different women. I thought it was just International Day To Be A Girl the other day and I managed to do this on accident! I feel like they made me embrace the changes of the season, except for maybe the second one I did. They each had their share of happy but dark and gloomy songs on the albums. So, if you’re not at that point to celebrate fall yet, but you want something to take you there mentally, maybe you should check out the music below with their reviews!

Dogviolet by Laurel | Heart Of The Hurricane by Beyond The Black | Sign by RAIGN | Ancient Land by Celtic Woman | Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1) by AURORA

At noon, I will be publishing a second batch of songs over on my blog’s Facebook page and my personal Twitter. I would like to stay at ten songs for these posts so I’m looking forward to feature bonus content to post on those sites. I hope you enjoy all of the playlists I’ve shared with you today. 🙂

What were you listening to in this October? Is there a specific type of music to get you in the mood for the colder months, if so, name a few down at the bottom for me.

snowflake

Album Review: “Ancient Land” by Celtic Woman

42278081_10156688847302838_3619016091595964416_nIt is two years since I actually reviewed a Celtic Woman release. They did have a Live album come out last fall, but since it was really the songs featured on the “Voices Of Angels” album, I decided to not talk about it in fear of repeating myself. The group has experiences some changes here lately, with Susan McFadden becoming pregnant after the summer, she was replaced with Megan Walsh with the rest of the girls: Máiréad Carlin, Éabha McMahon, and violinist Tara McNeil.

The album “Ancient Land” apparently has 18 tracks, but Spotify only has the standard edition with 16 songs instead, so I will not talk about my thoughts for both “The Enchanted Way” and “Ballroom Of Romance” even though the titles read beautifully. I will try to have the English translation of two songs on the list, they may not be correct as I’m using Google to help me there. Okay, I think that’s everything before we begin the review.

We start off the album with our title track “Ancient Land” and I really love this, as it’s an instrumental with minimal vocals in the background. It sounds so gorgeous, you have that authentic Irish sound with the flute and Tara playing the violin throughout. It has this ancient vibe going through it, and sets the tone for what’s to come with the rest of the songs! Next is the first single, “Homeland” and you finally get to hear all three girls singing together. Eabha starts off with her semi-deep voice as she’s an alto, with Megan has a nice high-pitched voice that doesn’t exactly match Mairead, but I like it that way because they’re all unique with their ranges. The song itself is very light and cheery, and you feel that pride for your homeland–no matter where you’re originally from–deep inside whenever you listen to it.

Third is “Moorlough Shore” and of course, I looked this up because I was unsure about it. Apparently, it’s a love song that originally came out in the late 1800’s. Eabha is the soloist featured on this and the lyrics are in English, but she gives it this sweet vibe that I kind of felt like I was in a trance and got lost in her voice! Yup, that happened! The music itself is very loving, but mysterious which works well Eabha’s beautiful soft voice. We move onto “Follow Me” and it had this slow and quiet introduction, that you wouldn’t think it could turn into this is fun song! The first thing that popped into my mind was the fact that it sounds like “Níl Sé’n Lá” in a way where it is a party song. You can easily dance and if you want to, you can sing along too. These last two tracks are my favorite so far!

“County Down” is next with Mairead as the singer on the track. It is this cute little song, with only her almost child-like voice and a guitar and piano playing together in this gentle way at the start of it. Eventually, you can hear more violins joining in and it’s this nice chill out song, that weirdly enough I like a lot! Afterwards, we have “Love & Honour” and this is absolutely beautiful. It’s another instrumental with Tara highlighting the softer side of Irish music. The music does change towards the end into this powerhouse but it still keeps that enchanting sound that makes you want to walk around deep in the woods somewhere.

This next song is “Mná Na hÉireann” which translates into Women of Ireland. I am happy to see a song like this, basically dedicated to all of the beautiful Irish women out there, in the past, present and future. The whole song is in Gaelic of course, which I think is better to if it was to be in English. Now we move on to another cheery track, “Sive” and I was completely surprised because I knew I recognized the beginning but I was sort of unsure, until I heard Eabha singing and then it dawned on me, as she had done it at their Homecoming Live concert. So the song is actually “Sadhbh Ni Bhruinneallaigh” This time, it features all three girls taking different verses. It still sounds the same way but just cleaner as far as audio goes. “Shenandoah” is next and I was shocked again, as this is an American based song! The most important part is that we finally hear our newest member at front, and Megan sings it so good! I feel like she has a relatable voice, as it doesn’t have that classical quality, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I feel like it’s a nice country tone for a song like this.

The tenth track is “Long Journey Home” and it is gentle and easy-going. So far, this is the only one that has featured the bagpipes. I had trouble finding the backstory to this one, so if I have any Irish readers out there, do you have any answers for me? I would really appreciate it. Next there’s, “Tara’s Tunes” so it’s a four minute track with only an orchestra and the great Tara McNeil playing her fabulous fiddle in a very fast pace! It is a fun track and it has those good authentic Irish elements too! Now this one, when I wrote out the tracklist after it was posted on Facebook, I was a bit confused if the person who wrote it made a mistake and forgot to correct themselves, but nope it’s correct. “Ae Fond Kiss” is such a mellow sound going all throughout the song. I love the caring nature of this one though. I keep seeing people slow dancing to it in my head.

These are the last four songs off of the album, we have “Faith’s Song” and this is a pretty song, as it’s nice and slow. Celtic Woman creates fantastic slow dance tracks! Megan is at the front of this too, and at first I thought I was listening to Carrie Underwood! She has such an American voice when she sings, this is what I was trying to explain in the beginning where I was talking about her voice compared to Mairead’s. They kind of soundalike, but it has a distinctive drawl in Megan that isn’t shared in Mairead, which again, is totally fine! “Garden Of Eden” is after, and we hear Eabha at the start, and she and the flute that peeks out, are so sweet but it’s still upbeat to dance to with a fairly large crowd as well.

“Be Still” comes in, in this quiet way. Honestly, the whole thing is very soft song, but the only elements are the girls and the male choir in the background. It’s a very short track, but like the saying goes, “great things come in small packages” but honestly, I wanted it to go on a little longer! Our final song is “Going Home” and thankfully, we go back to the lively Irish sound with the pipes in the introduction, but the song starts in this silently way with Mairead and then Eabha and Megan taking over as the tempo expands back to what we heard in the beginning. The bagpipes come back at the end of it, but the song as a whole is really good! If anybody is away from home, whether it’s for school or a job, and you’re really homesick, I don’t necessarily recommend listening to this song.

Well, we are finished and I have to say I really enjoyed this album! I actually liked this one a lot more compared to their previous release. I was never able to truly mesh with it. I feared that “Destiny” would be my only favorite, but I’m glad to say that this quickly another favorite of mine too. What made it better is something that is easily noticed by fans of CW is that, they tend to do newer versions of some of their previous songs, but for this collection seems all new for the fans out there. It is a nice discovery to find out later on. The only one that I knew was “Sive” of course. I am glad they went and recorded that in a studio because it is really good and exciting song to listen to!

Have you listened to Celtic Woman’s brand new album yet? If you have, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite(s) that you can list below?

snowflake

Album Review: “Warmer In The Winter” by Lindsey Stirling

22447526_1626421390755518_1809023922_nLast week, I published my review of Celtic Woman’s newest Christmas album and I said that I was thinking about putting up two others to be counted as part of a Blogmas! So this is your second, and I will say, I didn’t know about this until it popped up on my “new music” on Spotify one day and I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity and review it too!

If you are not familiar with Lindsey Stirling, she is usually a electronic violinist. In Celtic Woman both Mairead Nesbitt and Tara McNeil play fiddle and violin, but it’s mostly the traditional way. Lindsey has done covers before, but she always adds her own flare and it can sound very pop or electronica. She was on America’s Got Talent a few years ago and has released three other albums, but this will be her first holiday album. I have not heard any of the songs beforehand so I’m not sure if they’ll be instrumentals or have guest singers on certain songs, which as I’ve seen on the tracklist there are a few featured, so we’re going to dive into this together!

Let’s get started with “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” and this definitely has that pop, but playful style that Lindsey usually brings out in her music. I actually love this, it’s one of my favorites. If I ever got the chance to see a ballet of the Nutcracker, I’d be one happy camper! I’m happy it still has the slow, but fun sound and it also has that dance vibe going on too. The second is “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which features Sabrina Carpenter, a singer that I’ve been loving lately! I like the sultry, but fun jazz-y vibe of this track. I say “sultry” because of Sabrina’s tone and the horns section. Next we have “Christmas C’mon” that features singer and rapper Becky G and I know this is going to be weird, but this has a country sound to it. Becky’s voice gives it a nice pop vibe, but it’s actually Lindsey and her skills that are giving off that sound that makes me think of upbeat country music

Fourth track is “Carol Of The Bells” and I was wondering if I was going to like this one or not, but I knew Lindsey would do a fantastic job with it. It is all instrumental, but if you know me very well, you know that I have a soft spot for these types of songs. You still get that familiar sound of the original song, but it’s all violin with an added synthesizer. And then we have “Angels We Have Heard On High” and I really love the classical sound of just the violin and orchestra in the background. You also have these soft little vocalizations too, which I’m guessing is Lindsey giving it an added dash of sparkle to the song. I really do love how artists and bands are trying to modernize these Christmas songs, but sometimes going old fashioned works too!

There’s “I Saw Three Ships” and I’ve never heard of this one, but I found it a little odd that it sort of sounded like an Irish song, since it was so jam packed with tones that you’d normally hear with a traditional Celtic Woman song. I loved it! Anyways, next we have “Let It Snow” and the sound is different, the violin gives it a country vibe again, but then again it also has this jazz-y feel to it too. It’s very interesting. Oh, both of these songs are instrumentals and I love them dearly for that! There’s something cool about this next song though, it is an original Christmas song! I don’t know about you, but I never hear of these anymore! It features another musician Trombone Shorty and I love this. I’m just not sure who is the vocalist though, Lindsey has only done the soft “oohs” and “ahs” in the background of her songs, but never fully sang the songs, so maybe because this is something she came up with and she sang to it too.

“What Child Is This” is next and it’s another instrumental. It has a welcoming, but mysterious sound to it. I love these types of songs, as the more elements the musician adds to it, the more emotion you get from everything. You just feel like spinning in a white dress, or at least what’s I thought as I listened to the song. Next, we have a familiar song and it is “All I Want For Christmas” but I will say that because of the slow tempo of the introduction, you can’t tell what it is until the very last notes and then you want to slap yourself for not knowing it right away! It is upbeat and playful; makes you want to dance along to the beat! It’s great, but I think I miss the words.

The last three songs of the standard edition start with another original track, “Time To Fall In Love” and it features Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. I think between the two songs that Lindsey wrote for this album, this one sounds more in the Christmas-y theme as far as lyrics go. I’m not saying I hated the other one though, it’s good, but does it match the tone of a holiday record though? Anyways, I also think this one has more of a pop-rock sound to it, and Lindsey is taking a backseat on it, although she has a solo, it just kind of sounds like ATL type of song. Next we have “Jingle Bell Rock” and this has become an iconic song, makes in part to the movie Means Girls but I love the jazz take to it. My papaw would probably like it since he was so into big band music! Lastly, we have one of my absolute favorites “Silent Night” and it is naturally a slow, somber-y, type of song anyways but I think Lindsey went that extra mile and made it even more beautiful with adding only the “ahhs” of the choir instead somebody singing it all the way through, it’s actually really beautiful.

I was very happy with this album! I thought with Lindsey’s first Christmas album, I think she did a great job. It was beautiful and unforgettable. I’m glad she stayed true to her style of music and didn’t force herself to add multiple singers to the favorite holiday songs, sometimes the instruments can say a lot more than what we think, they can bring out more emotions to the listener.

Have you heard of Lindsey Stirling’s new Christmas album, “Warmer In The Winter” yet? What were your thoughts on it?

snowflake

Album Review: “The Best Of Christmas” by Celtic Woman

I’ve never had a moment where I’ve had three open Thursdays (review days) and three holiday related albums come out at the same time. I figured I’d take advantage of it and review all of them for you as part of my blogmas!

The first one is obviously by the lovely ladies of Celtic Woman. They released this album back in mid-November. If you’ve never heard their versions of Christmas carols, you sort of get a taste in the previous album “Voice Of Angels” as there are two bonus tracks at the end. The rich sounds of Ireland are still prominent with the holiday tone and lyrics. The songs included in this album are sung by previous singers as they have released two other Christmas albums back in 2006 and 2012 along with the current members: Susan, Mairead, Eabha and newest member Tara playing the violin and fiddle.

The first song of the album is “Ding Dong Merrily On High” and this brings out your holiday cheer, even if you still feel like the Grinch has wedged itself in between the depths of your heart, this will make you happy! One of the reasons why I love Celtic Woman so much is because they have such gentle voices, they sound very caring and want you to feel at home and exited for Christmas. The Irish tones are very subdued in this song, but I found that to be okay, because I liked the voices of the singers and choir. Second is “Carol Of The Bells” and this is just gorgeous! Everybody is very familiar of this song, or at least they should be, but I love this version as you more of a modern feel to it, but it has that mysterious atmosphere to it. I love the fiddle in this, I think it adds another element to it than just the choir singing behind it.

Next is “Joy To The World” and this is the 2016 version which features all three current singers, and since I’ve already talked about this one, I’m not going to bother talking about it again. So if you’d like to know what I said about that, you can read my review of their newest album here. We have “We Three Kings” and this one you definitely get a strong Irish sound from start to end. I was very happy to see this style shine, but I will say though, I don’t think I’ve heard of the song itself, just shows you how much Christmas music I normally listen to once December rolls in.  And then, we have “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and we’re back on the familiar track! I’m happy to say that this was as beautiful as I remembered it, as it’s all a cappella in the beginning before the subtle little violin just shows up in the background. It’s so gentle and nice. It’s just perfect.

Another favorite is “O Holy Night” and I’ve come to love these slower songs, with the right singers, they can sound really amazing and add a wow factor to the whole thing. It’s weird that there are three singers when it sounds like one person is singing it. It’s so beautiful! Next we have “White Christmas” and I really love Christmas music that has a strong piano introduction. You can blame my papaw for installing that feature into me and basically every other family member on my mom’s side. The eighth song is “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and it is so pretty, full of symphony and a little of fiddle. I’m pretty sure it is originally on one of their older albums, but that is definitely Susan’s voice I’m hearing! I can recognize her voice anywhere!

We have “I’ll Be Coming Home For Christmas” and everytime I hear it, makes me think about those videos of soldiers surprising their family members. They’re so sweet but of course you can’t help but start bawling your eyes out when everything unfolds on screen, especially if it involves children! This has more of an Irish vibe in the beginning, but I love the slowness of it. It’s so beautiful! I’ll always have a soft spot for “Silent Night” but Celtic Woman’s version incorporates both the English and Gaelic languages and it’s so gorgeous! This was one that they included in “Voice of Angels” album, so if you want to know what I thought of it, please go to the link I’ve put up above. And next we have “The Christmas Song” and I love the piano in the introduction. It had a modern feel, but so gentle. I don’t think I’ve heard of this song before, but like I said, I don’t know a lot of Christmas songs, only everybody’s favorites.

Somehow, we managed to switch out of the gentle and Irish sounding, and move to big band and jazz for “Let It Snow” and it literally freaked me out because I was not expecting it! Of course, the more I listened to it, made me think of New York City and Broadway shows! However, I don’t hate it. It’s actually nice. The next is “Once In Royal David’s City” and this is the third holiday song included on Celtic Woman’s previous album, because I can clearly hear both Mairead and Eahba singing, so again please direct yourself back to the link, if you wish to read my thoughts. Next we have “Away In A Manger” and it starts as a capella with a light harp, which is my second favorite instrument by the way! I also love the guitar, that I always think of a Spanish, because it just brings out that sound that you only hear in latin songs. I’m sorry I don’t know more about it.

 “Winter Wonderland” now at first, I will admit, I didn’t recognize the title. It wasn’t until it started playing and then I finally got it. This has a soft jazz vibe to it. I like the upbeat songs, and apparently the upbeat Christmas songs are becoming a favorite of mine too! Next we have “Walking In The Air” and again, this was another I didn’t know right off the bat, but it is very pretty. It has a very eternal sound in the beginning, which for a Celtic musical group, the music usually has that sound that makes it mysterious but gentle at the same time. Although, this doesn’t sound anything like a regular Christmas or holiday song I’ve heard before, but who am I to say anything about that? It is gorgeous though!

These will be the last four songs of the album. We have “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I like gentleness that the ladies give it. The music behind it is so soft and makes me think of ballets (I know, that’s weird) but it’s true! I don’t necessarily like the hymns very much, but when it comes to the holidays for some odd reason I kind of welcome them with feet wide open!  Next there’s “The Little Drummer Boy” and this is one that I haven’t heard very much, even though it’s a favorite to people. I do like this version with the deep male choir and the soft drums, but unfortunately that’s all I really like about it. I’m very hard to impress sometimes. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and I know everybody knows this one and I’m happy to say that it is very upbeat but it also has that Irish sound that I fell in love with in the first place. It’s a nice mixture! And lastly we have “Auld Lang Syne” and according to Google, translates to “days/times gone by”. It is Scottish song and that means that you will hear both the English and Gaelic languages, and I love it because I’ve never heard of it before doing this review.

So the first Christmas album is done! I actually figured I’d hear the Irish music being incorporated more, but then again I can’t say I was disappointed with it though. It was a good balance with the more modern, pop feel with some of the Gaelic language in it. It was different and I love it for being that way!

Have you listened to Celtic Woman’s “The Best of Christmas” album yet? What were your thoughts about it? Do you have a favorite holiday song?

snowflake