First Impressions Friday: Harry Styles

While I intended FIF to be me writing about bands/artists I had yet to listen to, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about my first thoughts on Harry Styles’ first single as a solo artist. (Technically this is the first time I have heard anything from Harry as just a solo artist, even if it is a bit of a reach.)

Last night, into this morning, I stayed up until 2 AM waiting for the release of “Sign of the Times” on BBC Radio 1. This had been so anticipated for over a month and every day that it got closer, I got more and more anxious to hear the music that Harry had been working on. Ever since there was the announcement that One Direction was going on hiatus/the other boys were releasing solo projects, Harry’s was still the one I was most excited for because I knew whatever he created would be super unique and different than anything that One Direction had put out before.

“Sign of the Times” was entirely unexpected when I heard it. I knew it was going to be a longer song (over 5 minutes) but that’s all I was ready for. The song starts with a piano intro and Harry’s vocals are almost isolated as he begins with “Just stop your crying, it’s the sign of the times…”. It’s been said over and over again that this song has almost a Queen/Freddie Mercury/David Bowie vibe and I can totally see it. There’s something almost dreamy and ethereal about the instrumentation that channels these icons from the 1970’s and 80’s. I was incredibly impressed with his vocals, going from almost ballad-like singing to higher tones that had never really been emphasized while he was a member of One Direction. The variance of vocals and almost soothing lyrical rhythm he has in the pre-chorus and chorus makes the song both beautiful but also a bit haunting. To me, Harry Styles has always been a bit of a private person, but you can really feel that this was a personal move for him and the song takes on even a more vulnerable persona with that in mind.

You can believe me when I say this song (along with The Maine’s new album I’ll be reviewing next week) will be on repeat all weekend as I power through some of my end of the year assignments. Listen to “Sign of the Times” here if you haven’t heard it already, or want to listen to it a million times over like I will. Follow Harry on Twitter to keep up to date with his upcoming releases and show your love for my favorite member of One Direction when his new album drops!

First Impression Fridays: Sorority Noise

After casually listening to them off and on for a couple months, I decided to pick Sorority Noise for my first “First Impression Friday”. I figured it would be the perfect time to buckle down and listen to them more extensively as I’ve been hearing about them non-stop in lieu of their new record You’re Not as _________ as You Think being released a couple weeks ago.

When I started listening, I started off with their newest album because of all the good things I had been reading about it on twitter, or hearing from my friends. I had this image of the band from the few other songs I had listened to in the past, but their newest record totally blew my image out of the water. I had known their music was emotional in the way that most pop punk music is, but You’re Not as _________ as You Think is entirely different; you can feel the raw emotion that went into writing it dripping from the tracks. The instrumentation will often go from being soft and more subdued, then building into these huge, almost “jam band” style sounds. The vocals usually crescendo with this as well, sometimes getting almost to scream from how aggressive they get. Many of the vocals though have an almost isolated sound to them where it sounds like they’re more exposed than what I’ve noticed in some of their other albums. It feels like you’re not just listening to a song that’s written by the band, but that you’re practically having a conversation with their vocalist, Cameron Boucher.

This is what I think I really like about Sorority Noise and everything I’ve heard so far: the lyrics are extremely well-written in that they feel real. A lot of bands I’ve been listening to sometimes have these cryptic, analogous lyrics that are trying really hard to be deep/just don’t make any sense at all. Sorority Noise appears to write from a place of real honesty (in all of their albums) and it shows in their lyrical content. It helps also to build a more emotional connection with the music because it feels like the band is exposing a part of themselves to the listener, it feels more personal. The best example of this is the last song on You’re Not as _________ as You Think called “New Room”, where Cam’s vocals sound almost distant, like he’s just alone in a room with a guitar and this is a recording that he sent out.

Overall, I’m really glad that I decided to check out Sorority Noise more in-depth! I think they’re really underrated when it comes to the whole “pop punk/emo” scene even though they’ve been around for a while now. My favorite tracks from them currently are Using (on Joy, Departed) or Car (You’re Not as _________ as You Think). I’ve been getting more into the style of music they make, the more indie sounding pop punk bands, and I look forward to listening to them more in the future. I think I’m going to see them in Chicago next month with Mat Kerekes and Remo Drive, so it will be exciting to see how they perform live as well.

If you love Sorority Noise, let me know what your favorite songs are by them and if you’ve never checked them out before, let me know what you think of them!