The Strumbellas Strike a Chord with New Album Hope

By Olivia Schroeder

The Strumbellas are back at it again. Following the success of their sophomore album We Still Move On Dance Floors, which earned them six awards, including a Juno Award, the indie-folk rockers have released their highly anticipated album Hope today, featuring their hit single "Spirits." 

The Tornto-based six-piece band has already garnered over 10 million streams to "Spirits" alone, and it's easy to understand why. Featuring big, bold choruses, danceable beats, and vulnerable lyrics, The Strumbellas have created a sound that is relatable and yet unlike anything done before. 

The Strumbellas have fans and artists everywhere getting excited. Check out this creative tribute by one of Hooligan's favorites, New York-based artist Kathleen Mentzer below. 

 

You can keep up with The Strumbellas here: 

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram 

Youtube

 

Metamorphosis: Unraveling the layers of Aurora Aksnes

By Delaney Clifford 

If you’ve been searching for an artist that I can only refer to as the “perfect medium,” then you’ve come to the right place. Aurora is that artist, revealed most prominently on her new album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend which was released in March of 2016. This debut record had set Aurora out in front of the herd as someone who won’t be ignored. Her style can’t be pinned down, the very same way that her eccentric look refuses to conform to any set of parameters.

On a first listen through her record, listeners might hear a familiar sound a feel the vibe that they’ve experienced while listening to other records… maybe for the first song, anyway. The deeper you get into this record, the deeper you fall into Aurora’s process. Almost as a shield, Aurora uses electronic beats and harmonies to bolster her painful lyrical content. This is an example of an artist that has made her emotion relatable, worth far more than a song to dance to in some club. One of the most interesting features about this record is the way that it changes, the way it morphs as you listen. Almost like getting to know a person, you see the surface first, the beats, the grooves, the melodies and harmonies, but the more you get into it, the more you get to know the person behind all of that, that’s when you feel for them; that’s when you know them.

This example comes in the form of Aurora’s song, “The Eyes of a Child,” a beautiful piano ballad showcasing the best of what Aurora has to offer her audience. Painful content shrouded in an angelic voice that you can get lost in over and over again. For me, this was the real focal point of the record, what everything was building up to. From that song, the rest of the record takes on a different form, a new shape. The beginning of the record seemed to be what Aurora was “willing” to show to her mass audience, and the latter half was a much deeper side of the artist, presenting a different side to both her and her music.

When I first looked at the album cover for this record, the image was all too clear to me. Featuring Aurora wrapped up in cloth with wings emerging from her back, she is going through a change. She began in one style, but she refuses to be pinned down. Her style is fluid, a dynamic flow that will have you listening to every song. There is no filler on this record. Aurora has created a record featuring a metamorphosis, a physical change that we can listen to occurring throughout the record. To me, that’s one of the most amazing things that a piece of music can offer. This album is like a sprint. You start off running headfirst into the night, not knowing exactly where you’re going to end up, but bursting forth anyway. Then before you know it, you’re coming to a halt, somewhere entirely different, and you just have to look around and feel it. So enjoy dancing your ass off, and enjoy feeling yourself, because that’s what Aurora brings to the table. Happy listening.

 

You can follow Aurora here:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

Sam Hunt Shines With Between the Pines

By Joe Longo

Courtesy of samhunt.com

Courtesy of samhunt.com

Sam Hunt is country music for the anti-country listener. Though his debut studio album Montevallo embraced the pop country notable of Florida Georgia Line or Luke Bryan, Hunt found a niche in an overcrowded, stale musical climate. Deploying spoken word and undertones of classic 00's R&B, Hunt presents an exciting, unique mixed sound. Much in the same way Taylor Swift expended well beyond on the classic country twang, so too does Hunt.

Yet if Montevallo is country for the pop fan, then his newly re-released acoustic “mixtape,” Between the Pines, is for the true country fans. Serving as a blueprint for Montevallo, the digital reissue of his original mixtape contains both stripped-down versions of his 2014 debut, as well as his take on several songs he co-wrote for other country artists. Thus, Pines’ stripped down, natural sound of acoustic albums naturally embraces a more country-specific tone. There is a soft, muted sound highlighting Hunt, but rarely overtaking him. The two albums expertly portray Hunt’s growth as an artist.

This change is most notable on “Ex To See.” Whereas the original, acoustic predecessor shines as a traditional country male ballad, the mainstream version seamlessly fused the staple Nashville twang with a new, minimal EDM sound. In fact his least “country” single, “Break Up In A Small Town,” with elements of rap and EDM fails to appear on Pines. Instead, the mixtape works to showcase the multi-faceted Hunt. His acoustic take on Keith Urban’s hit “Cop Car,” which Hunt co-wrote and also appears on Montevallo, highlights the strength of his country croon.

Courtesy of roughstock.com

Courtesy of roughstock.com

On its own, Between the Pines fails to stand-out rise above the mass, regurgitated sound of pop country. Yet the mixtape serves as a nice counter to the stronger, mature Montevallo. Presenting a glimpse into Hunt’s musical upbringing, Pines works to reassure his true country artist persona to those concerned of his multi-genre sound. Both signal a strong opening for the new artist, yet Hunt shines when he embraces all elements of his unique, multi-genre sound where he is at his best.

No wonder Hunt is a staple amongst the millennials. Much like Swift, Hunt seemingly has a clear understanding of his image. Even the cover art for Pines signifies a clear message. The polaroid quality reminiscent of Swift’s 1989 album is easily interchangeable with any given photo of a hip, young male Instagram blogger. And it is this keen self-awareness that transcends Hunt beyond just another country crooner. Hunt is on the path to being both the next big country star and also the next pop heartthrob, but only if he  continues to embrace his unique, urban country sound.