November Albums of the Month

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November Albums of the Month

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“Cheap Queen” by King Princess

Anna Arnsberger and Maren Dunn

9/10

The debut album of 20 year-old Mikaela Straus (better known as King Princess), “Cheap Queen,” has surpassed expectations. The pop record strays from the mainstream with a number of rich, unconventional tracks, relying on a blend of retro melodies and modern beats.

A non-binary lesbian, Straus’s themes of forbidden love, self-discovery, and heartbreak are inspired by queer experiences. On “Homegirl,” Straus’s raspy vocals and blues guitar lament having to hide relationships. “We’re friends at the party, I’ll give you my body at home,” she sings. 

Straus shines when displaying her production expertise with experimental sampling and unique beats on tracks like “Prophet” and “Trust Nobody.” She creates a sophisticated sound by taking control of the piano, bass, guitar, and drums on her record.

Straus reveals vulnerability with a number of dulcet mellow ballads, including “Ain’t Together” and “Watching My Phone.” But “Cheap Queen” isn’t all slow love songs—the mood is lifted with “Hit the Back,” her vibrant party song described as a “bottom anthem.” “Cheap Queen” is a refreshing mix of warm, intimate tracks with funky bangers, leaving listeners longing for more.

 

“Walk the Sky” by Alter Bridge

Alex Metzger

8/10

Since they first got together in 2004, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti have been one of the most dynamic duos that hard rock has ever seen. Bandmates Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) back them up with a rocking rhythm section.

The lead single, “Wouldn’t You Rather,” is the perfect Alter Bridge single. The riffs are heavy with D tuning and Tremonti’s signature guitar tone pummels the listener as Myle’s vocal pitch perfectly matches the lead section of the track. The blast beats and guitar parts resemble their “AB III” record on the title track.

But it’s not the perfect record. In 2019, metalheads have been treated to some of the finest rhythm section performances of the past two decades (thanks Jay Weinburg!) and Phillips and Marshall fail to express this time around. “Walk The Sky” also kills plenty of time with a medium tempo and repetitive tracks throughout. 

Yet all in all, I enjoyed my time spent with “Walk The Sky.” It asks the listener to really dig into what it has to offer and conveys a sense of depth we haven’t seen from the group since 2013. It’s a strong recommended listen for headbanger veterans and new rockers alike.

 

“You” by James Arthur

Chau Nguyen

6.5/10

James Arthur’s newest album, “You,” should come with a warning: keep tissues close. Listeners will be hit with a wave of melancholy after feeling the album’s sad vibes.

The record starts with two emotional ballads for someone who just got out of a toxic relationship. Anguish comes from the slow beat and the edgy voice that comes from Arthur trying out a higher than usual tone. To test out his musical range, Arthur wandered into the soulful “Marinade Parade,” the rhythm of which is a bit too mushy at times. And just in case his experimental song flounders, the album already has “Cars Outside” and “Quite Miss You” as backup plans, both containing similar guitar ballads and narrative lyrics as in his previous hits, seemingly replicas of his hit song “Say You Won’t Let Go.” 

This album was a wasted opportunity for Arthur, whose music shines when he feels happy. In “You,” featuring Travis Barker, there is a more upbeat melody that goes unexpectedly well with Arthur’s raw, throaty, and emotional voice. The retrospective lyrics venture from the signature “sad couple in love” theme. The R&B “If We Can Get Through This We Can Get Through Anything” is definitely another cheerful moment, but it can’t uplift the mood of a blue album.

 

“Pony” by Rex Orange County

Sadie Wyatt

9.5/10

“Pony,” the third album by alternative singer Alexander O’Connor (AKA Rex Orange County), demonstrates why he has become such a big name in music. The album switches between fast-paced and slower, meaningful songs. 

Standouts include “Always,” a slow track combining smooth vocals and unique instrumentals for a laid-back vibe, and “Pluto Projector,” which uses backup vocals and string instruments for a relaxing state of euphoria.

Unlike his other albums, O’Connor enables the listener to delve deep into his romantic thoughts. “Never Had The Balls” addresses being too scared to tell someone how you feel and “Face to Face” is an intimate look into a blooming relationship. 

The songs are all short and right to the point. The shortest of them all, “Stressed Out” delivers some of the most relatable lyrics, like “They wanna lie and still be friends/But when you’re at your worst, they’re not there.”

“Pony” shows how O’Connor has matured as an artist and as a person since his last album. If you’re looking for some down-to-earth and fresh music, this album is definitely worth it.