Music Reviews

Kiah’s New Releases Roundup – Will Joseph Cook, YUNGBLUD, WILLOW & Jahnavi Harrison And The Smashing Pumpkins

Kiah Tooke

Kiah gives us her take on her favourite releases of the week as we reach the end of lockdown.

Will Joseph Cook – Boundary Street:

Featured on his new album Something To Feel Good About, Boundary Street sees Will Joseph Cook experiment with a more refined indie style for his sophomore album. The album, which was released in two parts, is an honest reflection by Will on the past few years of his life.

Boundary Street highlights a more vulnerable and downhearted part of Will’s life, as the song discusses the breakdown of a relationship and the aftermath of being broken up with. The song’s honestly is reflected in the stripped-down sound, with Will’s voice only being accompanied by a sort synth beat throughout most of the song.

Despite Something To Feel Good About having a more honest and direct approach to Will’s life than his debut album, Boundary Street and the rest of the album as a whole maintains a sense of optimism throughout. In his interview with Dork, Will reflects that “It can be really empowering to take bad experiences or difficult feelings and then put them into something that is really defiantly joyous”.

As his debut album Sweet Dreamer was released when Will was still a teenager in 2017, the growth from that period is recognisable both lyrically and in the new developed sound of this album, reflected in Boundary Street. Although still retaining his indie pop label, this release sees Will incorporating more elements of lo-fi music and dream pop, creating a more diverse sound.

YUNGBLUD – mars:

British singer/songwriter Dominic Richard Harrison, known as YUNGBLUD, has released another single from his upcoming second album weird!, set to be released next month in December. The new track mars sees the singer further experiment with a pop-punk sound with subtle undertones of hip hop music. Although an unconventional blend of genres, the Yorkshire singer manages to use aspects of both that help fuel his passionate and emotional messages.

The song was inspired by a trans fan YUNGBLUD met whilst on Vans Warped Tour who described to him the difficulty transitioning and problems of acceptance they faced from their family. In an interview with the Guardian, YUNGBLUD talks about how “A lot of trans people feel like they’re not real and they’re not heard and that’s b*******”, and how this song attempted to air some of the emotions that can arise from not being accepted”.

The new track mars sees the singer further experiment with a pop-punk sound with subtle undertones of hip hop music

The singer also went on to describe how he used David Bowie’s Life on Mars? as inspiration for mars. The association from his song and the infamous 1973 Bowie song can be seen in the themes of being misunderstood and escapism.

Originally from Doncaster, YUNGBLUD has gained a loyal fanbase globally for his songs promoting self-acceptance and inclusivity; his upcoming album explores this further which is perfectly embodied in mars.

WILLOW & Jahnavi Harrison – Rise:

Renowned singer Willow has collaborated with British musician Jahnavi Harrison to create the EP RISE, which blends Sanskrit mantras and a meditative sound for a beautifully peaceful experience.

Specialising in mantra meditation music called kirtan, Harrison met Willow after a performance of her music which inspired Willow. Describing her first experience with kirtan, Willow said “I broke down into tears at one point…It’s such an ancient tradition, it’s like the roots of a tree”. After this spiritual experience, Willow felt compelled to explore the meditative music further and set upon creating RISE with Harrison.

The EP as a whole is only 19 minutes and Rise is the first track, the introduction for the specially crafted musical experience. Using delicate guitar layers, a dreamlike quality is achieved through Rise from combining this with Willow and Harrison’s light melodic vocals. The song also subtly weaves in sounds from the natural world such as birds singing and the wind’s breeze which further creates an ethereal ambience.

Parts of Rise are sung in Sanskrit, a classical language originating in South Asia that is thought to be the oldest language in the world; this is typical of the kirtan tradition which Willow and Harrison have worked to preserve. Overall, the serene atmosphere carefully engineered by Willow and Harrison offers a blissful introduction to meditative music, making it a successful collaboration.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Purple Blood:

American rock band The Smashing Pumpkins have returned with a new album Cyr, with Purple Blood being the last single released before the unveiling of the full album. This album marks a further departure from their alternative rock sound that broke them into musical mainstream, popularised on albums Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream.

The strong guitar that thunders in and out throughout the track adds depth to the song, making it an interesting addition to their discography

Using more synthesisers and electronic beats, Cyr sees The Smashing Pumpkins develop a more modern and polished sound. This is seen in Purple Blood with a steady synthetic backing paired with Billy Corgan’s distinct vocals, the only unmistakable trademark of the band’s earlier songs. The strong guitar that thunders in and out throughout the track adds depth to the song, making it an interesting addition to their discography.

Despite the shift in sound, Purple Blood does have an infectiously catchy dark melody that makes it memorable. Lead singer Corgan described the album as “trying to bring something new to the table, as opposed to just aping what we’re known for.” After being formed over 30 years ago, The Smashing Pumpkins have reinvented their sound with Cyr, leaving fans wondering what genre they will head to next.

Kiah Tooke

Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @willjosephcook and @jahnavi_harrison via No changes made to these images.

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