Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart (2013)

Tape Deck Heart is a transition album for Frank Turner. Not only for his music career, but it seems like a transition album for himself too. When asked about the theme of this album, Turner said, “This album is about self-examination, running through your own faults, about change, and about ending. Something like that.” (Source:

Turner starts with his most adverse yet catchiest song to date, “Recovery,” an obvious good introduction into this album and discusses a lot of the themes Turner mentioned in that quote. “If you could just give me a sign, just a subtle little glimmer / Some suggestion that you'd have me if I could only make me better,” he sings in the third verse. It’s a happy sounding song hidden with Frank Turner’s painfully self-aware lyrics about being out of control and not knowing how to get out of it. The song musically, is a little boring and repetitive but these lyrics are what saves it.

Then, Turner gives you “Losing Days” and “The Way I Tend to Be” - two of his most beautifully recorded songs to date. The lyrics, again, are honest thoughts about getting older (“Oh my broken battered body / In the days when I was younger / Used to fix itself quick sharp after every slip and stumble / But these days I'm collecting scars that don't seem to fade / Cuts and bruises that won't go away” in “Losing Days”) doing things you’re not exactly proud of and wish you could take back (“But you stood apart in my calloused heart, and you taught me and here's what I learned / That love is about all the changes you make and not just three small words” in “Way I Tend To Be”) and of course, the future (“But I've survived too long for my side of the deal / and as I reach that shore I'm not sure how to feel” in “Losing Days”). While this record seems to embrace the positive sides of the problems I’ve mentioned, there are also some songs that are just dark, do not have a light at the end of the tunnel and that it’s okay it doesn’t (a common trend in Turner’s music). “Good and Gone,” “Anymore” and “Tell Tale Signs” are good examples of this. Instrumentally, these songs also seem to be very basic, and I think that’s on purpose since the lyrics really make these songs. Speaking of trends, are you seeing one about the lyrics?! You should probably just listen to Frank Turner in general, if you’re a fan of the craft of writing lyrics.

Anyway, another song that should be mentioned is “Four Simple Words,” which seems obvious that he wrote just to perform live which, given his recent set list from his current tour, is accurate! (It’s usually now the first song they perform to get the audience pumped.) The chorus reminds me a little bit of “Photosynthesis” from Love & Ire Song. It’s definitely his version of a party song and doesn’t disappoint as that.

Is this his best album? Not in my opinion but some of the songs on this album, as I’ve mentioned, are examples of Frank Turner’s growth as an artist, as a song writer and as a musician. So I’d say it’s pretty damn important in his discography and definitely should be listened to.

“What do you do when something that was supposed to be perfect comes to its natural end?” Tape Deck Heart is supposed to answer this question, according to the englishman himself in an interview with NME (source: ... hqOrP2s.99). Listening to Tape Deck Heart for almost a year now, the answer to this question seems to be: the hell if I know but here’s how I felt after it happened.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey, I'm writing about music again! Album Review: Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (2013)

Canadian sisterly duo Tegan and Sara Quin seem to think they’re fools in relationships. Just look at some of their song titles—“Fool to Cry,” “I Was A Fool,” etc. Something they’re not fools about? Making synth pop perfection on their latest full-length album, Heartthrob, their first since 2009’s Sainthood which was a huge commercial success for them. After an album like Sainthood happens for a band, it can be tough to follow up, but after listening to Heartthrob all the way through, you’ll know why this won’t be an issue for them.

They start with their safe single “Closer.” Not to sound like Stefan from Saturday Night Live but this song has everything: lyrics about heartbreak and miscommunication, catchy, synthesized bliss, and a chorus any music lover would appreciate.

I find myself comparing a lot of the songs to ‘80s music. “I Was A Fool,” the third track on the album, sounds like it could also be in the discographies of Pat Benatar or Heart. “How Come You Don’t Want Me” and “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” remind me of songs that were the soundtrack to John Hughes movies. If you’re a new wave or synth pop fan, this also means you’ll definitely be happy about this album.

Tegan and Sara have lyrics on this album that makes your heart hurt because it’s so realistic to everyday relationships. From “Now I’m All Messed Up:” “You'll cut it out/ you never liked me anyway/Why do you take me down this road/If you don't wanna walk with me?/Why do you exist all alone/When you could just talk to me?” I think my point has been officially made. No explanation necessary.

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Justin Meldal-Johnsen, whose name I keep reading about lately, produced this album along with Greg Kurstin (P!nk, The Bird and the Bee) and Mike Elizondo (many rap artists, Kimbra, Regina Spektor). Meldal-Johnsen is going to have a good year—he’s also producing an upcoming album for Paramore. If Tegan and Sara’s newest is any indication of his work, he probably will be around more often.

I’m trying to think of any songs I wasn’t particularly enamored with. Guess what? I can’t think of any. The album is short, but quality is always better than quantity. I think they’ve always been influenced with new wave and synth music, but it hasn’t been as overtly obvious as it is on Heartthrob. The Con and Sainthood, their two albums before Heartthrob, had angst and were way more rock-influenced. Heartthrob definitely carries angst as well, but in a different way than the others. I love when you can detect these things in an album and notice a band growing like they’ve done in recent years.

Hopefully this album will be known as one of their best, because I think it is. Whoever broke up with these ladies, it’s them we should also be thanking, having inspired them to make something beautiful out of something that might not have been so beautiful.

x-posted in Scene Point Blank

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stef's Songwriting Blog

Hey all! Long time, no post! I know I've been a bad blogger recently. I've been a bad writer, in general. I haven't written anything in months. Except for a Grouplove review for Scene Point Blank. You can check it out here.

But I'm starting a new blog that what I'm hoping will somewhat "document" my songwriting process...if you could call it that, ha! Here's the link:
Follow it!

Also, this does not mean that The Preston Beat is over. I just haven't been too inspired to write ABOUT music lately. It's possibly because I've been actually writing music and have been focusing all my energy on that.

2/16/2013: I just deleted this blog...obviously, it didn't motivate me at all! Back to this blog.