I’ve Been Much Better But At Least I’m Healing – Song’s To Listen To When Alone At Night

One of my favourite things about Pop Punk is the way it made me feel, especially when I was younger and would spend hours on Tumblr. It is simply one of my favourite genres to listen to when I’m sad alone at night. And I have been doing so for years at this point which is why I think I’m ready to share a collection of songs that are perfect for those moments. Not everything here is Pop Punk to be fair, but a fair amount is, not that you need to apply genre’s to everything. I’ve said it before but never box yourself in with that.

This isn’t a complete list or anything, there are tons of songs, of albums, of playlists that could be here. But for now here’s 12.

How To Never Stop Being Sad – Dandelion Hands

Would you call this Pop Punk? Some say yes, some say no, some would probably suggest it being more Midwest, either way I’m 100% including it. The thing about Dandelion Hands is that their music is the opposite of a hug, if that makes sense. It tends to leave me senseless in a way that I can’t stop staring at the ceiling and playing over my own mundane actions of life. It’s not comforting, but you don’t want it to be, not really. It’s a moment of “oh”. It is simply something you need to experience at least once. 

The Night I Drove Alone – Citizen

This right here is a classic Sad Boi anthem and if you’re into this style of music it is probably no surprise that it is here. Have I sobbed to Citizen multiple times? Absolutely. Is it usually at night in some of my darkest moments? Correct, yeah. Do I think you should give it a listen in those times for you? Yes, yes I do. Citizen nail this thing about gripping vocals that make me feel as if I’m screaming from the heart.

High Definition – Waterparks

This might be my favourite song on this list, mostly because it is one of my favourite songs of all time. I will take no slander for it at all. I don’t think I can even describe what it is about this song. All I know is I relate to it too much sometimes, and perhaps you will too. Especially if you struggle with ideas of love. Awsten sometimes says this is the best song he’s ever written and I hope you take a moment to listen to it.

Bummer Summer – Charmer

Oh, I cannot even translate how dearly I love this classic midwest-y tune. It is just something you need to experience. It, like most of this style of music, reminds me so much of fall and broken promises. It leaves me feeling a little less empty, but a little more sighing in sadness.

July (Part One) – Hotel Books

Only listen to Hotel Books if you really want to be broken. Or, maybe, you already are broken and just need reminding of it. If you need something to scream about, something to violently sob for a second if you really relate to the context of this. I’m sorry if you do, but please take this as my offering to you.

Whole – Basement

Just – just listen to it. In fact just listen to Basement. I’m losing my words here.

Losing Days – Hot Mulligan

Hot Mulligan is one of those bands that I listen to when I’m sad, happy or ready to think about my existence. I really thank them for that ability, and the fact that their Twitter really radiates some kind of energy that makes their music more enjoyable than it already is. Losing Days is only one of many songs I recommend listening to late at night in your room.

I Usually Call This One “Dying” – Gloom

Ah this, this doesn’t necessarily sound sad, not really. But it’s a nice breather between the others I have mentioned. I don’t really know a lot of people who listen to Gloom, but I will suggest it. This is a song that’s a vibe, reminds me of when my fairy lights flicker as I cry a little.

It’s Too Much – Moose Blood

Okay, I know people either love or hate Moose Blood and this genre has a ton of issues from bands. But this song, hell any of their songs? So good and I hate it. Moose Blood had music I loved early on in my exploration of Pop Punk and I cry often to them. It is just, I really can’t explain it, so beautifully sad. 

Sixteen – Real Friends

Oh, Oh Real Friends. I treasure them with my entire heart. They are the perfect sad band for me. I love everything they’ve done, even if it leaves me upset clinging to a pillow remembering my pain that never really leaves. This song is one that if you take anything away from this post at all, is that you should listen to it.

The Grey – Movements

Like Real Friends, Movements is that band that can fill a song with a broken heart, trauma and loneliness in a way I am obsessed with. Their Feel Something album is quite loved for this reason, and yes this song comes from there. Movements are like a blanket to me, they weigh me down but comfort me at once. I love them so much.

Well Adjusted – Summer Wars

There’s something about being an anxious person to the core and cold, rainy weather that Well Adjusted pulls out of me. I don’t just listen to this at night, but it hurts me a little more when it is. I am not well adjusted, I like to think I will be one day, and everyday I get up and attempt to be so. However, in those times where I am down so many levels this song is like taking a hammer to me feelings.

I recommend listening to these tunes. Really, each song here makes me feel things when it’s 3am, I’m staring at the ceiling, and I have a Uni class in a few hours. I cry to music a lot, and sometimes it makes no sense when I do. Like why do I cry to Future? That – that one makes no goddamn sense at all. However, these song’s right here are perfectly crafted for these moments of loneliness.

You can find each of the song’s mentioned here in this playlist of mine that includes the artists and music I talk about for University.

The Words’ll Never Come Out Right – Pop Punk Artist’s You Should Be Paying Attention To

In recent time’s Pop Punk has come again into the light of mainstream attention as it did when bands like Yellowcard, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and All American Rejects were played constantly on the radio or the soundtracks of movies. History repeats itself constantly, so really it should be no surprise that it has once again caught on – at least for the moment.

I have no issue with this. Like I said it’s not the first time and really it’s a way for kids to discover things. Not to mention some of what has arisen from the current spotlight has been pretty decent. That being said, the mainstream lane right now is not at all what is happening within the genre. The only way I can describe it is that no matter how many different eras/styles there are to choose from – neon, skate, sad boi, etc – they only ever go for the same thing. Nostalgia, let’s revise the sound of what mainstream Pop Punk used to be. It’s always the same thing with a new face and a hint of contemporary to make it “now”. And to be honest I get it. It’s smart, who doesn’t fall for nostalgia? But really that whole lane is completely separate to the current state of the genre. The way popular culture picks things up is not to be a part of what the current wave is doing, from what is actually happening.

For a while Pop Punk from the 2010’s hit a rut, even me who adores this genre won’t hesitate to say so. It becomes, like most genres do, over-saturated with copies and personations. So with that being said, nothing within the genre really was interesting for a while.

At least, I think so, until now.

The new wave that has been appearing for a moment has been encpatualising. It has not completely moved from the ‘Sad Boi’ tumblr style, but it is totally switched up. I think after that massive hit of Emo Rap we had, bands have started to adapt to this way of not sticking to one thing anymore. In my opinion it’s great, amazing even. Especially when everyone has different ways of incorporating multiple things. Not to mention the features! The 2010’s era was full of features from other artists, bands, from the genre and it was great for sure. But now? I don’t think I’ve encountered as many slight rap crossovers as this new wave has been bringing. And no, I’m not talking about MGk’s album, I mean the artists who are separate from the spotlight.

Part of the reason why I wanted to write this was to share some really great artists who are being overshadowed by mainstream popular culture though. Of course someone within that is going to be a more prominent result when searching new wave Pop Punk than a band with a single EP.

SO, THE ARTISTS?

If I’m being completely frank right now, this isn’t a long list. This is partly because I have hardly been engaging with the Pop Punk scene for a while, just glimpses here and there. Not because I don’t love it, not because I hate it, but simply because I enjoy so many different types of music that it just hasn’t been my main focus right now. That’s okay though, and it leaves room for me to make an updated list in the future, but for now here are a few artists you should be paying attention to.

Magnolia Park

I discovered Magnolia Park from tiktok of all places. I was just aimlessly scrolling, as we all don’t lie, when a snipped for one of their songs and the band came up. Paired with ‘can we be your new favourite Pop Punk band?” text I stopped to pay attention. It was great marketing, I’m not gonna lie. Hell, these kids didn’t even have a single EP when I found them, yet I was actually interested.

They sounded like a mix of classic upbeat Pop Punk with this newer level of production and mixing that would have been labeled as ‘fake auto-tune bullshit’ from those types of fans. To be honest, this whole new era probably is labeled just like that to them. 

I would also like to point out that Pop Punk for the longest time, and taking a look at the mainstream counterpart right now, is very white. Really, most of who you’ll encounter are just pretty white boy’s, and while that was kind of the ‘midwest, angry, white guy’ frontman was a thing for a while, it’s kind of fucked. Magnolia Park features more than one, and not ‘just thrown in there’, POC unlike most in the genre. Actually, it was part of the reason they caught my eye.

Magnolia Park is a five piece pop punk/alternative rock band from Orlando, Florida. The band blends elements of hip hop, pop punk and Emo rock to create a captivating sound and haunting aesthetic. Their music is produced by legendary alternative rock/pop punk producer Andrew Wade of The Audio Compound, who has worked with bands like A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, Wage War, Real Friends, and more.

Magnoliaparkband.com

As smaller artists they’ve done quite a bit of collabs and brought people to feature on tracks. This is a really smart thing. For example, ‘TDH2S’ from their ‘Dream Eater’ EP feature’s Oliver Baxxter, the vocalist for Broadside. While Broadside isn’t a name like The Story So Far or Neck Deep, their existing presence within Pop Punk is there. Along with that, ‘Back on My Bullshit’ which was a popular single before the release of the EP, features iamjakehill. Both of these and others, especially with the appearance of popular emo boy Kellin Quinn, have enabled the band to engage with multiple different audiences before even an album.

To me, Magnolia Park really encaptualates what modern Pop Punk is and needs to be. It’s so interesting and different from where we just were in the genre, and I honestly just adore them. I can’t recomend them enough.

Point North

I think Point North has been around for a little bit, and to be honest I still don’t really hear many talk about them. It could be due to the fact that they’ve always had this new wave style to some extent a part of their music, and like I said before, people don’t ‘like that’. I first heard Point North because of Spotify – thank you Spotify so much – all from their cover of Nothing, Nowhere’s ‘Hammer’. It’s nothing like the original, it’s fast and loud and high energy. Honestly, I would describe most of their music like that. I love Nothing, Nowhere but that cover tops the original by far.

Point North have two albums, ‘A Light in a Dark Place’ (2018), and ‘Brand New Vision’ (2020). Both of these, to me, really express the type of stylistic choice Pop Punk is having currently. Their 2021 singles, especially ‘Nice Now’, are bright, loud and evocative, something that has always stood out to me with them.

Though most of their stuff goes back to 2018, a moment when the 2010’s had kind of a stand still in defined sound, I think they’re gonna thrive with where this genre is headed. You can already feel it with the release of their second album mid 2020, and now with a new single every few months. They’re picking up this fire momentum, something I think will get them far. Like Magnolia Park, Point North has had a feature from the infamous Kellin Quinn, who from the looks of things really enjoys getting involved with smaller artists.

Meet Me @ The Altar

As I mentioned above, Pop Punk always had a white dominating scene, and along with that male. I know you’re probably sitting there like ‘but hey Paramore!’ and you’re right, sure. However, the amount of discourse over Paramore being simply just a Pop band was everywhere in the 2000’s and 2010’s. It really wasn’t about the music, it was just about the fact Hayley Williams is female. Not to mention, Tonight Alive and Against The Current are both female fronted bands that never got anything as much as others based simply on gender. There’s this stereotype of ‘Misogynistic Pop Punk’, lyrically and community wise, and for the longest time it completely was.

I say all this because one of the incredible driving factors of this new wave is the diversity in race and gender. And Meet Me @ The Altar is making impacts in changing how the scene has been for the better.

Once again I did find their music through TikTok, which is proving to be a solid platform for music artists. Honestly, I didn’t come across them themselves, I saw many different people talking about them instead. The thing with this genre is that it is incredibly closed off, or used to be, and so many fans still want that for it. Which is why when you hear a lot of people talking about the same artist, especially newer, they’re usually really good. And boy, are Meet Me @ The Altar is.

An exhilarating blast of sticky-sweet vocals, fluttery electric riffs, and a dangerously catchy chorus (“Your flowers will finally grow!”), it’s all but guaranteed to have you longing for the days of black eyeliner and studded belts.

rollingstone

Meet Me @ The Altar is really moving this genre forward at such a fast pace, and I do wholeheartedly put a lot of the new transitions that are happening to them. Their song ‘Hit Like A Girl’ is completely an anthem for me. It’s something I wish younger me could sing along to rather than ‘Do you look yourself, straight in the eyes and think about who you let between your thighs?’. It’s been time for change for a while, and it’s here finally. If you should pay attention to anyone on this list, if anyone I have mentioned is going to make massive headways, it is them and you should really, really check them out.

Honourable Mention – Lil Lotus

Okay, I know this might get me disliked by some people. Which is fine, I don’t really care if you’re gonna disagree about this.

I mentioned before how the Emo Rap movement that we had in the 2010’s really aided in some newer influence, to bring things together in production and out stepping genre boxes. However, that goes both ways. There are so many artists within that scene, or even those who’ve transitioned from musician to producer, who came from Pop Punk influence. You’ll be surprised with how many Sad Boi Pop Punk era songs have been sampled. Even Lil Peep songs, if you want me to go there.

The point? Influence isn’t a one way street, and while Lil Lotus is commonly more associated with emo rap, he isn’t remotely a simply artist like that. His latest album, ‘Errør Bøy’, is honestly more fitting with bands like Magnolia Park than rap – while still so distinctively being both. Actually, Lil Lotus is touring with Magnolia Park as an open for him, so there you go. That sounded aggressive, but I guess I’m tired of the genre box. ‘Romantic Disaster’ off the album actually features Chrissy Costanza, from Against The Current if you remember them from what I said before.

Change is on it’s way, it’s been meaning to happen, and I really think now is the time to stop thinking you can only listen to one thing to really be a fan. Lil Lotus isn’t just a Rap type artist, he isn’t so simply placed like that. I think if you’re really into keeping up with the way the scene is growing, you need to acknowledge that genres can influence each other. That artists are going to influence each other, and that’s a great thing, not something to hate on.

I Wanna Live Inside Your Mind Next To Your Favourite Songs – Ranking Waterpark’s Albums

I would like to say that I have a pretty open and vast music taste. For me it really is just about the music, or well, art anyway. I don’t like to sit there and critique something based on what someone else thinks is “real music”, especially when all they mean by that is organic sounds. It’s just a silly argument to me, as if sound and music isn’t just pretty little air waves that we all hear differently as living beings. Not to mention it’s just self expression, it’s just creation like everything else in the world is. I think you must live a pretty boring life to only be open to one thing – I could never imagine only watching trashy rom-coms just because something else is entirely different. That’s the point, right?

Now, I promise you this has a reason, I’m not just ranting.

Waterparks are a three piece band from Houston, Texas, and when they were younger very much so inspired by “pop punk” music. As most of us who found bands at a young age can be. When signed to their first label, the whole “pop punk” box was something Waterparks fell into because of this. The issue? They’re so much more than that.

As the years have progressed there has been plenty of talk from Awsten Knight – vocalist, intense creative mind – about the genre in correspondent to the band:

Q: “What do you take from pop punk music and work into your own art?”

A: “The thing is we have all the ingredients for a pop punk band, but it’s the last thing I want to be.”

Q: “Why?”

A: “Because I just – I feel like pop punk hit where it was gonna hit…and at the same time it’s such a limiting genre because you can only do so many things with it. And that’s – that’s another reason I’m so into like -“

Q: “Genre belnding?”

A: “Yeah, and it’s like – and it’s no disrespect like I’m not just trying to shit on like pop punk stuff, but it’s like I just like so much more, you know what I mean? Like besides and also another thing that sucks is when you’re put in that category it’s so hard to get out of it. And when people see you as a “pop punk band” it’s just associated with like being a teenager at warped tour or whatever and it’s like that’s just not what I want.”

Awsten Knight, Zach Sang – The Zach Sang Show, 2019

I only bring this up because often the most negative criticism of Waterparks is the fact that they’re “not pop punk.” It’s not hard to find macho midwest dudes who dislike them just for not making pop punk music, all because the band themself would be around/tour with bands that were. Which I find hilarious.

“Fans of rock think there’s so much better than fans of other things because they’re like ‘oh but this is like meaningful’… most of the time it’s just like vague negative bull, like they’re not even saying anything it’s just like – just like vague struggle fluff for the sake of like being relatable…”

Awsten Knight, 2019

Again, I only bring this up because you can’t justify your opinion on something that they’re not and I think it’s incredibly important to only go into their music with this information. You can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting pop punk – in fact you can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting anything.

Waterparks have four albums – minus their Fandom: Live In The UK – three EPs and, depending on who you ask if they consider it, the “unreleased non-official G album” demos on soundcloud that Awsten had to release because of a tweet. For the purposes of this blog post I’ll just be focusing on albums, but who knows in the future I might follow up with my opinions on everything else.

Fourth Place – Entertaiment

I feel like I might get some hate for this one, which is fine but I have my reasons. I have been listening to Waterparks since the EP days and have watched them steadily grow since and with the release of Entertainment brought in a number of new fans. This isn’t bad, I think this was an era where things started to happen within fans and it was honestly a moment. That being said, this is my least favourite album out of anything they’ve produced. It just doesn’t feel right for me, not at all. That doesn’t mean I hate it, for I enjoy a lot of the songs from Entertainment. But I think that’s just the point, it feels like some songs, not an album, not a piece of art. Maybe there’s something missing for me, maybe I just never connected to it the way I did with every other album? It just feels adolescent to me as well, I don’t know how to explain it.

It’s not a bad album, not really. I know a lot of people who adore it, the vibes of it. That’s just not me though.

Third Place – Greatest Hit’s

Here is where things get difficult. I love – and by god I mean love – this album. Waterparks have some of my favourite artistry out there in the music game right now for me. The contextual elements. The max amount of detail – like how Track 1: Greatest Hits has audio from the streets when their Fandom album was on a billboard in times square. Insane, I love it so much. Greatest Hits is amazing, it’s a piece of art.That being said, as much as this gets played nearly daily for me, I adore the other two albums even more. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but I do.

Second Place – Double Dare

For the longest time Double Dare was my favourite album – one of my favourite’s of all time actually. And it still very much is, but I think most of my love for it comes from my emotional connection to it and what it ‘means’ to me rather than think it’s their best collective piece of music. Of course it keep’s second place though. This album came out exactly when I needed it in 2016, it brought so much joy into my life and it still does every time I listen to it. It’s nostalgic in the best way, while still completely holding up in being good music. Nothing enacts the same feeling as when I hear the opening to Track 8: Powerless.

First Place – Fandom

For a while I sat here not knowing if Fandom or Double Dare would get first place and it took me a long time to decide. If that doesn’t prove just how top notch both of them are then well, I don’t know I just felt like saying that. Fandom was always second to me, for so long, but after thinking it out I actually listen to Fandom more. It only came out in 2019, yet I still listen to it – the songs separately and as a whole – so often that there is always one song in my top tracks. Like Greatest Hits, Fandom has so much contextual depth and artistry. It was the first record away from their first label and you could notice the shift in how they produced their art. It was a moment of growth, change and it was so authentically themself. I love it, I’m attached to it, and I really recommend you listen to it at least once in your life. 

“I have a theory that we could do almost any – where we can do close to anything sonically, not anything but like most things genre wise and as long as what I’m saying is very authentic and very, very real and you can tell I feel like we’ll be aright cuz like Turbulent sounds nothing like any of the older stuff but it’s like what I wanted to make…I like dark music, I like pop music, I fast, I was like that’s all of those things…I just, I like so many things and I just think it’s stupid that – alright I think it’d be dumb to only show like one dimension of yourself especially like today…”

Awsten Knight, 2019

My World Is Broken Down Into One Simple Principle: I Believe I’m Powerful, Therefore I Am – A Get To Know Me

I didn’t have a book review or anything really to post as I normally would have, and so because of that I thought I would just write about me. I put a lot of myself on this blog, when it comes to my University work for my degree or just things I want to showcase – like my reviews of books, music and my art. I wanted there to be some place where I could actually tell you about myself, besides my quick about me you can find here. Afterall, this is my blog, with my passions and work why shouldn’t you get to know who is behind all of it?

To be honest, I find the whole “get to know me” ice breakers, short descriptions, kind of situations really difficult. Like how am I supposed to make you know anything meaningful about myself by telling you if I have siblings or if I like chocolate? I can’t and you can’t gauge anything about me by knowing such basic information that only really makes up the shell to my inner character.

But to be kind, I will give you that really brief description and you can determine for yourself if you want to continue. That was a trick, to see if you were paying attention, because you can’t determine anything from that information.

Anyway, my name is Taylorlani, and yes I like chocolate despite being lactose intolerant.

THING’S ACTUALLY ABOUT ME

“Yeah, I grew up on the South Coast of Australia.” Boring, that says nothing about me. I did grow up on the south coast, in many different places because we moved around a lot. This also means I went to a couple of different schools, which was really unsettling and annoying as a kid if I’m being honest. Now, I lived in many different places not because we could afford too but the opposite. I was homeless for a minute as a kid too, living in friends of family’s houses because things did get like that. I never came from much either, but, honestly, that’s okay.

I don’t acknowledge this part of my life for you to feel sorry for me though, I do because I’m proud of myself. I, if it’s not too narcissistic to say, have a strong work ethic, large life goals and drive because of it. One of my main life goals is to drag myself out of poverty. In year six, I was like eleven, I sat my mother down and said I was going to University for Media/Writing. I don’t think any of my family or teachers thought I would stick with it, they’d just say okay about it. Yet, here I am at nineteen in my fourth semester, second year of exactly that. I worked for that goal since the start of highschool, I did extra work/programs to up myself all the way into my senior year.

I do have siblings, but the thing with that is it’s not just a simple statement. None of my siblings and I have the same father, and there is some age gaps and different ethnicities within that mix. I have an older brother, a whole ten years older actually, and as a kid that meant we were never really close but I’m happy to say that changed since I too am now an adult. I have a younger sister, five years between us, and she is very much following my footsteps with anime and hair dye. Both my siblings are white, however I am a biracial Māori and proudly so.

THING’S I LIKE – HOBBIES EDITTION

If it was not obvious from my book reviews, I like to read a lot. I own a lot of books too despite my bank account crying out against it. My favourite book/series isn’t anything magnificent, it’s not some deep piece of literature as you might expect from someone majoring in writing in a degree of Communications and Media. Actually, if I hadn’t picked it up at age ten from my primary school library because there was a wolf on the cover – I was a wolf girl 😐 – then I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be. However, I did pick up that series and as a lonely kid and proceeded to read it during lunch. Never in my life has anything changed it so much as that book. That book was Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and I read that over twenty-two times within one year, along with the following two other books. Out of all three in the trilogy the second, Linger, would specifically have to be my favourite. A monumental moment in my life, never had I ever read a book front to back before and it really changed me. As stated before I’m majoring in writing at University, I’m sending myself into debt all because this one trilogy took such a deep rooted hold onto my soul and showed me a form of escapism I needed. I have never gone back either, I still read all the time, I write a lot though I don’t share that as much. It’s really not a light statement when I say those book’s changed my life.

I’m an artist, though I really take a lot of time to ever produce anything because nothing is simple and it takes me forever to actually finish something of quality. It doesn’t really matter to me how much or how little someone likes my art, because I never started creating on the basis of other people. Authenticity is a key quality in any kind of creative exploration and, not so surprisingly, people can tell when it is fake. This is why I never force myself to constantly create because I don’t do it just for an audience at all, there is so many unfinished, failed anatomy or just for fun pieces in my sketchbook that I don’t share openly that are just for me – an extentsion of myself.

I like cooking. I wouldn’t say I am amazing at it or that I can really make things with no guidelines, but I enjoy it. Which is kind of funny since I am such a picky eater and hate eating around people if I’m not insanely comfortable around you. Actually, I did VET Tafe Hospitality in highschool and I believe I’m one module away from having my Cert Two in Hospitality which I could easily go and finish anytime. Sadly, I hate working in hospitality, I used to help out family friends with their small business. But cooking for my own enjoyment – stunning, we love her.

Some quick round off’s – I like shoes a little too much, makeup is not me being insecure but another way of expressing myself artisitcly, I hord stuff animals (it’s an issue), I adore being out and doing things so please invite me to adventure.

MORE ABOUT ME – OBVIOUSLY

A major thing about me that is impossible to miss if you follow me on any platform is that I am, and grew up a part of, the music scene. I put that broad label on it because I cannot for the life of me really tell you where I fit, because I am a part of many different subcultures. I was raised on metal and many different things as well. In fact when I was a kid my dad would put on Fall Out Boy’s live dvd because I enjoyed it so much, which was truly a reason I ended up being a scene kid in my early, preteen years. I also stole many of his CD’s as a young kid, including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and My Chemical Romance. I ended up taking his books too, and this is why I owned an old battered copy of Motley Crue’s The Dirt.

My childhood was very much impacted and surrounded by music, which lead to me doing so on my own. I was massively a part of the 2011 and onward emo scene. I started going to shows at thirteen/fourteen and being active within subcultures from that moment forward. It’s a very big thing in my life, a massive trait of mine, and something I would adore to include in my career somehow as I do with my University work. Actually, here’s a review of The Maine’s new album I recently wrote.

I am really into learning and teaching myself things and because of this I am wholeheartedly into astrology. Yeah, I know, you can laugh now if you wish. Some books that really have helped do so are: The Complete Guide To Astrology, Understanding Yourself, Your Signs, and Your Birth Chart – by Louise Edingtom, The Signs – by Carolyne Faulkner, Astrology For The Soul – by Jan Spiller, The Secret Language Of Birthdays – by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers, and really anything by Gary Goldschneider.

If you were interested to know my chart, I’ll only give you my “big three” only unless your my friend. Pisces Sun, Capricorn Moon, and Libra Rising. It’s ah – it’s something.

THING’S I DON’T LIKE

I am not going to waste my time talking about anything I don’t like, I just felt like you would expect it to be here.

SOME OF MY FAVOURITE QUOTES

I kind of don’t really know how to end this off. This could be because I don’t see myself ending, or having an end at all. How are you supposed to stop “getting to know me” when I don’t stop existing? I will forever be advancing, changing, moving within myself and my own identity, and I love that. Thus, instead, I will leave you with a collection of my favourite quotes to possibly exist within you as well as me. Or not, I don’t mind, but I love them and so they’re here.

“My world is broken down into one simple principle: I believe I’m powerful, therefore I am.” – Kingdom of the Wicked, by Kerri Maniscalco.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” – The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.

“I closed my eyes and let self-loathing gently sing a siren song to me.” Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater.

“History, huh? Bet we could make some.” Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston.

“And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.” By Langston Hughes.

“Die with memories not dreams.” – Unknown.

“The key, Gansey found, was that you had to believe that they existed; you had to realise they were a part of something bigger. Some secrets only gave themselves up to theose who’d proven themselves worthy.” – The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.

So Tell Me Where Do You Go When The Hope Runs Out For A Little While – The Maine “XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time” Album Review

Today, Friday the 9th of July 2021, the power pop/pop punk band, The Maine, released their latest album in their already extensive discography titled “XOXO: From Love & Anxiety in Real Time”. The album consists of ten tracks, four of which were singles, paired with bright colours and solid block shapes which really come through when you listen to it. 

Now, personally, I adore The Maine even though the more power pop/neon side of pop punk isn’t exactly my kind of thing. Yeah, yeah you can attack me for not liking All Time Low much here if you want. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, or that I don’t like it, I just favour it a lot less than other styles within the genre. That being said, The Maine is one of my favourite bands. They’re just so authentically themselves with their artistry and I’m pleased to say XOXO was no different.

TRACK BY TRACK

Sticky (single, heard before today) – I’m not sure if this was the first single the band released beforehand, to be honest I don’t remember the order they were released in at all. However, I have been listening to them for a long time, and Sticky is by far my favourite from the four singles. It’s catchy and upbeat, really set the tone for the album even though I think it really stands out on it’s own compared to the rest of the songs. I don’t have a lot to say, not because it isn’t one of my favourites but because I do not remember my first reaction at all.

Lips (single, heard before today) – When I first heard Lips just as a single I love, love, loved it. That hasn’t changed at all, but when listening to the album as a collective piece I found I paid attention to it the least. Maybe that’s because everything else following was so new and I’ll be so interested to see how my opinion grows.

Love In Real Time – I took notes as I heard the album for the first time and in them I have written “omg, the fade in was immaculate, the vibe, the flow, the length.” Something XOXO does so well is the transitions and fade outs and Love In Real Time is the first moment I was like OH MY, because really it was lovely. The length is under 2 minutes, however it matches the song perfectly.

High Forever – The transition into this was also notable, as well as the difference that kind of sent me back to other power pop type vibes, that sets it apart from the songs before. Lyrically, there was something to be said about all the repetition, along with the constant empthis of falling in contrast to being high.

April 7th (single, heard before today) – Personally, this was not a song I loved. I like it a lot, I understand it’s place and I wouldn’t take it away at all. April 7th I think is just a song I can’t connect with at this point, but it’s lovey tone makes me want to someday. I will say the change from High Forever to April 7th was somewhat jarring of a difference, though that could exactly be the point. I would have loved a longer fade out, but maybe that’s me being picky.

If Your Light Goes Out – From notes: “oo it’s pretty, the drums are nice, oh wait is that an acoustic guitar??? Oh damn the acoustic, bass and production combo!!” If Your Light Goes Out is notably one of my favourites from this album. It’s a really hopeful song which fits it’s delicate pretty tone so nicely. I loved the way the song fades off to just the acoustic. 

Pretender (single, heard before today) – In this we’re back with the delicate, fairy like tonality, something I find very fitting for their brand and the band. It kinda contrasts the lyrical context, I really like the content, kinda has that authentic og era of pop punk this band came from, along with being really catchy.

Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful – The opening, I like the voicemail type. The vocals are super cool, the harmonies add so much, the textured layering is stunning, like there’s a lot going on but also not at the same time. It does follow a similar format as the other songs, the fairy-ness of their production which makes sense if you listen to it ahhh. The fuzzy at the end reminds me of something by Waterparks actually. I think this was also a notable favourite.

Anxiety In Real Time – The transition was nice here too, the vocals are a forefront aspect compared to some of the other songs. In my notes I wrote that it reminds me of the 1975 somewhat, but still The Maine. Lyrically its relatable as someone with an anxiety diagnosis, though it is broad. The tone of the guitar is a nice change from the others. It feels very long, but I think that’s kind of a point and the static was great.

Face Towards The Sun – This, this is probably one of my tops from this whole album. The intro, again, was stunning and then suddenly oh the drums! “So upbeat damn, very pop punk esc.” This really feels like summer to me, where the rest of the album, to me, encapsulates spring. It feels like spring fading into summer finally as this is the last track. I again made another note on the drums apparently. Hopeful again which is nice to leave off with. Reminds me of the beach at sunset in a true moment of happiness. The soft fade out for the ending of the album is nice. 

MY THOUGHTS

XOXO: From Love & Anxiety in Real Time as a whole is just spring to me. The format flowed through the whole thing with small moments of “ohh that change’, so it is very cohesive. It feels like something you would listen to all at once and together like it was actually written to be a piece of art rather than some songs put together in one place. I think opening with Sticky was great because I had been listening to it for months already and so the album felt knowable. However, I don’t think another single (Lips) should have been track two. It kind of made me want it to hurry up, also I think Lips would fit somewhere else, maybe between Anxiety In Real Time and Face Towards The Sun. That was the only song that felt misplaced to me. The colour scheme was very fitting. The Maine has always been a warm toned band but never I would say as bright, and for some of the production you could say the same. I’m not that knowledgeable about producing so I really can’t critique it that well, but I loved the layering that just overlayed everything. The Maine is one of those neon/power pop era bands that truly is not doing it like anyone else and have always been “them” compared to a lot of others in that style of this genre. The Album really goes to show that too, I would never mistake them for All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, or State Champs. I love that they never fell under that intense wave and era of “Sad Boi, Tumblr” pop punk and started to become another The Story so Far or Neck Deep as many other bands did.

Honestly, it is a lovely album, by a band I love, even if I don’t favour this style/branch of pop punk as much. I really think I’ll listen to this so much in spring and summer. It just makes me want to drive on the coastline with the windows rolled down and the wind in my hair. It feels yellow and orange and red.

Overall, XOXO would be an 8/10 for me. The two points off just because this isn’t my go to style, for myself personally, and more exciting textures and intense ups and downs are something I look for in music. Don’t take that as me saying the flow or the cohesiveness is bad at all because I did like it!! A lot!! Just not a personal preference. 8/10 is not at all a bad rating for me either, in fact that’s still incredibly high. I enjoyed this album a lot, it was exactly what I pictured in a good way, and it makes me feel warm and comfortable 🙂

Something Strong Enough To Topple Kings – A Grishaverse Review, Mostly Anyway

Leigh Bardugo has been a prominent name within YA literature for years now, and I am shamefully admitting how little attention I had ever given her. Bardugo is currently seven books deep into what is known as the Grishaverse – excluding her separate additions to the world that include a book on the language, another on saints and a third on journal prompts inspired by the series.

Now, being seven whole books into this world there is an order to the three different series, which I am shamefully admitting to not following and I very much suggest you do.

We start off with a trilogy, centred around Alina Starkov and companions as she manages life changes and suddenly has the title of a saint from orphan. Shadow and Bone (now actually a show on Netflix but I will get to that later), Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. These three are the first in the Grishaverse timeline, where we meet the world and its magic along with its citizens and places from the map. Needless to say, these first books are referenced in those that follow it, which you might assume would have made me read them first. I did not and only for the purpose of following the timeline in this review have I started off with them. Actually, I read the second duology in the world first, and I know I’m not the first to do so, and I know I’m not the first to regret it either. However, I will say it did impact the way I enjoyed them.

In Shadow and Bone we are greeted to characters who I had met through later characters already – and the show but we will get to it I promise – and compared to Bardugo’s later works they had little depth, to begin with, along with being a little less diverse. I won’t critique the diversity within it only because from what I understand when this trilogy was first received by audiences it was a common one, a valid one, and Bardugo listened to it, later creating a nicely diverse cast of characters in the Grishaverse. Personally, I like that kind of growth in an author, especially as a biracial girl myself. Honestly I found Shadow and Bone to be pretty boring, which I do fault for knowing the whole plot beforehand a bit, and partly because I felt like parts of it dragged on. Shadow and Bone I only rated 2.5 / 5 stars, but don’t worry that is the lowest rating I gave out.

Siege and Storm was far more entertaining, and weirdly surprising. I didn’t anticipate the very fast paced start at all and was rather into it actually. I felt like the characters, and even the writing, was far more expressive and actually allowed for me to be shocked, and mad, often. I felt like I was experiencing something while reading it. The plot had a nice pick up in development too, and I was much more interested in everyone and the way the world worked because of it. Siege and Storm was by far a 4 star read for me, I was excited for the finale book in the trilogy.

Ruin and Rising at first was a little bit of a let down. I disliked, as I was supposed to, the environment and where the plot had reached to the point I was just hoping for it to start up again. I think I wasn’t expecting such a slowish – I say that just because none of these have been leagnth-y in pages – start from my expectations set by Siege and Storm. However, my god did that change once things were happening again. Everything I said about the second book, take it and make that hit puberty. My emotions were all over the place and for a mental image – picture me, a short girl, full face of my advanced emo adult make up, sitting in a Mcdonald’s booth as the sun sets through the window, my best friend who happens to be obsessed with the Grishaverse since highschool watching me gasp and near screaming over a certain favourite character. It was, if I dare say, an amazing ending to Alina and her story. So much so that Ruin and Rising got 5 / 5 stars and a very special place in my heart. I read all three of them in the span of three days, and I’ll even share some grand moments from the course of doing so.

Up next in the order is the Six of Crows duology, which actually happens to be what I read first only because of how deeply loved and appreciated it is, far more so than the original series. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom follow along with the bastards of the barrel, Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Whyland. Now, I’m still not ready to talk about the show – I will get there! – but I will mention here that the Crows and their books are merged into it alongside the first three. These books expand on the map of the world, explore it differently, along with bringing more representation. Bardguo’s writing over the years to reach a fourth and fifth book in this world improved greatly.

Before I go into it, I had tried to read Six of Crows a year before actually doing so but found Bardugo’s writing very hard to get into with how detailed everything was. It is one of those series where you need to be taking it all in to understand, and at the time I did not have the mental energy to do that. It could have also been the fact that it was the fourth book in this world and the first I picked up but, well, we’ll ignore that.

In Six of Crows we are met with multiple perspectives, always shifting to another member, allowing us as an audience to grasp the depth and complexities of each one. It allowed us to understand and grasp their separate motives and even their traumas, something that is explored through this duology. Not only that, the increase of diversity, the plot – OH THE PLOT – was so spectacular and entertaining. I believe I read it within three days in between uni classes, assignments and life, but I’m sure if those adult responsibilities weren’t there it would have only been a few hours. I don’t even know what to say here because I am more than likely biased as hell – if you haven’t guessed it was 5 stars – and I have so many thoughts but they would all be spoilers.

Crooked Kingdom I would say I liked a slight bit less, but don’t take that as it was bad at all because it was still 5 stars, but it was a FREAKING rollercoaster. In fact I won’t ever recover, its been a while since I read them and I am still processing my own pain over it. If you like things that will make you wish you were a criminal in a fantasy world, going on heists, being unbelievably cunning and tearing down those who are your foe, you will love this duology. Again there isn’t anything I can even say without giving anything away at all, which sucks, but also if that doesn’t make you grasp how detailed and full these books are I don’t know what will do it for you. I read this in a day, and I spent the night crying. Here are some photos of my reaction to the last part of the book, clearly I loved it.

Following Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom is the current series which hasn’t been finished yet. However, two books have been published. King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. Here is where I tell you why this review is titled as “A Grishaverse Review, Mostly Anyway”. If you haven’t guessed, I have not read them yet. I do plan too obviously, and I will probably link my seperate review on them here when I have. The only reason I can give you as to why I haven’t picked them up is well, life. It tends to get in the way doesn’t it?

Finally, as promised, the show. In 2021, April 23rd, Netflix aired Shadow and Bone, which included eight episodes that follow the plot of the book Shadow and Bone, but also introduced the Crows and made them an addition to it, with the implied expectation of season two following Siege and Storm and Six of Crows together. Netflix describes the show as “dark forces conspire against orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world.”

I watched the show, all eight, forty minute episodes the night it aired with my best friend before reading any of the books. I knew it was coming out, the two of us were on a trip to Sydney and I agreed to watch an episode of it with her. Yeah, well it was more than one, and it was the early hours of the morning when we stopped. I had said that if I liked the show I would try and read the books again. You obviously know the outcome. Since that first time I have watched the show three more times. The second was after Six of Crows, the third was after Crooked Kingdom and the fourth after all three of the original trilogy. Each time I have noticed and picked up on so many things I would not have acknowledged without the context of the books, and each thing made me love it more. Now, there have been some disgusting things to come out about the filming, such as painting a stunt double brown instead of hiring someone of colour, and the fans very much fought for justice with that, called everyone out on it and forced the author to apologise when she was being told to not say anything. According to her she was unaware, having only been on set for a few days, but that’s not my apology to accept.

We have since had the announcment that season two will be happening, and while we are all very excited for it, it is known that if anything else comes out about the filming a lot of us will be rightfully not partaking in watching it.

Now, I don’t really have a way of rating shows as I do novels, but I will say compared to some Netflix adapted shows (yes, yes I’m looking at you Shadowhunters cause wtf) it was a massive improvement. I thought I would hate the CGI as I have before and I have seen Netflix make things ten times more cringe than it should be. Shadow and Bone was a pleasant surprise, and it really shows how good they can manage a book adaptation when the effort is actually there. Personally I really, really enjoyed the show. I found the casting was spot on too, especially for Matthias.

Now I know this review is already pretty long, and you can definitely guess whether or not I liked it, but I’m still going to give some final thoughts. Bardugo’s writing over the years has seriously developed into some of the best fantasy writing I have read, she has built this marvelous world and cast of characters that are not flawless in slightest but are still able to be loved. I won’t ever forget the experience of reading the Grishaverse, nor will I be able to with all my hopes for the show being continued. It is truly phenomenal, it is truly a whole moment, and I will always recommend it to anyone who has an interest.

Hush, Hush Isn’t Quirky, It’s Misogynistic – Book Review

Becca Fitzpatrick’s YA novel from 2010 was deeply loved by many, myself included, though let’s face it most of us were fairly young and just in love with the idea of a big, dark, fallen angel. There is nothing wrong with that, I’m an adult now and I wouldn’t say I would be opposed to the idea. But I had the genius thought to reread it now in 2021, seven years later from when I first did so, to just see what I would find. Here is my review of Hush, Hush from the mind of an adult in University and no longer a teenager in highschool.

Before I start I should say this review will not be spoiler free, but if you wish to read it you can buy the book here.

I think most of us who enjoy YA novels are very aware of how weirdly problematic older 2000’s books seem to be, mostly just as a product of their time. We can say the same for tv shows and most forms of media. The awkward and cringe things that have not aged well at all. Some YA has definitely aged better than others, but Hush, Hush – wow. 

Nora Grey, our protagonist, who is depicted as the “average” teenage girl with brunette hair and an “average” figure. She doesn’t care for makeup besides mascara and lipgloss. Her grades are the only thing that really matter to her besides her best friend Vee Sky. Vee is the comedic, gullible, boy obsessed side character who also just happens to be plus size which is really her only personality trait. These girls live a so-called normal life of attending school, thinking of college and shopping, until Patch Cipriano is paired to work with Nora on an assignment. Patch is the mysterious, motorcycle riding, dark boy who no one knows anything about, yet we all know exactly who he is for he is nothing different to every other bad boy. Of course there can’t be one love interest though and this is where Elliot Sanders comes in, a new school transfer and is a little too forward and his only friend Jules who is a little too quiet. Both of them ultimately are evil of course.

While I don’t have too much criticism of the plot, for it was still something enjoyable to read and have fun with, it by no means is anything astonishingly mind blowing. I didn’t expect it to be though, for Hush, Hush was pretty overshadowed by larger YA for the time and fell through the cracks and I don’t think has ever reemerged. I can see why.

What did stand out to me was the treatment of the only plus size character, the blunt slut shaming and misogyny from women, the gross and borderline dangerous concept of attraction, and frankly rude unnecessary content. I was expecting this to a degree of course, I can name many novels that use all this too and yet I was uncomfortable. I was kind of shocked at the amount of tabs I used when rereading to highlight these moments and not ones of “oh my god, I remember and love this.”

“Something about him wasn’t normal. Something wasn’t…safe.” (page 25), is used to describe Patch at one point when Nora is alone with him. By itself there isn’t anything wrong with this statement, in fact he is exactly that. However, the context of it is used to describe Nora’s surprising and undescribable attraction, the way she is drawn to Patch. By no means is this book the only one to do so, however it is pushing the idea that its attraction to feel scared and unsafe around men. Not to mention the way this idea is marketed towards young, impressionable teenagers.

“She’s green-eyed, minky blond, and a few pounds over curvy.” (page 9). “Vee was on the colour-wheel fruit diet.” (page 44). Vee is written to be overly confident, the type to wear heels but for attention and eat because besides that and boy’s she has no other traits. Throughout the book she makes comments on her body or her diet as a comedic clutch, and if it isn’t Vee herself it’s her supposed best friend. Nora mocks her for her diets, for the way she eats constantly. Now i’m not saying I like Vee, for she was kind of irritating, but the way she was portrayed was uncomfortable to read and disappointing. It also made me uncomfortable to read from their perspective of Vee’s “best friend” and to think this is how you would think of your bestie constantly.

2000’s – 2010’s YA was filled with internalised misogyny, but Hush, Hush is a very pointed example of how bad some people never left the “I’m not like other girls” phase. “…Marcie Millar…her strawberry blond hair was combed into low pigtails, and like always, her skin was concealed under half a bottle of foundation…there was three-quarters of an inch between the hem of her skirt and the start of her underwear…if she was wearing any.” (page 45). Marcie is of course the highschool bully, but why does our main character hate her? Oh, she’s femine and pretty. Marcie too makes comments on Vee’s size, but so does Nora, so how is she any better? “He rubbed lip gloss between his thumb and forefinger. ‘You’d look better without it.'” (page 76). Of course Nora hardly wears make up as it is, but clearly even that is a too much. Dont forget kids, if you wear makeup then you’re fake! “She said she did it for herself, but what women get’s boobs for herself?” (page 92). This right here irks me so much! Because plenty of women do so, and no one has a right to say you didn’t. “There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing a little pride for the sake of intelligence.” (page 176). In this scene Nora is dressed up – so heels and makeup and a dress – in order to flirt for information. That’s not the issue I have though, the issue is how dressing up is sacrificing some kind of purity and pride. “‘Skank,’ I said. ‘Geek.’ ‘Slut.’ ‘Freak.’ ‘Anorexic pig.’ ‘Wow,’ said Marcie…” (page 212). I think this one explains itself. “I knew girls like Marcie when I went to school. They ask for it, don’t they?” (pages 226-227). This is towards the end of the novel and when I tell you I was stunned to read it as an adult. To think this is a woman writing this too. No one asks for any kind of assault! The way someone dresses, wears their hair or expresses themself, especially femininely, is not asking for it.

Too think I was in year seven, around the ages 11-13, when I first picked up this book upsets me deeply. While I did love it then, and truthfully will always have a little place in my heart, I am disgusted that I never found any of this uncomfortable or even disagreed. I was a kid yeah, impressionable and taking in new ideas like this from a range of fiction and that’s what really is upsetting. I was part of the target audience and I defiently was influenced by the fatphobia, blunt suicide comments, the depiction of dangerous men and fear equals attraction, and of course the extensive misogyny. I took all of this on without realising it just from exposure from numerous ranges of media.

Hush, Hush isn’t quirky, it’s misogynistic and it’s uncomfortable. Putting down other women to uplift your “average” description isn’t quirky, and honestly Nora is the true villain of this book. I’m just pointing out some flaws that as an adult I now see. Maybe it was a product of its time, maybe if it were to be written today things would be different. At the end of the day I’m not going to say it’s a bad novel, that you aren’t allowed to like it or anything. In fact that would be hypocritical of me considering I do still enjoy the dark and twisted fallen angel fictional piece myself. I just think it’s important to criticize even the thing’s you enjoy.