Hayley Williams Lets Go in Her Sophomore Solo Album
On this self-defined prequel to her debut album “Petals for Armor,” Hayley Williams explores a quieter, softer sound while reciting love letters to a dead relationship.
Created in isolation, “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos” paints a picture of the internal conversations Hayley Williams had while going through the processes of healing and letting go of this dead relationship.
The album serves as a companion to her 2020 solo debut “Petals for Armor;” a three-part album in which Williams explores the different aspects of healing and growth after her divorce from her partner of 10 years. “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos” focuses on the grieving state. However, rather than a follow-up, Williams defines “FLOWERS” as a prequel or an extended detour between the first and second parts of Petals.
The name of the album, as explained by Williams on a Tweet, represents the process of learning to let go of dead things. The word “descansos” refers to markings placed in memoriam at the side of the roads where unexpected deaths occured. In the context of the album, this illustrates the mourning over the lost relationship that Williams sings about.
Truly a solo project, the Paramore lead singer wrote every lyric and played every instrument in the album. Through delicate guitar strumming and intimate storytelling, Williams presents a record that feels fully hers.
The album perfectly illustrates the recent, mildly dystopian trend of the quarantine album. The influence of the isolation from the world represents itself in the quietness and simplicity.
This quieter sound allows the intimate lyrics to really shine through in this deeply personal album. At times, the listener feels as if they’re intruding into Williams’ private, personal diaries. A great contributor to this intense intimate feeling is the inclusion of voicenote recordings in multiple tracks. A perfect example of the level of intimacy achieved in the record is the song “HYD;” a song so delicate but so direct that just listening to it feels like an invasion of privacy.
The folk melodies of the album truly contrast with the anthemic indie-pop brightness presented in “Petals for Armor.” The ethereal sound achieved through simple guitar and piano might become a bit monotone at certain points of the record, but the striking lyrical content of every song allows every track to shine in their own way.
While known for her impressive acrobatic vocals with Paramore, Williams sticks to a simpler approach for “FLOWERS.” She accompanies the delicate sound of the record with mostly her lower register. Rather than showing off her insane vocal talent, Williams focuses on intimate storytelling.
In the album’s closer track, “Just a Lover,” Williams sings, “I’ll be singing into empty glasses / No more music for the masses.”
These songs are not for the crowds— they are for her.
Track highlights: Trigger, Just a Lover, My Limb, Good Grief
Local Artist Spotlight: The Housing Crisis
Starting a musical endeavor in a pandemic is not ideal. But for The Housing Crisis it has proved to work out just fine so far.
Dylan kicks his shoe into the far corner of his childhood bedroom and agonizingly runs his hands through his hair. Glancing around his room as though looking at it from new eyes, he sees his guitars, a few potted plants, his trusty computer and a chemistry textbook strewn on the bed. Instead of getting more frustrated about the situation, he decides to sit down and write.
“It’s never been so clear to me
The truth, I never wanted to believe
I’m not what you want
So look for someone else.”
When listening to this song, “Someone Else,” it would seem as though it’s written about an emotional breakup. And it is — kind of. Dylan O’Bryan was an engineering major, but after he realized he’d rather be making music than studying chemistry, he changed his major to music composition.
“And so kind of saying like, “I'm not what you want, look for someone else,” that was me saying that, nothing against them, but it was me saying that to my professors. I'm not going to be an engineer,” O’Bryan said.
The second-year UF student Dylan O’Bryan, 20, does not regret changing his major at all. In fact, it pushed him to want to make and release his own music, and thus his one-man-band, The Housing Crisis, was born.
Like Tame Impala or Panic! At The Disco, The Housing Crisis is one artist who chose a band-like name for his musical venture. O’Bryan says he chose The Housing Crisis as an homage to the 2008 financial housing crisis. Originally from upstate New York, O’Bryan and his family were forced to move to Florida with his grandparents when the crisis hit.
“That always kind of stuck with me as one of those moments that just completely changes the trajectory of your life,” O’Bryan reminisced.
That 2008 financial crisis shaped a generation. According to Richard Florida in an Atlantic cover story, “The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide — destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners.” Though that article was written in 2009, the same principle echoes eerily into 2021.
During his time as The Housing Crisis, O’Bryan has so far released one EP, one single, and has a new single "Thru My Mind" that dropped February 18th. O’Bryan writes, records, produces and masters all of his songs in his bedroom. When asked why he didn’t outsource any of the components, he said it’s partly because he likes the process of every element, but also because of COVID-19. According to a Rolling Stone cover story from May 2020, “Some artists, including Lady Gaga, delayed their album releases or announced suspensions of upcoming tour plans.” The coronavirus pandemic rocked the entire music industry, and people had to get creative. It’s interesting that O’Bryan chose to begin his music career, while most of the rest of the music world were putting theirs on pause.
Because O’Bryan began his individual musical venture during the start of lockdown and into the forthcoming months, he hasn’t had the opportunity to play his songs onstage yet. However, the stage is not unfamiliar to him. Being a former theatre kid, O’Bryan knows the rush of adrenaline performing on a stage can give you and is excited to experience that again when he can.
Until that day, he’s been performing with the popular music ensemble in the music school at UF.
Jason Mullen, 36, is a PhD student studying ethnomusicology and is also the director of the popular music ensemble.
“Dylan is an excellent musician and outstanding member of the ensemble,” Mullen said. “He contributes musically, but also contributes beyond music in a way. He helps to create a creative and open environment where people can bring their ideas and we can get the best work done together.”
Mullen says the ensemble is a time where, every Thursday, O’Bryan shows up to learn and share everything he can about music. With his solo The Housing Crisis endeavors, it seems O’Bryan craves the control and satisfaction of seeing every element of the song-making process come to fruition. But in the popular concert ensemble, O’Bryan appreciates the collaborative elements that come with playing in a group. O’Bryan joined the ensemble class in the Fall 2020 semester, the first official semester where he was a music composition major. Mullen has worked with O’Bryan since then and they’ve gotten to work together in a way they both describe as incredibly meaningful.
“It builds a level of trust to kind of put yourself out there and say, ‘Tell me what you think needs to change, so that way it can be better,’” Mullen said.
And O’Bryan does that. Not only during the ensemble, but for The Housing Crisis as well. When O’Bryan was just starting to tinker with the idea of making music, he sent some voice memos to friends to see what they thought of his early ideas. They assured him they all loved what he was doing, and that boost of confidence helped him decide to start learning how to produce and make songs.
“We know that he has an attention to detail and we know that he takes it very seriously and puts a lot of work into his music,” Mullen said. “But music isn’t always in the sound itself, it’s also in what’s around it; and the people around it… And knowing Dylan and his music, he is a person that cares a lot about others.”
Being as he cares a lot about others, it’s fitting that O’Bryan said he occasionally challenges himself to write songs outside of his own emotions to try and broaden his songwriting skills. He says no two songs he’s made so far have been written the same way. O’Bryan wants people who listen to his songs to hopefully get some cathartic relief out of listening to them — he wants people to relate.
He’s just glad that he’s interested in music and not acting, as having the same name as the other Dylan O’Brien would’ve proved difficult.
Is a Party-Pop Experimentation the Move for Foo Fighters Medicine at Midnight?
By: Nicholas Palmer
If you’ve ever considered yourself a lover of all types of musical genres, then you’ve probably heard of the Foo Fighters before. And, if you consider yourself a rock music enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard one of their singles, even if you haven’t dabbled in the band’s records. As such, with the band only continuing their legendary success with a nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the question someone would ask themselves is: where does a band with a 25-year legacy go from here? How does a group so imprinted in the rock and roll genre possibly reimagine itself?
Therein lies their 10th album, Medicine at Midnight. A party-pop, dance album that takes both elements that the group has worked on before and also completely walks away from that. Going for the more sing-along pop-rock kind of songs, this album definitely feels constructed under the idea of sing-along concert venue songs. And, with those being on hiatus indefinitely, this album for fans is the next best thing to attending a live performance. With writing beginning after a brief hiatus in 2018, and with some ghostly stints in the recording process at a 1940s house (I personally would look up the story to hear some of the testimonies from the bandmates) the album was finished rather quick, but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The band would then later decide to release the album to lift sprits regardless, with it releasing February 5th, 2021.
Songs that really grabbed my attention and represented much of the high points on this album were: “Cloudspotter,” “Holding Poison,” and, one of the singles, “Waiting on a War.” “Cloudspotter,” the third track on the album, is so unique to me in part due to its percussion and vocals. The harmonization between Dave Grohl and the female voice is beautiful, and the deep voice mumbling ‘cloudspotter’ was almost chilling. As well, the buildup into the final chorus, along with the yelling and explosive vocals, help give this album its first real jolt of energy and provides a great experience.
“Holding Poison,” the 7th track on the album, does a lot of word painting around its lyrics that adds a fun layer to the song on the whole. When the word ‘down’ gets sung, the melody goes down and when the lead singer sings ‘around and around’ the harmonic progression continues to get higher and higher as if the listener is being spun around and around. As well, during the guitar solo section, which on its own is a very nice addition to the song to help break up any sort of monotony, there’s a sort of choral vocal element in the background which just adds that extra layer of interest to the song. In essence, this song builds upon the percussive and melodic elements before it, but takes a lot of interesting turns that create unexpected and uplifting moments throughout.
Finally, there’s the single “Waiting on a War.” It was by far my favorite song on the album. A definite concert song, Dave Grohl stated that he wrote the song in relation to his past growing up in the Cold War era, where the threat of war was always possible. This is reflected in the line “everyday waiting for the sky to fall” with the threat of nuclear destruction always leering over the head of past generations. Besides its strong message, the whisking voice carries this almost ghostly present of the past, with acoustic guitar definitely giving it a reflective feeling. The ending, however, is a must listen to. As different instruments were added throughout the song, they come together for an explosive finale with typical rock elements as the tone turns from bleak to hopeful. Climatic and tumultuous; maybe society can keep waiting on a war just a little more.
While I mostly enjoyed the album, there were some critiques I had with the album on the whole. While I had no issues with the performance, nor the instrumentation on the album altogether, there were elements that ,when taken with the rest of the album, created a less than perfect listening experience. One of those being that a lot of the instrumentals were similar throughout the whole album. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but by the time you reach the ninth and final song on the album “Love Dies Young,” you start to feel like you have already heard the beginning section somewhere else in a different song. Moreover, while every chorus felt unique and different, that was only true if you examined each individually. A lot of the time, many songs by the final chorus felt repetitive. And with many having a four plus minute runtime, this felt like it didn’t need to be so.
Overall, as someone who has never fully explored Foo Fighters discography before and as someone not that familiar with their music, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by this album. With this being their 10th studio album, it seems to me and general listening audiences that this album did not drastically change or reshape anyone’s perceptions of Foo Fighters. In this point in their career, however, maybe that’s okay. Being inducted into the hall of fame and having countless charted singles and awards, it seems at this point all the members need do is write music that pleases them and their fans. Hopefully, fans of Foo Fighters can hear these pieces, especially the real treasurable ones in concert soon. Until then, give this album a concert-like listen in your own house — your own personal medicine at midnight.
New Song Recommendations to Broaden Your Music Taste
Do you often find yourself listening to the same few songs over and over and wish you could find new music to add to your playlists? I’ve curated a small sample of songs that I think you’ll enjoy if you like the following artists:
If you enjoy Ariana’s R&B-influenced pop sound, you’ll love iyla’s “Naked Girl”.
Just here for the vibes? Give a listen to Tei Shi’s “Even If It Hurts” featuring Blood Orange.
For a catchy, unapologetic banger with big thank u, next energy, check out FLETCHER’s “Bitter” featuring Kito.
If You Like: Taylor Swift
Have you been going back and forth between folklore and evermore for the past few months? Give Samia’s “Triptych” a listen.
Are you a fan of old Taylor music? Do you also like HAIM? Then you might like Waxahatchee’s “Lilacs” too.
For a more Lover and indie pop vibe, I would go for Maude Latour’s “One More Weekend” and spill tab’s “Name”
If you’re looking for a sad girl anthem that might come with tears included, listen to Sasha Sloan’s “House With No Mirrors”.
If You Like: Harry Styles
If you’re not a fan already, I’m sure you’ll love Declan McKenna. In terms of sound, I think his music is the closest you can get to Harry’s. Check out Declan McKenna’s “You Better Believe!!!”
You might already be familiar with Jack Antonoff, A.K.A. the mastermind and frequent collaborator of Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana del Rey, etc. If you haven’t already, check out Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better”.
For a similar sound from a local band, listen to Flipturn’s “August”.
For a Kiwi-like explosive and energetic song, check out The Wrecks’ “Freaking Out”.
Finally, if you’re a Harry stan, I definitely recommend you look into The Regrettes’ “Pumpkin”.
"Nobody is Listening" to Zayn and It's About Time They Start
By: Nicholas Palmer
Moving away from his sophomore album, Zayn Malik has never felt both further away from his time in One Direction and closer to a style all his own. In his third studio album, Nobody is Listening, Zayn brings together some of the closest personal elements of his life into a construction of artistry that he's not done before. Being described as such, Zayn had total creative liberty throughout the entire album, from lyrics all the way to the album artwork. The album has its ups and its downs, but what it does best throughout it is share the soul of Zayn in the way that an artist could not have done any better.
In his album, Zayn gives a personal touch to his music that gives a real connection between the message and the melody. In Nobody is Listening, he plays upon the perception of fans who never listen to celebrities’ real voices in which they talk about their grief and pain beyond the façade of the mysticism of fame. Throughout the album, Zayn deals with topics such as his anxiety, past eating disorder, his use of cannabis as a calming agent and his relationship with Gigi Hadid. For fans, this album speaks as a reflection of the artist himself and a true connection between Zayn and his audience. And, just as with the single “Vibez,” sometimes you have to just not be afraid to be yourself. Because in the end, nobody is even truly listening.
Personal highlights of the album come from the single “Better,” along with the tracks “When Love’s Around” and “Sweat.” “Better,” the first of the two singles, gives the first taste of the album’s main musical stylistic elements of R&B, pop, and maybe even a little soul. Harkening to almost an emotional ballad of sorts, with underlying lyrics hinting to his relationship with Gigi Hadid, this serves as a representation of the type of artistry present throughout.
“When Love’s Around” includes one of the two feature artists included on this album, Syd, with Devlin providing great moments as well in “Windowsill.” WLA is a song that has some of the most interesting instrumental moments of the whole album with keyboards, synths, drums and guitars all combining beautifully. As well, Syd’s vocals in harmonization with Zayn’s creates some of the most powerfully emotional melodies you will hear from Zayn yet.
For “Sweat,” its message of physical love is consistent with other parts of the album, however, the vocals and harmony are perhaps Zayn at his best. The elongated vowels that split up the chorus bring the passion reflected in the lyrics, creating a piece that is as powerful in text as it is sonically.
That is not to say that there are not some elements that do not detract from the album on the whole. One thing that I have seen criticism of Zayn over is his lack of proper enunciation, with mumbling often being described in his singing style. As well, this album does not do him any favors in combating that criticism, although it does have its charm at times. While the lack of big instrumentation may be reflective of the message and title of the album itself, it is unfortunate a couple more larger production pieces could not have been included. This would have helped to break some of the repetition and similarity that took place from time to time.
Ultimately, I find this album to be almost transitional in nature for Zayn. A piece that feels so distant from his past performance nature but also gives just a taste of his best qualities, Zayn feels right at the moment to create a truly sensational piece of music in the coming years. While it is likely that this album will not perform as great as many fans may hope for, the talent and direction of Nobody is Listening is interesting for Zayn. With this album being so closely personal for him, he makes it evident that he’ll keep on singing even if there’s nobody left to listen.
27th Dance Marathon at UF Date Set
After a virtual event forced by COVID 19 last year, Dance Marathon at UF returns to the Stephen C. O'Connell Center with virtual engagement added April 10 at 8am to April 11 at 7:06pm. DM at UF is working with Dr. Cindy Prins and UF Screen, Test and Protect to make sure the event can safely occur following UF and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
This is all subject to change, of course, but for now the plan is to make sure students are in "cleared" status, with a recommended two-week quarantine leading up to the Main Event. Temperatures will be checked at the door as well and there will be required physical distancing and masks. The arena will also be cleaned regularly during the event.
To find out more about Dance Marathon at UF, visit FloridaDM.org and listen to GHQ!
Listen to GHQ at The Hub and more!
GHQ is now playing in the Chick-fil-A in The Hub, Graham Chomp-It and Gator Corner! As if you needed another reason to visit, right?
GHQ will be coming soon to other Gator Dining facilities too so watch this space and keep listening to GHQ on the radio, or on the GHQ app.
Elevator Operator Interview
GHQ host Allison Barkdull recently sat down for a Zoom interview with Tallahassee-based band Elevator Operator. She asked them about life in the band, that unusual name and their new music.
The GHQ Interview: Allison Talks to Pat Lavery
Allison Barkdull talks to Pat Lavery, Manager of the High Dive in Gainesville about the establishment and live music in the age of COVID.
GHQ Tech: Quadio, a Social Music Network App
Calling all college artists, musicians and music lovers! I’ve discovered this app that I wish I found sooner and I want to tell you all about it. Let me tell you about a platform that you’ll wish you heard about earlier:Quadio.
Quadio is a free, college-based streaming platform that serves as a digital hub for music on campus. Think Spotify meets Reddit meets Instagram. Through Quadio, artists can expand their musical network, communicate with artists and listeners, and collaborate on projects. It’s also a fantastic new way for students who aren’t artists to discover the musicians all around them on campus. Whether you’re an artist looking to be discovered, or simply a college student with a love for music, you can be sure to find something to love about Quadio. There really is something for everyone.
Here are some features of the music collaboration platform that are worth highlighting:
Quadio’s discovery feeds make it easy for artists to find each other and to get found. The discovery starts off at your school but can be broadened to a state, regional, or national scale. One of the most unique features is this “looking for” tab. With this feature, you can upload unfinished tracks into the “in progress” feed, and then tag them with “looking for” a vocalist, guitarist, pianist, etc. This makes it so much easier for artists to collaborate and make more music.
The Chart System
For young artists, the over-saturation of platforms such as Apple Music and Soundcloud makes it hard for music to stand out, especially when they are competing with big-name artists. The Quadio chart system uses the same algorithm as Reddit, taking into account likes, plays, and time decay. This feature allows artists to gain more exposure.
Quadio’s profile pages feature has a strong social media influence where users can chat with friends and engage with their music community. Band and Acapella group pages will link to member profiles under a “members” tab. You can also direct message people from their profiles.
The artist locater highlights an artists' musical background, including the instruments they play, the software they use, what they are interested in, etc.
Some cool features include being able to highlight yourself if you are looking to collaborate, using the filters like “genre” or “looking for” to find specific artists on your campus, and being able to look at the music and artists at other schools in the nation.