Review: Beyoncé’s “Renaissance”

Beyoncés new album “Renaissance” is out now everywhere!

Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is a triumphant tour de force- just the kind of electrifying jumpstart that Pop and R&B needed this year. Now I know what you’re thinking: this has literally been out for nearly two months. And yes, you’d be correct in saying so- but it would simply be a disservice to this masterful work of art to just give it a standard review.

This record is a dance floor album- with the track list seamlessly arranged to feel like a DJ set in the greatest club on the planet. Celebrating both the Black and Queer communities who helmed the disco and house music movements, Beyoncé’s successfully crafted a work of art that feels like healing. Now let’s break down some of the best moments!

“I’m That Girl” by Beyoncé

In true Beyoncé fashion, the album begins on an empowering moment with tracks “I’m That Girl” and “Cozy”, setting the tone perfectly for what is to come. Ms. Sasha Fierce has built her entire career around a discography meant to exude confidence, so there really isn’t anything astoundingly different here- yet these opening tracks still hit just as hard. The production choices and melodies are unlike anything Queen Bey has ever released and are instantly memorable in an album full of standout tracks. “Cozy” specifically is the kind of track you instantly wish you knew every word to so you can blast it and sing along in the car. It’s that good.

“Cozy” by Beyoncé

In my eyes (and thankfully in my ears too) the album would be all that much lesser if not for “Alien Superstar” which is definitely a candidate for song of the year for me. It’s futuristic, while keeping one eye on the past- inherently euphoric and transportive into a galaxy all her own. Somehow fierce, sexy, confident and feminine- the song represents the multitudes of Beyoncé. “I’m too classy for this world, forever I’m that girl, Feed you diamonds and pearls, ooh baby, I’m too classy to be touched, I paid them all in dust, I’m stingy with my love,” she interpolates Right Said Fred’s song “I’m Too Sexy” in the chorus- still somehow making it her own and unlike any music being released today.

“Alien Superstar” by Beyoncé

Now there’s a reason why people are absolutely devouring “Cuff It” online, crafting their own choreography which simply insights joy upon every watch and listen. The song feels so classic, like an older track I would’ve heard my parents reminiscing about during my childhood. And that’s not to say it’s outdated, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The chorus is infectious, making you feel invincible like only a night out with your best friends can do. “Bet you you’ll see far, Bet you you’ll see stars, Bet you you’ll elevate, Bet you you’ll meet God, ‘Cause I feel like fallin’ in love,” the post chorus is the true standout here- both addictive and vocally powerful. It’s peak Beyoncé.

“Cuff It” by Beyoncé

Now we can’t talk about this album without addressing the lead single- “Break My Soul”. Admittedly, it was not my favorite on the first listen. I found it a bit abrasive and not quite the comeback single I’d hoped for. I will however say that it is very much a grower as it has gotten better with every single listen- both empowering and joyous as the production continues to build until the end where a choir accompanies Beyoncé on a gorgeous pulled back note. I’m very happy to report that I was quite wrong about this track and while it still isn’t my favorite on the record, I do think it was the perfect lead single to bring us all back into the BCU (Beyoncé Cinematic Universe).

“Break My Soul” by Beyoncé

“Plastic Off The Sofa” is vocal heaven- sonically ethereal and another timeless track that could’ve been released in the 1970’s (but thankfully we get to be the ones to discover it today). Her vocal delivery is light and airy here, with every single one of her choices placed perfectly. If this song had been somehow placed in the wrong hands, it could’ve gone oh so wrong. A lesser singer might have overdone the runs and made it tasteless with senseless vocal acrobatics- in case you need an example of this, I highly recommend checking out the “Plastic Off The Sofa Challenge” which has gone viral on TikTok. But when you listen to Beyoncé sing her absolute ass off here, you just completely understand why she is exactly where she is today. Being the only drastic change of pace on this dance heavy album, it’s a true standout and is reminiscent of Beyoncé’s early solo work.

“Plastic Off The Sofa” by Beyoncé

Now I could sit here and talk about this album until I’m blue in the face, or rather until Act II comes out, but I highly recommend that you simply check it out for yourself. Any review or remarks from me will just fail to capture the magic of it all- so do yourself a favor and whether you’re out on a drive, cleaning around the house, or relaxing on your couch- blast this album as loud as you possibly can.

Beyoncé succeeds in every aspect with Renaissance, the first Act of her new trilogy, an album that grants its listeners an ounce of the confidence and empowerment that Beyoncé exudes. It’s just enough to keep us going, giving us exactly what we need in order to move on from what isn’t working in our lives and go on to not only live a better life, but to thrive.

Renaissance isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. It’s an hour-long dance party with your best friends, the much-needed night out after a difficult week, the escape we can all use from the ugliness in this world. And we have THE Beyoncé to thank for that.

Renaissance is out now on all platforms!

Oceanic Talk Debut Album and New Single “Alone”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Nathan Wyatt from the East Coast based indie pop band Oceanic about their newest single “Alone”, their upcoming debut album and some East Coast tour dates. Check out what he had to say below!

Brew Music Friday: Congratulations on the release of “Alone”! For any new listeners, how would you guys describe your sound?

That’s definitely the hardest question in the world. We’re somewhere between WALK THE MOON, The 1975, and Coldplay. Probably. I could be wrong about that. I’d call us indie pop for people who also like U2. 

BMF: Who are some of your musical influences?

Coldplay, The Killers, The 1975, Harry Styles, Caroline Polachek, Dua Lipa, Brian Eno, Oneohtrix Point Never, just to name a few. Obviously we’re products of the Streaming Age, so it’s hard to condense!

BMF: How long have you all been playing together? 

Me (Nathan) and Jacob have been playing together for about six years as Oceanic, and Sam has been in the band for about five years. Joseph actually just joined last year! Though we’ve been playing shows on and off with him for around 3 years. 

BMF: You said your debut album “No, Human” will be released sometime soon. When can fans expect to hear the full project?

Our debut album is set to release in early January 2023!

BMF: You’ve said before that you hope to make listeners look inward when listening to your music. What do you hope they take out of “Alone”?

I think I’d love for them to consider the way we all act toward other people, and how that can have a deep, lasting effect. The warm or cold way we interact with people can make them feel seen and loved, or shunned and alone.

I’d love for people to consider that the way we treat other people should be constantly on the front of our minds as one of the most important things in the whole universe. I hope to get better and better at that.

And I hope they hear some sounds they like. 🙂

BMF: You all just played Charlotte Shout a few weeks back. What was that experience like?

Charlotte Shout was so great! It had high production value, an enormous stage, and a crew that worked very hard to make it happen. We’re very grateful to have played a festival that is so special to Charlotte. Can’t wait for next year! 

BMF: Can fans look forward to a tour?

We’ve got a ton of dates coming up all up and down the east coast! If folks keep up with our social media we’ll be posting about everything that’s coming together. We’re playing more shows this year than we ever have before, and we couldn’t be more excited. 

BMF: What sets “No, Human” apart from your previous EP “Angel”?

“No, Human” has larger breadth sonically and thematically. It’s all new songs, and obviously it’s longer than the “Angel” EP, so we are able to be way more creative with it. Essentially it captures what Oceanic is more fully—which is terribly exciting to us. Essentially, it’s got more bangers, more breadth of emotion, more wide varieties of sounds. Honestly, we just can’t wait for it to be out. The next single off of it will be called “Walt,” and it’ll be coming in May.

Make sure you follow Oceanic on their Instagram and other socials to stay up to date on upcoming releases and more tour dates to come! Up next you can check them out at Sonic Movement Festival in Charlotte, NC on May 14th!

https://www.instagram.com/oceanicofficial/

Review- Omar Apollo’s “Ivory”

Omar Apollo’s new album “Ivory” is out now!

After several years of releasing mixtapes and a mini album called Apolonio, Omar Apollo has finally released his debut studio album called Ivory. The 16-track project combines Apollo’s Mexican heritage with his Pop and R&B sound that has cemented him as the most versatile male singer in music right now. Ivory is both sexy and emotionally rich- and it’s absolutely worth the wait for anyone who has followed him throughout his career so far.

With Ivory, Apollo paints a picture of what love looks like for him- exploring the beauty within the pain that comes with love, as well as his own identity. Across the 16 tracks, the Mexican American singer glides effortlessly from soul baring, stripped down tracks to bilingual hip-hop- all along keeping his queerness at the forefront.

Directed by Jenna Marsh

It all began back in July of 2021 with the release of the album’s lead single “Go Away”, a beautiful combination of Omar’s smooth falsetto and pop influenced production that was made for summer night drives with the window’s down. If you’ve heard the song, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The song’s success was followed by several other releases like “Bad Life” featuring Kali Uchis and “Invincible” featuring Daniel Caesar, the latter of which was featured in my Fresh Brewed Playlist # 2!

Directed by Jake Nava

The album’s latest single “Tamagotchi” is a sexy, bouncy change of pace from the rest of the album as Apollo effortlessly raps in both English and Spanish. The high-octane track is a definite standout among the album, both exhilarating and memorable with its tongue in cheek lyrics. “Just hit me on FaceTime, feeling so good, feeling so good, singing a bass line, your body is on me, you touching up on me, we cum at thе same time.”

Another standout track is the brutally raw “Evergreen”, a song about the devastation of losing someone’s love- a feeling so universal and yet Apollo makes it feel so painfully personal. “You know you really made me hate myself, had to stop before I break myself, shoulda broke it off to date myself, you didn’t deserve me at all,” he sings on the bridge of the toll this love has taken on his mental health. He captures the pain of feeling as if you aren’t enough so vividly, even questioning if his body is what made his lover leave him in the first place. It’s that spiral we’ve all felt at one point, picking ourselves apart to try to explain why we weren’t enough for the one we loved.

“Evergreen” by Omar Apollo

“Personally” is another album standout and is my personal favorite from the track listing. The production is stripped back, mainly just an acoustic guitar and Apollo’s ethereal vocals which are layered so perfectly that they leave you hanging on every single word he sings. “Cause I really don’t wanna be here alone, too many people I don’t see no more, too many feelings I don’t feel no more,” the feeling of change and losing friends along the way give “Personally” an achingly vivid window into Apollo’s soul.

“Personally” by Omar Apollo

It would be impossible to compliment Omar’s vocals without highlighting the incredible vocal showcase that is “En El Olvido” which brings his Mexican heritage right to the forefront. In an interview with NPR, Apollo mentions how the song was inspired by his love of Juan Gabriel, who he grew up listening to. The song, which is a corrido, otherwise known as a Mexican ballad, feels so classic and yet it’s unlike anything I’ve heard on a Pop/R&B record like Ivory before.

“En El Olvido” by Omar Apollo

After scrapping an album that he had worked on during the pandemic, Omar Apollo has graced the world with Ivory, which is an incredible piece of work that somehow gets better with every listen. His versatility and fluidity bring forth a charisma unlike any of his peers- leaving his listeners sure that they are taking in the art of a master at work. Apollo is set for superstardom, and if there’s any justice in this world, he will get the recognition he deserves.

Ivory is out now on all streaming services!