music mondays: skip t. swift and listen to these women

Apparently 29 year old married men are having countdown parties for Taylor Swift’s new album, and I cannot sit idly by. So I have finally returned to music mondays to offer some alternatives to 1989.

I have been meaning to write about Lowell for a few weeks now, but finally got the extra motivation I needed, thanks T. Swift! Lowell’s (Elizabeth Lowell Boland) debut album, We Loved Her Dearly, came out in September and I’ve been swimming in its beats since then. In a world where you can barely escape “Shake It Off” for more than 24 hours, it’s refreshing to have seriously good pop music that’s also about something.

lowell

The quick backstory on Lowell is that she was briefly a stripper before quitting to pursue music. Her song “I Killed Sara V” (her stripper name) is about leaving that self behind. It starts out a haunting, pretty track, then moves into a deceptively more upbeat confessional. I realize a 6 minute track isn’t the best intro, so maybe skip that one initially.

Her love anthem “LGBT” champions all forms of relationships and calls out everyone for their biases and discrimination. “I Love You Money” is my favorite to crank up and sing along to while driving, even though it’s a little weird to shout about loving money. But, the song is actually about Lowell kicking out a customer at a strip club.

Lowell’s debut has its highs and lows, but overall it’s a fun album that displays range and cohesiveness, the balance of pop sugar and human depth.

My second recommendation as an alternative to Taylor Swift is Jessie Ware’s sophomore release, Tough Love. You’ll have to switch your mindset a bit, as Jessie is really more an R&B artist than a pop singer, in my mind. But thank God for someone still making R&B in 2014, amirite?? Tough Love isn’t as solid an album as Devotion, but it’s definitely no sophomore slump.

The obvious stand-out is “Say You Love Me”, co-written with Ed Sheeran, but it’s actually not my favorite track. “Keep On Lying” has this unusual sound, with a beat that almost sounds like muzak, but it works. The song I keep returning to is “You & I (Forever)”. It’s a pretty classic R&B/pop song, but when the alternative is “All About That Bass”, I have no problems with classic.

Both albums are available on spotify. Happy listening!

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breaking the cycle: congrats Malala!

Many have been waiting for Malala Yousafzai to win her Nobel Peace Prize, and this year the committee gave it to her. She’s only 17, but since she was a child, Malala has been a champion for education, in particular for girls. If you don’t know Malala’s story, this article has some background info.

Below is a short documentary from 2009 about Malala and her family, and their fight for education.