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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

VH New Music May: Olivia Rodrigo, twenty one pilots, Dayglow and more

The Hustler Life staff’s top picks of newly released music from this month. Grab your headphones and tune in!

As we slog through these first few lazy weeks of summer, none of us have time for the detailed weekly compilations of New Music Fridays. Enter: New Music May. Keep reading for the Life staff’s rundown of this week’s month’s new releases, from indie rock to bedroom pop to…well, we’re not sure what to call that last one.



“SOUR,” Olivia Rodrigo

From her role as Nini in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” to TikTok fame from her debut release of “drivers license,” Olivia Rodrigo has emerged into the limelight as an AAPI actress and musician. With “SOUR,” she’s somehow created an album that fully writes out every high school memory I can remember. Despite the fact I’m 20 years old and in college, “SOUR” makes me feel seventeen again—reliving high school heartbreaks with these 11 new heartbreak anthems. 

With her three singles, “drivers license,” “deja vu” and “good 4 you,” Rodrigo took TikTok by storm, where fans re-lived past breakups, created trends or even simply reacted to the album. The release of “drivers license” alone shattered glass ceilings in the music industry, becoming the longest-running No. 1 track on the Billboard Global 200 charts, beating out artists like BTS and The Weeknd. 

It’d be hard to pick a favorite track from the album, but here’s a few that stand out. “1 step forward, 3 steps back” gives off the same energy as some tracks from Taylor Swift’s “evermore”—uncoincidentally, both Jack Antonoff and Swift herself helped write the song. The piano track and vocals tugged at my heartstrings, truly encapsulating so much emotion in one track.

Another standout was “hope ur ok,” an accumulation of traumatic stories that Rodrigo sought to retell, which gave us lines like “hope you know how proud I am you were created with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred” and “his parents cared more about the Bible // Than being good to their own child,” as well as a ton of tears to sort through. Whether I’m laughing, crying or being the fiercest version of myself, this album is close to a masterpiece and has already staked its claim in the music industry. We can’t wait to hear more from Rodrigo.


Alt/Indie Pop

“Scaled and Icy,” twenty one pilots

Admittedly, reviewing this album concerned me slightly, as twenty one pilots always takes me back to my angsty middle school years. While I was pleasantly surprised in some regards— similar lyrical build-up to earlier works and a happier, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of energy—the album overall wasn’t all I hoped it’d be—an interesting take on synthetic R&B that was a lot more electronic than I expected.

There were some good songs that really highlighted the duo’s songwriting abilities, like “Mulberry Street” and “Never Take It.” However, it misses the kind of storytelling and consistency that was present in previous albums, like “Blurryface” and “Trench.” Among some spectacular tracks that showcase the duo’s talents and the unique products of their pandemic experimentation, there are some, like “Good Day,” that instead feel like music you might hear on the speaker system at JCPenney. Sadly, this revamp of their older roots in this album didn’t sound like I’d hoped.

“Harmony House,” Dayglow

Newest album release from internet-savvy and growing alt-indie staple Dayglow, “Harmony House” is a definite pleaser for any listener. The album starts off strong with “Something,” featuring Sloan Struble’s iconic synth backbeat and autotune, which reflects early 2000s rhythm and style inspirations from the likes of Bright Eyes and Vampire Weekend. The track is clean and brief, leaving the listener pining for more with every beat. Such desires are fulfilled by the following 70s-groove-inspired track “Medicine,” complete with distant laser-esque sound effects and a deep bass accompaniment. This track is more danceable and emphasizes Struble’s love for songwriting, and the track’s guitar solo, a needed upbeat break between choruses, explores another side to the artist.

“Balcony” hits loud and strong, sounding the most like earlier Dayglow releases, but showcasing a more mature and well-produced sound, a symptom of his musical evolution. The trumpet and scat singing in “December” continue to highlight varying influences at play in producing the album as a whole. The lyrics hit deep as well, inspiring us with lines like “every year has its December / there’s gonna be days that you just want something new / but that’s what seasons do; they change.”

The album’s longest track, “Crying on the Dancefloor,” is honestly the least appealing to me. It’s four and a half minutes of heavy reliance on an uninspiring trumpet backtrack. Similarly, “Into Blue” reminisces of spa sounds with its well-written lyrics sadly lost to a heavy piano overlay. The album picks back up with the tracks “Moving Out” and “Woah Man,” reverting back to Struble’s talk-sing style and bouncy early 2000s beats with a 70s groove. The album’s conclusion with the slow and sad but well produced “Strangers” and the similarly rhythmic but more upbeat “Like Ivy” finish the album on a rather solemn and reflective note.

“Harmony House” includes 11 tracks total, incorporating Dayglow’s infamous usage of synth, pop beats and carefully worded lyrics with more mature production and new sound explorations. The album includes already viral single releases such as “Close to You,” a staple on many indie-rock playlists before the full album release; it must have struck a chord with listeners, as it currently brings in close to 20 million monthly Spotify plays. Understandably so, as the track is a perfect storm of synth beats, songwriting prowess and a satisfying rise and fall of sound intensity. Overall, the album is an innovative and exciting release for Struble and leaves diehard fans and new listeners alike tuned in and excited for future developments.

“Don’t Lose Sight,” Lawrence

Lawrence has never managed to release a song that doesn’t keep me dancing or head-bobbing throughout the entire track. This upbeat song talks about visions for the future clashing with the present struggle. With a mix of funk, jazz and pop, this sibling duo artfully weaves a narrative about internal negative thoughts duking it out with the reality that the future will be okay, including reminders that everything is possible at the end of the day. With their sweet, strong vocals and prominent trumpet, Lawrence has released another banger.

“Stop Making This Hurt,” Bleachers

Bleachers has a fun habit of concealing depressing and existential lyrics within bouncy and vibey songs that feel like a warm hug (no, that’s not the name of one of my Spotify playlists…but it probably should be). Their latest single, “Stop Making This Hurt,” is no exception, with emotive sax riffs that feel like “Everybody Lost Somebody” packaged in the sad smile of “Let’s Get Married.” For Bleachers, nostalgia is always the key factor, and the late-night-diner-and-mom-jeans aesthetic of both “Stop Making This Hurt” and its music video certainly deliver.

Though it’s been a while since industry tycoon Jack Antonoff has released new music under this stage name, the musical Agatha Harkness (it was Antonoff all along) has kept busy in the meantime, collaborating with and/or producing for the likes of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and St. Vincent. With this exploration still ongoing, “Stop Making This Hurt” marks an interesting return to form for Antonoff, and it makes me wonder whether Bleachers’ upcoming album teased on social media, “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night,” will just be the same old Bleachers vibe relocated to our present moment when it drops July 30. That certainly wouldn’t be disappointing, as the first two albums are timeless, and I would never say no to more. Yet, after all we’ve gone through the last year and a half, it would feel at least a little inappropriate for Antonoff’s sound to be exactly the same as always. But that won’t stop me from going to see him in concert. In Boston. On a Wednesday night (no offense to you, Thursday classes).



“Mask,” Dream

The popular Minecraft streamer and Internet personality known as ‘Dream’ has released another single, “Mask.” I’m not exactly sure how or why the universe conspired to make this happen, or to make it happen twice, but it certainly says something about the current state of Internet celebrity culture. If you know what that something is, please tell me. I’m dying to know.

Jokes aside, Dream admittedly has a mildly pleasant singing voice on “Mask,” and the upbeat, angsty, breaking-free energy of the song is a considerable victory for the watered-down Garageband drum kit and kids-movie-credits-sequence acoustic guitar. He’s decent enough that I almost feel slightly bad ripping on how impossibly corny his lyrics are. Tell ya what, though: there’s a line in there about failing classes and wishing he “could pass this,” and it may be cheesy, but anyone who’s found themselves in Featheringill Hall after 3 a.m. would certainly agree that it’s at least relatable.


We know this is New Music May and not a traditional New Music Friday, but be sure to check out our NMF Spotify playlist, which will be updated every so often as we publish new reviews.

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About the Contributors
Shun Ahmed, Former Staff Writer
Shun Ahmed ('22) was a Life staff writer and Multimedia photographer/videographer. If you don't see Shun producing anything, you can see her either performing spoken word pieces, actively organizing political events in Nashville or even just enjoying a good book. You can reach her at [email protected].
Sophie Edelman, Former Staff Writer
Sophie Edelman (‘24) is studying cognitive, child and educational studies in Peabody College. As the former Music Correspondent, she is passionate about expanding coverage of local musicians and performances. She loves fish tacos, thrifting and working at Vanderbilt’s Acorn School! She can be contacted at [email protected].
Andrew Kolondra Jr., Former Life Editor

Andrew (AJ) Kolondra Jr. ('22) majored in English and classics in the College of Arts and Science. He frequently reviews television and movies or covers local events and festivals in and around the city. As a South Florida native, he spends as much time as possible outdoors — more often than not at Centennial Park. He can be reached at [email protected].

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