Is "Wasteland, Baby!" A Good Album?

Music Review: Hozier "Wasteland, Baby"

"That's it"

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Hozier has been my favorite artist for years. He has a way with words, to say the least. His voice is so beautiful. My ears are very happy when I listen to his music. This album is truly amazing and quite different than his first self titled album. But I am here for it! Some of these songs are political, others are subtly about sex, and others are relaxing. There is a bit of everything on this album.

1. ​Nina Cried Power ft. Mavis Staples​

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Nina Cried Power ft. Mavis Staples

Starting this album off is a song making a political statement. The opening line, "It's not the waking, it's the rising" is a powerful way to start off the song. This line calls on us as people to stand up for what we believe in. It's not enough to just simply be aware of it but to take action and rise up. This is the only way how a change will happen. Throughout the song, he references many social activists who fought for the rights of minorities such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, John Lennon, James Brown, and B.B King, among many more. Mavis Staples is featured on this track. She is a singer and activist who was a voice in the civil rights movement. She is also mentioned in the song as one who cried power. Overall, a very strong and meaningful song.

2. Almost (Sweet Music)

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Almost (Sweet Music)

What a sweet song. I love how he references jazz and blues songs, lyrics, and artists throughout the song. It's almost like a little treasure hunt trying to find all of the references. This song has a fun beat and honestly brings me a lot of joy. However, I think this song is kind of sad, despite the happy upbeat sound. The line, "I'm almost me again, she's almost you" makes me think it's about two people who are no longer together but are now with other people, and they would listen to these kinds of songs together. But then again, maybe this a reference to a jazz song I am unaware of. It is up to your interpretation.

3. Movement

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Movement

This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. It has such a beautiful sound. The beginning makes me think of being underwater or watching those videos of ocean waves in slow motion. But this song quickly picks up and has a different tone to it that I can't quite put my finger on. If you listen to the lyrics, it is definitely appreciating dancing and the movement involved, and maybe a little bit about sex. When he says, "Move me, baby, Shake like the bough of a willow tree, You do it naturally, Move me baby" he could be talking about sex or being moved in an emotional way. In addition, there is an instrumental part of the song that just gives me the chills. It's amazing. I highly recommend watching the music video because Sergei Polunin is the main character and dances throughout. It is simply beautiful. I'm also very much contemplating choreographing this song.

4. No Plan

No Plan

This is a pretty fun song. I don't know what instrument it's called, it may just be an electric guitar, but it adds like a 70s vibe to the song. I really like the beat and the instruments. This sounds like a great song to just sit back and relax with. The lyrics are very interesting though. From what I'm interpreting it seems like he's saying that there isn't a plan to all of this, to existence, that we are just here. We should not define our lives if we want to live it freely, because then we are caging ourselves in. While I don't necessarily agree that there is "no plan" for our lives, I feel like the lyrics and tone fit in with the theme of this album, a kind of apocalyptic world. However, I do agree with him when he says, "Sit in and watch the sunlight fade, Honey, enjoy, it's gettin' late". I think what he's trying to say here is that in this chaotic world, you should sit down and enjoy the little things, like watching the sunset. We shouldn't stress over controlling our lives, but rather just enjoy it.

5. Nobody

Nobody

This track is definitely a love song. It has a happy, upbeat tempo which I think parallels well with the lyrics. The singer talks about all of these experiences he has around the world that obviously bring him a lot of joy. But despite all of those experiences he has never been loved by somebody the way this person has loved them. I think that's a beautiful thing. Love is a beautiful thing, so it's great when you can find someone that really loves you. Overall, this is a fun song that I wouldn't mind just laying back and relaxing to.

6. To Noise Making (Sing)

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To Noise Making (Sing)

This track has a simple sound to it with beautiful background vocals. The lyrics are also fairly simple since most of the song is him just singing "sing". To be honest, I'm not really sure what this song is about. At a surface level, it seems to be just about how singing brings this person joy. However, some of the lyrics make me think that this could be more about sexual experience. But you know, I really don't know. This song is okay, but probably my least favorite on the album.

7. As It Was

As It Was

This is a much slower and darker song. I appreciate how it is mostly just his guitar and his voice, with some other string instruments and a piano sprinkled in there. It adds a certain depth to the song. This song is about a person returning to his significant other/lover. Again, he's referencing a great love. This is a really great song.

8. Shrike

Shrike

Another slow and softer song. The instrumentals are simple and calming. I get a very indie vibe from this song. I didn't know this but a shrike is actually a bird and it will kill its prey with its beak and then skewer the prey onto a thorn. I know, it's pretty graphic. I am a bit confused about the meaning of the song though. At first, it seems like this person was hurt a lot by a past lover, especially when he says, "Dragging along, follow in your form, Hung like the pelt of some prey you had worn". It sounds like a toxic relationship. But then at the end of the chorus, he always says, "Remember me, love, when I'm reborn, As the shrike to your glorious thorn". And when you think back to what the shrike bird does, it relies on a thorn to kill its prey. So maybe he's also relying on this person, and maybe it is a toxic relationship because of that dependence.

9. Talk

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Talk

This track is another one of my favorites. I really just love the sound of it, especially the beginning. The guitar has a bubbly sort of feel to it. As for the lyrics, they are definitely seductive. I was watching an interview of Hozier talking about this song and he said that the person speaking is trying to talk about all of these tales about love and speaking eloquently trying to impress the other person. And in the chorus, it even says, "I won't deny I've got on my mind now, All the things I would do, So I try to talk refined for fear that you find out, How I'm imaginin' you". So he's literally saying like he's saying all of these things because he doesn't want the other person to know just how attracted he is to them. What a song.

10. Be

Be

This track picks up the beat a lot more, but it's not necessarily happy. I would even say that part of it is a commentary on some political situations. For example, at the end of the first chorus, he says, "which side of the wall really suffers the cost?" and then in the next verse he says, "When the man who gives the order, Is born next time 'round on the boat sent back, When the bodies starvin' at the border, Are on TV giving people the sack" he is most definitely referring to Trump and his wall. As a whole, I think the artist is asking his partner to still love him well and to be the way that they are, despite the world being chaotic around them.

11. Dinner & Diatribes

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Dinner & Diabtribes

This is a really fun song. I didn't know what a diatribe was though, so I had to look that up. A diatribe is basically a rant criticizing someone or something. So this track is kind of telling a story. Basically, the main person in this song is having dinner with his significant other and her friends, but the friends are making diatribes so it's making the situation not fun. Furthermore, the main character in this story was supposed to have an intimate night with his significant other, but instead, he has to deal with her annoying friends, so she's teasing him and promising sex later on. And so the song continues to talk about the kind of love they are going to have later on. It's a pretty sexual song in a very subtle and tasteful way.

12. Would That I

Would That I

This track is another one of my favorites. It starts off with an indie vibe and then picks up and gets louder for the chorus. It gets quieter again for the second verse, but not as quiet as the first, and gets loud again for the chorus. This song has a mix of sadness and happiness to it. In the beginning, he is talking about losing a love, which is why it is kind of somber. But as it goes to the chorus, we see that he is now focusing on the present love that he has. To me, this is a song that I would blast on my radio with my windows down in the summertime. It just feels like a good time.

13. Sunlight

Sunlight

I really like the background guitar when the song starts. It reminds me of sunshine just beaming down on your skin, which is very fitting for this song. He is in love with this person and he sees them as sunlight, something bright and beautiful. However, he claims that he would do anything, even if his own life is at stake, for a chance to be close to this person. I think this is a very beautiful song and definitely wouldn't mind just basking in the sun listening to this.

14. Wasteland, Baby!

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Wasteland, Baby!

This is a simple song. It is beautiful and dark. This song is just Hozier and his guitar, with a bit of piano sprinkled in there. However, I don't know if I like the sound effect on his voice. It's like a weird autotune that is very slightly echoing. But the lyrics are very interesting. It sounds like he is falling in love and comparing that sensation to the end of the world. I mean falling in love is pretty scary. But he talks about a lot of positive aspects of it, not just all negative.

Overall, I think this is a really great album with some very strong songs. There were some songs from his Nina Cried Power EP that I wish made it to this album, but all of the songs are beautiful nonetheless. I love Hozier so much because he adds so many layers to his songs and they are open to interpretation. Maybe you interpreted some of these songs differently than I did, and I think that's a great thing. I am so excited to hear his beautiful voice in just about a week. I can't wait to hear some of these songs live. It's going to be awesome!

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The 7 Best Food Places Near UCLA You Need to Try ASAP

We have great dining food AND restaurants around us? Wow, we are #blessed.

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Westwood is the home to UCLA and offers plenty of interesting and diverse dining options for students and locals alike. Since the area is firmly Bruin territory, you will find lots of on-the-go, affordable eats along with a mix of more modern and upscale restaurants.

Though I definitely haven't had all the food Westwood occurs, being here two years now (omg already!?), I think I can safely recommend certain places to eat.

1. Shamshiri Grill

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South Westwood Boulevard is often referred to as Little Tehran, so most of that area is just Persian restaurants. Shamshiri Grill just makes the best meat and whenever I go there, I always order my meal with their special hot sauce, that is to DIE for. A must try.

2. Gushi

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3. Pinches Tacos

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I know Mexican food is very common wherever you go but Pinches Tacos is aesthetically pleasing and their food? Even more so. It just tastes so good! I definitely recommend the Asada fries and any tacos.

4. Saffron and Rose

Saffron and Rose is a Persian ice cream parlor like 10 minutes away from Shamshiri Grill and the quality and variety of ice cream is truly impressive. I would not have known my weakness for Jasmine ice cream if I hadn't tried this place and as always, the Saffron and Rose (it's namesake) deserves to be the name of the restaurant because of how rich in flavor it is.

5. Maharaja

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I am very particular about my Indian food but the buffets in the afternoons at Maharaja definitely passes my checklist. I actually went there for my birthday so that just tells you how the food doesn't disappoint.

6. Nekter Juice Bar

I found out about this place very recently and I'm so glad I did because their bowls are so good. They also serve smoothies which I haven't had the pleasure to taste yet but I expect the same kind of quality. I am very partial to the Bruin Bowl and the Dragonfruit Bowl.

7. BJs

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They have $3 Pizookies on Tuesday.

I am always there on Tuesday.

Are these two facts connected? Maybe.

What can I say? I just love the restaurants here.

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