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Blue Hawk Records Vol 23, “Chapter XXVIII”: A Worthwhile Listen

Attention Monmouth University music lovers: Blue Hawk Records has done it again! Blue Hawk Records released their album “Chapter XXIII” on Dec. 8 and it features six vastly different artists, all talented in their own right.

Abby Garcia, the President of Blue Hawk Records, mentioned how the creative process of this album is truly something special. “It all starts out at auditions when the record label strategies class chooses the songs together. Somehow Professor Rapolla is able to bring an entire class together to brainstorm which songs would be a good fit, and then have them take those songs from various artists and come up with some sort of theme for the album.” From there magic happens as completely randomly selected songs are brought together into one cohesive album.

You hit play on this album and the first voice you hear is sophomore Angela An in her song “Dimensions.” Her gentle, melodic voice pulls you in immediately with her vulnerable ballad. This song is one for the overthinkers and lovesicks (you know who you are, don’t deny it!). Everyone loves a song they can interpret and make their own meaning relating to themselves. The simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. It shows that good music doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles. All you really need is heartfelt lyrics and a guitar. It reminds me of another artist, Lizzy McAlpine, and her album “Give Me A Minute” in that same regard. Trust me, I promise this song won’t disappoint.

Right after An’s song, you better prepare yourself for this next group. They call themselves The Blackouts and are comprised of Will Horn, Sam Decencio, David Thomas, Andrew Weir, and Alek Duriske. Their song “Blackout” feels like it belongs in a Netflix beach series. Listening to this song feels like you’re entering into a coming-of-age teen drama where you are most definitely the main character. But aside from that, it’s a very well-produced track. Everything from the vocals, lyrics, instruments, and overall vibe of the song screams indie music. If you like Wallows, The Driver Era, or Surfaces then The Blackouts could become your new favorite band.

The next artist is Ruaa Khalifa. Her song “Extraordinary” may be the shortest song on the album, but it’s nothing short of it’s title. Running at 2:10, this song is jam packed with clever lyrics, my favorite being, “I ain’t mean, just look mean, I mean look at me, I’m just so fresh and so clean, clean.” This song is giving off such unbothered, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me” vibes. It’s super different from every other song on this album, and that’s what makes Khalifa’s songwriting and artistry so unique. Her R&B and rap style dominate in every way, making this the perfect type of song to jam to with your friends.

Michael Anthony Rocks’ song “Feelin’ It” is one of the most fun songs I’ve ever heard. I had the pleasure of being at the album release event and got to see it performed live. Woods Theatre definitely listened when Rocks sang, “Let’s get down, let’s get lit,” because the room was electric. And that was all thanks to the stage presence and how entertaining this performance and song were. There’s no way you didn’t smile or laugh at how brilliant and entertaining the song is. The production on this track is so well done, perfectly highlighting the hip hop and rap elements. This song contributes to the album in a lot of ways that the other songs don’t by bringing a whole new genre and vibe you definitely won’t see coming.

The second to last track is just as good as everything you’ll hear on this student album. Amani Lillian’s song “Take Up Everything (oblivious)” has a jazzy, pop feel that needs to be brought back into the music scene. It’s comparable to Corinne Bailey Rae’s 2006 hit “Put Your Records On” which we all know and love. First listen, you can tell Lillian is in complete control of who she is as an artist. My favorite lyric in the song is, “In the morning, I’m convinced I don’t need your company, but by the evening my heart breaks like Braxton on repeat.” If you’re a music lover, the tiny hints at pop culture never fail to be seen.

Last but certainly not least is senior Abby Garcia’s song “213.” This song is everything a college student needs to hear because it encompasses the college experience though she wrote this song way back in her freshman year. “The song is about the back and forth feelings I felt as a freshman in a brand new place, knowing I was experiencing something once in a lifetime by being away from home for the first time, but also missing home and being scared,” Garcia said. The title “213” was the number of her dorm room where her and her friends made memories that will last a lifetime. With that being said, the song is nostalgic and full of emotion as Garcia takes you through her teenage mindset of being in college. The lyrics, tone, and sound are all things Holly Humberstone would be proud of.

Blue Hawk Records’ compilation albums are an amazing experience and way for new music artists to jump start their professional careers and bond with people of common interests. Take Abby Garcia’s word for it! She said, “Being on the album is so much more than getting to release an original song…I have truly gotten to become friends with some of the most amazing people and talented musicians who I can’t picture my college experience without. The feeling of hearing your song go from point A to point B gives you a rush to want to make more music and do it all over again. Definitely consider auditioning at some point.”