"Now, I'm right where I want to be, out on the road back to the 8-1-8," reads Haley Reinhart's manifesto, otherwise known as the title track to her sophomore studio album (out on Friday). So much has happened since the release of her outstandingly-groovy 2012 debut Listen Up! on Interscope Records; yes, she was dropped six months later, but that is only a small piece of the puzzle. In nearly four years, she, too, has gone through other machinations of Hollywood and a fickle music business in order to find her soul and a new muse worthy of greatness. Better, packed to the brim with 11 soul-inspired, Motown-fused tracks, is a kind of greatness which forges career-defining moments in time. Reinhart is having her moment, and she has enlisted a bevy of songwriters and producers to bolster her stylistic expression, including Rob Kleiner (who worked on her last album and has also produced the likes of Sia, Britney Spears and The Weeknd), Sir Charles Prince (a mastermind who taps into the magic and sheer sucker-punch of Reinhart's raw voice on Love is Worth Fighting For) and Swedish producer Anders Grahn (whose imprint is found on three songs, Bad Light, Better and the sweltering Good or Bad).
What is especially satisfying is the placement of Reinhart's growl and finesse (mostly) above the production, licensing her the freedom to color outside the lines in breathtaking ways. Her framework has always been the jazz standards of the '30s and '40s with a lacquered coat of '60s disco, with a bit of soul painted on for equal measure. My Cake [co-written by Reinhart, Keithian Sammons, and Fabian Ordorica and Jose Lopez (the duo known as Mynority, who also produced the track)] jumpstarts the record with an invigorating slither fit for Aretha Franklin or the Supremes, but there is enough of a modern pop glow here to transfix you for days.
The thread-line of the album, though, lies embedded deep within the lyrics. “The theme throughout is confidence. Even with ‘Listen Up,’ I would gear a lot of the record toward the ladies out there. The new album has the same kind of thing throughout it, too," she told Popdust. "The title ‘Better’ is simple and sweet, and the word itself means to progress or evolve or grow. It’s positive. Even in a lot of the artwork I’m doing, I have roses represented throughout all the photos. I wanted to tie in something that represents growth and evolution. A rose is constantly growing, blooming, flourishing.” And when you dig into the record, there is a sense of overwhelming urgency and a longing to take back what is rightfully hers. It all clicks into place quite magnificently.
"We left our clothes in Rio. It was a well known affair. It was the unspoken language, saying love me if you dare," she coos on the first verse of Talkin' About, in which she owns her sexuality and her willingness to express it. Then, later on the chorus, she declares, "If you want it, you can have it. If you like what you see, well you can grab it. You know the way I live, I ain’t mad at it. I said honey it’s time to funk." Elsewhere, she strikes out as a woman scorned but confident in reclaiming her supremacy (on Check Please). "Hey, I thought you were the one, but this happiness is gone. Wish I could bite my tongue. You’ll never get me. I can’t just play along. What was sweet is now so wrong. Watching the tables turn. I’ll take the check please. I got to got to get out now..." On Good or Bad, too, Reinhart remains a dominate force, giving her lover an ultimatum. "You know I’d stay every morning, every evening. Boy I’d stay, just as long as you can please me. Boy, I’d stay, wrap myself around your body can’t let go."
While Reinhart's collaborations with Postmodern Jukebox did not necessarily inspire her or free her up artistically (those performances were more about having a release outside of her solo work), there is something profoundly different in her vocal ticks, stylistic choices and the storytelling. Taking a seat in the executive producer chair, she issues Better independently, which might be, well, better for her in the long run. A major label would not know how to market the project. Instead, there are no expectations, and this gives the singer a chance to let the music breathe for the first time in a long time. Her delicate vocal nuances are more intricate, layered and driving. Can't Help Falling in Love (a cover of Elvis Presley) is stark, haunting and a rather appropriate stepping stone to a more seasoned performer. Reinhart shares producer credit here with fellow American Idol alum and friend Casey Abrams, and it pays off. Left to her own devices, the sharp-shooting "slayer" aims her daggers with cutting precision and pierces the heart without faltering. On songs like Check Please (co-written by Reinhart, Clare Reynolds and producer Kleiner) and the stunning Love is Worth Fighting For (co-written by Reinhart and Clare Reynolds and produced by Sir Charles Prince), Reinhart has found the sweet spot of her voice which perches nicely between vulnerability and strength. Bad Light (co-written by Reinhart, Adam Erhrlich and producers Grahn and James Flannigan) and Talkin' About (co-written by Reinhart Grahn and producer Justin Gray) are equally as organic and open, borrowing a Smokey Robison tilt.
Behave (co-written by Reinhart and producer Bhavik Pattani, who has worked with such international artists as Natalie Bang Bang, Booty Love and Nabiha), Listen (co-written by Reinhart, Grahn and song's producer Maria Marcus) and I Belong to You (co-written by Reinhart, Clarence Coffee Jr and producer Alex Geringas) are her most experimental forays into psychedelic rock, hooking together a Flaming Lips undercurrent with a straight-up Alanis Morissette slink. The 1-2 stylistic kick (of the latter two tracks) closes out what is one of 2016's most compelling albums. The lasting impression Reinhart leaves on your ears is like the final sip of strawberry wine on her lips: memorable, buzzy and undeniably intoxicating.
If you thought Listen Up! demonstrated her full potential, well then, you are in for one helluva ride. Pre-order Better now on iTunes.
Must-Listen Tracks: My Cake, Can't Help Falling in Love, Check Please, Better, Love is Worth Fighting For
Grade: 4 out of 5
The ice cream company released a powerful statement this week.
With Black Lives Matter protests popping up left and right, lots of well-known public figures and companies are taking a stand against police brutality.
Celebrities are putting their lives on the line protesting, childrens' toy companies are donating tens of thousands to organizations like the NAACP, and even infamous YouTube stars are hitting the streets. But Ben & Jerry's—yes, the ice cream brand—have made the most detailed statement of all.
"The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy," reads a lengthy statement on the Ben & Jerry's website. "What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning."
The statement continues: "Four years ago, we publicly stated our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms."
Ben and Jerry then outlines a four-step plan to end white supremacy. First is calling on President Trump to disavow white supremacy, instead of calling on the military to shoot American protesters. Second is calling on Congress to pass H.R. 40, a bill with instructions to study racism, its deep roots in American history, and how antiquated beliefs are still prevalent today. Third is creating a task force to help increase police accountability, and fourth is a "call on the Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people." Trump has never made plans even half that detailed!
It's a little sad that ice cream companies are more adamant about ending centuries of white supremacy than our own government officials even at the state level. Especially when other companies have issued statements that attempt to overshadow their previous racist actions, Ben & Jerry's commitment to justice is admirable. Ben and Jerry are officially the two coolest white boomer men we know, and we will be celebrating by vacuum-inhaling three pints of Chunky Monkey.
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To Donald Trump: 5 Ways You're Actually a Flawless Being Doing a Beautiful, Unbelievable Job Right Now
You could resign if you want to, but then who will keep America so GD great?
With Donald Trump making a visit to Bangor, Maine today, the editorial board of the Portland Press Herald issued an op-ed calling for President Trump to resign.
The harshly critical piece entitled "To President Trump: You Should Resign Now" was framed as an open letter to the president and got straight to the point with this opening plea, "We're sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favor? Resign."
In recent days even George W. Bush has been critical of President Trump's response to protests, so this new piece quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Obviously this is another baseless attack from the lying news media—AKA lügenpresse. Considering how delicate our president's ego is—he's our special little guy—we can only hope that Donald Trump didn't see the letter; but just in case he did, it's worth writing another one to lift his spirits. So here's our best attempt—with lots of pictures and flattery to keep him reading:
You Know How to Look Tough<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTYyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTE5Nzc3M30.9B4CSWzpZGjBq7APFv_KJKf-QV8n2kEIYcBIOTUt02k/img.jpg?width=980" id="0a07e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="980538d3ccf27d180ce2f7e147f1259f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump eagle scared" /><p>Joe Biden is always trying to challenge you to push up contests or saying he would "<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/21/politics/joe-biden-donald-trump/index.html" target="_blank">beat the hell</a>" out of you, but you don't engage with that nonsense. You know that it's not important for a leader to actually be tough as long as you look tough. That's why you avoid protesters like the plague. In 2018 you <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/12/donald-trump-visit-to-london-called-off-amid-fears-of-mass-protests" target="_blank">canceled your London trip</a> amid protests there, and more recently, you authorized the use of violent force to disperse peaceful demonstrators <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-calls-tear-gas-reports-fake-news-protesters/story?id=71052769" target="_blank">so you could have a photo-op in front of a church</a>.</p><p>Whether it's because you don't want to be seen as having less than absolute control over the unruly crowds, or just because you pee a little bit whenever you're around political activism (probably that), we all owe you a debt of gratitude for avoiding any confrontation or engagement with <a href="https://www.popdust.com/jimmy-fallon-blackface-2646105674.html" target="_blank">the mass protests against police brutality</a> that are taking place throughout our country right now—why engage when you can just use more police brutality to avoid them altogether?! It's the only way for you to maintain that all-important facade of toughness that makes you undeniably the most respected current president of the United States. And now that you've <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-fence-protests-washington-1508703" target="_blank">surrounded the White House with two miles of barricade—</a>#BuildThatWall—we never have to worry about press cameras catching sight of a faint stain spreading out from the crotch of your pants.</p>
You Know Who the Real Enemy Is<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTYyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzg3NjY1M30.J6PsxmoxCL_8jSPRBcTHkFrHNRm7bgVmYzBcXmfDNHQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="c7b59" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f8a213c28f6c8ba27cef403b76ff012c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump after you tweet" /><p>Earlier this year FBI director Christopher Wray announced that racist domestic violence was <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/02/10/804616715/fbi-announces-that-racist-violence-is-now-equal-priority-to-foreign-terrorism" target="_blank">being prioritized just as much as foreign terror threats</a>. On one level that could be seen as a sign that white supremacy is a major problem in the US, and that perpetrators of deadly hate crimes should be labeled terrorists, but you know better—obviously, since you're both very stable and a genius. If we start labeling white people as terrorists, then it will just make it harder to keep stoking fears about Islam, bad hombres, and other brown people problems.</p><p>Besides, if white men can be bad guys too, then that could include you! And as we all know, an attack against you is <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7808431/Trump-channels-Uncle-Sam-tweet-saying-Democrats-just-way.html" target="_blank">actually an attack against all good, patriotic Americans</a>. Therefore the real enemy is anyone trying to aggressively call out and push back against white supremacy and white nationalism. That's why <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/antifa-group-trump-designate-terrorist-organization/story?id=71045287" target="_blank">you want to designate Antifa a terrorist organization</a>. Who cares that they <a href="https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/trump-cant-designate-antifa-or-any-movement-domestic-terrorist-organization/" target="_blank">aren't even an organization at all—</a>it's just an ethos of publicly and aggressively confronting fascism and related ideologies. And who cares if there's no way to single out anti-fascist activism from wider, constitutionally protected protests like the Black Lives Matter movement?</p><p>Treating people who oppose you as terrorists will free you up to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52932611" target="_blank">unleash state violence</a>, <a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/watchlists" target="_blank">surveillance, and travel restrictions</a>. Besides, we already have <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52932611" target="_blank">a hyper-militarized police force</a>, which has worked out great—apart from a few "<a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/500328-national-security-adviser-blames-a-few-bad-apples-says-theres-not" target="_blank">bad apples</a>" (who seem to operate with impunity for some reason, right up until there's a mass uprising). So put "<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-my-generals-my-military-2017-10" target="_blank">your military</a>" to work and crack down on all of them with the full force of martial law! Or, as you put it, "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2020-daily-trail-markers-trump-declares-we-will-dominate-the-streets/" target="_blank">Dominate the streets.</a>" Keep <a href="https://theintercept.com/2020/06/04/fbi-nypd-political-spying-antifa-protests/" target="_blank">interrogating protesters about their political beliefs</a>, and if enough of them end up too scared or too imprisoned or too dead to keep opposing you, you won't even have to take away their voting rights (although, we should look into that) to be a shoe-in for reelection!</p>
You Know that Free Speech Is Not as Important as Guns<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="528bc162ed6e6a07fe1e0245016bffff"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-K7XJGk8lyQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In your recent announcement that you were "mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting," you said you were doing so "to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights." It was the only amendment you mentioned, and you even gave it some extra emphasis <a href="https://www.indy100.com/article/trump-second-amendment-speech-george-floyd-protests-9544011" target="_blank">as though encouraging "law-abiding Americans" to exercise their gun rights</a> in the face of rioting—because gun-toting Trump supporters to mass demonstrations of institutional racism and white supremacy will...calm things down?</p><p>We don't have to fully understand you to appreciate the fact that you skipped over that pesky first amendment—with the free speech and right to assemble that could get in the way of your military dominating the streets—and got to the important one. Maybe the "innocent" man you touted in your speech—<a href="https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2020/05/31/unfounded-trump-tweet-echoes-heavy-metal-guitarist-claim-that-antifa-beat-machete-wielding-dallas-man/" target="_blank">who chased after people in Dallas while wielding a machete—</a>wouldn't have been "savagely beaten," if he'd been wielding a gun instead. Besides, everyone knows that the only real enemies of free speech are <a href="https://www.popdust.com/mark-zuckerberg-trump-2646117777.html" target="_blank">private companies who call you out for "glorifying violence."</a> As long as the American people retain the right to retweet you with impunity, they have all the free speech they need, and they should stay inside and protest in ways that don't disrupt established order or do anything to upset the status quo (because no one has the right to make you pee a little bit).</p>
You Value the Economy<iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-1268968348278292484" id="twitter-embed-1268968348278292484" lazy-loadable="true" src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-1268968348278292484&created_ts=1591380605.0&screen_name=CNN&text=The+President+went+from+talking+about+jobs+to+praising+police.+Then+he+claimed+it%27s+a+%22great+day%22+for+the+man+whose%E2%80%A6+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FP3mMAREHMc&id=1268968348278292484&name=CNN" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="51cee049686210db564d6bbf94f563e3"></iframe><p>Every president knows that the maintaining the economy is important, but as a business man—with that eagle-eyed focus on short term growth that has <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-business-failures-were-very-real" target="_blank">led several of your businesses into bankruptcy</a>—you've made it clear that you value the economy more than anything else. Whether it's <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/05/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus-economy-models/index.html" target="_blank">the thousands of lives that will be lost</a> to the COVID-19 pandemic as we "reopen the economy" or t<a href="rgy-infrastructure-environmental-review-coronavirus" target="_blank">he dismantling of environmental regulations</a> that were getting in the way of cost-saving pollution, you don't let anything get in the way of a quick economic boost. You know that what's good for major industries today will be good for the American economy...also today.</p><p><span></span>Who cares about tomorrow?! We're having a hard time right now, and people want to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/politics/trump-unemployment-numbers-protests/index.html" target="_blank">hear about how you've reduced unemployment</a>, not about 110,000 dead Americans or the necessity of police reform in the wake of <a href="https://www.popdust.com/derek-chauvin-hat-2646109506.html" target="_blank">George Floyd's murder at the hands of a police officer</a>. You can commemorate <a href="https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/" target="_blank">World Environment Day</a> by <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-environment-oceans/trump-plans-to-open-atlantic-sanctuary-to-commercial-fishing-sources-idUSKBN23C26N" target="_blank">opening up ocean conservation areas to commercial fishing</a>. Have ocean fish populations been cut in half over the last 50 years? Sure, but that means we have at least another decade or two before <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/report-million-extinctions-and-ecological-collapse-are-way" target="_blank">the total collapse of marine ecosystems</a>, and by then it will be some other jerk's problem!</p>
You Could Probably Cure COVID-19 if You Really Wanted<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTY4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTQ4Njg1OX0.UrYXJOB4Wut0GXnPkWhdOIOzYHq4pAS3JSSKg2qvSlA/img.jpg?width=980" id="cad7c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4d96bd6d9c28bdbcb31a1d0c32f23083" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump covid tester" /><p>Thanks to the fact that you have your priorities in order, and are purely focused on the economy, you haven't worried too much about all this pandemic nonsense—by, for example, providing adequate testing or not stealing vital PPE and ventilators from the states. You did <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-confirms-that-donald-trump-tried-to-buy-firm-working-on-coronavirus-vaccine/" target="_blank">try to get Americans exclusive access to a potential vaccine—</a>which would really stick it to all those jerks dying in other countries—but that didn't really pan out, so you'll probably just have to until the economy's sorted out so you can come up with a cure yourself.</p><p>After all, you have "<a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/30/donald-trump-iq-intelligence-1347149" target="_blank">one of the highest</a>" IQs, "<a href="https://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/trump-foreign-policy-adviser-220853" target="_blank">a very good brain</a>", and "<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-healthcare-us-medicine-coronavirus-centers-for-disease-control-a9384441.html" target="_blank">natural ability</a>" for medical science. It only took you a matter of moments and the most superficial level of thought to come up with a brilliant new avenue for research—injecting disinfectant into people's bodies—so you can probably have this whole thing sorted out in a day or two once you get around to it.</p>
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