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November 2019

Not Just A Solo Man: Nick Eng and Friends at the Silver Baron Lounge

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Self-proclaimed “friendly neighborhood mod” Nick Eng, 22, jammed out at the Silver Baron Lounge with the Run Up, a local band featuring Aaron and Daniel Sion, and Steven Martin. The singer-songwriter usually grooves on his own, but on September 21, Eng and friends performed a six-hour show, covering classic rock icons like the Beatles, Tom Petty and Elvis Presley to an intimate crowd. 

Eng, who carries a minor resemblance to a young John Lennon with mop-top and heeled boots, caught the musical bug early on. Aside from growing up with classic rock playing in his house, the Beatles inspired young Eng to pick up the guitar in the fourth grade. “I was like ‘hey, they’re holding guitars!’” said Eng.

Eng has turned his passion into a solo career. While he enjoys being the frontman of his own band and writing on his own, rocking out with friends is always the most exciting option. There aren’t as many pressures like having to play his own stuff or sell merchandise. 

“I feel more comfortable playing these sort of gigs because I’m a member of something; not everything is riding on me. For my own band, it’s my stuff and they’re my band, but we’re not A band. It can be hard,” said Eng.

Eng met brothers Aaron Sion, 26, and Daniel Sion, 29, a few years ago, but in the last three years, they have started performing together. When the guys met, they bonded over their similar musical backgrounds and being from Reno. 

I didn’t start playing with them until they started needing more members for different gigs. This is Aaron and Daniel’s personal project, but Aaron plays lead guitar in my band from time to time,” said Eng. “It’s just friends playing together and a want for money.” 

“We perform with Nick quite a bit. The idea of a band as a singular is great, but we love performing with different musicians, and Nick’s probably our favorite,” said Daniel Sion. 

The Sion brothers and Eng all grew up with music like the Beatles and the Doors playing in their household. Having similar musical backgrounds has made it easy for the guys to choose what songs to play during gigs.

“Us three (Sion brothers and Eng) share singing duties. Most of the time, the songs I want to pick are already on the setlist. It’s a democracy,” said Eng.

“I feel like there’s no democracy,” teased Steven Martin, 25, the long-haired drummer who joined the Run Up after finding their ad on Craigslist. 

Though Eng loves collaborating with friends and the easygoing nature of playing with others, he loves working alone a little more. 

“It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great when you are a unit. There’s a sense of comradery … I’ve collaborated with people and thrown ideas around, but I’ve never been able to personally work very well with writing with other people. Like on my albums, I do it all. I play instruments, I orchestrate everything in my head and I write everything. I mean, I have my engineer producer, but that’s not quite the same,” said Eng. 

“So, you at least have a George Martin?” I joked with Eng, alluding to his love for the Beatles. 

“Yeah, I have my George Martin!” said Eng, smiling at the reference. 

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Cover of Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel"

10 Years Later, We’re Still “Obsessed” With “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel”

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For an artist who’s been in the game as long as Mariah Carey has, it would be difficult to keep track of career milestones—especially if you have one of the most revered discographies in popular music. With the 25th anniversary of her illustrious Christmas album and the iconic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” coming up, it’s the biggest talking point about the singer this year and rightfully so; however, 2009’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” is celebrating its 10th year, and we should give it some love—as it is arguably one of her most underrated projects.

Cover of Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel"

Courtesy Photo

At the time of the album’s genesis, Carey was coming off of a career milestone with the 2008 single “Touch My Body,” which earned her the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100—surpassing Elvis Presley’s record of most number-one singles by a solo artist in the United States. After the era of the joyous pop hip-hop forward album “E=MC²,” Carey began to work with producers The-Dream and Tricky Stewart—the team responsible for hits like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” This time, the new album would be strictly R&B hip-hop and focus on a more cohesive sound.

For many diehards, the title “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” is expected from someone like Carey, who gives her albums grandiose titles like 2005’s “The Emancipation of Mimi.” Being her 12th studio album, Carey wanted to make a record dedicated to all types of fans with music for those who love 1997’s “Butterfly” and other older work. The album photo shoot even recreates her 1990 debut look with the classic little black dress and brunette curls—serving as a full circle nostalgic moment while staying true to her current self.

The first track, “Betcha Gon’ Know (The Prologue)” is a perfect representation of Carey at her best in terms of songwriting—reminiscent of the detailed storytelling of 1997’s “The Roof.” Carey depicts finding her boyfriend cheating on her, bolting out of the door and driving while her mascara runs down her cheeks—hiding her eyes behind her black Cavalli shades in true diva fashion.

“Obsessed” drifts away from the resentful vibe of the first track—transitioning into one of the greatest diss tracks of pop music history. Carey kicks off the song with a reference to “Mean Girls”—one of her favorite films. It has been speculated the song is targeted toward Eminem and all of his digs aimed at her over the years, and this was further implied through the music video—showing Carey as an obsessed stalker who somewhat resembles the rapper. “Obsessed” also includes some of Carey’s funniest lyrics to date, including “Got you all fired up with your inferior complex/Seeing right through you like you’re bathing in Windex.”

Just a decade later, “Obsessed” has experienced a resurgence due to a viral TikTok meme of a young girl dancing to the song while sobbing. Carey, being one of the most social media savvy legends, joined in the fun and even made her own “Obsessed” dance challenge video.

The album switches back to a somber tone with “H.A.T.E.U,” which is an acronym for “Having A Typical Emotional Upset.” The R&B ballad tackles the emotion of wishing you hated someone because the pain of still loving them after heartbreak is too much to bear. Carey implements her classic whistle register in the song’s hook— inspired by one of her vocal idols, Minnie Riperton.

The flow of songs “Candy Bling” and “Ribbon” give the section a sense of simplicity, which is depicted by their lyrical content—focusing on the sweetness of young love and pretty melodies dealing with the constant thought of a significant other. “Inseparable” falls into this category as well—especially with the cute nod to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” as she sings, “Boy, I’m lost, can’t you look?/Won’t you please find me?”

Even though Carey is most well-known for her incredible vocals, her knowledge of music history is just as notable. Carey has sampled many greats from the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” to The Emotions’ “Blind Alley.” “It’s A Wrap” isn’t any different as it samples Love Unlimited’s “I Belong to You” and incorporates the piano of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” 

“Up Out Of My Face” is one of the most confident, uptempo anthems on the album—involving the theme of rejecting a person who just doesn’t get out of your way. It is hard to find someone else who would write, “If we were two Lego blocks/Even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010/Couldn’t put us back together again.” 

Ending with a cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” Carey gave fans an inspiring ending. Although this cover doesn’t quite pack the unreal vocal punch of her previous covers of Journey’s “Open Arms” and Badfinger’s “Without You” as it is subtle in its delivery, for the most part, the usage of a gospel choir was a great addition.

“Memoirs” turned out to be a great effort by Carey; the album attentively highlights her love for new and old school R&B along with clever songwriting. With Carey, it is important to look at the bigger picture of her artistry and all it encompasses—not just the number one singles— because there may be a multitude of other underrated gems made just for you.




Wasteland, Baby! Tour: A Night With Hozier

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Irish singer-songwriter Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, known as “Hozier,” brought his audience to church with his enchanting vocals and words on his Wasteland, Baby! Tour on October 21, 2019, in Sacramento, California. Hozier, alongside his just-as-bewitching band, rocked the Memorial Auditorium with 20 songs, including a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” and a new original song, “Jack Boot Jump.” 

   Hozier began the night with “As It Was,” a song off his newest album, Wasteland, Baby! released earlier this year in March. 

“The eyes at the heights of my baby. Let’s hope at the fight of my baby. The lights were as bright as my baby, but your love was unmoved,” sang the long-haired singer, gently tapping his acoustic guitar as his audience joined in singing. 

Greatly influenced by his religious upbringing and Ireland, Hozier includes pastoral and religious themes in his music, making his songwriting unique. In Sacramento, Hozier brought a fresh, new take to his song, “From Eden,” off his first studio album, Hozier (2014). The studio version of “From Eden,” which is a Garden of Eden allusion, has a merry, high-spirited way about it; however, the live rendition is stripped and vulnerable, giving it an even more romantic and dramatic edge.

“Babe, there’s something lonesome about you. Something so wholesome about you. Get closer to me,” Hozier sang with weary vocals, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and backup vocalists. 

“Dinner and Diatribes,” which followed “As It Was,” showed Hozier’s quick versatility from tenderhearted to alluring. Almost every song was followed by a “thank you” from Hozier to his audience and his band, making his kindness and gratitude, aside from his versatility, one of the best parts of seeing him live. 

Hozier also featured fan favorites: “Nina Cried Power,” “Movement” and “Cherry Wine,” each delivering different messages and emotions from the singer and his audience; however, his live rendition of “Take Me to Church,” which dominated the charts and radio in 2014 and placed Hozier on the radar, was the night’s greatest highlight. 

“If the Heavens ever did speak. She is the last true mouthpiece. Every Sunday’s getting more bleak. A fresh poison each week,” the audience sang to Hozier as he lent them his microphone, giving everyone in the venue chills. The single’s “Amens” were shared, too, making the live rendition more captivating in person. 

If you haven’t had a chance to attend a Hozier concert yet, check out for more information on his upcoming American shows. Want some cool insider scoop? At the Sacramento show, Hozier announced that he’s been working on a new album, which is set to be released before Christmas. Can’t wait until then? Stream Hozier and Wasteland, Baby! on Spotify and Apple Music today!