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Album Review Competition Winners - Guest Judge Chadwick Stokes

April 24, 2015

We've been having so much fun reading your album reviews (we've also been getting some inspiration for new music to listen to in the process)! Once again, we were so impressed with the standard of work and the thought and time that everyone has put into their entries for this competition. 

It made it a very difficult task for our guest judge, Chadwick Stokes, to choose the winners. We'd like to give a big congratulations to Phoebe Lease, our winner this time around, for her review of BØRNS' EP, 'Candy' Our runner up was Logan Warshaw for his great piece on Coldplay's 'Ghost Stories', and Helen Grant's sensational peer review

Chad's commentary on each work is below. 

Thanks again to everyone who entered and look out for our new competition on Sports Journalism - opening this coming Monday! 


Winner Phoebe Lease reviews Candy by BØRNS

It was cool to get inside the head of all you music enthusiasts and it was so hard to choose a winner. My favorite album review, though, is “A Handful of Candy,” by Phoebe Lease. The tone is quick and to-the-point. I really get a sense of the individual voice behind the review as she shifts fluidly from describing the quality of the music to BØRNS’ friendship with Taylor Swift to his childhood pre-California. 


Phoebe also slows down in the right places, using sensory experience to help the reader hear the music: “This EP is the small morsel of sugar you’d try to sneak while your mom cooked unappetizing meatloaf in the next room. Candy is a breath of fresh air amid the stolen music lawsuits and pop slog on the radio these days.” 


Lines like these, as well as Phoebe's references to movies in the 80s and dancing in the middle of the night, give the review a lightness and readability.  Depth is paired with humor. And by the end, we want to revel in this EP, too…  listen to this “short but magical gem from BØRNS.”



Runner-up Logan Warshaw for his review of 'Ghost Stories' by Coldplay 

My runner-up is Logan. Right off the bat, Logan establishes a sense of credibility; the reader trusts that he knows his music. He first acknowledges the negative reception of Coldplay’s “Ghost Stories” album, but then guides the reader’s attention to the exceptional and unexpected qualities of the album: “But what Coldplay left us fans with was not just an EDM album prompted by laziness and conformation to what modern day radio plays.  Coldplay gave us an immersive, feeling-provoking series of songs filled with heartfelt melodies that sound truly amazing when listened to with concentration and attention to every note, lyric, and sound.” 


I also really appreciated Logan’s research. By weaving in information about the personal lives of the musicians, Logan provides a personal lens through which to understand the lyrics.


Finally, I loved how Logan incorporated a quote from the drummer Will Champion about their controversial new sound, and got into the writing process with a mention of the song built around the bass riff.  As a reader I want to get as much insight into the actual making of the album as possible and Logan gave me those crucial glimpses.  


Best Peer Review - Helen Grant's review of Rachel's piece. 

I was so impressed by Helen Grant's review of Rachel S's piece "Call Us All Anomalies". (Rachel wrote a great album review too!) Helen gave Rachel some detailed and specific feedback that, I would imagine, was incredibly helpful for Rachel in the polishing of her piece. Not only did Helen comment on the strengths of Rachel's work, she also shared some insightful ideas to make the album review even better. Helen's feedback was delivered in a friendly, conversational and caring tone that demonstrated both her careful reading and empathy for the writer. Fantastic work Helen. 


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