I had a great time at this year's Pitchfork and if you weren't there this year, here are a couple of great experiences that you missed: Friday: Vince Staples had a very minimalist set up as if it were a metaphor for his life outside of rap. Staple's flow was impeccable and he was able to rile the crowd up into a fervour with his hit "Norf Norf". The call and response that Staples had when he said "Norf side Long Beach" "NORF SIDE LONG BEACH" was amazing. There was a similar reaction to Danny Brown's concert, where a surprising number of people were able to recite lines from each of his songs. People within the crowd were so into the experience that they were imitating Brown's distinct voice throughout the crowd. Frankie Cosmos and Danny Brown, though vastly different artists, were both sporting their new extremely short haircuts. The main difference between the two concerts was the feeling of the concert. Frankie Cosmos was able to mix rock tropes with her own style of sweet palatable vignettes that made the whole crowd sway together. Here is one of the best experiences of this Pitchfork, LCD Soundsystem. Waiting in the crowd, I felt a large sense of anticipation from the audience, where people either have been waiting a long time to see LCD or they knew what they were getting into because they have seen them many times before. Otherwise, there was a hush throughout the crowd. When the first guitar notes of "Yr City's a Sucker" rang out there was a sense of awe of what was about to come, and when the wood blocks accompanied by the bass line joined, an all out dance party started. Whether it was a hard rock song like "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" or "Movement" or softer sentimental songs like "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down", people were either moshing or swaying in awe respectively. This was definitely one of the great highlights of my Pitchfork experience. Saturday: George Clinton was not what I expected. Rather than playing the old standbys of his classical funk, he played a lot of hip-hop hits. Clinton won over the crowd with their rendition of "Get Low" by Lil Jon, and the rest was just a jamming out rock show. Angel Olsen has developed in a tremendous way throughout the years and her concert at Pitchfork was able to be the embodiment of all of her growth. Olsen had a backing band that sounded more punk than indie-singer-songwriter. She sauntered onto the stage and played most of her newest album My Woman. Olsen was able to balance her newer rock oriented music with her previous softer music, which created a very intimate feeling rock show that was one of the most enjoyable of the weekend. S U R V I V E, who is best known for the theme song for the hit show Stranger Things, was able to showcase their unique style of electronic music. Their set was enchanting and was able to put the entire audience in a trance. Everyone was dancing along to the deep sounds that are emblematic of S U R V I V E's music. Overall, this was a chill break from the craziness that would come next with A Tribe Called Quest. A Tribe Called Quest was the coup de grace of Saturday's events. Tribe was able to combine their style of Conscious rap with the energy of the crowd very well. They started off with a tribute to their fallen member Phife Dawg by saying that it was their first concert since he became deceased. The concert was a very energetic with some touching moments of tribute to their fallen member. At times, Phife Dawg's verses would play acapella throughout the sound system and ripple through the audience. Even more emblematic of their loss came how the acapella verses were set up with a light shining on a microphone that was unaccompanied. Overall, Tribe was able to channel their loss into a very energetic concert. Sunday: Joey Purp played on his Chicago roots during his show. He was able to showcase how far he had come from being an up-and-comer from Chicago and he even was able to surprise the audience with a cameo appearance from Vic Mensa. Due to a minor disappointment on Sunday (The Avalanches Cancelled last minute due to a family issue), I had some time to walk around in the market behind the festival. In the market, there were posters of artists at the festival from past concerts that you may have missed, beautiful fan art of the artists themselves, T-Shirts and memorabilia for various artists, and Vinyl records of great albums from various record labels. When I was walking around, I ended up buying three Vinyl records (Mac Demarco's 2, Washed Out's Paracosm, and Beach House's Depression Cherry) and had a great time walking around the back with people who shared the same musical interests. Nicolas Jaar was a strange concert experience. At first, I was front row for this concert, but I had to move further back because of the solid wall of sound that blew me away. Jaar appeared solo, surrounded by his array of instrumentation. Throughout the concert, Jaar was able to seamlessly blend the analogue with the digital and created a set that was not only sonically powerful but mesmerizing. Solange was the last show of the festival and it did not disappoint. Solange was able to connect her neo-soul style to a large group of audience members. Not only was Solange great with her sonic style, but she also put on an avant-garde stage show. All of the backup singers were dressed the same and were choreographed with stilted motions that would go along with the music itself. The show was able to quell the more rowdy energy of the third day into a softer mood and had the entire crowd moving together in agreement. Overall, the concert was a great cherry on top to what was a great Pitchfork. This year of Pitchfork was amazing, it was a great experience, I will definitely not miss out for the next year.
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It’s that time of year again, Pitchfork 2017 music festival is upon us. I have the pleasure of being one of the two that are fortunate enough to cover the festival for this year. This lineup can be a little bit daunting if you don’t know who most of the artists are, luckily, I will be your guide through the hipster jungle that is Pitchfork. Pitchfork has somewhat of a more simplistic setup in comparison to much larger festivals such as Lollapalooza, so it is easy to try to make your schedule for this year. The festival is split up into two separate areas: The red and green stages, and the blue stage (which is put in a different area). My schedule is chosen based on who I would like to see, then who I think would put on the best concert experience. Friday: Vince Staples Norf. Norf. But seriously, Vince Staples is not your average rapper. He has turned a little bit away from his usual rap beats for more electronic beats. He was also recently featured on the newest Gorillaz album. I honestly don’t know what to expect from this concert, but from what I’ve heard so far, I think that this is going to be a great concert. Frankie Cosmos If you have never heard of Frankie Cosmos, she is a prolific indie darling. If you want to experience some short sweet songs, Frankie Cosmos is your girl. Her newest album, Next Thing, was able to fit a wide range of emotions into a small package. Frankie Cosmos has a style of her own, and you should definitely see her. Frankie Cosmos is a great artist, but I would leave a little early to see… Danny Brown I have a top few (like 4) artists that I classify as “See at any cost,” and artists have been added and then removed as I’ve seen them in concert. Luckily at Pitchfork this year, there are two current members and one previous member on my short list. Danny Brown fits into the former category. Danny Brown is raunchy, crude, thoughtful, and a unique rapper from the city of Detroit. Not only does Brown have a distinct voice, his beats are becoming more experimental as time goes on (on XXX he sampled a Metronomy song *which is really awesome*). After his newest album, Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown was able to show that he was not just a rapper, but a person who can change the landscape of what rap means. See Danny Brown -- you will not be disappointed. Dirty Projectors Dirty Projectors is a very experimental band. Each one of their albums seems vastly different from the previous one. From The Glad Fact, to Bitte Orca, to Swing Lo Magellan; Dirty Projectors has shown that they can play a vast array of styles and genres of music. With their new self-titled album, Dirty Projectors shows that it can still reinvent themselves, into a more electronic sultry sound. I personally am going to see Dirty Projectors because I don’t know what they’re going to play, but I do know that it’s going to be great. LCD Soundsystem Former member of my “See at any cost” list, they definitely do not disappoint. LCD Soundsystem is a synth-indie-dance-rock-punk band who is going to release their upcoming album (American Dream) any time soon. There is no real way to describe this concert, so I’ll just state a couple of great things that you can expect from their show. Great music, a really big disco ball, new songs, dancing, feeling, and everything in between. I cannot stress this enough, if you can only see one concert at this Pitchfork, see LCD Soundsystem! Saturday: Saturday is full of hard decisions to make, depending on what type of music you like, Saturday will be very different for most people. Mitski Vs. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Mitski and George Clinton are two vastly different artists. Mitski is a indie female rocker, while George Clinton is a classic funk group. Mitski has a remarkable talent of making sad songs catchy. Songs like “First Love/Late Spring” and “A Loving Feeling” are able to make you both feel and sing along. With her latest album, Puberty 2, Mitski was able to blend her lyrical style with a hard rock exterior. If rock isn’t necessarily your thing, George Clinton is for you. Clinton is a mainstay of soul and funk, he has been making music for at least fifty years. His projects, including Parliament and Funkadelic, are going to be joining him on stage. You may know Funkadelic from their song “Can You Get To That” or George Clinton from his song “Atomic Dog”. Both are going to be great concerts, but it’s a hard decision to make. Angel Olsen Vs. Madlib Angel Olsen is currently on my short list, but I think that this is a hard decision to make. Angel Olsen with her new album, My Woman, showed that she could make more upbeat songs that her dreary indie folk. Even before My Woman, Burn Your Fire for No Witness was still proof that Angel Olsen can venture into a more rock oriented sound. Angel Olsen should be a great concert to go to, but if sadder indie folk is not your thing, you should definitely see Madlib. Madlib, the beat-maker extraordinaire, has been featured with many prominent rappers. He has collaborated with the likes of Danny Brown, BJ the Chicago Kid, Earl Sweatshirt, Freddie Gibbs, J Dilla, and most importantly MF Doom. Madlib and MF Doom created one of the best rap albums of the 21st century, Madvillainy. You can’t go wrong with either choice, they’re both great. PJ Harvey Vs. S U R V I V E Like the previous two decisions, this is a matter of preference due to vastly different genres. PJ Harvey is part of the group of artists within this festival that are the new wave of female led indie rock (Mitski, Cherry Glazerr, Priests, etc.). Where PJ Harvey differs is her softness in comparison and her lusher (and a bit more atmospheric in some songs) instrumentation. Though PJ Harvey is a somewhat atmospheric indie rock group, S U R V I V E is a very atmospheric electronic artist. Not only is S U R V I V E atmospheric, but they are able to fluctuate the tone of the music while keeping it atmospheric. This band is a little less of an EDM concert, but a little more of an experience that you just have to experience for yourself. A Tribe Called Quest You don’t need me to tell you to see A Tribe Called Quest. Whether they’re making a political statement with songs like “We The People…”, or rapping over samples for classic songs like “Walk on the Wild Side” or “Benny and the Jets”, A Tribe Called Quest has been able to become a hip-hop mainstay. Their newest album, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, is a great return from their previous album in 1998. Their newest album shows that they are back and better than ever. Go see them! Sunday: Isaiah Rashad Isaiah Rashad is a rapper from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who is currently on TDE with Kendrick Lamar. Previously, Isaiah Rashad was on the XXL Freshman list in 2014, and he was able to live up to his expectations with his release of his first album last year. If you like some of the people that he has collaborated with (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and SZA), you will definitely like Isaiah Rashad. His concert is going to be great! Joey Purp I don’t know much about Joey Purp, except for the few songs that I have heard from him. The song “Girls @” is a bona fide banger with Chance the Rapper as a feature. From what I have heard so far, I think that this is going to be a great concert experience, I cannot wait. The Avalanches Just like A Tribe Called Quest, The Avalanches came back from a long hiatus to release a great new album. The Avalanches’ Since I Left You (2000) helped break ground on a new type of hip-hop/electronic music with samples from older songs, an atmospheric feel, and Latin influences. With the new album, Wildflower (2016), The Avalanches were able to improve on their established style by adding some other artists into the mix. Danny Brown, MF Doom, Toro y Moi, and Father John Misty make an appearance on their new album, which only adds to the new style that they are creating. The Avalanches will help provide this festival, and especially Sunday, with a fresh atmospheric concert that is sure not to disappoint. Nicholas Jaar Nicholas Jaar is a minimalist house musician from Chile. He is really able to put his own Latin influences into his music. With hypnotizing beats, and a style all his own, Nicholas Jaar should be able to put on a great concert this pitchfork. I think that this will be one of the best concert feels of the entire festival, go see him. Solange Solange Knowles, sister of Beyonce Knowles, made a recent breakout with her album A Seat at the Table last year. A Seat at the Table was able to bring her personal experience with black culture and put it into a nice neo-soul package. Solange is able to move her style of soul into this music festival with her beautiful voice and her nuanced takes on society at large. Solange is going to be a great concert, I cannot wait for her performance. Honestly, my tastes are going to be different from yours, so use this with your own discretion. The most important thing to do at this music festival is to have fun and listen to some great artists.
Did you know that "Closer" by The Chainsmokers is actually the same melody as "679" by Fetty Wap? Did you know that Johnny Cash's "Hurt" was actually originally a Nine Inch Nails song? Do you know what the sample from Kanye's "Bound 2" is from (its "Bound" by Ponderosa Twins Plus One)? The answer to the three questions is telling of a large problem that could be found within the music industry: The original writers of some pieces of music do not get enough credit by those who use their music. I don't think that artists are held accountable enough for re-purposing other people's original works and calling it their own. I think that this could be broken up into three different categories: Samples, Unattributed Covers, and Stolen Melodies. Today in modern hip-hop samples are used extensively to supplement beats, samples are used as hooks, often the basis of songs. I don't think pop music (I'm being hyperbolic) in 2012 would have existed without Etta James's "Something's Got A Hold On Me". I think that unattributed covers were actually a larger problem before the internet existed. Now, there is a platform that allows people who feel as if their music was stolen, but that doesn't stop people for covering songs and calling it their own. When it comes to stolen melodies, probably a few names come to mind, like Vanilla Ice (This video is hilarious) or the aforementioned Chainsmokers. Some solutions to this problem come from websites like "Whosampled" which identifies the origin of the samples within popular songs. Honestly, I don't think that's nearly enough to give credit to those who actually wrote or performed the samples that were used. I think that Vanilla Ice actually articulated the point well in one of the previous videos (something I never thought I would say), when he remained unapologetic for "sampling" "Under Pressure". His standoffish response of just giving them the sample credit and being done with it represents a larger problem within the music industry of him not being held accountable. This entire argument is not completely one sided though. Pop music has always sounded a bit similar to itself. Perhaps there is only a definite amount of consonant pieces of music. To that point, I think that if you can't think of something original, you shouldn't be in the music industry. Maybe the use of samples is to pay homage to the artists that they respect. If all of these were true, why wouldn't they give a featured credit to the artist they use? Why wouldn't some artists put other artists as the writer of these songs? I understand that this is the equivalent of a guy outside of a grocery store asking you "Did you buy organic?", but I feel like artists should be held accountable to the artists that provided them the content with which they make money. You may be asking, "So What? I can't do anything about this.", and I hear you. What we must all do as listeners is try to keep ourselves informed of the original songs that were used, and to call BS when we believe that someone was ripped off.
While the concept of music is purely an audio presentation, a multimedia presentation of music helps add to the charm and ongoing myth of what an artist wants the audience to think of their music. To get a full picture of what the music should mean, or what the artist wants it to mean, their live show is a way of reaching out to the most loyal of fans. I think that to get a true picture of a band you have to see them live, but I think that the live shows should be categorized into a couple different categories: A supplement, a juxtaposition, and a myth. A stage show as a supplement is the most common, it's an average stage show. A supplemental stage show, if done well, helps add energy to the crowd. I think that the best supplemental stage show that I have seen in my musical listening experience is Flying Lotus. The light show of that concert helps pump up the crowd while accompanying the music. As a juxtaposition: this one seems like it's the least common, but it is the most interesting of the three. This includes bands like Har Mar Superstar or King Khan & BBQ Show. When listening to a band like Har Mar Superstar, you may think that the band is just a crooner who sings some R&B. If you look closer at the stage show, it is the exact opposite of, and I cannot describe it... but a video would be better. This change from sound to stage is something that you couldn't surmise from the music alone. The stage show in this regard changes what you may have previously thought of the band while also giving an extra layer of what these people are and what they want to produce. The most complicated, most interesting category of a stage show is the myth that the stage show creates. This category is in a lot of different genres, and it can be created through many different costumes, or a creative light show that adds some mystery to the show and music themselves. This can be seen in bands like the Gorillaz, David Bowie, Lou Reed, many EDM artists (Like Deadmau5 or Marshmallow), STRFKR, Sia, and many many more. When you go to a Gorillaz concert, what do you expect? Do you expect a couple of guys to come out on stage and play Gorillaz songs? No, you expect the Gorillaz to be projected on the screen. I expect that to the extent that I don't know what Damon Albarn looks like off-hand, but I do know what the Gorillaz look like. I think stage shows like this help cause bands to live for longer in the mind of the listener. If you look at the Ziggy Stardust image of David Bowie, he became that character and that iconic image still lives in the minds of the people who loved his music. If I were to recommend a movie to watch that has a great take on this exact topic, I would recommend the movie "Frank" with Domhnall Gleeson. I think that music is great, but I think that a live show creative or not is necessary for artists to be able to express the full meaning behind their music.
Time for a rapid-fire edition of Ben's Hot Takes. I'm going to write up a bunch of hot takes (and some "Fun Facts") with a couple sentence explanation for all of them. I may come back to it? St. Vincent should be the face of female indie: What can't Grammy-winning Annie Clark do? She can play the guitar (Really Well), she can sing (Really Well), she's avant-garde, she's accessible, she's all that. Every album that she has released has shown stylistic growth from different parts of indie. From the soft singer-songwriter-esque Marry Me to the harsh art/chamber pop of her self titled album in 2014, she has proven that she has the potential for a range of emotion and styles. She also has a social presence that is a bit pretentious, yet accessible to her audience (with the creation of her mixtape delivery service). The fact that she is able to pivot to different subsections of indie and has a connection with a lot of people give her the means and opportunity to become the female face of indie. Future Islands is great at putting out singles, not albums: Name three great Future Islands songs. If you named "Balance", "Seasons (Waiting On You)", and "Ran"; congratulations, you just proved my point. I'm not saying that Future Islands is bad, I'm just saying that all of their music sounds forgettable in comparison to those three songs. WU LYF would be 100X better if the singer didn't sound like a reptile: This goes for a couple bands (*Ahem* Okay *Ahem*) and I get it's a stylistic choice, but you can go for a more metal sounding candor or something else, anything else. The music and the sentiment of these bands are fantastic, but I cannot get over the raspy, rough, reptilian vocals. I also can get behind the juxtaposition between the sweet sounding music and vocals, but it's too dissonant for my taste. Modern Vampires of the City was overrated: Probably the hottest take I've had, I've held this in for such a long time. This is the point I will get back to in the next coming weeks. Some of the songs sound like they said, "Let's make an album and have some of them sound like California English", and I don't like the song "California English". I love "Obvious Bicycle", and "Hannah Hunt" but the album, in comparison to the previous two albums, seems like it is trying to be dreary without some of the substance that the previous albums had. I don't think it should be lauded as the best album of 2013 as some have put it. I think it's a pretty good album, yet overrated. Did you know that these two vocalists are men?: Rhye and Youth Lagoon are both men. Huh, learn something new every day. Snoop Dogg is the Nicholas Cage of music: He was on Corey Feldman's Angelic 2 The Core... I feel like I've said enough. I wonder what that conversation was, but I think I know what Snoop's response was. "Man, I don't like it, but I'm gonna get that money"
It's probably because I live in this indie bubble, but I cannot name Grammy winners from any previous year. I actually know it's me. I don't listen to a lot of pop music and when the Grammys come out with their nominations I don't really care because the bands I enjoy the most are hardly recognized. The thing is: the Grammys feel meaningless to me, it feels like they're haphazardly put together and awarded based on clout and money. Currently, this is the ruleset for creating the nominations for Grammys: 1. More than 20,000 artistic entries are submitted for consideration, and members vote one round, making up to five selections in each category. 2. A "star chamber" of experts -- about 150 from the various fields -- reviews round one's selections and casts secret ballots to determine the final nominations, honing the choices in each category from 15 to five. 3. Grammy voters review the final list, the nominations (now five in each category), and place one vote in up to 20 categories (according to their fields of expertise), then mail in their votes on a paper ballot. Accounting firm Deloitte tallies the votes and places winners' names in sealed envelopes. Now the ruleset seems justified and balanced to me (Other than Deloitte taking the tallies, I think it would be more of an EY job) That doesn't explain to me why Mumford and Sons won album of the year in 2012 over Channel Orange and K.'s MAAD City. I think that a few things can fix the decision of the winners of these categories. Three Solutions for Creating a More Meaningful Grammys Award them on a five-year delay (Except best new artist, though it needs a large restructuring) Choose artists and albums regardless of genre (Except for specialized genres i.e. Comedy, Spoken Word, Children's, Musical Theatre, Visual Media, etc.) Try to pick the best in the category, this can be accomplished by making the "Star Chamber" more specialized into certain categories (Also can be accomplished by extending the "Star Chamber" who vote on albums) First of all, if we really want to award what is known as the best album of the year, we should really hope to award the album that has a lasting impression of what the quality of music is on that year. For the last six years, the albums that were awarded best album of the year were (in order) Adele's 21, Mumford & Son's Babel, Daft Punk's RAM, Beck's Morning Phase, Taylor Swift's 1989, and Adele's 25. I have seen nothing on the internet to support these claims past the year that they were made, making them usually less cherished as the year they were awarded. The only exception I can find within the past decade is before the years I just wrote about, when Arcade Fire's The Suburbs was released. Giving a five year delay would help reviewers see the albums that had real impacts on music in the year that they were released, or giving this award for every category while the album for the year in question will give help give an audience a contrasting opinion on what was previously said. Also, can we admit the best new artist category is a farce? Chance the Rapper received the award this year. Do you think the Grammy Committee understands that that was his third album? Does he wear the hat with the three on it for no reason? Either rename the category, or award it to the best NEW artist. Second, genres don't exist. Calling a category "Urban Contemporary" just seems like an excuse to section off people of color into one specific group. Kanye's TLOP has more gospel in it, should it be put into the Gospel Category? The thing about music that I don't feel like The Grammys understand is that it is an ever changing medium that can have different classifications that can all be correct at the same time. Is Kanye Urban Contemporary, R&B, Gospel, or Rap? Yes. The answer to that question is yes; he is all of those things at various times. The solution would be to award someone for a lot of different genres, create a category for each different sub-genre, or get rid of the classification of genres altogether. Try to pick the best in a category. I think that saying that people in the selection committee can vote on up to 20 categories really cheapens their vote. If people in the selection committee were able to vote on only five categories: four categories within their specialty, and one category in the generalized categories would make their vote count more. Also, having more people vote would allow to have a larger sample size be able to select what they actually felt the best album was. Lastly, I would just like to say that none of this should work in the end. Music is inherently subjective and creating more specialized, less specific, more thought out awards will not fix creating a ranking on a subjective topic. Some people will get wrongfully awarded, and some people will get snubbed... that's how it goes.
I'm taking a week off of saying extremely divisive things about music, so I'm going to make a list of some music you might enjoy. It's May, which means that it's almost time for summer! For those of you with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may be looking for some music with some good vibes to accompany the nice weather. Luckily, I have the hookup for 4 great bands to keep in mind and a summer playlist Summer Salt: With the release of two new singles "Candy Wrappers" and "Revvin' My Cj7" Summer Salt is throwing in their hat for a new great summer EP: So Polite. Summer Salt, from Austin Texas, is an old band in a new band's skin. Their style seems to be an homage to the surf rock of old (Beach Boys, Doo-Wop-type material). Not only that, the band makes some great songs just for relaxing to and pretending that you're on a beach in Hawaii. Each song has a nice relaxing guitar paired with a great falsetto singing voice. You should listen to Driving to Hawaii and Going Native to get extremely excited for the new album, although these albums should not incite any feeling other than relaxation. So Polite is set to release on "Summer" so keep a look out for it whenever it may come. TOPS: The singles that came from this album weren't the only aspect that got me excited for this summer release. TOPS came out with the song "Hollow Sound of the Morning Chimes" in 2015 and it is one of the sole sources of excitement I have for this upcoming album. With a 2.25-minute long guitar solo at the end. TOPS, though known for their clean guitar solos and soft female singer, isn't usually a summery sounding band, but if you listen to the new single "Petals" the summery vibes just take over along with an 80's pop twist to their normal sound. The second single "Dayglow Bimbo" sounds like it has a little bit of a DIIV influence. Regardless of the previous work, TOPS has come out with two great singles that are a change of pace, and very "Summery". I can't wait for the new album Sugar at the Gate to come out June 2nd! The Drums: The Drums seem like an indie pop staple nowadays. With their release of albums like Portamento and their self-titled album (and the songs within "Money", "Down By The Water", "Days", "Let's Go Surfing", etc.) are meant to put you in the mood to sit on the beach and relax. Though The Drums had a little bit of a departure from their usual style with the album Encyclopedia, the two new singles that were released, "Blood Under My Belt" and "Heart Basel", are a return to form. "Blood Under My Belt" is almost as catchy as "Money" is and that is a feat that I thought was impossible. The singles mark a return to the light and jaunty style of their first two albums and I, for one, can't wait for the new album Abysmal Thoughts to come out June 16th. Beach Fossils: Besides the fact that there are too many bands with the word "Beach" in them: Beach House, Beach Fossils, Beach Boys, Dirty Beaches, etc; Beach Fossils has always been a great band for the summer. With the release of their previous albums What A Pleasure and Clash the Truth Beach Fossils established themselves as a lo-fi jangle-pop type band (With songs like "What a Pleasure" and "Shallow" starting with a catchy ten note guitar riff and repeating it throughout), but the new singles from their upcoming album "Somersault" they step up up the production value of their songs while also maintaining stylistic integrity. From the two singles I have heard, "Saint Ivy" and "Tangerine", this album is going to have more varied instrumentation along with keeping up their summer vibe. I'm glad Beach Fossils is showing a natural progression from one album to the next, and I am excited for what they show me on June 2nd. ~S~V~ ~S~V~ is a playlist I made just for summer and summer vibes, I will continue to update it when I find a new song I think will fit it. If you have any suggestions, please email me at Bkessler (at) Wiux (dot) Org with the subject: Hot Takes https://open.spotify.com/user/121608272/playlist/6Eu68TZsWRyEaavKAgtXhj
I don't do this much, but I'm really excited for an album. I have been excited for about two years (Hoping for five) for this new LCD Soundsystem album. I started listening to music in 2013 and stumbled upon LCD Soundsystem. They quickly became my favorite band. I may have started listening to music later in my life than most, but I stuck with it because I loved showing other people music. I would go up to people and say that they should listen to LCD Soundsystem (I still do). My programmed response to, "What's your favorite band?" quickly became LCD Soundsystem and the rest is history. Now you might be saying, "What's the problem, Ben? You love LCD Soundsystem as much as James Murphy loves New York, what's the big deal?" but *Sigh* yeah, I've never been in this position before. LCD Soundsystem was broken up when I first discovered them, and now they're back together, making a new album (Which I will now call LCD4). I have never gotten this excited for an album before; usually the bands I like don't come up with albums while I like them, and usually, I listen to so much music that I may be ambivalent about other artists' releases. The last album I was extremely excited about was either the newest Mac DeMarco album (Which I loved) or Thundercat's Drunk (Which I also loved). Even so, I have never been counting the days until an album I am anticipating (one that I have such an emotional attachment to) before this one. Therein lies the problem, what if I don't like it? The two singles that were released the previous Friday were okay. They were just okay. I think, overall, I'm afraid that this album won't live up to expectations. I think that all this pressure is self-imposed. LCD created three great albums that had a progression from one to the other. From LCD Soundsystem's rough-around-the-edges garage rock feel to Sound of Silver's polished blend of synths and rock & roll to This is Happening's Synth centered album. LCD also had a farewell tour when they broke up, with a movie to go with it. The band got together last year through a facebook post that I will link here but quote an excerpt. i write songs all the time. sometimes they’re just weird songs i sing while changing a baby, or songs about annoying things that i sing to myself, or to friends while sitting at a bar, or about christmas, or new york. sometimes these songs live in my head for years and have verses upon verses added to them, almost infinitely. ... early in 2015, i realized i had more of those than i’d ever had in my life. more of them than when i went in to make any LCD record, or when i recorded tapes upon tapes of terrible things in high school. just loads of them, and i found myself a little perplexed. if i record them, what do i do with them? maybe I shouldn’t record them at all? i considered that, which was in a way the easiest option, but it also seemed like a weird and arbitrary (and sort of cowardly) cop-out. but to record them—well then, suddenly i have, what—a record? ... here were our choices: 1. make music with your friends and call it something else, which seems hilarious (everteen) or egomaniacal to the point of sociopathic (james murphy solo record). 2. make music, but WILLFULLY EXCLUDE your friends because of the horrors in option 1. 3. make an LCD record with your friends, who want to make said record, and deal with whatever fall-out together. 4. don’t make music, to avoid the horrors of all of the above. 5. make music and, like, hide it somewhere. To live up to expectations, LCD4 has to be as revolutionary as Sound of Silver, while also not re-hashing on previous styles (Which just seems impossible). With the LCD4 singles coming out, I'm not too sure about this album. To avoid this altogether, they should have just said they were going on a hiatus rather than breaking up in such a fashion. Here's where I change gears: I don't care about the quality of LCD4, and I don't think you should either. Look at the five choices he had to go through. For any self-respecting LCD Soundsystem fan, aren't you glad Murphy chose option three? Murphy's solo career included the soundtrack for an unknown Ben Stiller movie "Greenberg", would you rather he go it alone? I would rather James Murphy do what he loves and share his music, like I do, with everyone else. I think that James Murphy is encapsulating the mindset of an indie artist, "make music with people you like for whoever will listen to it". If the album is sub-par, so what! It doesn't change the quality of their earlier works. Also, a bad LCD Soundsystem song is like pizza, "when it's bad, it's still pretty good". I don't care if I love the singles, I would just like to say thank you to James Murphy for making them and sharing them with us.
Release Date: 5/5/2017 Rating: 7/7 They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, apparently, no one told Mac DeMarco. Now I'm not saying Mac DeMarco is old, he's 27, but with his fifth LP he marks a shift from the old style of Salad Days and 2. Usually, DeMarco's "Jizz Jazz" style has its shortcomings when it comes to the room for creativity, but he chose to depart from the style just slightly. DeMarco seems to have shifted from focusing on the jangling guitars and instrumentation to focusing on lyrics. Yes, This Old Dog is much softer in comparison to the previous works of Mac DeMarco, but that does not make it any less ___. You can fill in the blank with anything you like about him as an artist: Enjoyable, Charismatic, etc. DeMarco came out with his most cohesive, well-written, emotional album. When I talk about "well-written", I mean that the album fits a theme and sticks to it for the entire album. DeMarco writes about his alcoholic father and how he abandoned him when he was five years old and, afterwards, about his death and what it meant. DeMarco created a very listenable album with language that does not seem like it could be misconstrued in any way. For example, you can look at the first track of the album, "My Old Man", and see that the song is about him expressing fear of becoming who his dad was. Uh-oh, looks like I'm seeing more of my old man in me There's no language within the song that could make you think that there is anything else he could be singing about. I'm not saying that's a bad thing because it helps DeMarco stick to the theme he set out and allows everyone see the theme. DeMarco also carries it on throughout the entire album with songs that just seem to get progressively sadder until we reach the final track "Watching Him Fade Away" where he reflects on the fact that he ignored his father's attempts to reconnect with him. I know you never meant to put him down And even if you did, he sure deserved it The thought of him no longer being around Well sure it would be sad but not really different There's a visible progression in tone from the light "Baby You're Out" and "One Another" to the sad "Moonlight on the River" and "Watching Him Fade Away". Looking at This Old Dog from the perspective of production, Mac DeMarco to have one of the most varied albums that he has ever created. The album goes from synth heavy songs like "On The Level" and "For The First Time" to dad-rock-esque songs like "A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes" and "One Another" to minimalist songs like "Watching Him Fade Away" and "Sister" to normal Mac DeMarco songs (as if they could be on 2) like "Still Beating" and "One More Love Song". DeMarco makes a more acoustic album (giving it a somewhat older feel), and includes charming bits of drum machines at their best. The production is smooth and easily digested. Overall, the songs are catchy, varied, and include some of the most deliberately layered production I have seen from DeMarco. There are a few problems I had with this album, though. Some of the songs start to sound the same when you're going through the album. Mac DeMarco doesn't really vary the candor of his vocals much throughout, and it causes some of the songs to sound similar to each other. Accompanied by the consistent tone of voice, the instrumentals of some of the songs cause the album to be very monotonous and sleepy. Also, one song, "Sister", seems to be a bit unfinished. Overall, I really liked this album. I was wavering on whether or not to give this album a 6 or a 7. I would like to put it on the record that I deliberated for a long time on that subject and it was/is not easy for me to decide. I wish I could give a 6.5, but luckily, 6.5 rounds up to a 7 and I really like math. In regards to albums, I cannot wait for what Mac DeMarco has in store for "Another One". I hope he goes into a "Chamber of Reflection" and starts "Cooking Up Something Good". I wouldn't want to begin "Watching Him Fade Away", because that would start "Freaking Out the Neighborhood". All kidding aside, if he creates something that's "On the Level" of this album in the future, I think Mac DeMarco (New King of Dad Rock) will have a long and illustrious career. (Don't kill me for writing that paragraph) Favorite songs: One Another, Moonlight on the River, Watching Him Fade Away Least Favorite Songs: Sister
Hey, everyone, I'm Ben. I'm one of the new music directors here at WIUX, so I wanted to create a recurring segment here on the website. Ben's Hot Takes (Definitely not trademarked) is a title that is going to be mainly ironic for this article due to the fact that this one is pretty lukewarm. I listen to a lot of music, so if you want to send me something to formulate an opinion on something, please send me anything at Bkessler@wiux.org with the subject: "Ben's Hot Takes" and I'll try my best! I feel like I should establish my cred before I write this article about Sufjan Stevens. According to Spotify, Sufjan Stevens is my most listened to artist of 2015. If there are any questions about favorite songs by him, I have to say top five (no particular order) are: "Impossible Soul", "They Also Mourn Those Who Do Not Wear Black", "Djohariah", "The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades is Out To Get Us", and "Romulus" weird, I know. Top three albums (in order) are Illinois, Age of Adz, and Michigan. Lastly, my profile picture on facebook used to be me at a Sufjan Stevens concert at Pitchfork 2016. THIS IS JUST MY OPINION (Mary Luncsford) I DON'T WANT ANYONE MAD AT ME. Okay, on to the article. When you're thinking about Sufjan Stevens as an artist, what albums do you think the words, "Now that's classic Sufjan"? Illinois? Michigan? Carrie & Lowell? (If you're bold) The BQE? I don't think those are; I think the most Sufjan album must be Age of Adz. Now hear me out! You may have heard Age of Adz and thought to yourself, "That was the weirdest album he has ever come out with, a departure from his original style! How can that possibly be thought of as his most 'Classic' album? It sounds nothing like anything else he has written before." and I would like to thank you imaginary straw man I made up for this argument (AKA Mary Luncsford :( ), you're right. Age of Adz is a departure from the regular canon of his works. It's not even my favorite of his albums. There are a couple of reasons I believe that this is the most quintessential Sufjan album: Overproduction at his finest Emotionally-charged lyrics Delightfully weird Soft spoken at the correct time (weak point) Electronic roots (I'm not going to spend much time on this one because this article is going to be very long) Overproduction at his finest: If we try to look back at his discography before and after the album in question there's quite a lot of examples that can be taken in regards to his overproduction. If you look at songs like "Detroit" or "Chicago" (also any song from the BQE) from albums before it, or if you look at songs in albums afterward like "All Delighted People" or any of the new singles, you can see the amount of planning and instrumentation that go into the creation of a single song. Let us take the song "Detroit" for example. It has an introduction of bells, a centerpiece of horns and choir, a bridge of a piano solo, and ends with a long refrain of strings. If that is not throwing every instrument in the kitchen sink, I don't know what is. Now the same argument can be made for Age of Adz, but if we take the titular track as an example, we receive almost the same analysis. Sufjan produces a song that is more bombastic but still has many different moving pieces of which he meticulously keeps track. Sufjan is able to vary this overproduction throughout the album, making each song seem fresh. The only difference between his overproduction on this album in comparison to those of Illinois and Michigan is that this album has a base in electronic music. The electronic base gives Sufjan a jumping off point to create music that fits the theme that he set out for the album as a whole. The artwork of the album is of schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson, and the entire album seems to follow the artistry (and the story behind it) as its central theme (more on that in point # 3). Emotionally-Charged Lyrics: If you were to describe Sufjan's music to me, you would arrive at emotionally-charged within the first couple of adjectives. Rather than exploring stories that can be created from previous events, as his previous works explore, Sufjan is exploring his emotions more directly. Addressing his feelings directly is something that he explores thoroughly throughout Carrie and Lowell. Sufjan expresses feelings of longing and anger (rarely ever expressed in any of his music) in songs like "Futile Devices" and "I Want To Be Well" respectively. "Futile Devices" is about trying to tell someone your feelings, but not having the words or the courage to say anything. And I would say I love you, but saying it out loud is hard So I won't say it at all And I won't stay very long But you are the life I needed all along I think of you as my brother Although that sounds dumb Words are futile devices "I Want To Be Well" is about anger caused by an illness he has no control over, a la Royal Robertson again. Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, illness is watching, waiting its turn. Did I go at it wrong? Did I go intentionally to destroy me? I'm suffering in noise I'm suffering in - (touching ordinary body) The burning from within the burning from with - (ordinary is scary now) I could not be at rest, I could not be at peace - (extraordinary is scary now) I think that this is the best time to address the elephant in the room: Impossible Soul. Yes, this song is 25 minutes and 35 seconds long. Yes, this song has five distinct parts. Yes, I love this song too much for my own good. "Impossible Soul" is a 25-minute ballad about going through a break-up and getting over someone you loved while he himself was impossible to love in the first place. The song moves from the original break-up, to fear of being alone, to being depressed in your own house, to getting back out there, to looking back on the experience as a whole. In the end of the song, there is a bit of quiet reflection of the entire experience as a whole. I'm nothing but a selfish man I'm nothing but a privileged peddler And did you think I'd stay the night? And did you think I'd love you forever? And then you tell me, boy, we can do much more Boy, we can do much more Boy, we can do much more together Having songs with such a great range of emotions is what Sufjan Stevens is about, and I think that Age of Adz is able to encapsulate this sentiment well. Delightfully Weird: Sufjan seems to do what he wants when he wants. That's only the opinion from an outsider's perspective, yet he shows this throughout his entire discography. With two separate Christmas albums, an electronic album (Along with his side project Sisyphus with Son Lux and Serengeti), a classical music album, and an upcoming album that seems to be about the planets in our solar system; Sufjan is a little bit out there. It seems fitting that he would create an album about Schizophrenia and the feelings that may be associated with the loose theme. Every song is pretty weird looking at them for the first time from only listening to previous Sufjan works, but, actually, Age of Adz feels more like a hodgepodge of all of his works being as weird as possible while also conforming to every single Sufjan style. I think because this album is all of the weird aspects of his previous and future albums glomed all together, this becomes the most quintessential of his albums. Soft Spoken: Although at a first glance Age of Adz doesn't look like a quiet album by any measure, there are points within that intentionally become quiet to make sure that they attract the most attention. The dichotomy between the loud and the soft that Sufjan creates throughout the album is rather admirable. From the beginning song "Futile Devices" starting the album on a very soft note and building intensity through "Too Much" and finally going into the ridiculously loud "Age of Adz". You can see that Sufjan is playing with the overall intensity, usually playing with expectations that you may already have. Even within the louder songs, like "Age of Adz" or "Impossible Soul", there are quiet parts that are intentionally focused on that often provide the thesis of the song as a whole. I think that it is these quiet moments that are able to conform to an overall style that Sufjan has had before. I think because he is able to make an album that not only is bombastic and weird but also conforms to his previous and future works by being soft-spoken at times helps the case of this being his most quintessential album. Electronic roots: Okay, I really wanted to include this point because I knew it was important, but I don't have much to say about it. Listen to Enjoy Your Rabbit and tell me Sufjan Stevens is only an indie folk artist.
Ahead of their Culture Shock performance on April 15, Ben Kessler catches up with Lauren and Jordan of the Florida-based band, Sales. They discuss the meaning of bedroom pop, the fatefulness of high school Latin class, and what's next for the duo. Listen below, and catch them live in Dunn Meadow this Saturday. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/user-439404626/chatting-with-sales[/embed]
If you have heard of Jay Som and have not realized that her new album just came out a couple of weeks ago, you should go listen to it, it's pretty good. If you haven't heard of Jay Som and like indie rock, you need to stop whatever you're doing and listen to them right now! Jay Som is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Melina Duterte and their music ranges anywhere from alt-rock to alt-pop. To get you started, I would first listen to the song I Think You're Alright. If you like it, listen to her other music. If you really like it, come to the Bishop tomorrow and hear her for yourself! Tickets are 8 in advance, 10 at the door. They will be playing with Nice Try--a great indie rock band that brings back lo-fi in the best way. See you there!
Released 2/24/2017 Rating: 6/7 Stephen Bruner AKA Thundercat is a funk, jazz-fusion, and soul artist from Los Angeles. This album is his fourth solo album, but you may know him from some of his feature appearances on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and Untitled, Unmastered, Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma, You're Dead and Before the Quiet Comes, and Kamasi Washington's The Epic--to name a few. Thundercat has a unique style of playing a six string bass (Way better than robot Hannibal Buress) and his falsetto vocals. Overall, if you look at Thundercat's discography, songs like "Oh Sheit it's X" show his more humorous side, but with this album, fun really is the main motivation and almost all of the songs on the record have humor (More on that later). Anticipating this record, there were four singles that released before the entire album dropped: "Bus in the Streets," "Show You the Way," "Friend Zone," and "Walk On By." "Bus in the Streets (Feat. Louis Cole)": I can only imagine that Bruner got really high one day and then lost his phone then made a song about it. The song seems like a period piece of 70's and 80's R&B, which is a greater departure from his usual style. Within the context of this album, this song seems to be one of the most unusual tracks, because it sounds nothing like most of the songs on the record. "Show You the Way (Feat. Flying Lotus, Michael McDonald, and Kenny Loggins)": Where do I start with this song? I thought that Michael McDonald was Michael Bolton until I just looked it up. That being said, I think that the fact that this song is intentionally as smooth and funky as possible while having extremely uncharacteristic features by two separate smooth 80's R&B stars Michael "27th Annual Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals winner" McDonald and Kenny "Danger Zone" Loggins is pretty impressive. I think this song was most inspired by the Doobie Brothers's "What A Fool Believes", but the song is just trying to be as fun as possible, even if the features are used only shortly. At the end of this song there's an aside that I really love from Thundercat where he says, "Hey, how's it going? This is your boy, Thundercat. If you're going to fill your water bottle with vodka, always make sure you have a friend with a bottle that actually has water," which is a direct allusion to people who sneak vodka into music festivals by sealing the cap of the bottle using a lighter. "Friend Zone" is Thundercat's third released single in anticipation for this album and it is my favorite song on the entire album. It's the only single not to have a feature. I listened to the song for two days straight after it was released and I am absolutely proud of that. The scaled synths that are featured throughout the entire album really make the song spacey, yet the funky bass lines and the simple, punchy beat throughout keeps the song grounded. Bruner's falsetto voice flows throughout the song along with the harmonies in the chorus and this really ties this song together in a great way. Most of all, the lyrics on this song are amazing. With allusions to Kendrick Lamar through lines like, "B*tch don't kill my vibe," or lyrics like, "I'd rather play Mortal Kombat anyway," really drive home Bruner's analysis of the friend zone. The last single to be released was "Walk on By (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)," which is a very low-energy slow song that is about drinking alone. There is a very soft, very uneventful beat which is accompanied by some spacey piano chords and a distant bass line, but that all seems intentional due to the subject matter of this song. Bruner is talking about how his girlfriend just walked away from him, and he's going over the lines she said while drinking alone. This is accompanied by Kendrick Lamar's verse about accidentally killing a veteran. Kendrick has an amazingly written verse in this song, and I suggest you check it out. Thundercat sums up his experience with Kendrick Lamar in this quote, "I had recorded the idea, and a lot of the times I bounce things off of Kenny – “Hey, man, check this out” – no matter if there were lyrics or it was just an idea. I sent him the song with the intent of finding out what he’d think or feel about it, and I forget what point it turned into a song that was gonna be on the album, but he added what he felt went to it. He was totally into the idea. He’s always been attuned to the messages I’m conveying. He took to it very quickly, and I appreciated him for that […] It’s just weird, because I don’t expect anyone to do anything like that for me. It was very difficult for me to process the part where he was very open to it. At the same time, I feel like the song tells a story now because he got involved with it." This album is funny, it is by no means a comedy album, but you can definitely see Thundercat's goofy sense of humor (which he at times is showcased in interviews, he's just a goofy dude). Prime examples of this humor are songs like a reprise of his song, "Tron Song," where he talks about being a cat, or songs like, "Tokyo," which is just about walking around Tokyo drunk and watching anime. Along with some goofiness, this album gets pretty dark at times. Some of the songs are about drinking alone, being disoriented and not knowing where you're going, and the trade-off you may get within the context of getting drunk. Throughout the album, Thundercat really explores every side to what being drunk and having experiences with alcohol entails. In the first song, "Rabbot Ho," Thundercat started the entire drunken adventure by saying, "Let's go hard, get drunk, and travel down a rabbit hole," which he then book-ends with the song "DUI," which has the same instrumentation, just with different lyrics. "DUI" serves as a stark reminder that this adventure seems circular and this entire night, every experience good and bad, will repeat itself the next day This entire album has the same feel as most of Thundercat's older work, but more developed and mature. You can tell that this album is more inspired by late 70's/80's R&B than previous works. Along with that, Thundercat involved more hip-hop than previous works, with songs like "Drink Dat." Otherwise, this album is a great return to form for Thundercat The bass in each song is superb, and each song creatively uses a mixture of synths and beats to change up the style of each song. If you're going to listen to this album prepare to groove because this album is funky, and Thundercat is a master of his craft when it comes to playing the bass. I love this album, but I still have two of problems with the entirety. One of Thundercat's most popular songs is "Them Changes (Feat. Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington)." On Spotify (As of right now 2/25/2017 when I wrote this paragraph) the song has almost 10 million more listens than any of his other songs. "Them Changes" also came out in 2015. Given all of that information, I have one question: Why is that song on this album? Don't get me wrong, I like the song a lot, I'm just confused. I looked at the track listing as soon as it came out, and I saw the song, "Them Changes," and it's the exact same as the song released two years ago, with no differences. If someone wants to explain this to me, I would be happy to talk about it, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org free to email me your own theory of why the song was included. The other gripe I have with this album is that some songs sound like Flying Lotus songs to an almost suspicious degree. This is most apparent in the song, "Inferno," where the song had the same exact violin portion from Flying Lotus's "Zodiac Sh*t" and the same exact devil laughing sample that's in the Flying Lotus song, "Dead Man's Tetris." I understand that Flying Lotus and Thundercat are really good friends, I understand that Flying Lotus was listed as a feature on this song, I understand Thundercat said, "Yeah, me and FlyLo have worked together for almost a decade and we’ve been side-by-side the whole time," I also understand that this can be an allusion to some of FlyLo's previous work, but it doesn't make it right. Overall, I really liked this album. This album has a lot of songs (23 to be exact), but it contains a lot of interludes and shorter songs so the album is 51 minutes. Mostly, it seems like Thundercat had a lot of fun making this record and I think that's probably the most important thing about it. I would recommend you to put the record on your turntable, and just space out on a great drunken adventure. Favorite Tracks: Friend Zone, Tokyo, Them Changes (WHY?!?) Least Favorite Tracks: Captain Stupido, Blackkk
Starting this year, Music Committee will be making bi-weekly/weekly playlists with different themes. This week's theme is foreign artists so our playlist features artists from all across the world. We have artists from Nigeria to Germany to South Korea. Please give it a listen! Thank you to our contributors: Alex Donis, Alex Pinkus, Alyssa Mathena, Jacob Dunn, Jake Mappes, Justin Mazany, Katie Maher, Meryem Özel, Moira Kehoe, and Ethan Sheilds. https://open.spotify.com/user/wiux99.1/playlist/6nusu7KFZEdB4C8F0YO1id
If only songs were sung, to guide the doubtful ones, beyond the rough where not as much is good enough. If you find yourself amongst the lonely ones, I'll be waiting here with open arms. I can't coerce you into this one, jealousy lay all your spells to bed. I'll choose unloved instead. Little Joy is a short-lived project of Rodrigo Amarante (Los Hermanos, The "Narcos" theme song), Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes), and Binki Shapiro (Adam Green and Binki Shapiro). This is the one and only album that the group put out, and to me, it's a gosh darn masterpiece. This album hit me at a tumultuous time in my life. The album for me was able to become a symbol for what I was feeling, no matter what the stage was, because of the bipolar nature of the tone of the album. The album is full of emotion: From the high highs of "Next Time Around" and "Brand New Start," to the low lows of "Don't Watch Me Dancing" and "Unattainable". Little Joy became a stark reminder that things can go extremely well for a time, and you can feel on top of the world, and then things can come crashing down and you can feel like a hopeless victim of circumstance. Holistically, you can see the album as the slow failing of a relationship. From happy lyrics in the first and second song, "I'll belong to you, that's how it's meant to be, how it's always been," and "Ain't no lover like the one I got" respectively. But time goes on in the album, and the lyrics change to something a bit more sinister. Lyrics move on to a fight in a relationship, such as, "So I won't play a part I played before, not to you" or "Even though we have to say goodbye, keep me in mind," or the lyric I first quoted. The album represents a slow death, and it hit me as a reality check. I took this album as a mantra of thinly veiled positivity disguised through a happy, beachy tune. The songs are very beachy, and you hear the Strokes influence within the vocals. The same effect on vocals for the album, Is This It seems to be on Rodrigo Amarante's voice in pretty much every single song. Amarante’s, somewhat raspy voice is accompanied by Shapiro’s often depressed vocals. In each song in which Shapiro sings, there always is an intense focus on her by making all of the instrumentation more spacious. There isn't much layering on any of the songs and each is plainly made and plainly presented, with light acoustic guitar and ukulele. The most dynamically layered songs are usually the least meaningful, but the most simplistic songs are usually the most layered in meaning. I think that a lesson that is taught throughout the album is that life is short and we should make the most of what we have when we have it. Time is meant to be lived through and experiences are meant to be shared, even if you do have to remain unloved. All of this perceived meaning that I took from this album is packed tightly into a 31-minute box. I still listen to this album almost every week, and usually when I go home and sit by the beach. I hope someone can listen to this album too and feel more prepared for whatever may come the next time around. If only you, if only now https://open.spotify.com/album/6uoMTt6m0GlGFASfdfEIVE
Rating 5/7 Released: 1/20/17 Hang is Foxygen's fourth full-length LP, their second album removed from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (hereby referred to as WATTCAOPAM), which is arguably their strongest work. Foxygen is a rock duo consisting of Jonathan Rado and Sam France (singer). WATTCAOPAM was lo-fi rock, mixed in with a little synth, mixed with well... basically everything. Reflecting on the build up to this album, we were treated to the release of three different singles: "America", "Follow The Leader" and "On Lankershim". If you have heard Foxygen before you may have seen that they tend to go all out: ie. the title song of WATTCAOPAM where the rock beat gets progressively more and more intense, and France's singing gets more and more unintelligible. When it comes to Foxygen being ridiculous, if you thought that was a little over the top you will definitely think this album as fuckin' insane. While listening to this album you can tell that a lot of work went into composing each track to make sure that everything balances out between percussion and instrumentation, but a downside to all of these moving parts is that the vocals can get drowned out. This is especially apparent in the song "Mrs. Adams", where the cacophonous swell of multiple strings and horns just overpower the singer so much that he can't control the actual song. Other than the tendency to do this at times, each of the songs are well composed and layered. All of these songs feel like they belong in a modern day interpretation of an early 50's Hollywood movie (like "Hail Caesar," the underwhelming Coen brothers movie). That being said, songs like "Avalon" are very cheesy. "Avalon" sounds like if there was a 50's western show tune that had to be scrapped. The entire album has a lot of epic songs that build up and explode with sounds that feel very atmospheric and really take you somewhere. While in several songs this achieves a very epic-sounding atmosphere, a lot of the songs feel like they're trying too hard to be epic and ends up being ridiculous and campy. Overall, you can definitely see some of the influences France and Rado had on this album. There are a lot of influences that are extremely apparent: Elton John, Frank Zappa, and The Rolling Stones, to name a few. Though they wear their influences on their sleeves, they do wear them well. I did like this album after the 4th listen, but it really took me a while to warm up to it as a whole. My main gripe, other than the cheesiness, is the lack of cohesion. This album goes from "Follow the Leader" (sounds a lot like Let's Groove by Earth Wind & Fire mixed with Bonnie Tyler's I Need a Hero) to "On Lankershim" (Sounds a lot like Bruce Springsteen mixed with Fleetwood Mac). All of this being said, if you like Foxygen, you will definitely like their new album. Favorite and least favorite tracks: Favorites: "Follow the Leader", "America" and "Rise Up" Least Favorites: "Avalon", "Trauma"
King Khan & BBQ Show is a garage rock band from Montreal, Canada. They are the reincarnation of doo-wap and have been at it for 14 years. This week, they are coming to Bloomington! If you have heard of them, you may have heard their newer albums Invisible Girl and Bad News Boys with their up-beat, fast tempo, light-hearted garage rock. This will be a great concert, and you should be there to watch these two guys rock out! They will be performing with The Gartrells. Catch them at The Bishop via Spirit of '68. Tickets are available online for $13 in advance or for $15 at the door tomorrow. Show starts at 9:30pm. Check out their performance on KEXP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Dh4fkDWa0I
If you’re like me, you probably can never fall asleep. Whether it would be due to too much work to do for the next day, or a lot on your mind, I hear you. So if you ever find yourself in this position again, here’s a playlist to listen to so you can fall asleep easily. Or if you would like, you can listen to these songs when you’re walking around campus late at night and just marvel at how big everything around you is. So put on your headphones and close your eyes, or open them up to a quiet world that only exists at 3 AM. https://open.spotify.com/user/121608272/playlist/4EhP5kIHA8PipinAPClqxU
Released: 9/30/2016 Rating: 5/7 Mr. Oizo (pronounced muhs-yir wa-zoh) is a house music producer, from Paris, France. Fun fact: he is also the director of the cult-classic movie "Rubber", which is about a murderous car tire. This is his sixth full-length LP and his second under Brainfeeder Records. The hype for this album came in a video featuring Flying Lotus dressed as Skrillex and a talking mask that definitely falls into the uncanny valley. The features in this album look amazing, easily the most recognizable features in any of his albums, including Skrillex, Charli XCX, Boys Noize, Siriusmo, Mocky, Phra, Tetanos, and Peaches. After seeing the hype video, listening to the single "End of the World", and seeing a track on the tracklist called "Oiseaux" (a play on how people usually pronounce his name) I was pretty excited to hear this album. In the past, I have listened to a lot of Mr. Oizo's work, especially the Lambs Anger EP and I must admit: Mr. Oizo is a weird, acquired taste. If you listen to a lot of his work, you understand that through what he produces, there are going to be a lot of delightfully weird sound effects. All Wet is no exception to this rule. Songs like "Ruhe", "All Wet", and "Sea Horses" reminded me of the old Oizo. "Ruhe" had that feel of running, and the initial drop of the song sent shivers down my spine. This along with the sample that goes like "bubupp", makes this song get my heart racing and my head bobbing. The title track "All Wet" juggles a bunch of different elements and beats at the same time, and makes it work cohesively together without at all attacking the senses or feeling overbearing. "Sea Horses" achieves a balance very well, as it is able to mix the very low distorted vocal samples with the higher pitched synths in the foreground. The album features three guest vocalists, who are showcased in three respective tracks Peaches, Phra, and Charli XCX perform on "Freezing Out", "No Tony", and "Hand in the Fire" respectively. This is not the first time that Mr. Oizo has had vocal features on his record; on Lambs Anger "Steroids" and "Two Takes It" had them, but those seem to be isolated incidents given how infrequently he usually works with vocalists. These three songs on All Wet are the first time since Lambs Anger that Mr. Oizo used a vocal feature in an LP, and these feel hit or miss to me. While "No Tony" seems to bring in Phra's vocals and use them well with the instrumentation and the funky guitars, Charli XCX seems to be copy-pasted onto a beat that has no flow with how she is singing. Finally, "Freezing Out" has ridiculous lyrics even though they add to the overall charm of the individual song. Overall, I think that this album was slightly more tame than previous efforts. Looking at some of the crazier songs that he has produced in the past (i.e. "Smoking Tape", "Miaaaw", "Bruce Willis is Dead", "Positif", "France7", "Ham", "Mass Doom", Etc.) you can't really see any of the songs on All Wet as real heavy electronic tracks with big drops, which seems to be a departure from his previous, seemingly violent, style. In this album, I don't feel as if he unleashed his usual fury into a couple of songs; the most we got was in the drop of "Ruhe". The average level of intensity is basically the single that was put out, "End of the World", but it seems less like a ruff and tumble drop like previous records, rather a continuation of an already seemingly poppy song. I think that Mr. Oizo decided to compromise some of the weirder aspects of his music for the sake of relative popularity. Don't get me wrong, the weird Mr. Oizo charm is still there, it is just hidden by some of his featured artists. Favorite and least favorite tracks: Favorites: "Ruhe", "All Wet", and "Sea Horses" Least favorites: "The One You Buy", "Hand in the Fire", and "Chairs"
Rating: 2/7 Release Date: 9/30/2016 Dusk is the third full-length album from Ultimate Painting, an indie rock outfit from London. My prior experience with Ultimate Painting came from listening to their first self-titled album. Their self-titled song from their self-titled album is a personal favorite of mine, with a solid guitar lead and some pretty nice backing vocals throughout. For this album, I heard one of the two singles that came out. "Bills," with its monotone vocals, somber guitars, and solid drum fills took me in. Little did I know, and much to my dismay, this would be the rest of the album--minus the solid drum fills. The album feels a bit too one note: dreary guitars, monotone vocals. No song made an impression, and this review as I listen to the album seems harder and harder to write because there seems like there's nothing to say. I listened to this album three times, and I do not feel like I experienced anything. I feel as if it is partly the bassist's fault, in all of the songs, the bass barely deviates from the single note it plays throughout the song. The beat of each song also seems similar, with the same four count structure that only deviates in the number of snares and bass hits, but not pace (with the exceptions being "Who is Your Next Target?," "Bills," and "Song For Brian Jones" being more fast-paced, although they seem similar to each other in their own right). The only thing that is completely apparent about the change in song to song is that "Lead the Way" is the only song that seems to be focused on piano rather than guitar. The singer seems to moan out every single lyric; I felt no emotion in his voice. This seeming disconnect between the singer and his music makes me lose interest in this album as a whole. How am I supposed to be interested in this album if they are not interested in this album? If this album was put on shuffle, I would not be able to distinguish any of the songs from each other, except "Bills." The only solace I find in this album is that the lyrics are somewhat interesting, but interesting lyrics do not necessarily change how boring the album was as a whole. The album failed to catch my interest, and therefore my praise. I was pretty excited to hear the record from the single I heard a little while ago, and I have to say that this album overall was a disappointment for me.