Monday, April 21, 2014

Top 4 of April 13-19, 2014

By: Abbie Doyle, Copy Editor

1. Z - SZA
By Travis Boswell, Contributor

Being wrong about an artist is great sometimes. I thought SZA had shown all of her cards in S as a fusion of trap music and R&B, but this album is completely different. What could have been an average album in anyone else's hands is elevated by SZA's hypnotic voice and lyrics that get so specific or personal that they're utterly charming. The shoutout to Pepper Ann cemented my love for the album pretty quickly. There's one more album left in this EP series, which is only going to make the wait feel even longer. I'm fine with keeping on repeat until then.

By Cortney Willis, Copy Editor

Make My Head Sing... is a fantastic album for many reasons. One: It features a songstress who embodies strong female characters from fiction while existing as an actual living person. Two: An amazing amount of growth is seen in Mayfield--she proves she's not a one-trick (or rather one-note) pony. Three: Amazing pedal effects that not only make the listener's head sing, but also spin. Mayfield's vocals are at their finest. With the album, the young artist instills faith in her fans that she's here to stay.

3. Kanye West does something for someone other than himself?

Okay, I’m probably being too harsh on Kanye, but the dude just seems self-righteous and selfish. However, the rapper/producer has been working with Common in order to create jobs and opportunity for youths in Chicago. Common’s organization, Common Ground Foundation, has paired up with West’s Donda’s House as well as the Chicago Urban League to create year-round jobs and opportunities, as well as putting on an annual music festival to raise funds and awareness. Details weren’t given on how exactly these jobs are going to be created, but hey, kudos to West and Common. Now we just wait to see how it progresses.

4. Jack White is, surprise, acting crazy

Record Store Day returned to the lives of vinyl lovers this Saturday, and Jack White decided to go buck-wild for the annual event. He decided to record, press and sell a 7-inch record for RSD on RSD. Okay, so the record is only two tracks and features a band, but that’s still fucking crazy. The A-side is a song to be released on White’s upcoming album, and the B-side was a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Power of My Love.” The 45s were ready for sale within four hours. White broke the Guinness World Record for hauling ass in terms of creating and selling a record. I knew the guy was impressive, but damn. Talk about raising the bar.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Top 4 of April 6-12

By: Xavier Veccia, Features Editor

1. Wasted Years - OFF!
By Sam Boyer, Blogs Editor

Wasted Years is yet another solid effort from punk supergroup OFF!. It's loud, fast and vicious, hearkening back to the hardcore groups of the '80s. OFF! does punk well, but this release raises a controversial question in punk music--is it bad to be consistent? Wasted Years sounds very similar to the band's full-length debut, and while the music is well-executed, it leaves the listener wondering if Keith Morris and company are capable of anything else. Should OFF! challenge itself the next time around, or keep to the same formula? There's always room for experimentation in any genre.

2. Coachella Makes Us All Jealous

We get it, cool music bloggers. Coachella's happening and it's the coolest thing ever! There may not have been a hologram rapper yet, but the Outkast reunion, Pharrell's guest-heavy set and Jay Z's cameo during Nas' performance were more than enough to make all us poor music fans plenty envious.

3. Ab-Soul hints at Longterm 3

It may not be news on the TDE rapper's new album, but it's something. The Longterm series of mixtapes dates all the way back to 2009, so when Solo tweeted about starting work on the third installment earlier this week, it was big news. While not much is known about either of his projects, it's exciting just to know they exist.

4. Arcade Fire did Arcade Fire

At an Austin, Texas show, Arcade Fire continued its tradition of wearing papier mache helmets by adding president Barack Obama and Pope Francis to their props. The Obama reference may have been because the prez was also in town. Pope Francis was just random. It's hard to believe that one of the most entertaining shows of Coachella weekend came hundreds of miles away from the festival, but that's just how Arcade Fire does things.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top 4 of March 30 - April 5, 2014

By: Zack Baker, Editorial Director

1. Saintseneca - Dark Arc 
By Sarah Weingarten, Contributor

The combination of Appalachian folk and indie pop is unusual. But the fact that both genres are compatible on Saintseneca’s second album, Dark Arc, is even more unusual. The folksy pop sound grows on the listener. It also makes Dark Arc a phenomenal album to listen to on repeat, all summer long. Hell, get an early start and start listening to it right now. The quirky, off-beat but simultaneously heartfelt lyrics take some time to learn, so until then there will be lots of humming and mumbling. I am thoroughly impressed with this record and personally have been listening to the album every day since my first listen. Saintseneca has found its musical niche and flexed its expertise with Dark Arc.

2. The Flaming Lips Dark Side Of The Moon Thing Was Totally An April Fool's Prank After All

So, the week before last, the music-blogosphere was absurdly abuzz with the announcement that The Flaming Lips, a band known for doing weird and out-there projects (see: Zaireeka), would be releasing an album to complement and fill out the experience of Pink Floyd's masterpiece Dark Side Of The Moon. Every outlet you could possible imagine fell for it, and instantly turned red on April 1 when Funny Or Die pulled back the curtain on the whole gag.

3. Wu-Tang Clan Continued To Make Very Strange Moves

Hot on the heels of announcing widely-available reunion album A Better Tomorrow (that's kind of felt like a cash-grab since it was revealed), the legendary hip-hop collective announced another new release titled Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. Except this album, a double-disc oeuvre, will only be available as a single physical copy complete with absurdly ornate packaging. The album will not be available anywhere other than on that single set of discs. The band has reportedly received offers in the millions for the release, and the album will be making its way around the country with a museum-exclusive listening party-tour. Thanks to Pitchfork for the heads up.

4. This Week In Drake™ 

It seems like the Vancouver superstar can't seem to stay out of the headlines. This week, Drizzy dropped two new singles, somehow finding the time to drop bumps just in time for the Drake-feens to avoid withdrawals. Following "Trophies," Drake's now released both "Draft Day" and "Days In The East." "Draft Day" is the real conversation starter, with Drizzy taking a visit to Namedrop City, calling out Chance The Rapper and comparing himself to Katniss from The Hunger Games, not to mention that very sneaky diss on Jay Z. Drake's taking names, but I still like him way more as a spectacle than a rapper. And I think there's a special kind of value in that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Top 4 of March 16-22, 2014

By: Sam Boyer, Blogs Editor

By Megan Fair

I honestly cannot express how impressed I am with this record. There is something so very entrancing about the intricate story lines and imagery that make me feel vast sorrow and nostalgia for memories that don't even belong to me. The more I hear it, the more I notice all the modest sonic touches and intricate musicianship behind every emotionally delivered track. There's something to be said for a group of artists who aren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, especially when these hearts are battered and bursting with rich experiences. La Dispute naysayers will have a pretty difficult time denying this album of merit, especially because the vocals have way more control than ever before, supplying the perfect amount of emotion and tact. Just listen to Rooms of the House and let yourself disappear into the nooks and crannies of every scene described; you won’t regret it. 

2. Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden Summer Tour

After an incredible co-headlining tour with Queens of theStone Age, Trent Reznor and company decided to team up with grunge heavyweight Soundgarden for yet another co-headlining tour. This should be good. I’ve seen Soundgarden before, but I haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing the magic of NIN, so I’m curious how these bands will vibe off each other. And adding Death Grips to the bill was a fascinating choice. Though the tour isn’t coming anywhere near Ohio this summer, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing these guys sometime in the fall.

3. Kurt Cobain Death Case Reopened…And Closed Again

Okay, so let’s clear this up. Seattle police did not really reopen the Kurt Cobain case. A cold case detective went through all the details of Cobain’s death because of the 20th anniversary coming up next week and found some undeveloped rolls of film. A photo of Cobain’s heroin kit made its way on to the Internet a few days ago, but the case is, and has always remained, a suicide. When I first heard about the case being “reopened,” I could already sense the conspiracy theorists crawling out of their parents’ basements, poised at their keyboards for a good old fashioned “I told you so” blog-apocalypse. Sorry, guys, but Courtney Love didn’t kill Kurt.

4. The Black Keys Announce New Album

Akron homeboys The Black Keys revealed the release date for their new album, Turn Blue. Well, technically Mike Tyson revealed it through Twitter. No joke. The whole promotional campaign for this album is bizarre and I love it. Check out the “Turn Blue” YouTube account for some creepy promo videos. The album’s first single, “Fever,” drops on Monday the 24th. Turn Blue comes out on May 13.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Top 5 of March 9-15

Here And Nowhere Else is Cloud Nothings at their best. Harder, faster and way more heartfelt, this album will likely be remembered as the record that cemented them as one of the best indie-rock bands of their time. If you're at all into guitar-driven indie, this album is a must listen.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Tycho’s music. I’m a big fan of the chillwave sound in general, but Tycho does something special with the genre that’s so incredibly unique compared to other chillwave musicians. Quite often, multiple bands and artists that fall under the same genre sound so much alike that it can be hard to distinguish what song belongs to whom, but I can always pick out a Tycho song. It’s because of his individualism that made me fall in love with his sound in the first place. Tycho’s just one of those artists that really speaks to me through his music and the guy doesn’t even need lyrics to do so. I especially love his latest album because Tycho’s managed to maintain the same sound he’s always had without sounding repetitive and boring.

Festival season is about leaving all your worries behind and listening to some of the best musical acts the world has to offer. However, Thursday morning, we were reminded that there are some things even music can't protect us from, as two people were killed and 23 were injured due to a hit-and-run. The Austin police acted quickly and managed to get the suspect in custody shortly after the incident. The man will be charged with two counts of capital murder along with 23 accounts of aggravated. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the concert goers.

In typical Golf Wang fashion, Tyler urged a massive crowd to push past security, who were controlling access to an already over-capacity venue, at a show Thursday. The Odd Future rapper was arrested later on Saturday for allegedly starting a riot. If he's convicted, Tyler could face up to a year in prison. A short video has surfaced in which Tyler can be heard shouting, "Just run in right now. Fucking do it. Let's go." That's just so Tyler.

That might be a bit much. But did you hear his collaboration with Skrillex? Yeah, I guess the real story is that Skrillex pulled a Hova, releasing his first full-length studio album Recess song by song through his app, Alien Ride. And that's cool and all, but hot damn is that Chance song on it a banger. With his recent collaborations with high-profile recording artists like Skrillex and Justin Bieber, it seems Chance is trying to make 2014 an even better year than 2013. And that's good news for us fans.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Top 4 of February 16-22, 2014

By: Nadia Kurtz, Managing Editor

1. Modern Baseball – You're Gonna Miss It All
By Garrett Bower

A day may come when I stop ranting about Modern Baseball, but today is not that day. So I’m back to say just a little bit more about the gang’s bomb-ass sophomore album, You’re Gonna Miss It All, which was a fun and funky-fresh take on emo pop-punk. In hindsight, the record has gained a great deal of traction, reaching number one on the Billboard vinyl charts and premiering at number 84 on the top 200, which is even more awesome when you consider these guys are still in college and almost turned down a tour with The Wonder Years because of that. Great things are afoot for Modern Baseball and it’s thrilling to think this is just the start for them. So go listen to Modern Baseball right now.

2. Lobsterfest Lineup Is Here

It's finally here, everyone--we now know who is playing Lobsterfest this year! And luckily, it looks like a pretty great lineup. Along with some really awesome Athens staples such as Method Air and Small Steps, we are welcoming some great bands from the East Coast and Midwest states. Our headliner is the fabulous Deerhoof, an amazing pop/rock band from San Francisco. Based on what I've heard, they're pretty great, so don't you dare skip out on this one. I sure as hell can't wait to enjoy Lobsterfest with all you awesome music-lovers, so get pumped!

3. Lana Del Rey's New Album is Actually Happening

Lana Del Rey is one of my favorite recent stars, and I have been waiting for her to release a new album for a long, long time. Although news of the album was hinted back in December, it is finally evident that a new Lana gem is in the works--and along with none other than Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys! I'm not going to lie, that band holds a special place in my heart, mostly because they are from my home city, Akron. Besides, they make pretty great music. Anyway, Auerbach is evidently going to produce Del Rey's news album, Ultraviolence, and I am all sorts of excited.

4. Arctic Monkeys Add More Tour Dates

I was pretty bummed when I missed Arctic Monkeys' concert a couple weeks ago in Columbus. I was really looking forward to seeing them, but missed the boat when I tried to buy my ticket after they were already sold out. Luckily for me and all other AM fanatics, the band just released additional tour dates in Europe and North America. Even luckier is the fact they booked a show in Cleveland at Jacob's Pavillion. Now that is almost too convenient since it is really close to where I live. But, hey, I'll take it. Oh yeah, I guess I better go buy those tickets now.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Top 5 of February 9-15, 2014

By: Zack Baker, Editorial Director

1. Sun Kil MoonBenji 
By Sarah Weingarten

Benji is just a sad album. A mopey, depressed album about death and the fear of it. But Sun Kil Moon pinpoints unhappiness perfectly without being angsty. Listeners just have to be in a sad mood to listen to Benji and as a stressed college student avoiding responsibilities, that isn’t very hard. Sun Kil Moon eloquently depicts different varieties of sadness, giving Benji dimension, which is why this album deserves to be on loop. 

2. BehemothThe Satanist 
By Justin Silk

Five years passed between Evangelion and The Satanist. The longest break between Behemoth albums to date occurred because frontman and main songwriter Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia. Nergal overcame it and, with newfound motivation, was anxious to return to the studio. The Satanist truly sounds like the most inspired Behemoth album to date and is a culmination of the many different styles that the band has experimented with throughout the years. The tight selection of songs and even pace of the album makes it a joy to listen to, and the quality of the music is extraordinarily high. It is debatable whether The Satanist is Behemoth's best record, but it's hard to deny that it definitely feels like the band's most complete work to date. On its tenth album, Behemoth enhances its legendary status as a band and delivers blisteringly brutal, pure evil blackened death metal.
3. Dag SavageE&J 
By Travis Boswell

Exile and Johaz have only been working together for a few years now, but they sound like they've been collaborating for a decade on E&J. Johaz is a relative newcomer, but glides over Exile's beats effortlessly. He drops plenty heartbreakers about his formative years, but keeps it light with plentiful punchlines when necessary. Exile continues to be on top of his game with his soul-sampling, piano-laced beats. He's been producing classics for over a decade now, and E&J is another compliment to his great track record.

For fans of Exile's past collaborations, E&J has guest appearances from most of them. It does become a problem when they start to get more spotlight than Johaz, but with music this good it's a minor complaint. 

4. Kanye Remixed "Drunk In Love" 

I haven't even heard the original version of this song, but this remix was the perfect Valentine's Day gift. Not only do I finally understand the "surfboart" jokes now, but I also got to hear Kanye West turn "Little Drummer Boy" into a sexual innuendo. It's one of Kanye's most sexually graphic verses in recent memory, and he put out "I'm In It" last summer. 

5. Drake Said Things

First, Drake went off on Macklemore for his Grammy win. Calling him out not only for winning, but also for ignoring every nominee but Kendrick, Drizzy let The Mack know exactly what was on his mind. That was fairly honorable. When he lashed out against Rolling Stone for giving the cover they had promised him to the (late, incredible) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Drake drew some vitriol. Complaining about a lost cover isn't exactly good form, and even less so when it's to one of the most talented actors of our generation. Drake is on one, and regardless of how you feel about his comments, it's fun to sit back and revel in the aftershock.