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.