Follow Me Into Sweet Fields of Blue: a Tennis Review


Tennis came back last month with there latest album Yours, Conditionally. After a months out at sea, facing nature and the isolation of the vast ocean they’re back at it making dreamy surf pop.

The duo had worked together with Urban Outfitters as they tracked their adventures writing the album out on the high seas. The married couple of Alaina and Patrick Moore along with one other person took to the ocean on a sail boat. The couple have sailed before, often a method in their writing process. The album is the end result of love testing it’s limits against outside forces and inner struggles.

The duo can’t help but make me think back to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s relationship. Although their love ended with a separation, it’s the brilliant way the two complimented each other that reminds me of the former. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Tennis live twice during their last tour and could feel the love between them from across the stage. It’s easy to see how much they support and encourage one another.

This album is a lot like their other albums, it’s warm and invokes that desire to head to the islands with your loved one. The songs feel like sunshine on your skin the very first day of spring. Alaina wrote this album as the result of her exploring and learning the limits of her love. As a wife, a lover, a partner and a friend she found herself challenging the roles she’s come into. Her marriage has taught her what it’s like to share a life with someone else yet still remain true to herself and be her own person. They’ve become a team but at the same time she understands how necessary it is to still be able to function on your own.

Ladies Don’t Play Guitar was their first release from the album. The song is her reflection on her experiences in the music industry and how being a female musician has affected her. She believes in feminism and how necessary it is for us to stand up for our beliefs and this song came at a time in her life where she’s felt the most empowered.

Other songs like Matrimony and My Emotions Are Blinding and 10 Minutes 10 Years display how her marriage has affected her life and their music. Matrimony was written as a reflection of the day they were married. Lines in the song were thoughts that crossed her mind that day. It’s personal and so incredibly sweet you can’t help but smile and wish you had been invited to their wedding.

Fields of Blue, personally my favorite off the album was inspired by the logbook or as Alaina put it, “her teenage diary”, of their days out on the choppy waters. Her findings came out sounding very stream of conscious and like that of the diary of young romantic. She became inspired by one entry in which she had written, “Follow me into sweet fields of blue”. One can’t help but yearn for their love and the sea all at once while listening to her dreamy, sentimental voice.

It’s refreshing to hear an album so consistent with its theme and quality. Often more and more artist feel like they’re trying to release singles rather than songs that flow together in an album. Yours, Conditionally takes us on a trip and leaves us wanting love and adventure out in open waters.

9 out of 10, oh what’s the use in resisting?

 

Album Review: Kings of Leon – WALLS


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The year of 2016 has marked the beginning and the end of a plethora of items and people.  Over the course of the year we have lost music icons such as David Bowie and Prince to name a few; however, we have also seen new releases by formidable artists and performers such as Green Day, The Weeknd, Metallica, Radiohead, etc.  One of such releases comes from American alternative-rock band Kings of Leon with their seventh studio album titled “WALLS” (We Are Like Love Songs).  Although arguably not a masterpiece, WALLS delivers familiar Kings of Leon staples reminiscent of their material eight years prior that are both energetic and relaxing.
Alternative-rock as a genre itself can be dismissed as one that is characterized by an overuse of delay, distortion, fuzz, power chords, and underdeveloped melodies that are forgettable; however, WALLS takes these familiar elements and blends them smoothly with subtle embellishments and instrumentation to offer a bit of variety.  In the opening track, “Waste A Moment”, listeners are presented with an upbeat, almost pop-oriented single that is full of energy and announces the band’s presence with their signature overtones and gain-filled rifts.  The result is a simple, yet fun way of demonstrating that this in part is the band listeners have come to enjoy over the years, yet they have changed slightly since the last time we have heard them.  The latter effect becomes apparent at the album’s midpoint with tracks such as “Find Me” and “Muchacho”, which introduce synthesizers, rhythmic sampling, whistling, and other subtle instrumental embellishments that diversify each individual tune.
Despite these small innovations, the tracks themselves are still characteristically Kings of Leon tracks that do not stand out among the discography that they have established over the years.  “Find Me”, for example, is primarily driven by a semi-complex guitar riff that appears at the track’s beginning and makes subsequent appearances with each chorus.  This is not particularly a bad thing; however, this focus on familiarity and on what we have come to expect is exactly what makes a majority of the tracks rather predictable.  Though the synthesizer usage is present briefly in the beginning and sporadically though each verse, it is a lack of utilization of these devices that makes tunes such as “Find Me” fun but relatively forgettable.  Aside from this, active listeners will also recognize a familiarity in structure.  Yes, I refer to the typical Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus.  Though there is not necessarily anything wrong with this standard format, this additional limitation does not serve the band justice in these instances.  In this listener’s opinion: “I get that it works, cool, but I am getting bored”.
The Kings of Leon have always been a band that strikes me as not too innovative in regards to new styles of music, but rather, one that seeks to improve upon a genre that is adored and enjoyed by thousands throughout the world.  They have demonstrated time and time again that they are good at what they do, and I commend them for that; however, it is time to change.  What else does the Followill gang have to offer?  Until that time, enjoy more of the Kings of Leon you have come to love.

I give WALLS, a 3 out of 5.

DJ Alexx’s Pick for 2016


It is November; getting close to the end of the year.

2016 has been a year full of Hip-Hop, Electronica, and Dance. Many collaborations and features happened such as rapper Verbal Jint with ballad singer, Baek Ji Young and rapper Dean with Girls’ Generation Tiffany. This was a way to promote each other that worked well because there was always good response from the audiences. On the other hand, Rock/Indie, Ballad, and R&B are behind the scenes that slowly crept on music charts like ballad singer, Park Hyo Shin and rock band, Nell.

After this paragraph, there would be a list and description about the artist and album. This list is base off from my recommendations for 2016 releases. Right below after the recommendations, there would be upcoming releases listed to be prepared for the artists who are going to make a comeback soon. To give a hint, the albums mostly consist of Ballad, Rock/Indie, R&B, and Pop music from January to November. (This list is going to be based off from date of the album, min-album, and/or single released.)

1

UNDERWATER

Jung Joon Il | January 14

-Mini Album-

There are four tracks in his first mini album, Underwater, that was released the beginning of the year Jung Joon Il became a solo artist after the disbandment of Korean rock band, MATE. With the years of his success of his solo career, Jung Joon Il has showed a different side of him. Rather than going ballad with this mini album, he has shown the different music style. The second track, Plastic, is the title of this album that Jung Joon Il changed his vocal voice to an R&B and featured rapper, BewhY has lead us to a melancholy melody with the metaphor of, “I’m not a plastic.”

Recommended tracks: 02, 03, 04

2

White Night
Woo Yeon Soo | January 15

-Mini Album-

Woo Yeon Soo is a new artist that I’ve only discovered this year. She has a remarkable ballad voice that is really graceful. It is perfect to listen to when you are at need for relaxation. I immediately fell for her voice of how she sang for her tracks.

3

This Place

Subin (Dal Shabet) | June 20

-Mini Album-

Subin is from girl group, Dal Shabet. In honest, I’ve never listened to this group or if I did, I don’t remember any of their songs. However, member Subin caught my attention with her first mini album. She showed off a strong R&B and ballad voice the five tracks.

Recommended tracks: 01, 02, 03 (the rest are highly recommended to listen to)

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Bye Bye My Blue

Baek Ye Rin | June 20

-Single Album-

Baek Ye Rin, similar to Subin, is from a duo group, 15&. However, this is her single album (which contains only three tracks). The music genre that Baek Ye Rin takes on is the soft rock. Her deep voice is soothing that is really enjoyable to listen to when it comes to the soft melodies. For this single album, I recommend all three tracks to listen to.

5

Pink Revolution

Apink | September 26

-Full Length Album-

After a year and two months, Apink (pronounced as the letter A and the color Pink > A Pink) has finally returned to the Korean music scene with their third full-length album with nine new tracks! Unlike before with their fairy-like concepts, the ladies have taken on the path to a mature concept.

The maturity is very much different from others mostly because of their fashion and style. The way they are dressed for this concept are two different colors of skirts and long sleeves turtle-neck tops that are tucked in. A fashion that has been popular among the 1990s where turtle-necks were the trend. Also, Apink has always been the group that resembles the first generation Korean groups such as S.E.S. and FINKL that their title track, Only One, brings out the melody that will reminiscence that feel.

Recommended tracks: 03, 06, 07, 09

6

I Am a Dreamer

Park Hyo Shin | October 3

-Full Length Album-

Park Hyo Shin has finally returned with his 7th album with twelve tracks since his single release in 2014. I like this album because of Park Hyo Shin naturally has a deep voice. But his voice can vibrate into a beautiful vocal that smoothens the melody. Besides, his album title, “I am a Dreamer” brings out the mood of the befriended and inspired emotions to you.
Recommended tracks: 01, 04, 06, 07, 09, 10

7

Wings

Bangtan Boys | October 7

­-Full Length Album-

Bangtan Boys has released their second full length album, Wings. A new concept that the boys has took a stab onto the music scene. Their title track “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” has a non-Hip-Hop style and more of a dance feel to it. A “gentleman” style because their outfits were suits rather than jeans, t-shirts, and jackets. There are five tracks that all of members sing, two intro/interlude tracks, and the rest of the seven tracks are member’s solo tracks. Like what Korean girl group, KARA did in 2012 for their Japanese collection album, Bangtan has done the same. This is how I started to know which music style is the key to the group from each member. For all members, they have similarities in R&B and Hip-Hop/Rap and that is how their group music genre are.

Recommended tracks: 01, 05, 06, 07, 09, 14

November releases: (Check them out!)

B.A.P “Noir” [November 7] – After two years of their first album released, B.A.P is ready to come into the music scene for a new style of music.

Standing Egg “Voice” [November 11] – Indie artist, Standing Egg is releasing the new mini-album soon, look forward to it.

Big Bang [November] – Not officially announced a specific date but Big Bang is going to release an album to celebrate their tenth year since debut.

S.E.S [November] – First generation K-pop girl group, S.E.S. is making a comeback somewhere this month to celebrate their twentieth year anniversary! This is said to be an 20th union, special album!

Blog Review: Jackie Gage”Live at The Commons” 3-song EP


If you love Neo-Soul and Jazz, I recommend giving Jackie Gage a listen. Gage grew up listening and singing to icons such as Billie Holiday and Dionne Warwick. She has always been a fan of big bands and odd-structured melodies. To be unique she mixes their modern sound into her own style of what “Jazz” is today.

She recently moved to New York City where she is growing and shaping her craft. Gage has opened for The Brand New Heavies and El Debarge. She has also performed  with Marc Cary. Her music is heard internationally on the airwaves on KCRW, KCSM, Jazz FM in England, and Hawaii’s CUH. She has performed at well-known venues such as Yoshi’s Oakland/The Sound Room in Oakland, The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. She has been seen at annual festivals such as San Jose Jazz Summer Fest (2016, 2013, 2012), Fillmore Jazz Festival (2015), and Berkeley Juneteenth (2015, 2014).

She recorded her 3-song EP at The Commons in San Jose, California in May 2016. She delivers a soulful and smooth sound and vocal. Her first song, “Let me know” consists of herself and William Bohrer. It is an upbeat song with intricate drumming and feel good guitar solos that leave you feeling mellow and chill. She engages the audience with “repeat after me” lyrics.

Her song, “Afro Blue” is the definition of Jazz music. It is my favorite on the EP. The instrumentals encompass all the right instruments, that leave you feeling relaxed and enjoying life. Her vocals are soft and delicate, but delivers a strong Blues vibe.

Her song, “Sweet”, consists of herself, William Bohrer and Timothy Wat. It sounds like a relationship song. Pull at the heart even more, with this song, it will make you reminisce about past loves and hurts, but love is always worth it.

Also, on the new EP is Tim Wat, a Bay Area pianist and keyboard player. Wat has been performing with The Floorshakers for two years now. He is an active member of the Northern California jazz community. Wat plays frequently in San Jose, San Francisco, and the East Bay. His first love is jazz, but also has experience playing rock, pop, R&B, funk, worship, progressive rock, country, classical and even goth music throughout California and the United States.

As well as Wat, William Bohrer is a bass/guitarist, who is known for being a part of 7th Street Big Band from San Jose, California. 7th Street Big Band is an 18-piece jazz band that plays high energy songs that range from Funk, Latin, and Jazz.

Jackie is a well-rounded singer and songwriter that is making waves in the music industry. She is making a name for herself in Jazz music and making Jazz more mainstream and relevant. I thoroughly enjoyed the “Live at The Commons” EP. I think she has grown as a vocalist as I listen to each song. Her range is versatile and unique. You don’t hear her sound everything. I love finding unique artists that bring a new style or ingredient to the table.

You can follow Jackie Gage’s music at her website JackieGage.org.

 

Album Review: Tacocat – Lost Time


TacoCatAt first glance, Tacocat seems like a very innocuous thing. The four-piece band’s name comes across as disarming and playful with sunny instrumentation to match.

Yet, to overlook the depth of Tacocat’s music, their “bubblegum rock,” is to do the band a disservice.

“Lost Time,” an album made up of 12 poignant looks at life, picks up where Tacocat last left off in every regard.

The instrumentation on “Lost Time” feels largely similar to the band’s last album, “NVM,” it’s the writing that has become blunter. Singer Emily Nokes’ skill for introspection and observation elevates Tacocat where so many other bands falter.

In a perfect world we’d receive a balanced expression of both sides of gender politics within music, but in our messy reality Nokes’ willingness to address the social issues that others dance around or weakly acknowledge is refreshing.

“Lost Time” is never pandering and never hits you over the head. In fact, it’s fun through and through. Even as the world ends on “I Love Seattle,” as the city falls into the ocean succumbing to earthquakes and tsunamis, Tacocat will joyously tell you the city feels so much like home they’d never want to leave.

Though, the importance of what Tacocat is doing comes from their social commentary.

“Men Explain Things to Me” says it all starting with its title and carrying into its lyrics (“Don’t tell me what to do / My feelings won’t subdue / Just because you told them to”). Nokes directly addresses the clichéd roles of gender through smartly employed metaphors, such as moving off of a walkway for men who take up the entire sidewalk, and voices her frustration (“We get it dude / We’ve already heard enough from you / The turning point is overdue”).

Tacocat confidently offers a female perspective on topics we typically see addressed by men. “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” (a reference to the Nirvana song “Scentless Apprentice,” similar to their last album’s title paying homage to Nirvana’s “Nevermind”) involves Nokes asking for a past relationship to take her back, but only so she can break up with them in return.

Nokes’ gaze then falls on “The Internet.” Here, the “Hate from the basement / Hate from the insecure,” from the anonymous and from the “mosquitos” is addressed. It’s a song with a rhetorical question, asking what right a random individual has to make a judgement over another they’ve never met.

Conversely, “Talk” looks at the disconnect between two individuals within the same room (“Together, together, alone / Stay true, true to your phone”) and the all-too-common inclination for two individuals to sit next to each other entrenched in their own phones. Nokes points out that she simply wants to use the time to talk, maybe even dance if the situation allows.

“Lost Time” culminates in the song “Leisure Bees,” a well-executed metaphor reminding the listener to “Take your time because / It’s your time to take.” Here, Nokes wisely explains that success in life is an entirely subjective term. Success doesn’t have to be based on work, it can be something as simple as your happiness.

It’s a fitting closing to “Lost Time” because Tacocat is ultimately using the album to communicate the importance of the individual. After all, “the values that you want / Are the ones that you can make.”

 

Emiliano is a DJ at KSSU

The Power Hour Recap 4/5


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Good Afternoon KSSU listeners and readers! I’m DJ Ace and this my Power Hour recap for April 5th.

Basically I’ve been wanting to do this all semester, and finally had the time to sit down to hash one of these outs. These recaps are a way to go a little more in-depth about the music being played today and a chance to talk a little more about whats going on weekly. So without further ado, lets get into what music was played today!


 

  1. Fanfare – FFVII OST – As of two shows ago, this has been the new starting song every show and variations of this theme will be present every show. It especially works well as background music as I do my intro. For some history about the title, this fanfare has been used in Final Fantasy as victory music after completing a battle since the original FF released over 20 years ago. It has definitely become a staple of the franchise needless to say.
  2. Easy Lover – Phil Collins –  So our theme this show was more vocals and a little more classic sounds instead of our usual synth-wave approach. So firstly, this track also contains vocals by Phillip Bailey and the combination of both vocalists really brings the song along quite nicely. Oddly enough, the creation of the song came from a chance meeting between the two, and after a few jam sessions they decided to recorded the song in order to not forget it.
  3. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – The Police – Alright, so first things first, I have a huge love for The Police. Its a very influential group for me and one of the big artists I remember listening to as a kid. That being said, its hard to lock onto certain songs that really give you the listener a song that captures the groups sound, but I think this track does a great job of doing it. The Police typically create a very “ska” sound with their music, with fast tempos and strong beats. This song is no exception and I imagine by the middle of the song you are tapping your feet along with the beat.
  4. Off The Wall – Michael Jackson – Phew, another huge artist! Is my show becoming too mainstream for listeners? MJ was an artist I had the privilege of growing up to, when he was at his prime he was simply untouchable. I’m sure most agree that there will simply not be another artist who will have as big of an impact on the industry. Off The Wall is the self entitled track from one of his early albums, containing very disco like sounds. A very simple beat accompanies his already signature vocals, along with a smooth chorus. Like most of his tracks, this is very much a feel good track. As MJ states, “just enjoy yourself”.
  5. Maneater – Hall & Oates – Obviously you can’t have a 80’s playlist without some Hall & Oates. These guys wrote some of the most signature songs from the 80’s and you’ve probably heard them before and never even realized it. To keep the upbeat pace of the first half of the show, I went with Maneater. It keeps a very upbeat tempo, accompanied by a prominent bass line.

Well thats it for Part 1 of the Power Hour Recap. Tomorrow look forward to reading the second half!

– Ace

Ace is a Dj with KSSU

Album Review: Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger


TySegallAlbumAt this point in his career the only thing more wild than Ty Segall’s output, this being Segall’s 16th album in eight years, are the touring personas he has adopted for his new album, “Emotional Mugger.”

Segall keeps in character throughout all his performances, whether it be on NPR, where he adamantly refuses to break character and answer questions with utter nonsense, or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where Segall’s face-painted candy-tossing antics clearly leave the crowd on edge.

Of course, the seeming insanity all serves a purpose as Segall has decided to avoid all publicity. He staves off interviews and photos on this tour with the help of various masks, hoods and face paint befitting the characters of the album’s respective songs.

Perhaps tired of the media circus that accompanies any album release, Segall instead allows his live performances speak for themselves. Here, he is willingly aided by his backing band The Muggers in his various antics, the band includes guitarist King Tuff and the drummer for the band WAND, Evan Burrows, among others.

Segall’s garage-rock album “Emotional Mugger” is the perfect platform for these antics.

Produced by Segall and F. Burmudez, the album’s 11 tracks maintain the lo-fi aesthetic of Segall’s previous work with everything from Segall’s voice, saturated with delay, to the heavy distortion of each guitar.

The album opens with its strongest track, “Squealer,” which featured a strong bassline and melody combination that carrier the track into the grimy “California Hills.” This next track feels intentionally monotonous as Segall drags on about “affluent life” before a jarring tempo change that dips out as quickly as it came in.

The album’s title track “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” follows and ends up setting a good example for the album’s mixing. The instrumentation here is well spaced out allowing for heavy distortion of the guitars, panned to the left and right sides, and for the placement of the drums to move throughout the song.

The placement of the instruments essentially follows this formula throughout the album to mixed results. For example, the song “Breakfast Eggs” plays with the left and right panned guitars with the left guitar cutting in and out of harmony with the right.

The most interesting example of playing with the mixing is “Candy Sam” as the song alternates left to right between drum patterns of varying intensity.

But, even with its abrasiveness and constant energy, “Emotional Mugger” can feel a bit rote. Even with its creative mixing songs can become repetitive with some feeling like filler tracks.

“Diversion” is the best example of a low point despite all of its energy. A cover of a song of the same name by the 1960s band The Equals, it feels out of place in every way expect for its subject matter.

“Emotional Mugger” comes to a conclusion with “The Magazine,” it’s a slow song that seems to eventually just die out. At this point it becomes obvious that this album’s fixation with the baby character and the idea of candy might be a larger statement on society from Segall, namely the over-indulgence of ego.

Although not his best work, “Emotional Mugger” is Ty Segall’s most obvious statement on society, and its best songs make up for its shortcomings with the appeal of their abrasive energy.

Emiliano is a DJ with KSSU

The Moments that made TBD Fest


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My good friend Jerel and partner in crime for TBD Fest just put up his all encompassing TBD wrap up blog, which you can check out here. In it he covered all the broad strokes of the festival experience, highlighting all the different bands we saw, food we ate and artistic installations we witnessed. So in interest of not covering the same ground I bring to you a more microscopic look at TDB through the lens of my favorite individual moments of TBD. Each festival is a collection of miniature moments forged by the fires of the collective consciousness and frenetic energy that is unique to each individual event. This is a celebration of those moments which helped to make the second annual TBD Fest the powerhouse of artistic expression it ended up being.

I’ll start with the first and altogether funniest moment I experienced at TBD. During Joywave’s entire set they had kept the crowd entertained, not only with their killer and perfectly sequenced set but also with the jokes and witty charisma of lead man Daniel Armbruster. However, nothing that came before it was quite as funny as when Armbruster began the chants of “one more song,” essentially calling for his own encore. Armbruster feigned surprise at such an outpouring of support and proclaimed that this had to be the very first encore in TBD Fest history. Having got his laughs and the “encore” he wanted, Armbruster and his fellow band mates kicked off the last song and tore down the house in magnificent style.

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The next moment comes to you in the form of a song, more specifically a cover song. Even more specifically Tears for Fears cover of 1992 Radiohead mega-hit “Creep”. Now this moment really resonated with me for two reasons, even outside of how brilliantly it was performed. First and foremost, as any good rock historian will tell you, there is no way in hell you will hear “creep” performed by it’s original makers. With all the vitriolic hate Radiohead have for for the song it might even be best experienced as a cover. Despite all of the negative vibes surrounding this song it still holds a special place in my musical history and I’m glad to have seen it live in one capacity or another. Secondly and perhaps more deeply, I could not help but feel a sense of a changing of the guard occurring. No Tears for Fears are still clearly a cultural powerhouse being able to headline festivals in 2015 and Radiohead aren’t exactly the new kids on the block anymore but to me this cover signaled a nod of respectful appreciation from the 80s to the 90s. A retroactive vote of confidence and plea of appreciation for carrying the tradition of odd outsider music for the next generation. Perhaps that’s me just being sentimental though.

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This next chewy morsel of festival good will has less to do with a particular artist and more to do with the festival goers themselves. Allow me to set the stage. The Black Lips had been putting on quite the show for their whole set, talking in weird voices, shouting out to their potentially imaginary friend Luna, and generally being quality showmen. A bit of a light mosh pit had been forming and had slowly been gaining speed as the set went on. This caught the eye of someone who I assume was The Black Lips roadie, as he was up on stage with them at one point. This man, who was a larger individual, came down off the stage to provide a buffer between the rowdy moshers and the people near the front of the stage who had no interest in moshing. As The Black Lips counted off their last song Jerel and I jumped into the pit, correctly predicting it would be the final mosh of the festival. As we aggressively pranced about I noticed a particularly wild mosher continually slamming around and getting pushed back by the resident “larger man” mosh boss. As the song continued on they began exchanging heated words and I immediately smelled a fight brewing. The tension did not subside but managed not to boil over for the remainder of the fight. As The Black Lips said their goodbye and the crowd began to disperse, before I even knew what was happening both men were in an lovingly respectful embrace! I could not quite hear what they were saying but I imagine it was along the lines of “thanks for keeping me in line man, I really respect that,” “I respect you too man, take care of yourself and have a good festival.” Now that might be a little far off but the crux of why I liked this moment so much was the way in which festivals can bring out each person’s camaraderie and I certainty felt that camaraderie at TBD.

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Lastly but not leastly we come to none other than Chicago native Chance the Rapper. My personal favorite performer of the entire weekend. This moment ends up being a bit more aqueous than the previous moments but it started as soon as Chance kicked off his set. Bringing an energy and closeness to the audience unmatched throughout the whole festival, Chance immediately had us on his side. Even though I was not familiar with every Chance the Rapper cut, I would sing along every time that I could halfway catch on to the choruses.  The crowd seemed to be giving all the energy they had and Chance was dishing it right back at us in a monumental showing of skill and passion. Suddenly the mood slowed down as Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment began to chill down and vibe. Chance then proclaimed he was gonna play a song we never heard before but one we all knew the words to. I immediately assumed it would be an old school rap/R&B throwback, one of which I was hoping I would in fact know the words to so that I would not let my new found hero Chance the Rapper down.  However, I could not have been more wrong as Chance began to sing “And I said hey.” Now I will give you a second to ponder what that line might be from…but I myself immediately recognized it as being the Arthur theme song. For those that are not in the know Arthur was a PBS kids show in the 90s era and it had arguably one of, if not the best theme songs of the decade. Along with being a killer tune, the Arthur theme song has a wonderful message of learning to work and play and get along with each other. At this point I am ecstatic along with the rest of the crowd as Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and The Social Experiment throw down a deconstructed and all around awesome rendition of one of my favorite childhood memories. Needless to continue to say, that was my favorite moment of TBD Fest.

Lights: Little Machines


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Lights has always been a favorite of mine, from The Listening to Siberia, she has always managed to capture my imagination and transport me to a world of imagination. Well-crafted lyrics with musicality to die for, there is really no reason not to love her music. So, rather large shoes to fill with her 2014 album Little Machines. But the question remains – did Lights live up to the extremely high standard that she set for herself with her previous album releases? In a word, yes.

The more that I listen to the album, the more I realize how much attention was paid to track placement, musicality, lyrics and overall production of the record. The level of detail and passion that has clearly been poured into the album is evident from the first moment of listening to it, all the way to the end.

There is a certain ebb and flow to this album, where each song seems to lead so perfectly into the next, and there is a rhythm to the album as well. Starting off slow and gradually building up, than drifting off again until the end, which (especially on the deluxe album) seems to tie everything up so nicely.

While I love the whole album, there are a few songs that stand out to me as especially noteworthy, and let me just say right now that I am not all that knowledgeable about music production and sound, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

One song that I feel I must mention is Child, a song off the deluxe edition. This song is a bit slower that most on this album, but captures the listener much like Light’s earlier song Pretend, off her album The Listening. There is an innocence to this song, and while listening to it, I can’t help but be a little nostalgic for my own childhood. And, as with everything on the album, the song sound amazing as well.

Another few songs that I want to single out are around the middle of the album. They are The Same Sea, Speeding and Muscle Memory. These three songs are seemingly related and based on their placement on the album (all together in the middle) I have, for some reason, associated them with each other. They do have a similar sound and meaning (of course, meaning is often subjective) but I think these three songs are about love, as well as moving on to new and exciting things. Like I said, all subjective.

There is really no way to describe the album in full, as I feel like I would never be able to do it justice. You will have to listen to it in order to fully appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that has clearly gone into the new record from Lights. If you are already a fan, or new to her music, Little Machines is absolutely well worth a listen, and if you are anything like me, it won’t just be one listen, it will be quite a few.

David Moore is a dj with KSSU

Death Cab For Cutie: Kintsugi Review


death-cab-for-cutie-kintsugiKintsugi def. is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

 

It’s also the title of the latest work from indie rock giant, Death Cab for Cutie. It is the first album released from the group since the departure of founding member and guitarist, Chris Walla. Walla’s exit from the band and the title of the album are not at all unrelated. The band is broken, but frontman Ben Gibbard refused to let that hinder their musical ability. And boy, did they deliver.

The whole album is laced with an undertone of sadness and distance most likely related to Walla’s departure and Gibbard’s love life – possibly still recovering from his divorce with Zooey Deschanel in 2012. Gibbard’s ability to convey his emotions musically and lyrically is absolutely unparalleled. For this album this is especially true for the tracks, “No Room in Frame” and “Hold No Guns.” Both are incredibly sincere and you can hear the intent behind the lyrics in the timbre of his voice alone.

Their album prior to Kintsugi, Narrow Stairs, Death Cab made it a point to create a less guitar-centric record. Kintsugi, however, is definitely a departure from that. It still plays with cool sounds and pushes the limits of electronic textures in a standard rock band setting. Something Ben Gibbard is not uncomfortable with based on his side project, the Postal Service.  New textures aside, Kintsugi is still so inherently Death Cab. Their mark is left in all the tracks and it makes you nostalgic for “The Sound of Settling” and “We Laugh Indoors.” The guitar lines that pop, the brilliant Ben Gibbard pre-chorus, and the memory of their 90’s grunge days are all things I love about this band.

Like most of my blogs, this leads me to a nearly unrelated diatribe. Death Cab for Cutie continues to produce music with a certain factor that a lot of modern bands don’t: authenticity. This is something I feel very strongly about and so I end up discussing it a lot, and this is mostly a criticism of the modern pop music machine. A lot of “artists” perform a song, it gets publicized, tons of radio play, and the record company makes a killing. The song goes out of style and the artist is chewed up and spit out by the public. This has cultivated a one-hit-wonder culture in our country that is ruining the music business. A Top 40 artist might produce an album, but that’s only used as a vehicle to deliver their single to our ears. Kintsugi is so carefully stitched together by the band, you can hear every sound, every bass drum hit has a purpose. That’s the kind of music industry that I’d like to see put in place. And there are artists out there that I can make it happen. I believe in you.


Devan is a DJ with KSSU; thoughts and opinions of the DJ may not reflect the station as a whole.