Category: Music Review
The highly anticipated delivery of Childish Gambino’s newest album has finally arrived – and been just as game-changing as we expected it to be. Titled “Awaken, My Love!” Gambino takes you on an 11 track, 50-minute journey through an entirely new genre of music he has never stepped foot in, until now. Childish Gambino’s alter-ego…
It is not out of the ordinary for the well-known Seattle-based rapper Macklemore to shed a light on some heavier topics in his music. In the past, we have seen Macklemore rap about topics such as white privilege and LGBT rights in his past songs. Through his music, these topics have been brought more awareness…
Green Day is back, after the odd but unique triple album (yes, triple) in 2012s “Uno,” “Dos,” and “Tre” albums, they are now releasing their 12th studio album in “Revolution Radio.” The album starts out a bit unexpectedly with the track “Somewhere Now,” with a soft guitar and vocals by singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, but…
You may have heard of Mick Jenkins this year with features on Noname’s album Telefone and Chance the Rapper’s discarded Coloring Book song ‘Grown Ass Kid,’ but if you’re not familiar with Mick Jenkins here is a rundown.
Mick Jenkins is a 25 year-old Chicago based rapper. Despite popping up in 2012, he’s had a prolific career with a project at least once a year, his most popular being 2014’s The Water[s] and his 2015 follow-up Wave[s]. He is known for his heavy wordplay and verses interwoven with metaphors, and he manages to deliver raps with his unique style without it being too much of an earful. Usually rapping over a Jazz Era or Chicago Blues style beat, Jenkins produces more vibe songs than bangers.
Mick Jenkin’s debut album “The Healing Component” released on September 23, 2016. The album features an army of collaborators including THEMpeople, Sango, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, and others alongside performers including theMIND, Noname, and several others. The album art depicts a human heart, muscles, veins and ventricles all present meant to depict a more accurate version of love. The acronym of The Healing Component spells out THC. Before you jump to conclusions, know that this album is more about love and Jesus than it is about cannabis. Jenkins makes the analogy of marijuana’s healing components to that the healing components of love.
The project starts off with a dialogue between Jenkins and a woman discussing the vagueness of our understanding of love. The conversation carries on throughout the project to guide the listener on the concepts and different types of love. While these dialogues are reminiscent to that of the 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” overall it fails to leave a big impact.
The first track starts off strong with Jenkins wasting no time. As soon as the first verse ends, the hook starts with loud horns and a chant from Jenkins, akin to a church choir. The next song on the track list is the crux of the project titled ‘Spread Love,’ dominated by a lengthy chorus spaced with two short but great verses by Jenkins over a moody beat. Quite simply, this song is butter, so give it a listen.
‘Drowning,’ featuring BBNG (BADBADNOTGOOD), is one of the strongest tracks on the project. It starts with an eerie, hypnotizing metronome eventually followed up by echoey vocals that linger in your ear. Throughout the track, the instruments from BBNG begin to break loose until finally forming together to make a bittersweet short free jazz track near the four minute mark. The words “I can’t breathe” pops up through most of the song as a reference to Eric Garner and to his 2014 mixtape The Water[s]. What seems like an epilog track, Jenkins is drowning in the water or the truth that he always references.
Around this point in the album, Jenkins starts experimenting with newer sounds on instrumentals with songs like ‘As Seen in Bethsaida’ and ‘Communicate,’ a song that vibes like a neo-soul and house mash up with rap in between.
Although I enjoyed ‘Communicate’ and ‘Plugged,’ at this point in the album I began to disconnect a little from the album. The instrumentals and content weren’t leaving much of an impression. The next couple of songs seem to lose the vibrancy and dynamics of the first half of the album. Most of these songs play on the lower end of the frequency and blend a little too much with Jenkins’ deep vocals. It was difficult for me to distinguish a difference and I eventually began to zone out.
The album wraps up with ‘Angles,’ featuring Noname and Xavier Omar discussing the multiple perspectives of oneself. The last track on the album, titled ‘Fucked Up Outro’ speaks on his journey up to this point in his career. This leaves us in the same position from when we started the album; love is still a vague concept.
Maybe I had hoped to have been hit with some profound revelation or perspective on love, but Jenkins didn’t really introduce anything new to the conversation. I appreciate the positivity and the message of the album, but overall it just fell short on the expectations the first half of the project set up for me. While there was a handful of tracks that I loved, there was about an equal amount that I didn’t care for. Despite the passes, the couple of hits still make the album worth some rotation.
Favorite Tracks: The Healing Component, Spread Love, Drowning, Communicate, Angles
Least Favorite Tracks: 1000 Xans, Prosperity
2016 has been an incredible year for music so far. Numerous releases have been anticipated, celebrated, reviewed, and done with. From Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” a stark portrayal of infidelity, to Kanye West’s insult-laden and mesmerizingly controversial “The Life of Pablo,” the year has not been short of talking points. Those are just the big ones. Just…
Since the emergence of Mumford and Sons, folk pop music has peaked as a faux and unauthentic folk music that a mainstream audience can enjoy. At its apex, the Lumineer’s struck gold with their 2012 single “Ho Hey.” The simplicity of the song became largely appealing and seemed like it was featured in nearly every craft beer commercial imaginable.
Four years later, the Lumineers are attempting to catch lightening in a bottle twice with their follow-up sophomore effort, “Cleopatra.” The eleven-track album is a brief 35-minute exploration of a post-“Ho Hey” world. Now an established band, “Cleopatra” pieces the accession to popularity the Lumineers have experienced since the release of their debut album.
The lead single “Ophelia” features minimal instrumentation with a rigorous pounding drum similar to a marching band and a set of warm and almost parlor like piano chords. Frontman Wesley Schultz examines his relationship with fame and dealing with success. Schultz expanded on this in an interview Entertainment Weekly, “’Ophelia’ is a vague reference to people falling in love with fame. That spotlight can seem like an endless buffet, but in reality, you’re just shiny, bright, and new to people for a quick moment—and then you have the rest of your life to live.”
The opening track “Sleep on the Floor,” is an eerie apocalyptic inspired track about leaving a place before its too late. Other tracks like “Gun Song” and “Gale Song” are both recycled tunes that were already featured in previous releases, like the Hunger Game’s soundtrack. The album’s closing track “Patience” is a beautiful piano instrumental that actually ties the album together quite nicely.
The Lumineers try their best to stay in the lane that led them to this point. The band spends the majority of the album trying to find this album’s “Ho Hey” but is unable to replicate anything similar. While some moments on the album are incredibly dull and cheesy, the length of the tracks makes listening to “Cleopatra” a brisk and easy listen. While the music may be catchy it is also monotonous and unfortunately sounds too similar to their debut.
Artist: The Lumineers
Release date: April 8, 2016
The last four years have been emotionally exhausting. Maybe you got and regretted getting food surprises from the Cuddy. You were definitely late to your class due to UAA parking. Maybe you saw that guy you were kinda friends with your sophomore year. Should you say hi? Should you even make eye contact? He was…
Over the last 23 years, Weezer has been one of the staples in popular music. From their classic 1994 “The Blue Album” that featured iconic songs like “Say It Ain’t So” and “Undone,” 2016 finds the band as a popular, yet aging group that has been grasping for straws over their last couple of releases….
Atlanta’s trap scene has become increasingly popular with the rise of artists like Future and Young Thug. The music itself has become synonymous by the amount of releases artist are outputting. A rapper may now release three or four mixtapes a year just to stay relevant. “Slime Season 3” is the final installment of Young…
Back in 2012, a friend showed me one of Iggy Azalea’s first music videos. The song was an explicit ode to the female organ. No, seriously, the song is titled “Pu$$y.” It included memorable lines such as “Give me head, Abe Lincoln” and other ridiculous one liners that can go unmentioned. From there, Azalea’s rise…
Back in Dec. 2014, Kendrick Lamar was the last musical guest on the Colbert Report. He performed an untitled song that saw Kendrick take on different racial characters that advised him on how to best fulfill his life. However, months later that specific song was no where to be found on The Northern Light’s 2015…
For many years, Animal Collective has had a large discography of primarily experimental music. “Painting With” is the band’s tenth release in the band’s impressive seventeen-year run. Their last release, 2012’s “Centipede Hz” was a step forward in their experimental direction, but a step back in meaning. The album lacked substance and was unlike like…
People hate Kanye. I get it, he’s an egotistical asshole that says whatever he wants and for the most part, gets away with it. The man has also been one of the most influential artists in this generation’s current music. The disparity between his personality and his talent seems to be a problem with his…
Valentine’s day is just around the corner and whether you’ve got yourself a “boo” or you’re swiping right until your fingers are sore, there is plenty of music that can get you ready for the big day. Here are 10 songs to set the mood right this Valentine’s Day.
Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get it On”
This has to be the official quintessential track of Valentine’s Day. For years, Marvin Gaye has personally been responsible for the births of children all around the world. “Let’s Get it On” has such a legacy that there is YouTube version that loops the song for 24 straight hours.
Al Green – “Let’s Stay Together”
Al Green’s gospel-roots and unique voice define this soulful 1972 track. Also, if you’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day, celebrate it with a song that the Library of Congress selected as a recording that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Foreigner – “Feels Like The First Time”
For those looking for more of a rock and roll type of Valentine’s Day, there is this 1977 classic from the band Foreigner. The backstory is about lead singer’s Mick Jones fresh start in life after a divorce that eventually led to meeting a new wife and moving to America.
Chris Isaak – “Wicked Games”
“Wicked Games” was released in 1989 but the song became a hit two years later when director David Lynch used it in the movie “Wild at Heart.” As Issak describes it, “It was written in a short time, because I remember that a girl had called me and said, ‘I want to come over and talk to you,’ and ‘talk’ was a euphemism.”
R. Kelly – “Bump N’ Grind”
R Kelly has been making sexually induced R&B for nearly 30 years. The pinnacle of his catalog has to be “Bump ‘N Grind” which starts out with the a capella line, “My mind is telling me no but my body, my body’s telling me yes.” If that doesn’t get you ready for Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what will.
K-Ci & Jojo – “All My Life”
This 1997 ballad was heard across high school gyms and weddings as the end of the night “slow dance.” Lucky for you, it is also doubles as a great Valentine’s Day song. You get bonus points if you get your significant other to sing it to you karaoke style.
D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”
For 14 years, D’Angelo took a hiatus from music and fame. Fortunately, before the hiatus, D’Angelo released “Untitled” the lead single off 2000’s “Voodoo.” Notoriously known for its sexually charged music video, the song is an R&B standard that is just as smooth with every listen.
Ginuwine – “Pony”
For the last 26 years, Timbaland has been a part of every hit in Hip-Hop and R&B music. “Pony” is no exception, with its strange voice modulation sample and Ginuwine’s explicit lyrics. The song is a must for any love related occasion.
Usher – “Climax”
A collaboration between Usher and Diplo, “Climax” is said to be about the twist and turns of a relationship rather than the sexual overtones it presents. The EDM influenced production by Diplo along with Usher’s voice on the hook make for an excellent contemporary slow jam.
Miguel – “Adorn”
This 2012 slow groove is filled with sensual melodies and packed with sexual energy. When asked if he’s ever made love to the track, Miguel said, “I leave my own music out of the bedroom.” At least we still get to enjoy this modern classic.
Surprise albums have become a norm in music. Everyone from Death Grips to Beyonce have had their hand in surprising their fans with new music. Rihanna followed suit last week by releasing her eighth studio album “Anti” for free on Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal. “Anti” is a left turn for Rihanna, whose last couple records…
As part of his upcoming album, “Swish,” set to release on Feb. 11, Kanye West is releasing a new song almost every Friday as part of his G.O.O.D. Friday series. Kanye originally started the series as a lead up to his 2010 magnum opus, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” For last week’s release, audiences were…
Last week, we lost one of the most iconic artists of our time as David Bowie passed away at 69. Bowie left behind a generation of music that changed the outcome of pop culture forever. Here are ten essential Bowie tracks, in no particular order. “Space Oddity” – “David Bowie” (1969) The year is 1969…
5) “Currents” – Tame Impala
Kevin Parker is Tame Impala. The 29-year-old Australian wrote, recorded, produced, mixed, and performed every instrument for each track on Tame Impala’s third record “Currents.” The album replaced its psychedelic guitars for a more dance-oriented record, filled with lush synthesizers and vibrant instrumentation. The result is a kaleidoscope of colors and landscapes that demand the listener’s attention. Parker also shows a wide range of tracks on the album with songs lasting a mere 55 seconds to the mammoth seven-minute lead single, “Let it Happen”. “Currents” will undoubtedly act as a stepping-stone for Kevin Parker’s career from an Australian talent to worldwide phenom.
Artist: Tame Impala
Release date: July 17, 2015
Genre: Psychedelic Pop
Listen To: “Let It Happen”
4) “Multi-Love” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
On Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Twitter, Ruban Nielson, the man behind UMO describes the band’s sound as #PsychRNB #DadWave #DepressionFunk. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s newest release leaves the bedroom lo-fi, it became defined for and becomes exactly what his Twitter describes. In an interview with Pitchfork back in May, Nielson disclosed that every album he’s released thus far is centered around an emotional theme he’s experienced. For this album, Nielson’s love life took an interesting turn when he and his wife decided to become polyamorous and invited a new woman into their relationship. The album is filled with weird feelings, funky synths, and overall good vibes.
Artist: Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Release date: May 26, 2015
Genre: Indie Alternative
Listen To: “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”
3) “Carrie & Lowell” – Sufjan Stevens
For the last 15 years, Sufjan Steven has become a staple in independent music. “Carrie & Lowell” added another keepsake to an already impressive catalog. Unlike some of Sufjan’s most recent releases, “Carrie & Lowell” see the return to a folk oriented album with minimalist instrumentation and Sufjan’s agonizing lyrics. “Carrie & Lowell” deals with the death of Sufjan’s mother and the childhood memories that surround him in a headspace that is filled with grief and unbearable sorrow. While the album deals with the major theme of death it also represent a glimpse of hope. As Sufjan attempts to piece his understanding for life itself, he inevitably also begins to climb out of a bottomless pit of his mourning.
Album: “Carrie & Lowell”
Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Release date: March 31, 2015
Genre: Indie Folk
Listen To: “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross”
2) “I Love You, Honeybear” – Father John Misty
Josh Tillman has been involved in everything, from the Fleet Foxes to now, his surging solo career as Father John Misty. After an impressive 2012 debut “Fear Fun,” Misty released “I Love You, Honeybear” a concept album about his perspective on life, death, his wife, himself, and ultimately love. Dripping in irony and sarcasm, Misty’s contemporary outlook on his life is hilarious yet haunting. With tracks about white privilege, turning down overly aggressive women, impressing ladies in all the wrong ways, and alcoholism, Misty’s honesty bleeds on every track. “I Love You, Honeybear” somehow serves as cynically repulsive, yet irrationally beautiful.
Album: “I Love You, Honeybear”
Artist: Father John Misty
Label: Sub Pop
Release date: February 10, 2015
Genre: Indie Alternative
Listen To: “Holy Shit”
1) “To Pimp A Butterfly” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s last release “good kid, m.A.A.d city” was hailed as one of the best in 2011. How do you top that? Lamar took a 180-degree turn with this release and incorporated influences of jazz, funk, and even spoken word. Like his last release, “To Pimp A Butterfly” also listens as a concept album. In this record, Lamar writes a poem to a supposed revenant Tupac Shakur about the struggle of success and fame for an African American in today’s culture. The album ends with an edited interview of Tupac where Lamar adds himself as if they are having a conversation.
Album: “To Pimp A Butterfly”
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Label: Top Dawg
Release date: March 15, 2015
Listen To: “The Blacker the Berry”
There are times in life that are confusing and alienating — and only years later do the proper words come to adequately describe them. This manifests in Sufjan Stevens’ seventh studio album, “Carrie and Lowell,” named after his mother and stepfather. Every corner of the album is personal — from the vintage photo serving as…
Last September, Kendrick Lamar dropped the single “i,” which quickly spread rapidly in the black community as a long-awaited positive representation of their life and culture. Black excellence, black positivity and black love all converged on one celebratory track and equally celebratory music video. So when the full album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” dropped six…
“No Now,” the debut album from Clarence Clarity, emerges from a very interesting and refreshing sonic space. Somewhere in the middle between electronic and rock, his sound can best be described as something in the negative space between James Blake, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. If such a space did not exist before, Clarence…
In this world of cliches, predictable plots and simplistic, overused song structures, the world can rest easy knowing there is at least one artist who is always ready and willing to break the mold. That artist is Björk, and with her ninth studio release, “Vulnicura,” she stays true to this and to herself. Returning in…
If you spent this Valentine’s Day alone and want to feel sorry for yourself “Archive Series Vol. 1” just may be the pity party soundtrack you’ve been looking for. This album of wonderfully depressing guitar ballads is a collection of abandoned tapes, home demos, covers and live sets recorded by the fantastically talented Sam Beam,…
Treading the ever-blurring line between electronic and alternative music seems to be what Michael Deni, also known as Geographer, does best. The cleverly and relevantly named “Ghost Modern” only dives further into the ocean of ethereal pop tranquility explored on his last two records, “Innocent Ghosts” and “Myth.” Trying to place Geographer into one genre…
Very rarely is the debut album of a rapper preceded with such a large amount of anticipation and excitement as “B4.DA.$$.” Joey Bada$$, who just celebrated his 20th birthday, has sparked a huge amount of buzz with his movement, Pro Era, as well as his 2012 mixtape, “1999,” and 2013 EP, “Summer Knights.” The positive…
Like fashion, musical trends fade in and out of the industry. Some enjoy longer stays than others — and even the short-lived trends can revive decades after falling out of style. In music, the art of sampling brings back the beloved hooks and motifs from days past, often to great success. When Los Angeles producer…