Editor-in-Chief Reede Goldberg
Madeleine Underwood Jordan Weinstock Jack Elliott-Higgins Tom Ellison Jessie Colston Ethan Jaynes Joe Noonan Lydia Lin Christian Carlson Annika Andersson
Art & Design
Samantha Gordon Madeline Montoya Dana Citrin Madeleine Underwood Sang-Jin Lee Shane Rossi Brynne Swearingen
Mikaela Adwar Helen Fox Aidan Strassmann Bonnie Simonoff Annie Butler Morgan Anker Greer Russell
Grace Gilbert Lauren Duhl Erin Ettenger Eden Livingston Lydia Lin pictured: Sang-Jinâ€™s dope band t-shirt collection, modeled by the Kemper Art Museumâ€™s permanent collection
If you’re reading this: Bruce Springsteen, Frank Ocean, or Sky Ferreira: DM me back on Instagram
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
have written this in my head more times than I could possibly count. I wrote it in on my way to class, while I ate dinner, and before I went to sleep. Every time I interacted with someone involved with AUX I wrote it in my head again. Finally, I am here physically writing this letter to you. Music is special and if you’re reading this I’m sure you already knew that. Anyone I’ve spoken to about music at Wash U is equally passionate, albeit passionate about different genres. I thought it would be nice to create a space where people could share their passions with others. So here we are. I first would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible. I am blown away by the sheer talent and passion in this group. I have met so many new friends in this small community we have created and for that I am eternally grateful. Second, I would like to thank my friend Eleanor for encouraging me to start this (daunting?) endeavor. I was nervous and scared and she asked me, “Why not? You should go for it.” Those words have completely changed the course of my college experience. Third, I would like to thank my family for being supportive and letting me talk about the progress of the magazine all the time, no matter how small it was. Sending my love to the 212. I would like to dedicate this magazine to Michael Saunders– one of my biggest role models and a Bruce Springsteen superfan. I’m listening to Springsteen as I conclude this and tears are in my eyes. This is my cue. Enjoy what we’ve created (we’ve worked pretty damn hard on it), Reede Goldberg
why you should listen to
FATHER Since the debut of his 2015 album Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First, Atlanta rapper Father and his ragtag crew Awful Records have established themselves as some of the best artists of 2016. Often writing and producing songs out of bedroom closets, his latest album, I’m a Piece of Shit, pairs melancholy bars with drugged out beats, all held together by Father’s uniquely youthful yet wizened voice. Awful Records has been on the rise lately, with New York’s Boiler Room screening a documentary about them in June, where Father and others discuss diminishing misogyny in rap music. Father has been on tour all over Europe and America—catch a show if you can, and watch out for more releases by this #bangersonly artist. Songs to listen to: In State Outta State, Why Can’t I Cry $$$, Y U Make it Hurt Like This -Madeleine Underwood
CARLY RAE JEPSEN Carly Rae Jepsen wasn’t content with putting out the best pop album of 2015, her song “Run Away With Me” becoming a meme, or being the Queen of literally everything – examples include “Queen of converting casual settings into surrealist disco raves” and “Queen of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere”– according to her Instagram followers. No, she had to release an EP of songs that didn’t quite make it onto 2015’s critically acclaimed album, E•MO•TION. While Jepsen herself seems to be pushing “Fever” and “First Time” as the leaders of the bunch, seeing as how she released them first in Japan, the true standouts are “Cry,” a subtle critique on toxic masculinity in which Jepsen discusses an emotionally distant partner who “never wants to strip down to his feelings,” and “Higher,” which sounds like an Ariana Grande song (except better, because it’s Carly Rae Jepsen). As for the EP as a whole, if you weren’t into E•MO•TION, then you likely won’t be interested in Side B. Everyone, however, should be interested in the EP’s last song: “Store,” the instantly iconic tale of how Carly Rae is so bad at breaking up that she lies and tells her boyfriend that she’s just going to the store and thus, he might never see her again. Never before has the promotion of capitalism been so… danceable. -Jessie Colston
Monthly Evangelism: Pinegrove and Why You Should Listen Jack Elliott-Higgins
rowning in BWI foot traffic, I get a text from a friend at U. Michigan telling me to check out this band Pinegrove. He says they’re taking off in Ann Arbor and I’d probably dig them. I find a spot away from the worst of it and put on “New Friends.” And then I play it again. And a few more times before going back to Destroyer or something and boarding the plane for St. Louis. A few days later, I’m in my friend’s apartment. We’re having a beer, and I need a break from Bob Dylan (that’s all he ever plays), so I put on “New Friends” and feel the need to defend it for some reason.
In a few weeks I’m not even introducing Pinegrove to friends with the disclaimer of, “Here’s some kind of lame emo-ish band from New Jersey;” no, it is more along the lines of, “This is Pinegrove, and they’re the best thing I’ve heard in e.” Cardinal comes out in February, and I’m ready. At this point, Everything So Far is in heavy rotation and always in my head. From the soaring, “What’s the worst that can happen? / End of summer and I’m still in love with her,” that I still haven’t moved past to the dismissive affirmation of, “All my problems / Are so stupid / And not even problems,” I’m
entranced by the whole ordeal. Cardinal feels like a letdown honestly. It’s short and it’s polished. Two of the eight songs are on Everything So Far. But I keep playing it. I keep coming back to it. There’s this one moment, I’m in the library and sort of writing a paper and thinking about romance as an abstract or something, and my friend Evan cries, “It’s all true / I like you / You move me,” and it’s so simple and why the fuck am I so stuck on this abstract. It’s that simple.
outside and smoke all night to escape the oppressive heat. But Evan’s the most earnest person, with his bright clothing and brighter smile, and they finally play “New Friends” and I’m unable to move on. It’s three months later now; I’m still listening to Pinegrove most days and I just got their ampersand tattooed on my chest, so I’d better not get over this infatuation I guess. If you’re a human who feels things, you should give them a listen and fall in love too.
It’s spring and I’m walking through Clayton singing “Visiting” like nothing is wrong, “I am out of my goddamn mind / And out to California.” It’s been five months and I’m still listening every day. Then it’s summer, and I’m driving three hours to somewhere in Connecticut to see them in an American Legion with friends who don’t care, and they sit
Illustration by Dana Citrin
FOA Walking into Foam is soothing.
The dim lighting, the sparse bar, the colorful backroom – it brings joy to my coffee-and-beerloving heart. Around 9:00PM most nights, however, Foam turns into one of St. Louis’s most important venues. Featuring local acts and lesser-known touring artists, Foam’s concert lineup is put together by Shitstorm’s acclaimed Matt Stuttler (If you haven’t listened to Shitstorm, one of St. Louis’s very own homegrown bands, you’ve been missing out on a wild garage rock experience). He took some time to answer a few of my questions about this venerable establishment. Be sure to follow Foam on Facebook to stay up to date with events or stop by for a coffee or Stag. Utilize your UPass or friend with a car, it’s really not that far.
How long have you been involved with Foam, both playing and booking / bartending? I’ve been booking/bartending at Foam for two years. I’ve been playing shows there for three or four. When I started in October 2014, shows happened about three times a week. In the past two years we’ve managed to ramp that up to a show every night, sometimes even an early and a late show.
What type of atmosphere are you personally trying to create at Foam? I try to make it a friendly place, because we work with all kinds of people and all kinds of bands. Usually someone behind the bar is the first face or point of contact for touring bands checking into town (fresh out of the van), so I try to take into account their road weariness and get them ready for the night. With local bands and show attendees, I hope people feel like it’s a spot where they can be creative without judgement to an open minded crowd. Some place you could play your first noise set, or a punk band from 10 years ago can play a reunion. Or a spot to catch a unique touring singer/songwriter one night, a full on metal show the next.
What do you feel Foam’s place in the St. Louis scene is, where there are so many basement spaces? It’s a middle ground spot, sometimes referred to as a “DIY” spot. We’re a lot more connected with fresh bands playing some of their early shows, and work to build relationships with those bands. We host a decent amount of CD/EP/Cassette/Vinyl release shows, and usually that’s the result of a band being familiar with our ethos and feeling comfortable playing at Foam. Plus, shows are
generally run your own door/keep your own door, meaning bands collect the money and keep all the money, without the venue taking a cut for overhead. Even that sets us apart from other smaller venues in town. Basement spots are great, and definitely hold an important place in the scene and within me personally. Sometimes it’s more concrete to lock down a venue for a show, since there are variables with house shows (roommates moving in/out or not being cool with doing shows, cops showing up due to noise ordinance, inconsistent sound system). Not to knock that at all. Basement shows are a blast and are definitely a party. I think Foam is a middle ground, since we’re focused on putting on shows with bands around our neighborhood (some bands live on Cherokee or within a five minute radius), but can deliver a certain amount of consistency without the exclusiveness of being “someone in the know” for a basement show. All without being a soulless bigger chain venue that mainly books based on the amount of money the venue will make versus what the show means to the local music community. Our capacity is also a middle ground for more up and coming touring acts and established local acts alike.
Do you focus on featuring local music or lesser-known touring artists? Totally, yeah that’s our focus. Every bartender at Foam plays in a local band, and most have experience with regional to national touring. It helps keep things moving smoothly during shows because we’re bringing a certain amount of experience to the table with any situation that arises, because we’ve probably seen it happen before at a show in town or out of town.
How many different ways can you order a Stag at Foam? Haha, just two. Bottle or tall can. Delicious either way.
What are a few shows coming up in October that you’re most excited for? Particularly stoked for Eros & the Eschoton w/ Vanilla Beans on October 9th and Palm w/ Glued, Complainer on October 10th. - Jack Elliott-Higgins
Foam is located at 3359 S. Jefferson Ave., on the corner of Cherokee St.
That Tell Us Music Is Going In The Right Direction: Pt. 1 By Joe Noonan
“Loco (feat. Kilo Kish)” Vince Staples If you thought Vince Staples’ outlook on life brightened after seeing a steady increase in his fame and fan base following the release of his debut album Summertime ‘06, you are gravely mistaken. On the contrary, his follow-up EP Prima Donna, released late this August, shows Vince veering off in many experimental and dark directions concerning both production and lyrics. For example, “Pimp Hand” sounds like two broken maracas on top of a muffled subwoofer whereas “Smile” feels very much like a rock song with a steady guitar riff. The EP’s opening track “Let It Shine” features a sullen, grainy recording of Vince mumbling “This Little Light Of Mine” so quietly it’ll make you lean in and turn the volume up only to jump back when he is cut short by a gunshot. But arguably the most creative and powerful track on the EP is “Loco,” which lands the same punch as the aforementioned gunshot. Over fast-paced bass and snare clicks and high-pitched whines, Vince Staples narrates his steady decline into madness with what seems like one long-held breath: “I write the James Joyce/Don’t need the Rolls Royce/I need a straitjacket/Finna go bat shit.” Vince’s newfound fame has brought about riches and popularity, but also schizophrenic behavior and suicidal tendencies. It’s no accident that he compares himself to Vincent Van Gogh and Kurt Cobain—two troubled artists who collapsed under their own genius and killed themselves—as well as Jay Gatsby—a self-made rich guy who threw the wildest parties in all of West Egg. He finds himself stuck between his past life of street gangs and his current rise to stardom in the rap comm=unity: “In the black Benz speeding with my black skin gleaming out the window/Tints low baby come and see ‘em where the rent low.” The song’s outro features a recording much like the opening track, except here Vince pushes closer to ending it all. Several of the songs on the EP have similar endings, where he repeatedly tells us that he’s tired and about to give up. For someone who spent his entire musical career describing the chaos and violence in his life, who could blame him? On Summertime ’06, Vince Staples looks outward to examine that chaos and violence in his local Long Beach, CA. On Prima Donna, he looks within.
“Burn The Witch”-Radiohead
“Outside”- Parquet Courts You don’t have to dig too deeply into Parquet Courts’ catalog to discover their utter disconnect and discontentment. On their sophomore album Light Up Gold, they capture the listlessness and tedium of post-collegiate urban-dwelling slackers with no responsibilities, no motivation, and no job. On their fourth album Content Nausea, Parquet Courts express their anxieties of the modern age— the Internet, social media, click-bait advertisements—and how these superficial creations have in fact driven wedges between us to the point where interpersonal, authentic relationships are a thing of the past. On their fifth album Human Performance, released this April, Parquet Courts maintain the same nervy punk rock energy and witty cynicism they displayed on past works, but now they show a more earnest, sensitive side. For example, “Outside” is the most up-beat and sunniest track on the album, and perhaps the snappiest Parquet Courts song ever. Although it clocks in just under two minutes, it is not your standard punk rock tune. Frontman Andrew Savage finds peace in admitting and accepting his faults: “Dear everything I’ve harmed the fault lies on my tongue/And I take it holy as a last rite.” You can hear in his voice the relief of getting it all off of his chest. Savage recognizes the difficulty in admitting fault, but understands sincerity and imperfection are virtues, not flaws: “Hard words to sing but I laughed cause they were true/ And it’s seen on the outside.” Parquet Courts provide a nice relief to the accusatory, angsty nature of punk while honoring the energy and wit of the genre on its 40th anniversary; they pay homage to the genre’s founders all while pushing it in a different, more reflective direction.
It’s a tragic reality today that you cannot check the news without seeing the latest target of Donald Trump’s demagoguery: Mexicans taking our jobs, Muslims unraveling the fabric of our American culture, Chinese taking our business, etc. But a similar trend is occurring on the other side of the Atlantic too. Populist movements have garnered momentum in Europe in response to the overwhelming influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, which even pushed Britain to make history and leave the European Union. Global politics is in chaos and who better than 90s/00s alt-rock giants Radiohead to provide the pointed critique. On their ninth studio album A Moon Shaped Pool, released early this May, the opening track “Burn The Witch” captures this moment in history with a simple list of ominous commands: “Stay in the shadows/Cheer at the gallows.” Frontman Thom Yorke encapsulates the paranoia and xenophobia that seem to define this political climate, only to push it further and bring to mind a violent witch-hunt. He evokes the suspicion and irrationality of people who fear difference and presume the worst in those who stand on the outside: “Loose talk around tables/Abandon all reason/Avoid all eye contact/Do not react.” It’s no coincidence that a witch-hunt is also at the heart of your high school American Lit teacher’s favorite The Crucible; Arthur Miller wrote the play in response to the paranoia and demagoguery plaguing America—just replace Donald Trump and Brexit with Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare. Radiohead have captured this moment in history where fear mongering and absurdity prevail much how Arthur Miller did in 1953. It’s up to us to change the course of history so, 70 years from now, we do not look back on 2016 the way we look back on 1953 today: as a dark stain on American history.
“Shut Up Kiss Me”- Angel Olsen If you ever had to deal with a complicated relationship and a dismissive love interest, you’d know exactly where Angel Olsen’s exacerbation is coming from in her single “Shut Up Kiss Me.” On her purest rock ‘n’ roll track off her third album MY WOMAN, released early this September, Olsen maintains her recurrent subjects of relationship fallouts, communication difficulties, and the need for affection. Although these topics are frequent themes in music, “Shut Up Kiss Me” does not come off as trite—instead, it expands on proper communication with a loved one while showcasing a woman’s confidence to speak frankly about what she wants. On the track, Olsen does not pull any punches on her flip-floppy lover and declares her heartfelt demands with intention: “Shut up/Kiss me/Hold me tight/Stop you’re crying/It’s alright.” Olsen clearly has had enough of the games with this person and cuts right to the chase about the future of their relationship: “I could make it all go away/Tell me what you think and don’t delay/We could still be having some sweet memories/This heart still beats for you why can’t you see?” “Shut Up Kiss Me” is action-packed; her thoughts on finding the right words don’t weigh her down and she has no time to consider consequences o rationale—Olsen speaks directly from the heart and doesn’t think twice. Over everything, she just wants to be noticed: “If I’m out of sight then take another look around/I’m still out there hoping to be found.” Though this line may be directed at her ambivalent lover to capture their attention, throughout the song she gets more and more determined to make sure the world notices her too. Considering her lyricism, radiant voice, and guitar skills, we should.
Graphics by Max Bucksbaum
“Diddy Bop (feat. Raury & Cam O’bi) - Noname Five signs you’re a 90s kid: P. Diddy, KSWISS, bumping to B2K, Air Force 1s and FUBU. On her new single “Diddy Bop”, Chicago rapper/poet Noname (f.k.a Noname Gypsy) hits all of these marks that define a 90s child looking fondly back on their past. “Diddy Bop” is about as nostalgic and bright-eyed a song can get. Noname looks back on her childhood years with a playful balance between singing and spoken word poetry detailing a cast of imagined characters— like jealous boyfriends and kids taking money from their mom’s purse. The glimpses of joy and heartache Noname poured into her various guest spots with fellow Chicago natives Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Donnie Trumpet and Saba is now fully apparent on her debut mixtape Telefone, released late this July. But while the joy on “Diddy Bop” is obvious, the heartache is more obscured. Noname clearly reminiscences about the good times, but you can’t help to wonder if they’re also the better times. Underneath the happiness that radiates through the track lie faint signs of longing for the simple, easy-going times of childhood. “Diddy Bop” captures that feeling of nostalgia many of us have for our childhood years as we face the anxieties of adulthood right around the corner.
the opinion that if Black Flag had played there, you would play there too, but Black Flag played St. Louis multiple times, so what was the point of this whole anecdote?
by Jordan Weinstock, illustration by Madeleine Underwood This might be out of line, but what the fuck does Columbia, MO have over St. Louis? I’m sure it’s a nice town, in fact I’m sure it’s great! But what made them the town to visit for touring bands instead of us? Even Bloomington, IN gets more shows than we do, and how does a town known for nothing outside of Indiana University become such a hub for touring? To understand this, we must first understand a little bit of history. You might love them, you might hate them, I don’t really care. Regardless on what your opinions of the music or attitude Black Flag had, you would be lying if you said they did not have tremendous influence on the DIY world. For those who don’t know what DIY means I’m talking about Doing It Yourself. I’m talking about bands who have no management or are on a label, which is in reality just their friend who has some extra cash. In today’s era, DIY means a little more than that, you can
be on something like Exploding in Sound, a label with some money and real backing and still be considered DIY. I guess in reality it’s just a mentality of sorts. Black Flag wrote the book on what it means to be a DIY band in a world that doesn’t want these kind of bands to succeed. They may have laid down one of the earliest blueprints for how to start your own band: Put out your own albums (and your friends’) and play your own shows, without any sort of corporate background. But one other achievement of theirs is the fact that they laid down the track for what essentially became THE indie North American touring circuit. It’s not like they were the first band to book their own tour across the country, but they certainly were the first to make it seem like anyone else could do it. Jim Coffman, once the manager of Mission of Burma, said it best in Michael Azzerad’s indie rock bible, Our Band Could Be Your Life, when he said that most people were of
The point is that there is a uniformity when it comes to how bands tour. The point is that there is a path that people follow when they decide they want to go somewhere. The point is that that path is not uniform. Black Flag did it differently. Before then, people merely toured around their home region, Black Flag said “nah” and defined a route that would be used for the next twenty years. The rise of the internet changed that even more. Bands no longer had to rely on the experience of prior bands and lifers to tell you where your band should go. You could do all that research yourself and if you couldn’t find a place to play, all you had to do was access Myspace or a message board or facebook or whatever, find someone who likes the same music you do and say hey, can my band play in your home? So now you’re probably saying alright I get it, so why don’t bands come to St. Louis? Well, my previous statement was a little heavy-handed. They do, just not as often as maybe New York or Olympia, and those shows that do occur are often smaller and harder to hear about. So then how come whenever a band announces a tour it feels like a miracle that St. Louis is on that flyer? Google “Why Don’t Bands Come To St. Louis.” Five of the first six results are articles commenting on the rampant theft of band equipment that’s been occurring here
over the past few years (the sixth is just songkick). Well that’s not good. An article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch names STL “... The Capital of Band Thefts.” If that’s what bands are experiencing or expecting when they come here why would they come back? Why would they tell any of their friends to come here? They wouldn’t, and, independent entities responsible for all of the liabilities that come with touring, they’re smart not too. But let’s we change that. How? Which brings us to issue number two. People don’t come out to shows. I’ve heard it time and time again. Alex G played the Firebird last year to at most 30 people. AT MOST. This is an artist who is signed to Domino Records. This is an artist who should be selling out venues of that size no doubt and is everywhere else. So why is this happening? There are people who go to shows. I know that, and I’m not trying to insult anyone. There are bands that bring in crowds. I know that, and I won’t deny that. Yo La Tengo filled the Ready Room. Pile packed Dugen House (RIP). Want to know why they packed those places? BECAUSE THEY PLAYED THE RIGHT VENUES FOR THEM (IN ST LOUIS). If the Firebird existed in Chicago, it would have been the right place for Alex to play, but St Louis is not Chicago! Had Alex played a place like Dugen, he would have done more than sell out the place. The scene that exists within St. Louis is beautiful and creative and it is thriving, but it is unlike any scene that exists on the coasts or up north. As someone who is still an sort of
an outsider in the scene, I might be speaking entirely out of my ass but it comes across as being much more insular than other scenes might be. Maybe I have this perspective because I’m from New York, capital of the indie world with a scene that has been co-opted as a national one. It feels to me as if the scene here is so inward focused it’s almost a secret. The bands and people here are so supportive of each other, and it’s amazing. They’re creating incredible pieces of art and are doing everything they can to help those around them do the same, the only problem is the rest of the world hasn’t realized this yet. Keep in mind I am ignoring essentially all genres (blues, jazz, etc.) outside of whatever “indie” means for simplicity’s sake. When was the last time you heard about the truly amazing things going on here from a nationally syndicated source? You probably haven’t. Sure there was Bunnygrunt in the 90s and Robert Quine in the 70s, but he didn’t gain attention until he moved to New York. I guess Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit could be considered a part of that category, but he was a transplant and didn’t stay here long. What I’m trying to say is that although the scene does get attention (see the Brainstems and Lumpy and the Dumpers), it doesn’t get as much as it should. I think this plays into the music world’s perception of St. Louis. People don’t know enough about the great things going on here. If we can show them that there exists a scene here which is supportive and growing, they will come. Scene heroes like Matt Stuttler and Joe
Hess are doing it already. Both play in multiple bands around town, go on tours, and book shows. They’re doing what we all should be doing: Showing the world that we are doing something that has meaning and purpose to it. Basically this whole “article” was just a really long way to say book your own shows. It’s true though, the only way to convince bands to come here is if we do it ourselves. It’s not gonna happen by itself and it sure as hell isn’t going to happen at the higher levels. It starts with us. Take a look at places like Bolozone or The Co-op. To get bands to come you have to welcome them with open arms. Cook dinner for them. Watch over their vans. Convince all of your friends to spend $5 to come into your house and watch some band they may or may not know. Make them feel welcome and the rest will be history. Maybe even start a band. Write music that makes people stop and say, “hey, maybe there is something going on in St. Louis, let’s go check it out.” Write about these bands. Spread the word. Even something as simple as just going to shows is important. Don’t just say you’re interested on Facebook, make it your business to get over there and enjoy yourself. If you want more bands to come to St. Louis, don’t just complain about it, bring them here yourself.
10 People’s Favorite Albums of the Summer Christian Carlson and Lydia Lin
The Dream is Over by P U P
“PUP is a wonderfully aggressive, but very accessible punk rock band, and I just had this on repeat when it came out. The tightness of each track is just really nice, and it helps in lending a lot of general cohesiveness to the album as a whole. I really enjoyed the opening track ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ because I thought it was just such an incredible start, especially with the unadulterated bluntness of the lyrics. This is the kind of thing I would want blasting from my car stereo while cruising down the highway.”
Vincent Tinsay, San Francisco State University ‘20
Born by M i t i S “I’ve always been an avid listener of electronic music that contains cerebral melodies and synths. This summer I discovered artists such as MitiS that perfectly fit this type of music. MitiS’s album Born was perfect walking, driving, and working music. To explain, for walking and driving, the high BPM complimented the idea of traveling/ going somewhere and for working, the songs naturally are very busy which made blocking out outside noise quite easy, while the melodies made them soothing/chill enough to make work more enjoyable.
Andrew Dong, University of California, Berkeley ‘19
iiiDrops by J o e y P u r p “I really liked the production on this album, but what really shone was the narrative Joey Purp crafted about his personal struggles growing up in Southside Chicago… I felt like the song ‘Cornerstone’ was a particular standout, with the guest verse from Saba really painting a powerful, palpable, but very sobering image.”
Max Handler, WUSTL ‘18
Summertime ‘06 by V i n c e
“Summertime ‘06 was my favorite album this summer because it was still relatively new (about a year old at the time), and I was anticipating the release of Vince’s album Prima Donna in August. As far as the dynamics of the music, Summertime ‘06 is a great album to get hyped up to because the tempo in songs like ‘Norf Norf ’ and ‘Lift Me Up’ really capture that ‘fuck school’ freedom many of us love during summer break.”
Tony Patterson, Mizzou ‘199
Coloring Book by C h a n c e the Rapper “It’s happy. To elaborate, this album is sort of a culmination of all the good in Chance’s life right now. He’s really being recognized as a prominent rapper. He has a fiancé. He has a baby daughter. So much positivity just radiates from the album, and I know that when I want to feel good, I can just throw this on. ”
Alexander Chen, WUSTL ‘19
Blonde by F r a n k O c e a n “It’s a very chill and relaxing album, and also I’ve missed hearing Frank Ocean far too much, especially because Channel Orange came out already four years ago. Also Andre 3000 is amazing, and it’s great to hear him do an entire song on here. It’s really the sort of album I could just put on at any time and really want to listen to all the way through on a lazy summer day.”
Rudy Gelb-Bicknell, WUSTL ‘19
Skin by F l u m e “Skin has something for everyone– from EDM lovers to traditional pop fans, and anywhere in between. I love how there’s a balance of songs with features and those without, as I think that really shows Flume’s versatility as a producer in the types of music he can make. It’s an album I love listening to in any setting, any time.”
Lauren Spungen, WUSTL ‘18
Know-It-All by A l e s s i a Cara “I liked Cara’s message to society that we don’t need to meet some sort of standard and fit a certain type of mold. What’s also cool is that as a performer, she embodies the things she actually sings about, often not having makeup or any hair styling during her concerts. All her songs are just really catchy too!”
Pilar Gonzalez, WUSTL ‘19
Sunlit Youth by L o c a l N a t i v e s “I think Local Natives have one of the purest vocals of new age rock/alternative music bands in our generation. Their style remains foundational to each album but each one is dynamic and different without trying to be something they’re not. Quite simply, they’re fucking great at making music and they use their genuine talent. Whether it’s the lead vocalist or the drummer’s beat, their sound is all so real and raw, but like a defined raw. The kind of raw you get when everything works just right together. I think that kind of compatibility and purity of talent is hard to find consistently in bands. Sunlit Youth was released in September [but] Local Natives released singles from the album this summer. Listen to the song ‘Dark Days’ and you’ll be hooked. Also the song ‘Coins’ is a perfect example of vocalist talent.”
Margaret Min, WUSTL ‘18
Lemonade by B e y o n c e “Lemonade promotes female empowerment against the male hierarchy perpetuated in today’s society. Also Beyoncé is queen… she is a female beacon in both the music industry and in black women’s culture. The release of Lemonade solidifies her place in history as a musical giant, helps push social boundaries in the topics it covers, and proves her ability to always be an innovator.”
Rebecca Bowman, WUSTL ‘20
THE CONFORMISTS The Conformists formed in 1996, two years after the release of Shellac’s seminal album At Action Park. Likely inspired by the groundbreaking blend of post-hardcore and noise rock, four high school students from St. Louis came together and decided to put their own spin on the emergent genre. 20 years later, with the release of what is likely their greatest effort to date, DIVORCE, The Conformists haven’t strayed too much from the sound that defined the era that birthed them. Still, DIVORCE shines as one of the best records of the year thus far. Produced by Shellac’s own Steve Albini, DIVORCE sounds, in some ways, exactly how you’d think it would sound. Half-whispered, half-shouted vocals rip through the intricate blend of growling guitar, bass and drums. However, unlike many of their peers, The Conformists take the genre’s tropes to their logical extreme. Song structures that you’d expect from a math rock group are twisted and flipped, often leaving the listener looking for a pattern to fol-
low and finding none. As much as DIVORCE makes you want to bang your head along with the raw, grooving intensity of the songs, this is a nearly impossible feat – the band frequently plays in time signatures that would make your calculus professor’s head spin. However, the sound of The Conformists is anything but a chaotic mess. The timing of each of the four members is nothing less than preternaturally exact, and the passion and power behind vocalist Mike Benker’s performance makes it evident that he knows exactly what he’s doing. After all, these guys have been perfecting their craft for two decades. As technically complex as The Conformists are, it is their perfection of post-hardcore songwriting that makes DIVORCE truly great. The meticulous construction and release of energy in these six tracks is wonderfully unique and well-executed, and is the mark of a band in their heyday. After all this time, it’s evident that The Conformists still love what they do, and they are doing it better than they ever have before. Seeing them perform live very recently just solidified that fact – they
were as powerful and as hungry as I’ve ever heard them before. It’s wonderful to see this kind of musical brilliance emerge from the local St. Louis scene. In the album opener “Reverse Alchemy”, one of the highlights of the record, Benker lets us know that “No matter what I do, I still can’t calm down”. The Conformists never stop. I, for one, am thankful for that fact.
Angel Olsen returned to St. Louis September 30, her hometown and musical origin, to play a show at Off Broadway on Lemp Ave. This was one of her last stops in the U.S. on this tour, a celebration of her remarkable new record MY WOMAN. Off Broadway is an interesting choice of venue for such a triumphant return – the venue is one of St. Louis’s more intimate midsize spaces and is fairly isolated geographically. Yet this decision starts to make sense as you consider that Olsen spent the first 20 years of her life here and knows better than anyone the best place to see and play a show. So she played before a sold-out crowd in
graphic by Jenna Schnitzler
the city that defined her as she struggles against all the recent outside efforts to define and pigeonhole her as a musician. The impending release of MY WOMAN had music blogs buzzing all summer. The first glimpse of the album came in the form of an untitled video featuring Olsen teasing a song in a shiny silver wig. This, from the singer of the simmering gloom of Burn Your Fire for No Witness, was shocking. All preconceptions of what the new release would hold were shattered. She followed that song, which would turn into “Intern,” with the glitter-pop video for “Shut Up Kiss Me” as
the music world was sent reeling again. Where was the pained anger of “Unfucktheworld?” The quiet desperation of “White Fire?” The immediate reaction was to redefine her, to give her new adjectives and forget the past. The release of “Sister,” an album standout, ripped this trend apart and showed that, once again, Angel Olsen could not be safely defined. When MY WOMAN came out on September 2nd, I found myself on a Greyhound bus to Louisville, Kentucky with two screaming toddlers in the row behind me: the perfect place to unleash this masterpiece in its entirety. Even with
these three distinct previews, I was woefully unprepared for the presence of this album. It is not that it is an evolution or an advancement or a departure or a return to basics or any term so frequently applied to gems like this, but it can and will occupy your head and body for days and weeks. Angel Olsen is one of the finest songwriters in recent memory and this album is essential. While the show has passed, there is no reason not to put on this fantastic album and dance along into the St. Louis sunset tonight. -The Conformists piece by Ethan Jaynes -Angel Olsen piece by Jack Elliott-Higgins