A Guide to Supergroups | 19
Is Wu-Tang Forever? | 39
WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST page 26
Excruciating Epics | 41
northeastern students on music
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President Dinorah Wilson
Staff Writers Aaron Decker Tim DiFazio Tom Doherty Siena Faughnan Leslie Fowle Anna Glina Nathan Goldman Amanda Hoover Cara McGrath David Murphy Mackenzie Nichols Max Oyer Kelly Subin Jackie Swisshelm
Editor in Chief Nick Hugon Art Directors Abbie Hanright Carisa Tong Web Director Edwin Morris Marketing Director Caitlin Kullberg
Staff Features Director Ryan Kehr Reviews Editors Ben Stas Mike Doub Interviews Editor Joey Dussault Photo Director Lauren Kovalefsky
Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tastemakersmag Follow us on Instagram @tastemakersmag The Cover Photo Abbie Hanright
Tastemakers Music Magazine 232 Curry Student Center 360 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA 02115 email@example.com © 2014 tastemakers music magazine all rights reserved
Art & Design Ally Healy Eric Lee Stephanie Lee Cara McGrath Emily O’Brien Sneha Pandya Amanda Pinsker Marketing Nathan Goldman Shreya Gurubacharya YJ Lee Crystal Lin Christine Luong Sarah Maillet Megan Rickborn Kelly Subin Alex Taylor Carisa Tong
Meet the Staff
Tom Doherty Position Staff Writer Major Journalism & English/ Linguistics Graduating Spring 2017 Favorite Venue Brighton Music Hall Tastemaker Since Fall 2012
Carisa Tong Position Art Director Major Math Graduating Spring 2016 Favorite Venue Fox Theater, Oakland, CA Tastemaker Since Fall 2011
Nathan Goldman Position Senior Staff Writer Major Sociology Graduating Spring 2015 Favorite Venue Paradise Tastemaker Since Fall 2010
Sun Kil Moon Benji
“Why, because I never write anything?”
Typhoon “Young Fathers” Darkside “Paper Trails”
Jon Hopkins Immunity
“I wonder how it burns...”
Teebs “View Point” FKA Twigs EP2
Magnolia Electric Co. “I Can Not Have Seen the Light”
“Was he a spy from WOOF?”
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone Pocket Symphonies for Lonesome Subway Cars Little Dragon “Little Man”
Mike Doub Position Reviews Editor Major Psychology/Journalism Graduating Someday Favorite Venue Royale Tastemaker Since Fall 2012
the credits to House of Cards Beck Guero St Vincent St. Vincent
“Are cheetahs cats or dogs?”
Photo by Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Table of Contents Cover Story
War in the Middle East An uncertain future for Cambridge’s most iconic venue
A Guide to Supergroups A look into some of the best supergroups in music
My Journey Through 05 Fuck Em A writer’s journey through Lil B’s 101-track mixtape in one sitting
Is Wu-Tang Forever? Or is it time for someone else to take the throne?
Excruciating Epics The best records you’ll never want to hear twice
06 Calendar 14 Local Photos
Open Mic Sites A guide to open mic nights around Boston
Reunions and RoseColored Glasses
A guide to a few of music’s most unexpected, triumphant covers
Are some things left better in the past?
I Can Show You the World
The Unrequited Love Song
Pop songs inspired by real people
Royale [the band] A profile on a rising Boston-based alt-rock band
Neutral Milk Hotel, Disclosure, Arctic Monkeys, Panic! at the Disco
Reviews of Broken Bells, Warpaint, and Bruce Springsteen’s new album
Bruce Springsteen: An American Mascot A guide to The Boss’ lengthy discography
World music comes to Boston
Just a Taste of Bonfire Blue
Calendar March Su
1 Delta Rae Royale Agnes Obel First Church
Young the Giant House of Blues
Animals As Leaders House of Blues
The Orwells Great Scott
Broken Bells House of Blues
Josh Ritter Somerville Theatre
George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic
Hannibal Buress Wilbur Theatre
Caspian/Junius Middle East
Paul Simon & Sting TD Garden
House of Blues
Avett Brothers TD Garden
We Were Promised Jetpacks The Sinclair
New Young Pony Club Great Scott
Juicy J House of Blues
Rustic Overtones Church of Boston
Dropkick Murphys House of Blues
Dropkick Murphys House of Blues
Dropkick Murphys House of Blues
Lorde Orpheum Theatre
Dropkick Murphys House of Blues
Ellie Goulding Agganis Arena
Lydia Brighton Music Hall
Real Estate The Sinclair
Patton Oswalt Wilbur Theatre
Drive-By Truckers House of Blues
Typhoon & Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
Dale Earnhardt JR JR
Patton Oswalt Wilbur Theatre
Brighton Music Hall
MS MR Paradise Typhoon & Lady Lamb the Beekeeper The Sinclair
The Infamous Stringdusters Paradise
Dum Dum Girls Brighton Music Hall
Mason Jennings Brighton Music Hall
Okkervil River The Sinclair
How to Dress Well & Forest Swords TT the Bearâ€™s
Childish Gambino House of Blues Pile Great Scott
We Were Promised Jetpacks March 5 @ The Sinclair
Avett Brothers March 8 @ TD Garden
We were promised an awesome show on March 5 by the Edinburgh-based, post-punk revival band We Were Promised Jetpacks. Warm up with a handful of folky rock tunes, or at least some good Scottish accents at the Sinclair next month.
The Avett Brothers are bringing the banjo to the big stage on March 8th at TD Garden along with Old Crow Medicine Show. So hop in your Wagon Wheel and get to North Station to check out one of the biggest folk acts around. See you there.
Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism)
Tom Doherty (Journalism)
Caravan Palace Paradise
Miley Cyrus TD Garden
The Julie Ruin The Sinclair
James Vincent McMorrow Paradise
Pentatonix House of Blues
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra Middle East
Laura Mvula The Sinclair
Cloud Nothings Brighton Music Hall
Danny Brown Paradise
The Temptations Wilbur Theatre
London Grammar Paradise
The Jezabels Brighton Music Hall
Cher TD Garden
Avicii TD Garden
The Mountain Goats Somerville Theatre
The Hold Steady & Deer Tick House of Blues
Julianna Barwick Middle East
Black Lips Paradise
Cloud Cult Brighton Music Hall
Tycho The Sinclair
Mac Demarco Middle East
The Wanted House of Blues
Christina Perri House of Blues
Horse Feathers The Sinclair
Avey Tareâ€™s Slasher Flicks Brighton Music Hall
Stephen Marley Paradise
Ronnie Earl Scullers Jazz Club
The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo) Paradise The Hood Internet The Sinclair
The Knife House of Blues
Chromeo House of Blues
Dropkick Murphys March 13-16 @ House of Blues
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra April 6 @ Middle East
Preforming nightly shows from March 13th through the 16th, Dropkick Murphyâ€™s will turn the House of Blues into their ale-guzzling, clover-stomping home. The local celtic favorite will turn a holiday often forgotten the next day into one to remember.
Come to the Middle East and transcend reality with the multi-instrumental talents of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra.
Max Oyer (Health Sciences)
Tim DiFazio (Vacuum Repair)
Show Reviews Neutral Milk Hotel January 17 @ Orpheum Theatre
Reviews Spring 2014
Right up to the very moment when a bearded, scraggly Jeff Mangum casually strolled onto the Orpheum stage, nothing about the idea of a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion felt real. The band was among the most mythical, puzzling and fervently adored acts of the 1990s, even with a catalog that spanned less than 30 officially released songs. Their richly unconventional fuzz-folk sound and Mangum’s bizarre but often strangely touching lyrics were unlike anything else in the world, and they still are. When the band broke up and Mangum ostensibly dropped off the face of the earth following release of their 1998 landmark In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, it merely added to the mystique. 15 years later, the prospect of seeing Mangum and bandmates Julian Koster, Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes on stage again and playing those songs felt beyond surreal. Part of said mystique is certainly curated intentionally by Neutral Milk Hotel itself. The first reunion shows took place late last year, but at the band’s insistence, no photos were taken and no videos were shot. As the tour was announced and expanded, press coverage was limited to what the band released via its own website; no interviews, no documentation. The only visual or auditory evidence one could get came courtesy of a few shaky iPhone videographers careful enough to avoid venue security. Even for those who caught one of Mangum’s recent solo performances, it was tough to know precisely what to expect. Mangum took the stage alone at first, strumming the opening chords of “The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One.” His bandmates emerged and took their positions as the song progressed, and when they finally came together on the crashing, bombastic “Pts. Two & Three” and barreled straight into “Holland 1945,” it all snapped into place. However long you’d waited to see Neutral Milk Hotel, it had been worth it. That uniquely ragged, burstingat-the-seams sound the band harnessed so well on record was simply spectacular on stage. The ensemble included as many as seven people at once, with the core group still consisting of Mangum on guitar and vocals, Koster on bass, accordion and singing saw, Barnes on drums and Spillane leading a miniature horn section. Anthemic singalongs like “Holland,” “Two-Headed Boy” and “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” garnered the
Ben Stas (English/Journalism) biggest responses from the crowd, but dense instrumentals including “The Fool” and Aeroplane’s ultimate penultimate track were equally mindblowing, serving as a reminder that Mangum’s songwriting wasn’t the only thing that made Neutral Milk Hotel so special. Even a song like the eight-minute epic “Oh Comely,” which Mangum could easily carry on his own, was enhanced by Spillane’s horn accents. Still, the most striking element of the performance may have been the group’s sheer enthusiasm. For a bandleader often mythologized as some sort of anti-social recluse, a notion perhaps reinforced by his mountain man beard, Mangum seemed genuinely happy to be performing these songs with an actual band again. Koster’s childlike enthusiasm was as charming as ever, and he somehow managed to rarely keep his feet on the ground even with a rather heavy looking accordion strapped to his chest. Spillane was all smiles, and did just as much off-mic singing as the audience.
The band combined nearly the entirely of Aeroplane with highlights from first album On Avery Island and a selection of b-sides and obscurities for a 19-song setlist that was close to perfect. This show was the second of Neutral Milk Hotel’s sold-out two-night run at the Orpheum (a very haunted venue, according to Koster), and still near the beginning of a massive world tour that will carry them everywhere from Coachella to Barcelona in 2014. Still, for the ~2,700 audience members (and however many additional ghosts) packed into the theater on this Friday night, this show felt special; our own chance to experience the rare, strange beauty that is Neutral Milk Hotel for ourselves. And we couldn’t have asked for it any better than this. Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Disclosure January 16 @ House of Blues Family bands have been a recurrent species throughout popular music history, from the Isley Brothers and the Jackson 5 to Kings of Leon and Haim. In the spirit of continuing the lineage of family bands, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence of the British deep house duo Disclosure made their predecessors proud this past January as they led the House of Blues in a night of pounding bass, flashing lights and moving bodies. Accompanied by a floating holographic display from which their signature—albeit really eerie—face symbols gazed down upon the audience, each brother occupied an individual battle station on either side of the stage equipped with drum machines, synths, vocal mics and various other live instruments. From their posts, the duo played a 14-song set featuring tracks from their widely acclaimed inaugural album Settle as well as from early EPs, mixing samples and backing tracks with live performance. The use of live instrumentation was a refreshing departure from the style of some other electronic musicians, whose shows often feature the technical prowess of pressing the Play button on their iTunes library.
Disclosure started the night with “F for You,” a rippling dance number that transitioned tightly into the motivational speech-sampled “When a Fire Starts to Burn.” With the crowd appropriately heated up by that bass-loaded number and the House of Blues now more resembling a nightclub than a concert hall, the brothers Lawrence pushed the night onwards with a series of early Disclosure tracks like the polyrhythmic “Tenderly” which, while somewhat unfamiliar to much of the crowd, still inspired wild dancing or at the very least, liberal amounts of head-nodding. The duo then brought the set back around to numbers from Settle, including the crowd-pleaser “White Noise,” which was almost drowned out by the crowd’s sing-along with the chorus. Nearly every song during the show was supplemented by enthusiastic singing from the audience, which, given Disclosure’s freshman status in the American music scene, was a notable accolade for the Surrey natives. The duo kept it fresh by throwing in two more old tracks before bringing out the heartfelt “Help Me
Lose My Mind.” The song was sung onstage by an animated version of the “Disclosure Face” which, while admittedly an interesting and recognizable design, is from a depth of the uncanny valley yet unreached by modern technology. “Do you guys know this one?” one of the brothers asked before hitting a rapid-fire drum machine cue for the signature “ne-ver!” call of their number-one single “Latch.” From that first “ne-ne-ne-ne-ne-ver!”, the audience broke out with fresh energy and sang and danced as passionately as they had all night to Disclosure’s final song, culminating in a blaze of flashing lights and white noise fading away behind the cheers and applause from the House of Blues. Despite only one full-length album under their belt, Disclosure has the potential for a very successful career. But if this show was any indication, Guy and Howard have achieved a great amount already and have rightfully earned their fame and fan base. Even this early on in their careers, it’s obvious that this family matters. David Murphy (Psychology)
Ben Stas (English/Journalism) 9
Show Reviews Arctic Monkeys February 6 @ Agganis Arena Sidenote: I arrived too late to catch the first opening band that night, the punk rock group the Orwells. They may have been great or they may have been terrible: I wouldn’t know.
On their 2014 tour, the England-based Arctic Monkeys have never been bigger across the lake. Their most recent album— 2013’s AM– was a both critical and commercial smash, loaded with earworm singles like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High?” It’s a success story that’s well-deserved. Over the course of five albums Arctic Monkeys have offered their take on myriad trends in rock music, from the stoner grunge found on 2009’s Humbug to the shimmering Britpop on 2011’s Suck It and See. What’s more, the primates had good company in their second (see above) opening band Deerhunter. Fronted by Bradford Cox, Deerhunter is an Atlanta, Georgia fivepiece that specializes in the juxtaposition of dissonance and jaw-dropping beauty. That juxtaposition was at the forefront of their Agganis set, often in the very same song (see “Back to the Middle,” “Earthquake”). The set
was heavy on material from the band’s last two albums, particularly 2010’s masterful Halcyon Digest. And while Deerhunter’s usually intense garage-rock assault was pared back (due to their stadium setting, one assumes) it was an approach that rewarded throughout. I’d be thrilled if some attendees besides the stoners seated next to me will check out the band based on their majestic performance of “Desire Lines.” Arctic Monkeys took the stage not long after, and in short order proved their worth as a bonafide stadium band with their opening song, the aforementioned “Do I Wanna Know?” That track, easily AM’s finest, was a crowd sing-a-long that brought everyone in attendance to their feet. Though the set was focused on cuts from that album, throughout the Arctic Monkeys offered up selections from all over their catalog and nailed them. Favorite Worst Nightmare cut “Brianstorm” for example tossed out AM’s sexy strut for a visceral banger that went by at a breakneck speed. The band killed with sludgy groove of “Crying Lightning” too, the first single from Humbug and one of their best songs. With a
catalog that’s now five albums deep, the group had a wealth of songs to draw from and their selection didn’t disappoint. Although I’d have liked to hear “A Certain Romance,” but I’m nitpicking and probably crazy. Moreover, the band’s on-stage charisma was undeniable. Frontman Alex Turner oozed class as he crooned and boogied during pauses in singing. His confidence was especially palpable when he shouted out catchphrases that would have given A Hard Day’s Night-era the Beatles pause (quite a few songs “for the ladies”). And I might have grimaced too had his deliveries been nailed less perfectly or the rest of the band been less instrumentally adept. It’s been a long road to stardom in the states, but if their Agganis set was any indication the Arctic Monkeys are more than up to the task. Mike Doub (Psychology/Journalism)
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Panic! at the Disco
Panic! at the Disco
Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism)
January 30 @ House of Blues If you thought that Panic! At The Disco has been irrelevant since the eighth grade, I’m sorry but you’re wrong. That’s not to say that I didn’t walk into the House of Blues on Jan. 30th expecting to relive my most awkward sexually-charged moments of 2005, but I did stand in 25 degree Boston weather, in a line that reached the Mass Pike crossover, alongside babbling teenagers and their moms—and it was actually kind of worth it. California indie-pop band The Colourist opened the show with solidly catchy tunes, accompanied by the hard-soft harmonies of drummer Maya Tuttle and guitarist Adam Castilla. The foursome played enthusiastic, melodic songs, bordering on generic indie music in the vein of Matt & Kim and Grouplove. But the crowd seemed to love it, if not for their performance of hit blogosphere single “Little Games,” then perhaps for the feeling of a sunny California that the band’s sound brought to the stage. After The Colourist’s departure, it wasn’t long before enthusiastic audience chatter ensued. Among the crowd, preteens were ranting about how the last Panic! show was “the best concert I’ve ever been to,” whatever that entails, and post-scene kids were streaming alcohol to their peers. Then, the lights dimmed and the infamous Brendon Urie took the stage, greeted by a sold-out house
of howling fans, alongside loyal drummer Spencer Smith, bassist/keyboardist Dallon Weekes and touring guitarist Kenneth Harris. The rush of Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die hit “Vegas Lights” suddenly filled the venue, barely audible over the ear-piercing mass, and barely visible behind dozens of screens capturing the moment. Hard to miss in his sparkling dark blazer and über tight leather pants, Urie’s aesthetic just screamed pop-punk heartthrob. By song two, “Time to Dance,” Urie was dripping sweat and spitting on stage. 2011 single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” pumped up the crowd, but nothing could have prepared me for the absolute meltdown that came with hearing “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage” played live. Upon the first utterings of the lyrics (“Sit tight, I’m gonna need you to keep time,”) I couldn’t help but finish the song. At full volume. In unison with thirteen year-olds. And because I’d listened to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out on repeat for months straight in 2005, I didn’t even need to think about the remaining lyrics. They just came to me. It was the throwbacks of all throwbacks, and I reveled in it. Since middle school, I’ve never been particularly drawn to the Vaudevillian pop-punk sound as a genre. But there’s just
something about Urie’s trained voice, which sounds amazing live, by the way, that pulls on the heartstrings. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia associated with the pop-punk sound, but maybe it’s Panic!’s ability to feed frenzied fans, lusting after music that we can straightup make out to. After all, wasn’t “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” the most erotic pop-punk song of 2005? Panic! At The Disco’s new stuff isn’t half bad either. Too Weird is no Fever, but it is uniquely Panic! It’s pop-punk dabbling in electronica. It’s something to dance, scream and maybe even throw your bra onstage to. By their encore, Panic! had covered all the bases, playing their most recent singles “Miss Jackson” and “Nicotine” alongside “Lying” and 2008’s Pretty. Odd. single “Nine In The Afternoon.” So it wasn’t surprising that they would choose to close the show with their biggest hit by far, “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies.” Fans were surprised, however, by an untimely spectator fainting , a shirtless Urie’s posi-hardcore performance, and a Journey cover that showed how skilled the singer actually is. Although, after demonstrating the ability to make an old preteen dream come true almost a decade after their heyday, it seems like Panic! At The Disco doesn’t have anything more to prove. Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism) 11
Open Mic Sites
A G U I D E TO O P E N M I C N I G H TS A R O U N D B O STO N
The cold weather and courseload may tempt some Boston student musicians to express themselves in warm seclusion, but many still venture to groovy venues around the city to stretch their chops. From riotous Irish pubs to retro bowling alleys, these spots will make for a fun night whether you crave the limelight or not.
by mackenzie nichols (journalism)
cambridge LIZARD LOUNGE
LOCATION 1667 Mass Ave TIME Mondays at 8pm WEBSITE www.lizardloungeclub.com PHONE # (617) 547 0759
LOCATION 247 Elm Street, Davis Square TIME Tuesdays at 8pm WEBSITE www.burren.com PHONE # (617) 776 6896
This underground venue located near Harvard Square is chic and inviting, featuring daily live music ranging from opera to jazz to rock & roll. The Lounge hosts 20 musicians each week who will battle for a cash prize. 21+
Good food, good beer, good music. Known for it’s great live Irish folk music with a side of bangers and mash, this would be a prime location for performers to bring their friends or loved ones to share their talent. Musicians should sign up at 6:30 p.m. the night of the show to save a set time.
THE CANTAB LOUNGE LOCATION 738 Mass Ave, Central Square TIME Mondays at 10pm – 12:45am WEBSITE www.cantab-lounge.com PHONE # (617) 354 2685 This 21+ lounge in Central Square urges newcomers to arrive by 7:45 to claim their two-song set. Like the 6B Lounge, Cantab offers a feature spot which should be booked in advance with host Geoff Bartley. Spring 2014
boston interview with
Jim Waugh & George Woods 6B LOUNGE LOCATION 6B Beacon Street TIME Sundays at 8pm PHONE # (617) 742 0306
boston cont. BRANDY PETE’S LOCATION 767 Franklin Street, Park Street or Downtown Crossing TIME Tuesdays from 8pm – 11pm WEBSITE www.youtube.com/brandypetesopenmic PHONE # (617) 439 4165 Started just last year, this open mic night welcomes performers of all ages who are interested in music, comedy and spoken word. There is one feature performer per show and the rest of the set is open for any who wish to participate. The host, Corey Allen Staats, posts a few of the performances on his YouTube channel after the show.
BOLOCO LOCATION 1080 Boylston Street TIME Wednesdays at 6pm PHONE # (617) 369 9087 At this weekly open mic night, there are two or three pre-booked headliners and the rest of the set list is open for grabs to any eager musicians. A free burrito is at stake.
The steep, blisteringly cold walk up Beacon Street just after sunset seemed like some sort of hell on earth until the warmth of the 6B Lounge made it worth the trek. Physical warmth was soon accompanied by the welcoming warmth of a gentleman named Jim Waugh, a regular at the Lounge’s Sunday open mic night. Waugh said that out of the 302 open mic nights he attended in Boston last year, Sunday night at the Lounge is one of his favorites because of the strong sense of community fostered by the event’s leading man, George Woods. “There’s a certain shame from new performers coming in that is eradicated by George,” said Waugh. “He is very inspirational.” Woods, folk-funk singer songwriter and commander of 6B Lounge’s open mic night, released his first studio album, Heartbeat, in 2012. The album has been turned into a “Modern Dance Rock Concert” which will debut at the Oberon Theatre in Cambridge on March 21. Talent aside, it is George Woods’ enthusiasm which makes the atmosphere so inviting. Each performer who entered the Lounge greeted him with a lengthy embrace, but he was perhaps most excited about having a reporter among the mix. “There’s a reporter here from Northeastern being a bad motherf**ker,” he joked at the mic to lead off the show. The audience laughed in response, Waugh shooting me a wink from across the room. By that point I had already been approached
KINGS LOUNGE LOCATION 50 Dalton Street TIME Wednesdays at 9pm, arrive at 8pm WEBSITE www.kingsbackbay.com PHONE # (617) 266 2695 Located just off of Boylston Street, the popular bowling alley also serves as a venue for aspiring performers. Although Kings is 21+, they open the event to ages 18 and up. Performers are urged to sign up by 8 p.m. the night of the event.
PADDY BARRY’S ALES & SPIRITS LOCATION 1574 Hancock Street TIME Wednesdays at 9pm WEBSITE www.paddybarrys.com PHONE # (617) 233 3379 Paddy’s pub is located near Boston’s Quincy Market. This open mic is back in action after taking a brief hiatus and is hosted by singer/songwriter Jay Psaros. Musicians should arrive by 8 p.m. or call ahead of time to book a time slot.
by all of the musicians who were curious because they hadn’t seen me there prior to Sunday night. Woods wasn’t kidding about the closeness of the community; everybody knew everybody and wanted to know every new face that walked through the door. Some, like third-year Berklee singer/songwriter Nick Gagliardi, hadn’t been back to the Lounge for almost a year and Woods still remembered him. The Lounge is split into three sections; the bar to the right, the small stage area to the left and a booth/table/couch seating area in the back. Woods said that about 14 musicians perform along with a longer half hour feature performer who is booked in advance. In terms of booking a time slot, there is an open list for the whole year which musicians can call dibs on. There is room each week for four or five “walk-ins” as well. Although the performances that night were all solo guitar/vocals, Woods said that they have had up to seven piece bands on the stage. From country/western to rhythm and blues to the occasional comedy bit, Woods is open to anything and everything. As one of the only under-21 open mic nights in the city, the Lounge is very popular for college students. The encouraging, relaxed environment of 6B Lounge’s open mic night allows aspiring singer/songwriters to showcase their original (or unoriginal!) work under the supportive arms of Woods and the rest of the Sunday night posse.
2 Chainz House of Blues, February 2014
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Emancipator Ensemble Paradise Rock Club, February 2014
Leah Corbett (Digital Arts)
Foxes (top left) Glasslands, November 2013
Josh Spiro (Information Science/Business) Bass Drum of Death (top right) Great Scott, February 2014
Ben Stas (English/Journalism) Los Campesinos! Paradise Rock Club, January 2014
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
When the world needed them most, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-
Man, Hulk and The Wasp founded The Avengers. When The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus needed them most, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Keith Richards founded The Dirty Mac, proving that music could have supergroups too. A â€œsupergroupâ€? does not have a strict definition. A supergroup may be a congregation of several talented and successful musicians, or a band, joined by a single new member, that takes on a different name. Some groups find great success, pumping out several albums and possibly growing more famous than in their previous projects; others find themselves together for only a single show. Cream and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are often credited as the first true supergroups, setting the stage for many more to come. The collective work of so many great musicians is a magical occurrence. The result of various sounds coming together often brings out the best in artists, allowing them to expand their horizons and improve their craft.
(Health Sciences) 19
Junior Blue Feature
By Divine Right
WC and the Maad Circle
Fat beats (or is it phat?), wiry synth overlays and funky bass lines bounce under the verses of this rap supergroup. Westside Connection lays down classic ’90s hip-hop, rhyming about stacking money, drugs and ruling the world. Any ride worth its hydraulics would be bouncing to these gangster beats.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Radiohead Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Michael “Flea” Balzary (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), Joey Waronker (Beck), Mauro Reforsco (Forro in the Dark)
Forro in the Dark Beck Spring 2014
In classic Thom Yorke fashion, Atoms for Peace attacks with hectic, trance-inducing music. It is difficult to assign the band a genre, as it reaches from rock through experimental and dance music, and grabbing from electronica on the way. As a result, each creative track offers a new, interesting experience.
The Beatles Bob Dylan
Electric Light Orchestra
Queens of the Stone Age
My Morning Jacket
She & Him
Royale [the band] Four multi-instrumental middlers from Northeastern comprise Royale [the band]. Singer Keenan Hye and lead
Local Talent Spring 2014
guitarist Alex Vipond met on Facebook after enrolling. They soon found their third and fourth members, Zach Bachiri and Eli Brown, in time to form a band by January of their freshman year. These eclectic musicians try to rotate instruments at “almost every show,” and claim to “sound almost good.” Fans of Vampire Weekend, Phoenix and Local Natives will quickly be hooked on Royale [the band]’s catchy guitar hooks and drum beats. They move listeners with slower, more sensitive songs, resembling those of bands like Kings of Leon and Coldplay. So far, the group’s live shows have all been in Boston, except for one gig that Hye and Vipond played in northern Wisconsin. On that very trip, they wrote most of the songs that comprise their new EP, Long Gone. Long Gone is a milestone release for Royale [the band]. The songs had been brewing for over a year, and had plenty of time to be perfected again and again. Though they wrote, recorded and mixed the whole EP themselves, they had outside ears help. Jim Anderson, a Northeastern professor, was particularly helpful in this process, in addition to friends, like another well-loved student artist, Anjimile. The EP’s final track, entitled “Can’t Seem to Leave,” features singer-songwriter
Anjimile. The song was recorded in a staircase on a quiet Sunday in Northeastern’s very own Shillman Hall, while Post-It notes hung on the door pleading those passing by not to interrupt. The echo from the stairwell setting adds to the emotion of the minimalistic song. Long Gone is not their only release; Royale [the band] put out Palms Up in September 2012. They say they are proud of the songs on this album, but are certain that their songwriting skills have improved substantially from one record to the next. As Alex Vipond put it, “You have to write that stuff before you can write anything better.” These songs are still played at concerts, but with new and more technical arrangements. Additionally, on the same day that Long Gone was released in December 2013, a Christmas EP was dropped, entitled Royale [the christmas]. This EP was a way to have fun and blow off steam while recording Long Gone, and to give an extra treat to [the fans] that had been waiting for new music. The next step for Royale [the band] is to write a few more songs in order to turn Long Gone into a full-length album. Now that three of the four members live together, they have ample time to write all at once. The group also intends to play more shows, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Royale [the band] live. Cara McGrath (Graphic Design)
Photos by Dan McCarthy (Digital Art) members: Keenan Hye (Lead vocalist, guitar) Alex Vipond (Lead guitar, back-up vocals) Zach Bachiri (Drums, back-up vocals) Eli Brown (Bass, back-up vocals)
founded: January 2012
sounds like: “Post-Chamber Rock Gypsy Revival”
albums: Palms Up (September 2012) Long Gone EP (December 2013) Royale [the christmas] (December 2013)
recommended tracks: “Long Gone” “Can’t Seem to Leave (ft. Anjimile)” “Ocean Breeze”
check out royale at: www.royaletheband.bandcamp.com 23
Musicians Undercover Editorial
Copycats or Visionaries? There’s no single way to record a great cover song, and no single definition of a great cover song. Whether artists are paying homage to some of their favorite legends or trying to take something completely foreign and make it their own, musicians seem to love trying on someone else’s songs for size. While some flop as mediocre imitations, others can shatter all expectations, growing larger than the original recording and leaving people wondering who did it better. The tradition of covering songs is an old one, and has launched the careers of some of popular music’s founders.. The Beatles included cover songs on half of their albums, running up the popularity of some of their favorite artists before the Lennon-McCartney duo finally took off. Over time, artists have grown more experimental; instead of updating classics, many have completely crossed genres to tackle tracks listeners would never imagine. Maybe it started when Jimi Hendrix dared to shake up “The Star Spangled Banner” or revamp Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” but cover songs have grown to be far more than just a starting point for blooming artists to capture attention. • Amanda Hoover (Journalism)
London Grammar covers “Nightcall” by Kavinsky London Grammar abandoned any evidence of electronic production that Kavinsky used to build the original “Nightcall” and instead let lead singer Hannah Reid’s voice construct a melodic, human version of the robotic track. The cover relies on the simplicity of a piano paired with the raw emotion in Reid’s voice to carry the repetitive lyrics and create a haunting and pure recording.
The Doors cover “Gloria” by Them
In one of those cases where listeners don’t always know they’re listening to a cover, “Gloria” sounds like the essential Doors song, complete with Jim Morrison switching off between smooth talking and animalistic screaming and Ray Manzarek’s signature keyboard riffing. Sure, Morrison throws in quite a bit of improv to draw his personality in and over-sexualize the innocent song, but what else did The Doors think rock and roll was made for?
Vampire Weekend covers “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke Indie rock’s poster preppy boys took on summer 2013’s most overplayed hit and brought their quirky yet clean-cut style to the track. Just when we thought that we’d gotten Thicke’s song out of our heads, it came back with a refreshing revision bearing Ezra Koenig’s trademark falsetto. Maybe they set out to make fun of the track, but Vampire Weekend’s version is just as catchy and it sounds like they’re having even more fun than Thicke and company did in the original.
Sex Pistols cover “My Way” by Frank Sinatra There have probably been few incidents more shocking than when the Sex Pistols dared to touch Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” but probably none that validate the whole principle behind the cover song better—the universality of music and the concepts that drive great songs. Few would imagine a connection between punk rock and jazz, but Vicious found the rebellious, anarchic spirit of punk in Sinatra’s lyrics and delivered them with his signature snarl over screeching chords.
M. Ward covers “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie
Here are some of the most unexpected, risky ventures artists have tried out and triumphed
M. Ward dared to take any evidence of Bowie’s electro-pop signature sounds out of his take on this 1980’s classic. Instead, he broke down the upbeat track to just an acoustic guitar and hushed voice, changing the mood from popdriven, and dance-friendly into a somber and thoughtful rendition.
The Kills cover “Pale Blue Eyes” by the Velvet Underground It’s not easy to touch Lou Reed. Countless covers, especially in recent months following his death, have tried to pay homage to the legend, but few tried to take on anything as challenging as this end-all be-all classic. The Kills manage to give the acoustic ballad a bluesy feel, adding enough of their own declarative, rhythmic elements without taking away from the stripped-down honesty of the original.
Arctic Monkeys cover “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake No one really expected indie artists to pay attention to Drake, let alone try to emulate him, but Arctic Monkeys took on the challenge. Alex Turner’s voice sounds just as smooth as Drake’s, and this sleek, uptempo version coincides perfectly with the sly style of their latest album, AM.
WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
An uncertain future for Cambridgeâ€™s premier indie music venue
by Joey Dussault (Journalism)
what’s happening? If you live in Greater Boston, chances are you’ve at least contemplated catching a show at the Middle East. If you haven’t, you had better act fast, because it might not exist in the not-so-distant future. The new landlords of the property, taking over after the recent death of their predecessor, plan on selling the building that houses the Middle East. Club owner Joseph Sater hopes to buy the property in order to save his venue, which will cost him a hefty $7 million. It’s a tough price, but Sater’s got a plan to swallow it.
To offset costs, he hopes to build several stories of apartment buildings directly above the venue. Not only is that tricky architecturally—he intends to make the additions without tearing down the structure—but it might not work, especially if potential residents don’t take to the idea of constant background music. If Sater can’t buy the building, then we can say goodbye to the Middle East. It is unclear whether or not a shift in ownership would result in the emergence of a new performance space.
the history. Cambridge’s own Middle East Club did not begin as the indie music hub that it is today. It was born in 1970 as a humble Lebanese restaurant in Central Square. Brothers Joseph and Nabil Sater bought it in 1975 and immediately began expanding. The club hosted belly dancing and Arab-language bands for about a decade before welcoming blues and jazz acts. Then, in the year 1987, the club booked its first-ever rock show—Roger Miller of Boston post-punk act Mission of Burma—thus spinning a new thread into the web of Boston music. The transition from niche restaurant to famed indie venue was catalyzed when a promoter by the name of Billy Ruane threw his own 30th birthday party and
overbooked T.T. the Bear’s Place just next-door. Ruane collaborated with the Sater brothers to have his party spill over into the neighboring Middle East, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since that pivotal moment, the club has become a cross-genre mecca for independent and mid-range artists. Today, a discerning concert-goer can sate even the strangest musical cravings at the Middle East— cringe-inducing Nirvana cover bands, indie hip-hop greats and folk metal collectives can all be found under the same distinctive purple roof.
so who cares?
Or at least you should.
previous page photo by Abbie Hanright
Red Fang at the Middle East
photos by Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
The Middle East Club plays an important role in the delicate ecosystem that is local music. Like T.T.’s and Brighton Music Hall, the Middle East exists in the middle-to-low part of the venue hierarchy. However, the Middle East is unrivaled in its diversity of acts. Not many other venues host a comparable spread of musical styles, and those that do are generally much larger. Therefore, the Middle East is the most accommodating Greater Boston venue for broke ass college students of every musical inclination. For local acts trying to get some experience playing out, the Middle East offers unrivaled opportunities. There are other destinations in the area for small-timers, sure. But if you aren’t trying to play a glorified open mic on a Wednesday afternoon at All Asia (may it rest in peace), the MidEast is the place to play. Having played in a local band myself, I can say that nothing broke up the monotony of matinee shows with shitty lineups like an evening at the Middle East. Let’s face it: most local bands are not ever going to play at the House of Blues or even the Paradise. The
Middle East is the closest the majority of us will get to playing a major rock venue, and that›s kind of a beautiful thing. On another level, the Middle East gets local musicians out of the basements of their Allston apartments. Boston is a small city, so cops and other tenants don’t exactly care for the added noise and loitering ‘hipsters.’ Understandably so. But residents are too quick to blame the bands for this problem. Almost none of these musicians would actually prefer their basement to a full-fledged club. They just won›t have a choice if venues like the Middle East keep closing. Not to say that I don›t love a good basement show, but if musicians are going to coexist peacefully with the rest of Boston, they›re going to need a place to go. Yes, the Middle East briefly hosted the (very) briefly popular dubstep party otherwise known as Throwed; yes, we were very excited about it as college freshmen; and yes, we’re embarrassed about that now. We forgave the MidEast (and ourselves) for that, and so should you.
Math the Band
If you still aren’t convinced, Tastemakers asked some hometown heroes to weigh in: Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): Was the Middle East ever a place you guys frequented?
TMM: Any great stories or anecdotes about the club?
TMM: What was the best show you ever saw there?
TMM: Why do you think the Middle East is important to Boston’s music scene?
Kevin Steinhauser (KS): Absolutely. I started playing shows at the Middle East when was in high school. If you counted all the shows we’ve played as a band, we’ve played about 30 in Boston. Two thirds have been at the Middle East. And 100% of those shows we booked ourselves. Best venue in Boston, not even a question of its size. It might be the only venue I’ve seen shows at in Boston, besides maybe house shows. Any show I’ve wanted to see in Boston has been at the Middle East— Piebald’s last show, for example.
KS: When I played my first show there, it was upstairs and I was 17. I got to tell my friends I was playing at the Middle East. As a 17 year old, it was the gold standard. It might has well have been Rockefeller Center. Justine Mainville (JM): It’s definitely the mark of a true suburban Boston kid, getting to bring that up in conversation.
JM:We realized that we went to a lot of shows together at the Middle East before we knew each other. The most memorable would be Piebald. We saw Akron/Family there too, which was really beautiful. KS:We played this show, but we would have bought tickets anyway—the final show of the Bomb the Music Industry! final tour. JM: It’s one of those places, since we grew up in the area, [where] there’s a fondness about seeing shows and also playing them.
JM: I think there’s a mind that at the Middle East, they make sure there’s a show all the time.They’re booking local bands. There’s not as much pressure to make money. KS: It’s a mom-and-pop place. At other venues, they’re focusing on getting big-name touring acts. When we were playing there, we were almost always booking our own shows. JM: They didn’t ask us about draw when we started. KS: Yeah, there was no pay to play situation there. JM: The people are nice, the bartenders are nice. It’s a beautiful place. KS: The Middle East just means so much to anyone who plays music in Boston.
Salim Akram (SA): Between Bad Rabbits and our old band, we’ve been playing shows in Boston for 12 years at this point. Over the course of our band’s whole career, the Middle East has been a staple. Graham Masser (GM): When I was at school that was the venue to go to. I saw my first shows in Boston there. It was also my first co-op, working upstairs. A lot of great memories.
GM: We’ve played there a bunch, headlined upstairs a few years ago. I’ve seen some of my favorite hip hop acts over the years. It’s been a huge staple in the community of Boston for years. SA: It’s iconic for Boston, I’d say. Besides from it being a great venue, it’s just a great hang. The environment’s nice, the food is good.
SA: I saw Little Brother with 9th Wonder [now 9thmatic] when they first started. [9th Wonder] went on to be a huge producer. When they first started touring, he really wasn’t yet. GM: We got to open for Envy on the Coast a while back. Are there’s the band called Darkbuster, kind of a punk thing. Craziest fucking show I ever saw. People were throwing beer bottles at each other.
SA: I think it kind of has that Boston creed, mom-and-pop local scene. They were never taken over by Live Nation, who make it hard for a local band to play on a Friday night. The Middle East is a place for that, but big acts play there too. GM: It’s a thing where local bands like us can cut their teeth. It was a huge opportunity for us when we started playing there.
ROSE-CO LO RED GLASSES
In early January of this year, legendary hip-hop duo Outkast announced that they had reunited after an eightyear hiatus and would be performing at over 40 music festivals in 2014, including Governor’s Ball in New York City and the infamous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in southern California. Naturally, the music world has become electrified with the prospect of such an illustrious and influential group’s return to the spotlight, but in an era where revivals seem to be happening every day, have we learned that some things are better left in the past?
These first 14 years of the new millennium have been saturated with reunions and revivals from acts of ages past, thanks largely in part to the advent of social media and Internet communities that both call for such returns and concurrently allow reunions to be widely hyped, marketed and made profitable. The widely acclaimed reunion of Led Zeppelin at the Ahmet Ertgun Tribute Concert in 2007 after a decade of hiatus was a tremendous success not only financially but also with Led Zeppelin’s fan base—it currently holds the Guinness World Record for “Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music Concert” with over 20 million online ticket bids. The Internet factor also plays out in which groups are choosing to reunite. Revivals can only be carried out in the scale that they need if there is a loud enough call for a return, and one of the largest motivators of this effect is pure nostalgia. Subsequently, some of the
Illustration by Francesca Maida (Undeclared)
biggest contributors to the recent reunion spike are groups like New Kids on the Block, acts whose fame peaked in the 1990s and thus were part of the childhood soundtrack of the “Internet Generation.” While NKOTB’s reunion tours have been popular, their reunion albums have been less so—with their two most recent albums receiving largely mixed reviews. This points to the lurking issue in nostalgic reunions: time.
In an era where revivals seem to be happening every day, have we learned that some things are better left in the past? Popular music is such because it fills a niche in time that magnifies its impact. Bob Dylan’s anti-establishment folk music was
influential not just because of its inherent quality, but because it came at a time to accompany the growing frustration and rebellion of a nation’s youth. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s socially and politically conscious rhymes in the early years of hip-hop opened up the genre to the mainstream as a viable music form and laid a foundation for generations of rappers to come. Even the above-mentioned New Kids on the Block and their associated pop acts came to fame because they synthesized the R&B and dance music popular at the time into a fun and widely palatable sound. This is what makes reunions so difficult: the music and talent are still there, but times change, and it’s hard to recapture the essence of an age that gave an artist’s music the cultural background that was necessary for it to become popular. So while you might be able to appreciate Van Halen’s newest album, or occasionally
stomach some singles off of Chinese Democracy, most reunion albums will never surpass their ancestors for the sole reason that they can never go back to that moment in time when the music connected with you on such an intimate, lasting level. I have no doubt that Outkast’s reunion tour will be a roaring success. At festivals around the world, they will bring back classics that fans know and love, and crowds of fans young and old will sing their apologies to Ms. Jackson and shake their figurative Polaroid pictures in celebration of Outkast’s return. With any luck, I will have the chance to be among their ranks. But I fear for that bittersweet taste that comes from seeing your heroes—legendary men and women who have been etched in the annals of music history—as mortals. Outkast is only the latest in a long line of revived acts, and only time will tell if their roses are still fresh. • David Murphy (Psychology) 31
I Can Show You the World World Music in Boston
SPAIN TOMATITO MARCH 16, 2014 @ Berklee Performance Center (as part of Flamenco Fest 2014)
As part of Flamenco Fest 2014, Berklee College of Music will be hosting guitar legend Tomatito—born José Fernández Torres. Tomatito began his illustrious career under the tutelage of the late Spanish flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla. The two of them played a major part in the recent revival of flamenco as a global force. True to tradition, Tomatito’s performance at Berklee will include a spectacular flamenco dancer for the full experience.
MALI HABIB KOITÉ MARCH 7, 2014 @ Somerville Theater
Habib Koité is a guitar virtuoso from the African country of Mali. His signature style refuses to be defined, as it combines Afro-pop with elements of jazz, rock, blues and even flamenco. Koité travels with his band, a supergroup of African musicians called Bamada. His soothing voice and excellent guitar-playing are usually accompanied by several traditional West African instruments, including the talking drum and balafon (essentially a wooden xylophone).
You might not have any spring break plans, but if you’re in Boston for the semester you can still travel the world—musically, that is. The concert lineup this spring includes musicians from around the globe, all with something unique to offer. From Tuvan throat singers, to a Grammy-winning group of desertdwellers, these shows promise more culture than a week-long trip to Cabo ever could. • Leslie Fowle (English/Journalism)
AGNES OBEL MARCH 1, 2014 @ First Church in Cambridge
Agnes Obel has the crystalline voice of an angel. All the more fitting, then, that the blue-eyed Dane will be gracing the musical pulpit at First Church in Cambridge this winter. Her visit to Boston is part of a short U.S. tour promoting her sophomore album, Aventine, which came out in September of last year. Obel’s sound is sparse—she plays the piano, and is usually only accompanied by a few string instruments—but a voice like hers requires little embellishments. Moreover, the high ceilings of the church will likely provide just the right acoustics for her ethereal style.
HUUN HUUR TU APRIL 25, 2014 @ First Church in Cambridge
Huun Huur Tu is a four-piece musical group from Tuva, a southern republic of Russia bordering Mongolia. They play traditional Tuvan folk music, occasionally experimenting with more Western sounds, like the electric guitar. They are perhaps most famous, however, for a vocal technique called “throat singing,” where a vocalist is able to sing two or three notes simultaneously. The result is almost primal guttural sound, but one that is strangely Zen.
T UAREG INDIA
TINARIWEN MARCH 25, 2014 @ Paradise
Much like their way of life, Tinariwen is a sprawling, boundarypushing band. Its members hail from the Tuaregs, a nomadic group that move around North Africa. All the traveling in the desert didn’t take away from the honing of their craft, however, which is a blend of the style know as “assouf” among the Tuareg people, and modern rock. Their 2011 album, Tassilli, won the Grammy for Best World Music Album, and features vocals from TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe.
SOUT H AFRICA
ZAKIR HUSSAIN APRIL 6, 2014 @ Boston Symphony Hall
Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain returns to Boston this year with his “Masters of Percussion” ensemble. In addition to Hussain’s unmatched tabla playing, the supergroup features several other traditional Indian instruments, including the sitar and sarangi.
JOHNNY CLEGG APRIL 4, 2014 @ Somerville Theatre
Although more recently a solo act, Johnny Clegg began his South African pop music career in the ‘70s in the band Jakala. During this time, Clegg and the band began to form a relationship with the late Nelson Mandela, and even wrote a song asking for his release called “Asimbonanga,” or “We haven’t seen him” in Zulu. 33
My Journey Through 05 Fuck Em : Feature
As many of you readers are aware, Internet hip-hop sensation Lil B recently dropped a one hundred and one track mixtape entitled 05 Fuck Em. The runtime of this album is a hefty five hours and forty- five minutes, and reviews thus far have been mixed. Although many people have listened to it by now, I don’t believe that anyone has attempted to do it all in one sitting. And that is my goal. I have surrounded myself with junk food and
quality headphones and am going to force myself to hear every second of this mixtape with no pauses before the night is over. I’m hitting the download button now. Wish me luck. Update: I have finally finished downloading the album. That alone took over an hour. But I’m feeling reasonably optimistic. After all, it’s just music!
TRACK 9 I think I’ve worked out a philosophy for getting through this album. It’s the same one I used to pull at high school dances: pretending that I’m enjoying myself. Yeah…Based.
TRACK 3 I’m on the third track now. I’ve reached the point where I would definitely have turned this off if I had the choice to…I’m getting this pit in my stomach that shows up when I listen to music I don’t like. He’s using these very unnecessary echo effects that are definitely mildly headache inducing. Overall, however, it’s pretty much what one would expect from the Based God. I can handle it.
TRACK 1 Spring 2014
The intro track alone is starting to make me think I was not adequately prepared for this. His echoing voice and sloppy editing are headache-inducing to say the least. But I made a commitment to everyone out there that I intend to honor. I will make it to the end.
TRACK 8 I’m actually going with Lil B’s philosophy on these recordings: If I do enough of them, some have to be good. Just like some of the tracks on this album are going to be good. Some of these tracks are going to be good, right?
TRACK 6 Another update. On the sixth track. Though I’m not even an hour in, things have started to get difficult. Mild physical pain has ensued. I’m going to need some help with this one. From chocolate. Chocolate solves everything.
TRACK 11 I’m now...11 tracks in. On No Mo Blow. I’m starting to find myself getting...emotional. I hope I’m based. Because a lot of people aren’t.
I can only imagine what Lil B means by “prayin 4 a brick” but I’m pretty sure it’s genius.
Lil B is just such a good guy, you know? Like, what other rappers would tell you not to sell drugs? I guess Run-DMC used to do that but…they weren’t based.
I’m starting to feel lightheaded in a good way.
When I signed up for this, I did not expect there to be songs as long as God of Rap. It’s over ten minutes. And yet, I’m not complaining somehow. I think this is a bit of a magnum opus for him. I’m enjoying myself. I love Lil B.
TRACK 17 SWAG! SWAG! SWAG! SWAG! SWAG! SWAG! SWAG! SWAG!
It’s gotten so real. This album gets so real, guys. I feel like I know him. I feel like Lil B is my friend and I’m only a fifth of the way through. Wow...
TRACK 40 TRACK 23
Alright, I don’t know if I’m feeling this anymore. He just welcomed me to the mixtape. On the 23rd track. This is already in the running for longest I’ve ever spent listening to one album and I’m not even a quarter of the way through. But maybe I can still get through this. After all, I love Lil B.
So what really amazes me about this album is the fact that it is 101 tracks and yet he seems to put effort into a few of them. Like, check out “People Like Me.” It’s not completely terrible. Which is a relief, because I was starting to have some mildly self-destructive thoughts.
TRACK 27 I’m not even two hours in and I’ve resorted to stress eating. I’ve finished a large bag of popcorn and two Hershey bars. I’ll just have a grapefruit to balance it out. Because that’s how health works.
He is using a System of a Down song as his beat. Do I still live on this Earth? The only explanation for this that makes any logical sense is this: I am dead. I failed the challenge, and I am dead.
I’ve been silent for a while. That is because I have begun to retreat into the recesses of my mind, accepting that this music is never actually going to stop. I am getting used to it as a presence, as a part of my life. That is how I will get through.
TRACK 30 I made it through the 20s. They did not go by easy at all but I’m feeling…so accomplished right now. Let’s do this.
TRACK 46 I’m starting to get a little desperate for this album to end [sob]. If all the other tracks could be under a minute that would be…life-saving.
TRACK 53 Whoa…the beat on that track was…beautiful.
One of my favorite albums is Faust. Want to know how many tracks it has? Three. It has three.
Dude. It’s getting to me. I dunno, man. This is deep.
Lil B? Dude? I gotta explain something to you. You don’t need to call out the mixtape when I am three hours in.
I feel like when this is done it will be one of my greatest accomplishments. All I have to do is find a way to tell people that without coming off incredibly, unbelievably sad.
I have entirely forgotten what it is like to not be listening to Lil B. What else did I do today? What was my life like before this album?
TRACK 72 I don’t care how many times you ask. I will never call you Kurt Angle.
TRACK 65 I have completely lost control of my legs. I am trying to lift them but nothing is happening.
TRACK 76 I don’t think I could stop if I wanted to at this point. Based God is going to follow me around for the rest of my life. There is no other outcome.
[a long, sustained noise that sounds like a mix between a hum and a groan]
TRACK 62 Spring 2014
He keeps asking “Is this real? Is this life?”, which is exactly what I am being forced to ask myself after this much 05 Fuck Em.
TRACK 73 TRACK 68 I no longer know or care whether or not I am enjoying this, but I just had to check to make sure I was levitating.
The sheer awfulness of that last track seems to have interrupted the waking dream that I was having. I do not know if it will still be possible for me to finish this.
TRACK 79 I have fully accepted that he is going to be reminding me that I am listening to 05 Fuck Em for the entire duration of 05 Fuck Em. It is track 79 and I believe he just told me twice. Trust me, Lil B. I know.
TRACK 84 WHOOOOOO! ONLY 16 TRACKS LEFT! [30 seconds of horrendous beatboxing with “yeah” and “swag” interspersed]
TRACK 89 This is the hardest thing I have done in my college career. And it was completely of my own volition. This experience is, if nothing else, proof that I am an idiot.
I made it to track 80 and I got SO EXCITED. Then I thought about how much 21 tracks actually is. Please kill me.
It just seems so unreal to me that in an hour or so I won’t have to listen to Lil B anymore
TRACK 99 I AM SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE. JUST A LITTLE MORE. YES! On a related note, the clean version of “My” includes more blank space than actual rapping.
TRACK 97 Out of all the songs on this album I would like to know why Lil B chose to do a clean version of “Stealing From Strippers.” I have a second wind, but I can feel exhaustion breathing at my heels.
TRACK 91 I am in desperate need of a fast forward button.
TRACK 101 This is it. The last track. [exuberant screaming] He’s thanking me! You know what, you’re welcome. You’re welcome Lil B! God, I’m so happy.
Oh my god. I’m shaking. I’m shaking because I am so happy that it’s over. Silence has never sounded so incredibly beautiful to me. I did it. I never have to hear any of this again. My advice for anyone who is thinking about attempting this is the following: don’t. It was not worth it. I am now going to head over to my bed and pass out for the next week. This is the most intense relief that I have ever felt. It’s time to sign off for good. • Tim DiFazio (Undeclared)
The Unrequited Love Song: Pop Songs Inspired by Real People
It’s every girl’s dream: Rock star writes song about girl; girl is rescued from obscurity; girl and rock star live happily ever after. That is, except for when it doesn’t work like that. Lesson one for musicians: Just because you have a stage, an instrument and possibly even a few Grammys doesn’t mean you can serenade yourself into a date. Perhaps the most pertinent example comes from 2007’s chart-topping, Grammynominated hit “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. Frontman Tom Higgenson
penned the song after meeting professional athlete Delilah DiCrescenzo through a friend. He was instantly smitten, but the lyrics of the songs highly exaggerated the nature of their relationship—especially since DiCrescenzo already had a serious boyfriend. After the song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2007, the public was curious to find out if Higgenson’s muse was real. At first, DiCrescenzo was reluctant to reveal her identity. “I was nervous that I’d let Tom’s fans down,” she said in an interview with ESPN. “They’d be disappointed to hear I have a boyfriend. Every
“Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river You can hear the boats go by You can spend the night beside her And you know that she's half crazy But that's why you want to be there”
“I tried to give you consolation When your old man had let you down. Like a fool, I fell in love with you, Turned my whole world upside down.”
girl would want a song written about her, and they’d think I was ungrateful and rude to deny Tom.” DiCrescenzo’s is a tale as old as time. Plenty of artists before and since have written love songs about real people—for better or worse. (Taylor Swift’s very public track record comes to mind). Read on to test your knowledge, and see if you know person behind the lyrics. Leslie Fowle
“Something in the way she moves Attracts me like no other lover Something in the way she woos me I don't want to leave her now”
“We know a lot 'bout each other, her mother was a crack addict She live with her granny and her younger two brothers Her favorite cousin Demetrius's irrepetible Family history of gang banging - did make me skeptical”
“Wait, they don't love you like I love you Wait, they don't love you like I love you Ma-a-a-a-ps, wait! They don't love you like I love you”
Kendrick Lamar, “Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter” Kendrick Lamar’s opening track off 2013’s good kid, m.A.A.d city is a real-life tale about his first love seducing him, only to rat him out to enemy gang members—a plot Sherane’s cousin presumably had a major part in.
Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne” Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” was written about his friend’s wife while they were all living in Montreal. Cohen and Suzanne never became romantically involved—even after Suzanne divorced her husband—although they did spend a lot of time together in Suzanne’s house by the river.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Maps” Karen O fans like to believe that “Maps” is actually an acronym for “my Angus please stay.” Whether or not this is true, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs front woman has confirmed that the song is indeed about her then boyfriend Angus Andrews of the three-piece band Liars. Legend has it that the tears in the music video in the song are also real—Andrews had shown up late on set, bringing the might Karen O to tears during the performance. Spring 2014
The Beatles, “Something” It was model Pattie Boyd that inspired guitarist George Harrison to pen the words to the second most-covered Beatles’ song of all-time. The couple met on the set of the film A Hard Day’s Night, and were later married for 11 years.
Eric Clapton, “Layla” Eric Clapton‘s “Layla” is also about Pattie Boyd, who eventually left her marriage with Harrison. Her tumultuous marriage with Clapton lasted 10 years, which Boyd ended in 1989 on the grounds of his drug abuse and infidelity. (Boyd claims to be inspiration to two more of Clapton’s songs: “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Wonderful Tonight”).
IS WU–TANG FOREVER ? Illustration by Carisa Tong (M athematics)
OR IS IT TIME FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO SIT ON THE THRONE?
2013 was supposed to be the year Wu-Tang Clan proved to the rap world that they still mattered. Producer and group-leader RZA was outspoken with his intentions to make the 20th anniversary of their classic work Enter the WuTang (36 Chambers) noteworthy, and for a time that hope appeared feasible. RZA’s goofy kung-fu film debut The Man with the Iron Fists was something of a mixed bag, but it was at least accompanied by a solid soundtrack curated by the entire group. Wu-Tang’s solo output remained strong too, with excellent showings from both Ghostface Killah and Inspectah Deck (the latter under the Czarface alias). The release of A Better Tomorrow, the first Wu-Tang Clan studio album since 2007’s eerie 8 Diagrams, might have cemented the group as one which can thrive in any era.
But then came the delays (the album has yet to get a release date). And the in-fighting (Raekwon vs. RZA, GZA vs. RZA). And the inexcusable publicity stunt that was the Ol’ Dirty Bastard hologram at 2013’s Rock the Bells festival (as with all other festival holograms, tasteless). What gave the early Wu-Tang Clan records—36 Chambers, GZA’s Liquid Swords, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx—their power, apart from killer songs and RZA’s innovative beats, was camaraderie a listener could sense in their songs. You could hear it on early single “Method Man,” where the titular MC and Raekwon traded threats in the opening skit, and it’s not hard to imagine these two stifling their laughter during recording. Today WuTang, when they’re not directing snipes at one another in interviews, have lost that quality in their music. The occasional posse cut or RZA production credit on a solo venture doesn’t erase the fact that in 2013, the chemistry isn’t there any longer. So who should we look to in modern rap for that sort of group back-patting? Or in other words, who should we look to as the modern Wu-Tang? Is there even a modern Wu-Tang? There are a few different ways to approach…I mean when you look at it like… NO. No, there is no modern Wu-Tang Clan, however you slice it. Wu-Tang’s dominance in the mid ‘90s in both solo and group ventures is unparalleled in rap history, and no one—not even Wu-Tang themselves—has come close to matching it since. There were
a few factors at play, namely in the sonics. RZA’s soul sampling technique spawned such a large sea imitators (among them Kanye West) that it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking they were at the time, and the same goes for his gritty, grimy hooks. His group in turn bolstered those beats with personality to spare, rapping alternately aggressive and playful verses about alternately grim and silly topics. Though their pantheon status places Wu-Tang on a rather high pedestal, the nine men from Staten Island were first and foremost a group of guys who liked hanging out and rapping together. They just happened to be quite good at the latter. If we focus on the former, Wu-Tang Clan’s closest modern counterpart is easily Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (oft abbreviated Odd Future). The California rap collective hit the scene with a bang in 2010 after an excellent series of mixtapes, featuring excessive teenage nihilism and RZAreferencing bass heaviness in the production. Like Wu-Tang Odd Future is at its strongest when its members gleefully piggyback off of each another’s debauchery, as on Earl Sweatshirt’s “ePAR” or Tyler, the Creator’s “French!”. Also like Wu-Tang, the group has since splintered somewhat. Odd Future’s best members—Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean—have each established solo careers for themselves, while its lesser contributors (sorry Jasper, sorry Taco) feed off the careers of their more successful friends. But their group spirit hasn’t waned, and Odd Future’s include-all approach stands
in contrast to capitalist ventures like Miami’s Maybach Music Group. Not to mention that Frank Ocean turned in a hell of a project in 2012’s Channel Orange. New York’s Pro Era crew also embodies some of the same inner-group rapport. Fronted by Joey Bada$$, the group comes closer to Odd Future in approximating WuTang’s beat selection with stuttering drums and floating guitar lines. Additionally Joey and co. take lyrical cues from ‘90s acts like Wu-Tang on songs like “Word is Bond” (a phrase popularized by the clan) and “’95 ‘Til Infinity” (a Souls of Mischief reference). They lack a marketable solo star outside of Bada$$, but Pro Era makes up for that in spades with a series of excellent group mixtapes (something Odd Future has conspicuously lacked since 2010’s Radical). With upcoming mixtape The Secc$ Tap.e 2 on the way, Pro Era seems poised to continue their stronghold over nostalgic Wu-Tang-era rap and provides a safe alternative to Odd Future’s occasionally offensive lyrical turns. Is Wu-Tang forever, though? In their modern incarnation, no—the group is unlikely to come close to their heyday even if they resolve their in-fighting. But in groups like Odd Future in Pro Era it’s clear that while Wu-Tang might be grounded in time, their legacy is indeed eternal. Between that and a string of classic releases, few artists can aspire to much more. Mike Doub (Psychology/Journalism)
E X C R U C I AT I N G EPICS the best records you’ll never want to hear twice
Heads turned last year when boundary-pushing Swedish electronic act The Knife announced that their new record, fittingly titled Shaking the Habitual, would span two CDs and a nearly 100-minute runtime. The follow-up to the sibling duo’s widely acclaimed and comparatively accessible 2006 LP Silent Shout doubled the length of its predecessor, and replaced its concise, catchy songs with unpredictable compositions veering from skeletal electronica to grating screeches and cavernous drones. Six of its 13 songs extend well past the 8-minute mark, and its monolithic centerpiece, “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized,” pushes 20. Though it was largely embraced by critics, the record immediately set off a backlash from fans expecting something much more conventional from The Knife after a 7-year wait. Shaking the Habitual’s confrontational, challenging aesthetics were in line with its politicallyminded feminist subject matter, and the combination made for a sometimes arduous journey of a listening experience. The Knife’s adventurous left-turn drew its fair share of both positive and negative buzz in 2013, and its divisive nature helped cement its status in the canon of similarly difficult epics. This category of records share a common
thread of not just being lengthy, but imposing demands and challenges upon their listeners over the course of extended runtimes. Pastoral multi-disc excursions like Joanna Newsom’s exhausting-but-lovely Have One on Me need not apply; these are the albums that try, test and occasionally abuse their audiences, and gain something of a notorious reputation for it. Shaking the Habitual heads up a trio of albums released in the past few years that epitomize this phenomenon, rounded out by Scott Walker’s unsettling 73-minute Bish Bosch and Swans’ 2-hour maelstrom The Seer. Like Habitual, these records are the opposite of an easy listen. Bish Bosch sounds something like the audio equivalent of a mental breakdown, from its inscrutable lyrics to its unpredictably bizarre song structures. It out-lengthens and out-weirds any of Walker’s other increasingly bizarre studio efforts, culminating his journey from 1960s baroque pop singer to 2000s avant-garde provocateur in an unnerving series of desolate soundscapes, unidentifiable noises and the man’s own operatic voice.
28 27 26 20
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~3 MINS
17 16 15 14 8 7 4 3 2
Captain Beefheart Trout Mask Replica
2 1 track #
“HAIR PIE: BAKE 1”
5 4 3
ALBUM LENGTH: 79 MINS
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~6 MINS ALBUM LENGTH: 141 MINS “HELPLESS CHILD”
Swans Soundtracks for the Blind
20 tracks or more
Fall 2012 Spring 2014
by the numbers
he Seer, meanwhile, lulls the listener into a false sense of security with a sweeping, beautiful opening song before plunging them headlong into a grinding 10-minute loop of a track in “Mother of the World.” Swans repeatedly harness this power of contrasting extremes over the course of The Seer’s two discs, juxtaposing folksy interludes with massive slabs of droning, pummeling noise. The album’s clamorous sprawl often resembles post-rock driven to its logical conclusion; guitars, bass and drums co-opted for the polar opposite of the concise rock song. Individual tracks tip 20 or 30 minutes each on the upper side of the scale, barreling forward toward the band’s stated goal of sonic catharsis. The release of records like these is hardly unprecedented. 1996 offers another entry from Swans with the nearly twoand-a-half hour Soundtracks for the Blind, a wildly diverse project compiled from live recordings, studio work, taperecorded conversations and innumerable other sources. A look back to 1993 encounters the punishing 73 minutes of experimental metal band Earth’s pioneering drone-doom album Earth 2. Jumping backward another few decades, German experimentalists Can released their own monster with 1971’s double-LP Tago Mago. That record blended the band’s accessible, groove-driven side with much more ominous experimental fare, most notably on the certifiably terrifying 17-minute cut “Aumgn.” Jazz’s prime example came courtesy of Miles Davis’ 84-minute, fiercely experimental Bitches Brew a year earlier, and 1969 saw Captain Beefheart lay the groundwork for decades of future weirdos with all 78 inexplicable minutes of Trout Mask Replica. It’d be naive to suggest that these records represent the only examples of the preceding five decades, and determining the true frequency of such double or triple LP slabs of strangeness released upon the general public is something for the music archivists and stat geeks of the world to somehow objectively unravel. Still, the mainstream visibility of the aforementioned Habitual / Seer / Bish Bosch trifecta does tell us something about the current state of music criticism for modern artists willing to push these extremes. The three records average a score of 83 on the reviews aggregator site Metacritic, and each made appearances on numerous year-end lists alongside much more conventionally appealing albums. It’s hard to imagine saying the same about Trout Mask Replica or Tago Mago in their respective release years, regardless of how lauded they are today. Many an argument has been made for the Internet age shortening the typical attention span, but in some sense the Internet culture surrounding music, especially music of the bizarre and experimental varieties, has allowed difficult long-form work to spread further and gain more traction. Whereas the length and generally abrasive nature of a record like The Seer may once have doomed it to obscurity, the buzz and attention it received from the Internet music press in 2012 elevated it toward an experience to be marveled at and debated by a much wider audience. And when, as a result, a band like Swans is dropped in the middle of a Jack Johnson-headlined Bonnaroo lineup, the proliferation of weirdness scans as a good thing indeed. By Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Miles Davis Bitches Brew
The Knife Shaking the Habitual
Swans The Seer
Can Tago Mago
Scott Walker Bish Bosch
Earth Earth 2
20 tracks or less
ALBUM LENGTH: 94 MINS
BE REALIZED” 19 MINS
“OLD DREAMS WAITING TO
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~17 MINS
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~11 MINS
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~7.5 MINS
ALBUM LENGTH: 96 MINS
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~11 MINS
ALBUM LENGTH: 119 MINS
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~8 MINS
ALBUM LENGTH: 73 MINS
“LIKE GOLD AND FACETED”
ALBUM LENGTH: 73 MINS
“SDSS1416+13B (ZERCON, A
“THE SEER” 32 MINS
7 LONGEST TRACK:
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH: ~24 MINS
ALBUM LENGTH: 73 MINS
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Broken Bells After the Disco Release date February 4, 2014 Label Columbia Genre Pop/Rock Tasty tracks Perfect World, Control, Lazy Wonderland
If you wrote off Broken Bells’ first album as a one-time curiosity, no one could blame you. After a short 2010 tour and a few spacey music videos the project fell on the back-burner for its two members’ other affairs. For singer James Mercer that meant returning to the Shins with 2012’s divisive Port of Morrow, and for multiinstrumentalist Danger Mouse that meant producing records for everyone from Norah Jones to U2. The announcement of a second album from the group came as a surprise, then, although far from an unpleasant one. That self-titled record was a fun collection of left-field pop songs worth remembering. As it turns out you can write off that first album after all, though, since After the Disco more or less does too. Broken Bells’ sophomore effort tosses out the styles employed on Broken Bells and replaces them
with slinky, bass-driven 4/4 disco jams. It’s a jarring choice, initially, but After the Disco’s genre shift clicks on tracks like the opener “Perfect World,” where drum crashes and an infectious hook propel the song through its six-plus minute runtime. The attention to orchestration also works on “The Changing Lights” and “Control,” both of which are benefited by spaghetti-western guitars and swaggering drums. Danger Mouse’s production mastery is apparent throughout, and each of these songs are sprinkled with sonic details that could conceivably remain hidden until the third, fourth or even fifth listens. After the Disco suffers from uniformity, though. Broken Bells’ first release offered an eclectic mix of styles that benefited from synthesis, like the punchy “Ghost Inside” and warm analog-crackle of “The High Road.” This time around, listeners are treated to little of that same variety, and too many tracks use over-production to disguise otherwise by-the-numbers indie rock (“Leave it Alone” and first single “Holding on for Life” come to mind). Fortunately these songs have a strong communicator in Mercer,
who as on Port of Morrow elevates even the weakest material with his unmistakable voice. His turn on the psychedelic “Lazy Wonderland” for example grants the otherwise decent song the beauty of the best Shins ballads. “The Angel and the Fool” also features a great Mercer delivery. To call Broken Bells a lightning in the bottle moment would be overstating the virtues of a pleasant diversion from two proven artists. Nevertheless, After the Disco doesn’t quite capture the magic of that record, and shows the danger of focusing on sonic prettiness over good songwriting. There’s too much talent onboard for After the Disco to fail entirely, and it’d be unfair to say that each artist’s best work is behind them (I quite liked Port of Morrow). But after hearing this release I found myself more excited for the upcoming Danger Mouseproduced U2 album than whatever Broken Bells cook up next, and that’s not something I ever hoped to say. Mike Doub (Psychology/Journalism)
Bruce Springsteen High Hopes Release date January 14, 2014 Label Columbia Genre Rock Tasty tracks: Frankie Fell in Love, Down in the Hole, The Wall
There was never any doubt that Bruce Springsteen’s eighteenth studio album, High Hopes, would rise to become a number one selling album—the eleventh of his career. Springsteen has rightfully established himself as an inescapable and deserving colossus of American music. He has integrated himself so deeply into the psyche of America that he begins to sound like its soundtrack. But High Hopes does not place itself in this tradition. Rather than feeling like the natural next chapter of a long and fruitful career, High Hopes feels like a haphazard collection of a career’s remnants. High Hopes was a precarious concept for an album to begin with. Consisting of no new material, it was imagined as a way to put together songs that Springsteen had covered, cut out of past albums, or reworked. For an artist who depends on storylines so heavily, exhibited on albums such as Tunnel of Love or Born in the U.S.A., this was a dangerous and ultimately destructive decision. Without any overarching style or theme, the album feels like it’s cut out of wildly different moments in Springsteen’s life. “Frankie Fell in Love” falls squarely into the tradition of small-town triumphs that have become the lifeblood of Springsteen’s appeal. Other tracks, such as “The Wall,” “Down in the Hole” and “Hunter of Invisible Game,” show an attempt to continue and develop the more pensive and deliberate style Springsteen mastered on Nebraska. These tracks possess a heavy, almost spiritual beauty. They have a liturgical feel to their lyrics that can be felt especially in “Hunter of Invisible Game.” While these songs do not fit into an overarching theme of the album, they stand alone decently. The real issues arise when Springsteen departs from his stylistic past, which can be blamed largely on his collaboration with guitarist Tom Morello. High Hopes features much heavier and more processed guitar
than any previous Springsteen album, all thanks to Morello (yes, of Rage Against the Machine). This unlikely duo formed on Springsteen’s 2012 Australian tour when Morello replaced Steven Van Zandt. Since then they have collaborated on a series of concerts and recordings. The title track and first song on the album was largely Morello’s influence, and it’s indicative of the incompatibility of their relationship, with flashy and brash guitar riffs overtaking the song and making it too annoying to be listenable. Unlike past idols, such as Pete Seeger and Dylan, he doesn’t compliment Springsteen’s sentimental and relatable style, but rather makes it feel insincere. The grab bag nature of this album means that the entire album isn’t bad, but the listener can’t help but be turned on and off abruptly throughout it. “The best way to describe this record is that’s it’s a bit of an
anomaly…I don’t really work linearly like a lot of people do,” Springsteen said in an interview with Rolling Stone. That sounds a lot like an excuse for an incoherent album to me. At the end of High Hopes, the largest emotion I felt was betrayal. The Bruce I loved was there, glimmering underneath the dysfunctional and lacking arrangements of the album, but there was too much frustration to enjoy it. Siena Faughnan (History)
Warpaint Warpaint Release date January 17, 2014 Label Rough Trade Genre Indie Rock Tasty tracks: Disco//very, Keep it Healthy, Love to Die
Reviews Spring 2014
After four long years, on January 17th, L.A. ambient rock band Warpaint finally released their second full-length album. Following up 2010’s well-recieved debut, The Fool, would be a challenge for anyone— not to mention a band that’s used up three drummers in the last three years. Though they seem to have settled with the talented Stella Mozgawa, and the quartet has recorded and self-produced their sophomore album, called Warpaint—a selftitled choice that seems to foreshadow a lack of creativity for the 51-minute record. It begins with a building intro and “artsy” slip-up, setting a recording studio vibe. This approach works at first. Plucks on electric guitars and complex drumming mesmerize. The quick transition from “Intro” to “Keep It Healthy” sounds natural, and hazy harmonies accompany whispered layering. “Love Is To Die” is perhaps the best-written, and is certainly the most catchy song here—which is why the band released it as a single earlier this year. And then, an oddly simple chorus chimes in with cliché lyrics: “love is to die/love is to not die/ love is to dance.” And the song drags on. The psych-rock intro to “Biggy” is moderately memorable, building on a heavy, synthy bass-line and shaker. And there’s nothing off about Emily Kokal’s voice, other than her lyrics being rendered unintelligible through her dreamy high notes. Likewise, “Teese” becomes a big blur after one minute of hazy harmonies and extremely soft drumming. By four minutes, the vocals revert back to basic “na, na, na’s” and unremarkable looping. “Disco//very” seems to be the track most reminiscent to their work on The Fool. The
four-minute song’s harmonized shouting and femme-punk instrumentation sound like a cross between sad Icona Pop and the western Massachusetts band Potty Mouth, but even with those girly screeches, their most outgoing song feels like it’s holding something back. Appropriately “Feeling Alright” is just alright, and compared to similar acts like Beach House the instrumental work is less varied—surprising for an album that was mixed by Radiohead’s producer Nigel Godrich and U2 collaborator Flood. The use of keys and synth on this album does bring a nice change of pace though, especially to a foursome that might otherwise be considered a jam band. And that’s not to say that these four are at all arrogant about their music. Each member of Warpaint is
an accomplished musician, and all of them contribute beautiful, ghostly vocals to this record. In the right venue their intricate post-punk ambiance would probably make an incredible live show. But the melodies, most of which drag on past four minutes each, never find resolution in an arrangement, or possess “stuck in your head” potential. As a result unfamiliar ears might never warm up to Warpaint’s Warpaint. Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism)
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Bruce Springsteen: an american Mascot
It’s pointless to go over how popular he is. But why is it every time I bring up Bruce Springsteen, I become the butt of every joke? See to us, our generation of millennials, Bruce is “Dad music.”
To us he is just a rock superstar in blue jeans from some bygone era. A look at Springsteen’s life will tell the story of the post-war American Dream and a listen to his gospel conveys the forever yearning for it; from Vietnam War veterans getting a raw deal upon coming home in the horrendously misunderstood “Born in the U.S.A” to the everyman battle cry of “Wrecking Ball” (No- not that wrecking ball). Looking at his catalogue as a whole, you’ll see an evolution in his rendition of the American heartland. His first album was the nascent Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973), which served as his literal declaration of, “Here is who I am and here is where I’m from.” His long hair and bohemian attitude fit his time, but he maintained identity within his New Jersey roots, which he has miraculously kept charming all these years. Springsteen’s best work came very early in for him in 1975 with Born to Run. It spoke of the peak of adolescence and the coming of age in small town America. “Thunder Road” opens the album with a playful little piano tune that changes abruptly into a take-tothe-road rock song. The message of this song would become Springsteen’s bread and butter: we’re not perfect, but that’s OK. The title track, “Born to Run,” is an exhilarating ride about carefree abandonment into something bigger and mysterious.
The stark weather-inspired Nebraska (1982) came after a string of successes with Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and The River (1980) and was a major departure for him musically. Springsteen went solo for this one. This album saw a hit song, “Atlantic City,” and contained very dark tales of murder and run-ins with the law, “State Trooper”. It was a successful risk for him straying away from his formula. He would do it again multiple times over his career, famously with The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995). Born to Run made him a rock star. Born in the USA (1984) made him an icon. USA spoke to the Vietnam veterans and blue collars of America struggling for identity, love and work. This album also saw the birth of a new image for Bruce: gone was the long hair, beard and bandannas. Bruce had bulked up and was sporting his iconic white t-shirt and blue jeans. He went from scoundrel to working man. USA also put Bruce onto a political podium forever, and he didn’t necessarily shy away from it. In the aftermath of the 2008 recession— after 2006’s foray into covering traditional Americana folk—came the angry white collar scrapbook Wrecking Ball (2012). Much of it is his usual arena rock sound (One of his best songs in his entire catalogue, “Land of Hope and Dreams”) but “Rocky Ground” is a very experimental track. There’s some rap in
it. He’s not doing it, but it’s in there. And it’s taking heavy inspiration from and Christian faith and choral arrangements. “Rocky Ground” acts of the Sunday service in the album tale of economic hardship. His consistent presence is astounding. He’s still putting on three hour shows (he’s 64 now) and he’s continuously writing new material. His success has mostly to do with his ability to be reliable. He’s there to tell you what to do when you’re down on your luck (“The Wrestler”) or trying to get a girl to go out with you (“Rosalita”). He can get us ready for work in the morning and then help us reflect on what it is all about. Well, I guess that is kind of a Dad move. Andy Robinson (Journalism)
* “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle 1973
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. 1973
“His first album was his literal declaration of, ‘Here is where I’m from and here is who I am.’”
Lucky Town 1992
Human Touch 1992
The Rising 2002
recommended * denotes albums and tracks Spring 2014
* “The Ghost of Tom Joad”
The Ghost of Tom Joad 1995
* “My City in Ruins” “The Rising”
Devils & Dust 2005
The River 1980
* “Thunder Road” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”
Born to Run 1975
Darkness on the Edge of Town 1978
* “Atlantic City”
* “I’m on Fire”
Born in the USA 1984
Tunnel of Love 1987
“[Born in the] USA spoke to the Vietnam veterans and blue collars of America struggling for identity, love, and work.”
* “Pay me My Money Down
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions 2006
Wrecking Ball 2012
Working on a Dream 2009
* “The Ghost of Tom Joad (featuring Tom Morello)”
* “Land of Hope and Dreams”
High Hopes 2014 49
TASTY RECIPE Don’t let the ‘vegan’ part of this dressing turn you off. There’s a reason my omnivorous and vegetarian friends alike affectionately call this recipe “crack sauce.” I think the secret’s in the Vegenaise, a mayo alternative you can purchase for a small fortune at Whole Foods. It’s the perfect combination of creamy and salty, and you still get to tell yourself it’s good for you ‘cause it’s vegan. I brought this dressing to a Tastemakers staff potluck last year, and they have been begging me for the recipe ever since. Well, here it is. Actual crack optional. Moldy
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Ingredients 1 Cup Vegenaise 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard 1 clove garlic (minced) 1 tablespoon water 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon Olive oil 2 teaspoons Nutritional Yeast Salt and Pepper to taste.
Vegan Caesar Dressing Type of dish Dressing Preparation time 10 minutes Difficulty Easy
ZOOMED Can you tell which six album covers we’ve zoomed in on here?
Miles Davis Bitches Brew, Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA, Can Tago Mago 2nd Row:
Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Arctic Monkeys AM, Lil B 05 Fuck Em 1st Row:
FIND BIEBER We’ve hidden Justin Bieber somewhere in this issue. Find him and maybe something cool will happen...
” C Z K L RW 4
E Z RMF —Lil B
*Special mugshot edition* 51