High Scores | 11
An Interview with Haerts | 36
a guide to
northeastern students on music
TMM Concert Survey | 40
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President Dinorah Wilson
Staff Writers Aaron Decker Tim DiFazio Tom Doherty Anna Glina Nathan Goldman Amanda Hoover Cara McGrath David Murphy Mackenzie Nichols Max Oyer Thomas Reid Kelly Subin Jackie Swisshelm
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The Cover Photo Ben Stas
Tastemakers Music Magazine 232 Curry Student Center 360 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA 02115 firstname.lastname@example.org © 2013 tastemakers music magazine all rights reserved
Art & Design Jack Dombrowski Ally Healy Andrea Hernandez 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 Jane McGinnis Megan Rickborn Kelly Subin Alex Taylor Carisa Tong Leah Zwemke
Meet the Staff
David Murphy Position Staff Writer Major Psychology Graduating Spring 2017 Favorite Venue Fox Theatre in Oakland, CA Tastemaker Since Fall 2013
HAIM “Days Are Gone”
“I’m very casual with myself.”
Milk Carton Kids Retrospect Curtis Mayfield Curtis
Jackie Swisshelm Position Staff Writer Major Journalism Graduating December 2014 Favorite Venue Paradiso in Amsterdam Tastemaker Since Fall 2013
Frightened Rabbit “Poke”
Angel Haze “Same Love” CHVRCHES The Bones of What You Believe
Tim DiFazio Position Staff Writer Major English Graduating 2017 or some junk? Tastemaker Since Fall 2013
Boris Amplifier Worship Fire! Orchestra Exit The sounds of Pokemon X
“Everyone I knew in West Virginia owned at least one pair of shoes.”
Photo by Ryan Kehr (English)
Table of Contents Cover Story
The Kids are Alright
Music = Money
Boston’s Recording Studios A guide to recording studios in Boston and beyond
Another look at “selling out”
High Scores The 10 best original soundtracks in the gaming world
Atoms for Peace, Bill Callahan, Flaming Lips and Chadwick Stokes
Reviews of The Weeknd, Run the Jewels, Drake and Chelsea Wolfe’s new albums
Notions of Promotion Album releases in 2013
TMM Concert Survey Get to know the Tastemakers staff through their concert experiences
A brief profile of children’s choirs in contemporary music
Dirty Beaches Tastemakers talks to Alex Zhang Hungtai before his Church of Boston show
Haerts A Q&A with HAERTS after they serenaded Centennial Common at Tastemakers presents
Calendar Local Photos
Funeral Advantage Massachusetts native builds a Boston fanbase that spans many genres
Aero A look at a Northeastern alum’s progressive-rock inspired band
An Introduction to Dr. Dog Jump into Dr. Dog’s discography
Just a Taste of Anjimile
Calendar November Su
How to Dress Well Brighton Music Hall
The Dismemberment Plan Paradise Rock Club
Neko Case Orpheum Theatre
The Fratellis Paradise Rock Club
Poliça Paradise Rock Club
Caspian The Sinclair
John Vanderslice Great Scott
My Bloody Valentine
Albert Hammond Jr.
House of Blues
Brighton Music Hall
Titus Andronicus Paradise Rock Club
Moving Mountains Great Scott
Third Eye Blind House of Blues
James Blake House of Blues
Brighton Music Hall
House of Blues
Gary Clark Jr. Royale
Andrew Belle Brighton Music Hall
Charlie XCX The Sinclair
Brighton Music Hall
House of Blues
Active Child Brighton Music Hall
Cut Copy House of Blues
Elton John TD Garden
Sky Ferreira & Smith Westerns Paradise Rock Club
Kanye West TD Garden
Cat Power Paradise Rock Club
Beach Fossils Middle East
Alesso House of Blues
Laura Mvula The Sinclair
Rubblebucket Paradise Rock Club
Amos Lee Orpheum Theatre
The White Buffalo Brighton Music Hall
The Lone Bellow Paradise Rock Club
Timeflies Orpheum Theatre
Arturo Sandoval Scullers Jazz Club
Adam Ezra Brighton Music Hall
Mono Brighton Music Hall
Araabmuzik Paradise Rock Club
Miracles of Modern Science The Sinclair
Emilie Autumn Paradise Rock Club
Hoodie Allen House of Blues
Kevin Devine Brighton Music Hall
NOFX House of Blues
Cat Power November 18 @ Paradise Rock Club
The White Buffalo November 19 @ Brighton Music Hall
The epitome of sad girl music for sad girls (and guys) comes to Paradise Rock Club. Witness Chan Marshall on tour for the release of her 9th studio record, Sun—her first album of all-original material since 2006. Bring tissues.
The White Buffalo will be promoting his new album, Shadows, Grey’s & Evil Ways at Brighton Music Hall on November 19. The opportunity does not come often to see this talented musician accompanied by a full band!
Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism)
Cara McGrath(Graphic Design)
Megadeth House of Blues
Cass McCombs The Sinclair
Lupe Fiasco House of Blues
Matthew E. White Great Scott
King Krule Brighton Music Hall
Eli Young Band House of Blues
Matisyahu House of Blues
Rod Stewart TD Garden
MGMT Orpheum Theatre
Rustic Overtones The Sinclair
Red Fang Middle East
Anthony Green The Sinclair
Ryan Beatty Brighton Music Hall
Queens of the Stone Age Agganis Arena
Dinosaur Jr. The Sinclair
Beyoncé TD Garden
Street Dogs House of Blues
Common House of Blues
Lake Street Dive
Mellowhigh (members of Odd Future)
Brighton Music Hall
Phantogram Paradise Rock Club
Dinosaur Jr. The Sinclair
Saves the Day Brighton Music Hall
The Breeders Paradise Rock Club
Kiss 108 Jingle Ball TD Garden
Scott Law Club Passim
Trans-Siberian Orchestra TD Garden
Holiday Pops Symphony Hall
House of Blues
Soulive Paradise Rock Club
Bas Rabbits The Sinclair
Mighty Bosstones House of Blues
The Felice Brothers Brighton Music Hall
Laura Mvula November 21 @ The Sinclair
Rubblebucket Orchestra November 22 @ Paradise Rock Club
Too hip for the House of Blues? Too broke for the Garden? Head over to the positively posh Sinclair in Cambridge to catch the glowing Laura Mvula live! If butterflies could listen to music and had the power of speech, they’d tell you to go see this show. She’s that good.
This November Rubblebucket Orchestra returns to Boston! This band’s unmatchable energy is guaranteed to leave a mark on Paradise Rock Club and all those lucky enough to join.
Thomas Reid (Undeclared)
Max Oyer (Health Sciences)
Reviews Atoms for Peace
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Atoms for Peace September 27 @ Barclays Center With Radiohead once more in a period of deactivation, Thom Yorke has turned his attention toward a proper tour with all-star side-project Atoms for Peace. The group, consisting of Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and well-traveled percussionists Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco, first united for a limited number of dates behind Yorke’s 2009 solo LP The Eraser. They released their debut collaborative effort Amok back in February, and a U.S. tour that took them to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center began in late September. Even with the star-power behind Yorke and Flea’s names and the seemingly endless stream of New Yorkers piling into Barclays on this Friday night, it seemed doubtful that
the band could fill the arena’s 19,000 seats. Opener James Holden started things off with a textured electronic set as the inward procession of audience members continued, blending analog and digital devices with live drums to set the evening’s tone. Lo and behold, there were few empty seats to be found by the time Yorke and company took the stage. It was a packed house for one of the band’s only East Coast dates. Over the course of 17 songs and two encores, Atoms for Peace delivered wholeheartedly on the promise of its illustrious lineup. Yorke retained his frontman role, singing lead vocals from behind guitar or piano, or occasionally sans-instrument from atop the stage-front monitors. With his
falsetto in fine form, his charmingly goofy dance moves abundant and his stage presence a bit more talkative than the last Radiohead tour, Yorke appeared to be having a ball. His main project often requires a measure of dour seriousness on stage, but Atoms for Peace reads as his opportunity to cut loose and have more fun. The rest of the band, particularly the restlessly energetic Flea, followed suit. A sense that band members are genuinely enjoying themselves on stage never fails to improve a concert-going experience, especially when they manage to sound as good doing it as Atoms for Peace did on this evening. Yorke has cited Afrobeat as being a major inspiration behind Amok, which was fully pronounced in the group’s vibrant rhythm section. Refosco and Waronker brought out the percussive complexity in these songs, while Flea’s unconventional bass playing anchored the low end almost as a lead instrument. Yorke and Godrich’s guitars served to add texture to the music rather than function as the centerpieces. The band worked through seven of Amok’s nine songs, with “Default” and the encore-closing title track as major highlights of the night. Yorke’s Eraser songs factored almost as heavily into the setlist as the new tracks, receiving subtle sonic makeovers with the full-band approach. Flea’s major chances to shine came with the prominent bass lines of older songs like “Harrowdown Hill,” “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses” and the dub-y Radiohead b-side “Paperbag Writer.” With the band in top form and playing to an enormous and enthusiastic crowd, this was an evening to remember. Even the long drive back from Brooklyn couldn’t kill that vibe. Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Chadwick Stokes September 20 @ A Living Room in Jamaica Plain
Imagine the most intimate venue you’ve seen a show in. Maybe it’s a small club or bar, or maybe a coffee house. Take that venue and shrink it to the size of a living room. Now make it an actual living room with a fireplace, a few lamps and some rows of mismatched chairs. Your favorite artist is sitting no more than four feet in front of you and playing for a crowd of about 35 fans. No amps, no microphones, just a dude on a stool. This is the scene in which I spent the evening of Friday, September 20 seeing Chadwick Stokes on Chadwick Stokes
Cara McGrath (Graphic Design)
Bill Callahan October 05 @ The Sinclair For someone who’s been releasing records since the early ‘90s, Bill Callahan has surprisingly few albums to his own name. Known as Smog in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Callahan retired that moniker in 2005 because of its connotation to a rather gross phenomenon. The change in name signaled a paradigm shift in his music, evolving from somewhat fuzzy singer/songwriter tunes to richly orchestrated Americana songs. Each album he’s released since reclaiming his name has seen the Maryland native become reserved in his lyrics over increasingly lush instrumentals, and this year’s Dream River is a 2013 highlight for that reason. This soft-spoken persona was on display during Callahan’s concert at the Sinclair on October 5th. That night, Callahan delivered the kind of intimate performance you might expect from your music-playing dad and a couple of his friends on a Sunday afternoon. Joined by a second guitarist, bassist and drummer, Callahan dismantled rock trappings at every turn. Not only were Callahan and his band seated throughout the entire show, but the Sinclair even saw fit to bring out wooden chairs (unless, as I suspect, Bill Callahan brings wooden chairs on tour with him). The music rarely became what one might call “raucous;” even the moments of guitar distortion occurred at an easygoing tempo. And Callahan himself was characteristically silent, ignoring repeated cries for songs. His stoicism did crack briefly to return a fan’s “I love you,” though, just to let us know he cared. The bulk of Callahan’s set was composed of songs from Dream River. He opened with “The Sing,” the first song from that album and a
stately tune which features the most quotable lyric of his career (“The only words I’ve said today are beer and thank you”). Callahan also played a small selection of Smog songs, as well as several from 2011’s excellent Apocalypse. “America!” from that album was a highlight, with Callahan employing a wry lyrical wit in front of a red, white and blue backdrop. Later another Apocalypse cut, “Riding for the Feeling,” established the wistful melancholy spirit Callahan does so well, with a slowmoving beat and echoing lead guitar licks. It was a fan-pleasing set for any fans with a cursory knowledge of his last several albums. The drawback was that the performance lasted well over two hours. That isn’t to say that one should avoid long performances,
or that I don’t enjoy long performances by artists I’m fond of (as a rule, I do). But when your music isn’t varied in regards to speed, and happens to be lengthy on a song by song basis, you probably shouldn’t be playing for what’s traditionally considered a long time. I wouldn’t caution anyone against seeing Bill Callahan, or even avoid seeing him again myself. But if you do plan to attend, get a full night of sleep first: it’s a prog-folk endurance test not meant for the tired of heart. Mike Doub (Psychology)
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
his “Living Room Tour.” Needless to say, the cozy setting alone was enough to make it an incomparable experience. Rather than a run-of-the-mill tour, Stokes of Dispatch and State Radio decided to travel from home to home in order to raise money for his upcoming solo album. On this night, a friendly couple hosted the show in their beautiful abode in Jamaica Plain. Stokes played familiar songs from all of his projects, including Dispatch classics like “Open Up” and “Elias,” State Radio favorites such as “Mr. Larkin” and “Gunship Politico” and tracks from his first solo release including “All My Possessions.” Additionally, Stokes’ younger brother, a member of his first solo backing band The Pintos, accompanied him on vocals
for a few songs, including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Moonshiner.” Listening to Stokes test out his new songs, and hearing him tell stories and discuss the meaning behind each one of them, was definitely something that made the concert stand out even more. Getting a glimpse at brand new tunes such as “Dead Badger” and “Downtown/Prison Blue Eyes” before their release was a real treat. It was incredible how great his voice sounded completely untouched. It was equally incredible to hear the whole room sing along to his old songs. Stokes interacted with the crowd in a way that is never fully possible in even the smallest of real venues. He pointed out that his parents and friends were in the back of the
room. He took requests, made jokes, asked for help with his own lyrics and took a Polaroid photo of his fans. After an hour-and-a-half long acoustic set, Stokes cracked a beer and made his way around the room to individually speak to all of the guests who had come out to support him, answering questions, shaking hands and posing for photos. With all of his touring experience, Chadwick Stokes is the type of musician who is amiable and charismatic enough to pull off such an intimate, unorthodox concert. Other artists would certainly please fans with a tour as lowkey and personal as this one. Cara McGrath (Graphic Design)
Reviews The Flaming Lips
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
The Flaming Lips September 30 @ Agganis Arena The Flaming Lips kicked off the second leg of their 2013 tour on September 30 with the opening show in Boston, pulling out an expected set of unexpected antics. Fans of The Lips know that weird has always been one of the driving forces behind the band’s success, and their show at BU’s Agganis Arena only proved to perpetuate their love of strange. The Flaming Lips were smart to commission Tame Impala as an opening act – the two bands paired well to create a psychedelic atmosphere for the night. Tame Impala burned through their set, breaking out the crowd favorites such as “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Taking the stage after the flawless opening set, The Lips appeared amongst an array of dancing lights projected from the stage and around the arena. Wearing a bright blue suit and cradling a baby doll, frontman Wayne Coyne took the stage as the band opened with “Look…The Sun is Rising,” the first track from their thirteenth studio album, The Terror. Fall 2013
The opening songs set the stage for a darker Lips show than what fans may have anticipated, coinciding with the tone of their latest album. Without dancers, puppets or Coyne’s trademark man-sized hamster ball taking a trip into the audience, the band’s performance was more melancholy than their usual shows. Coyne asked for encouraging cheers from the audience to help the band power through the sadder pieces, such as “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton” and “Try to Explain.” They temporarily put the slow and spacey songs to rest, busting through the militant “The W.A.N.D.” with Coyne flashing a light into the audience from above his head. Noticeably varied from the beginning of the set, “The W.A.N.D.” was the first song that seemed to excite the crowd as confetti stormed its way around the arena. The spacey, mellow vibe returned for most of the show, and there were definitely some hit-and-miss moments throughout their anything-goes performance. While the light show helped to manifest the abstract ambience the Lips have always managed to
create through their music and performances, some of the drawn out, repetitive and freeform jams carried on to the point where the audience could potentially lose interest. Upon returning to the stage for an encore, the Lips began with their biggest hit: “Do You Realize??” This feel-good tune has been a staple of their shows since its release, and worked well to bring the show full circle with a nice, clean and uplifting finish that balanced the heavier, melancholy mood from earlier in the set. The night proved to be solid example of The Flaming Lips’ dedication to innovation and creativity as they pushed their music and performance away from their standard tricks and into a different realm. Amanda Hoover (Journalism)
high scores: THE 10 BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACKS IN THE GAMING WORLD By Joey Dussault (Journalism)
The term “video game” has existed in our lexicon for over 30 years now, yet we still don’t seem to appreciate those who create their most memorable soundtracks. At least, not in the way we value their peers in both film and television. These songs must cater to a userdriven experience, which exists in no other medium. The best video game scores have a high replay value—indeed they need to, as they loop in seeming infinity for the duration of gameplay. All of this doesn’t even take into account the technical limitations of creating music for an 8- or 16-bit processor, as was the case with many of the games here. This list will serve to recognize those composers and songs that made our gaming experiences worthwhile.
super smash bros. melee
Although it was the second in the series, Super Smash Bros. Melee was a game-changer—pardon the awful pun—for both Nintendo and beat-’em-up party games as a whole. Noted, its placement on this list might draw skepticism as it accesses musical themes from a slew of Nintendo’s flagship games. Well, non-believers need only look to the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra’s arrangement of those familiar themes. The NJPO breathes new life into otherwise tired overtures. It transformed “Gourmet Race” from the Kirby series from a playful, if somewhat forgettable, 16-bit motif to “Fountain of Dreams,” a full-blown orchestral movement. For revitalizing these songs for a new generation, Nintendo owes them a great debt. For crafting the perfect battle music, we likewise owe a debt.
There are few franchises more pervasive in pop-culture than Pokémon, and that can be partially attributed to its instantly recognizable music. Each location and scenario is paired with a corresponding theme by Junichi Masuda—who has composed complex and dynamic music for every main-series game to date. The “Gym Leader Battle” theme has yet to be weathered by hours of grueling battle. The eerie “Lavender Town” theme has infiltrated the nightmares of an entire generation of children and has even inspired one of the most well known “creepypastas” on the Internet. And finally, the “Trainer Red” battle theme: this score accompanies arguably the most climactic battle in the series, and still evokes a twitch of fear in a generation of players.
> “Fountain of Dreams” > “Fire Emblem” > “Depth of Brinster”
> “Trainer Red” from Gold/Silver/Crystal > “Gym Leader Battle” from Red/Blue/Yellow > “Mt. Pyre Peak” from Ruby/Sapphire
history of controllers
a timeline of the most prominent console game controllers over the past 3 decades.
Illustrated By Stephanie Lee
The music of Bastion matches its art style in richness and intricacy. The juxtaposition of droning acoustic guitars with deep electronic beats suits the fantastic realm in which the game takes place. Darren Korb’s composition has double merit—it’s fullness and melodic simplicity compliments gameplay, but never sounds explicitly like “video game music.” Korb could perform these songs on tour with RJD2 or a likeminded artist without sounding out of place. Each song holds up out of the context of the game, and supports the idea that video game scores are indeed a legitimate venue for composers.
legend of zelda: ocArina of time While nearly every game in the Legend of Zelda series has probably earned a spot on this list for musical excellence, Ocarina of Time wins out. Not only does the score enhance the game; it is actually essential to the gameplay. Koji Kondo’s motifs are intensely memorable in this game—so much so that “Song of Storms” will probably be the requested equivalent of “Free Bird” among discerning band geeks for all time, which ought to be a great honor for Kondo.
Notable Tracks: > “From Wharf to Wilds” > “The Bottom Feeders”
Notable Tracks: The meticulous architecture of sound present in Mass Effect is only proper for the vastness and depth of the universe therein. The narrative structure of this game is intensely complemented by its cinematic soundtrack, which is either appropriately opulent or necessarily downplayed, depending on the stretch of plot. Jack Wall and Sam Hulick’s compositions are inspired by the sci-fi classic Blade Runner, with great success. Vangelis would be proud.
> “Gerudo Valley” > “Song of Storms”
final fanstasy vii
In the RPG world, few games hold the esteem of the Final Fantasy series. Square Enix’s crown jewel has a long history of lush scores, but none so much as its acclaimed seventh installment. Final Fantasy VII ushered in the age of 3D-rendered gameplay with a lavish original soundtrack. After over 15 years, it retains its emotional intensity without sounding dated. Nobuo Uematsu continues to perform his compositions from this game (including the now-classic “One-Winged Angel”) under a myriad of different ensembles, and does so with persistent success, a true testament to the strength of his work.
> “Mass Effect Theme” > “Vigil”
donkey kong country series For a game series about anthropomorphic apes and their unusually heroic quest for bananas, it would seem that there isn’t much room left for subtlety. And yet, the Donkey Kong Country series offers some of the most understated and beautiful music of any game in its class. Melodically memorable and driven by rhythm, “Stickerbrush Symphony” is fraught with shades of Peter Gabriel—this is a good thing. Careful composition by David Wise holds up not only in the context of the game itself, but as standalone pieces of music.
Notable Tracks: > “Jenova” > “One-Winged Angel” > “Battle Theme”
Notable Tracks: > “Aquatic Ambience” > “Stickerbrush Symphony” from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest
kingdom hearts series
Few, if any games match the beloved Kingdom Hearts series in emotional impact. Yoko Shimomura’s contribution to the series is on par with Joe Hisaishi’s work with filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki; his compositions are sweeping and angelic, amplifying every sentiment felt therein. The pieces, performed and recorded partially by the New Japan Philharmonic, contain diverse and powerful movements, each one contributing to the intense feeling of nostalgia for anyone who has experienced the pleasure of playing. The charm is not limited to nostalgia, though. These songs are some of the more beautiful ever composed, for a video game or otherwise.
Notable Tracks: Befitting of an RPG of this caliber. Yasunori Mitsuda’s score is exceptional, even held up to his other notable work on Mario Party and Square Enix’s Xenosaga: Episode 1. Almost minimalistic compared to contemporary games, Mitsuda builds his songs using leitmotifs. The scope of the compositions is also impressive—Mitsuda’s scores are around two minutes before repeating, an incredible amount of time for games of that period. The aforementioned Uematsu’s contribution should not be discounted either. Between the two of them, they crafted an early masterpiece of a game soundtrack, setting the bar impossibly high for their successors.
> “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts II > “Hikari Kingdom (Orchestra)” from Kingdom Hearts
Honorable Mentions: MEGAMAN X > “Spark Mandrill Stage”
SCOTT VS. THE WORLD: THE GAME
> “Zeal Palace” > “Sealed Door”
> “Another Winter” (by Anamanaguchi)
SUPER METROID CASTLEVANIA SERIES > “Bloody Tears”w
This hyper-stylized action platformer secures its place on the list by displaying a fastidious multi-genre appreciation of music. The diversity is astounding—winding piano-driven orchestrations are musical bedfellows to J-Pop and Enochian choirs. One of its main themes is actually a rendition of Sinatra’s classic (actually written by Bart Howard in 1954) “Fly Me to the Moon.” Although the song is not original, the arrangement is so unique, it’s almost hard to recognize. The pace of the music is exciting—as is the promise of a sequel.
SHADOW OF COLOSSUS
> “Green Hill Zone”
DRAGON BALL Z: BUDOKAI > “A Hero’s Desperation”
ELDER SCROLL SERIES > “Main Theme”
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
> “Climatic Battle” > “Temperantia (In Foregoing Pleasures” > “Fly Me to the Moon”
Superchunk Paradise, September 2013 Goblin (opposite page) The Sinclair, October 2013
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Phoenix House of Blues, October 2013
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
10 ft. Ganja Plant (top left) The Sinclair, September 2013
Kit Castange (Economics) Daughter (top right) Royale, October 2013
Lauren Kovalefsky (Business) Tamaryn Tastemakers Presents, Centennial Common, October 2013
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
An Introduction to Dr. Dog Ever since co-frontmen Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman met as teenagers, theyâ€™ve been writing music together. Once 1999 came around, the duo picked up four other members and changed their name from Raccoon to Dr. Dog, becoming a relentless, creative force. Since 2001, these Philadelphia natives have turned out a new album or EP just about every year, including their latest, B-Room, just released this October. These do-ityourself, no-rules indie rockers mix Kinks and Beatles-influenced psychedelic rock with quirky lyrics and lo-fi techniques to create a sound thatâ€™s unmistakably their own. 19
While they’ve achieved notable popularity in the Philadelphia area, Dr. Dog has remained somewhat under the radar elsewhere, despite their lengthy discography and reputation for memorable shows. Maybe their lack of exposure can be traced to harsh critiques of their earlier work or the fact that they’ve consistently shown little interest in commercial success, but the recent increase in attention they’ve received proves that they were right to keep doing things their way. Naturally, some places are easier to start listening to than others when you try to tackle an expansive discography. Psychedelic Swamp and Toothbrush, their spacey, grainy, self-recorded and produced first albums exemplify the band’s trademark harmonies, but also take some risks (including a seven minute instrumental track, “Heaven,” with chirping bird calls) that might be too much for a newcomer’s ear to handle. It’s much easier to start by diving into the cleaner We All Belong (2007), that evokes feelings of nostalgia with harmonies on sweet, sentimental songs like “The Way the Lazy Do” and “I Hope There’s Love.” It also features the darker “Die, Die, Die,” a stripped down track that showcases the band’s potency when deferring to simpler rhythms. Here, it’s easy to identify both the basic elements of psychedelic rock and their undeniable affinity for ‘60s pop. Moving onto Fate (2008), we encounter an abstract album that also has a tangible sense of simplicity, heard on tracks like “100 Years” and “The Old Days.” The experimental nature of Fate, however, naturally makes some songs soar while others sink, becoming a little boring or too difficult for listeners to grasp. Their 2010 release and longest album to date, Shame, Shame, proved to be more successful than Fate, achieving notable positive attention from critics for the first time in the band’s career. Songs like “Shadow People” and “Stranger” cement the sometimes melancholy, always bluntly honest attitude of their work. When listening to Shame, Shame, audiences can easily identify how emotionally raw the songs have become, how they’re comfortable and confident enough in their work to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The 2012 album Be the Void is probably as close to a perfection as Dr. Dog has come. At first glance, songs with titles like “Lonesome,” “That Old Black Hole,” and “Vampire” seem melodramatic. “Lonesome,” however, is a powerful, stripped down, in your face and animalistic example of blues influence in their work, while “That Old Black Hole” is an optimistic, danceable track that has proven to be radio-friendly despite its strange, winding lyrics. Be the Void is a tight recording, yet you can still feel how the band has managed to completely let loose. Dr. Dog’s latest do-it-yourself project was to convert an old mill just outside of Philadelphia into a live-in studio. They’ve named their newest album, B-Room, after the space where they’ve lived and worked together during the last few months. Between constant recording, nearly nonstop touring and their latest construction project, Dr. Dog has never really taken a moment to breathe. Such a vigorous schedule has often led to the demise of artists, either by draining them creatively or fueling irresolvable feuds between members. In this case, an overbooked schedule has only helped Dr. Dog to flourish, making their work increasingly seamless with each recording. • Amanda Hoover (Journalism)
• “I Can’t Fly”
We All Belong
• “The World May Never Know” “I Hope There’s Love”
First appearance on Late Show with David Letterman
Shame, Shame Fall 2013
You can stream their discography on drdogmusic.com
“Shadow People” “I Only Wear Blue”
Takers and Leavers EP
• “The World May Never Know”
• “I’ve Just Got To Tell You”
Tour with My Morning Jacket Positive review in the New York Times
Signed with Park The Van Records First Cross Country Tour
Moved to a new studio Started working with sound engineer Bill Moritary
2009 Signed with ANTI Records
Passed Away, Vol 1.
• “The Breeze”
• “I’m Standing In The Light”
“The Old Days” “100 Years”
“Me And My Girl”
Be the Void
Wild Race EP
• “Be The Void”
• “Broken Heart”
“That Old Black Hole” “Do The Trick”
the kids are alright A look at childrenâ€™s choirs in contemporary music
What do Kanye West, Ryan Gosling and Sufjan Stevens all have in common? That’s right, they’re each strapping young gentlemen with successful careers and the ability to seduce 98% of the world’s population. Beyond that though, they’ve also each collaborated with inner-city choral groups while touring and recording–these aren’t your typical choirs however; most of the members aren’t even old enough to drive a car.
or performers across all genres, youth choirs produce an unmistakably distinct sound. When an artist is attempting to capture a bit of childlike whimsy for a new track, it’s hard to beat actually performing with…well…children. Much of this unique effectiveness lies in the contrast between the performers and their subject matter. Hearing young children sing about mature topics—such as lost-love, the Illinois steel industry, or humanity’s mortality—lends a dissonant tone to a composition, sometimes materializing in humor (à la Sufjan’s work), or even fear. In the track “Buried in the Water,” off of Dead Man’s Bones debut LP, listeners are treated to a group of (presumably) 8 or 9-year-old girls eerily singing, “like a lamb to its slaughter / buried in water / buried in water.” Had this line been delivered by an older, more mature vocalist, it wouldn’t have been near as disconcerting. Likewise, The Decemberists’ rock-opera, Hazards of Love, features a youth choir acting out the roles of murdered children coming back from the grave to take revenge on their rakish father. This blending of the naïve and wholesome with the grotesque and morbid often works well for an artist, encouraging repeat listenings and forcing a track to stick in the listener’s head. However, the advantages of working with a youth choir don’t lie solely in clever tonal choices; community outreach is an important motivation for many successful performers. Way back in the depths of 2008, while working on his debut full-length album Manners, Michael Angelakos visited Gigantic Studios in Manhattan. He was accompanied by his producer Chris Zane, one or two friends from around the city, a few bandmates and upwards of 50 kids on a sugar high. The resulting mayhem, captured on tape and posted to the group’s YouTube channel, is equal parts humorous and heart-warming. Rather than hiring a professional chorus, the Passion Pit front-man decided to reach out to PS22—a choir comprised of 10–11 year-olds based out of upstate New York. In one fell swoop, Angelakos involved this lucky group of kids (who are from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds) in the recording process of a successful band and injected some of their boundless energy and good spirits into hit tracks such as “The Reeling,” “Little Secrets” and “Let Your Love Grow Tall.” But, no matter their motivations, where do artists go to pick up a group of wide-eyed, talented kids who are ready to sing whatever they’re told? Well presuming Craigslist doesn’t provide any options (and for all our sakes I hope it doesn’t), they might just team up with one of the following organizations:
Silverlake Conservatory of Music Formed in 2001 by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary, The Silverlake Conservatory is a tuition/ scholarship school promoting music education regardless of age or economic situation. Their youth choir is made up of a talented group of kids ranging from ages 6-18, and has been seen alongside acts such as Helen Burns and Dead Man’s Bones. Their pricey Sunset Boulevard address also hosts several classes for adults looking to get started in music a bit later in life.
These 60-70 energetic kids rank slightly younger than the other two groups on this list, but make it up with an emphasis on enjoying themselves rather than striving for perfection. The group got its start in 2000 out of Public School 22 in Graniteville, New York and has taken the world by storm with an active YouTube presence and loads of talent. They’ve been featured on Oprah as well as in Katy Perry’s movie “Part of Me,” and have covered a diverse range of new music ranging from Tame Impala, Phoenix and Beach House.
Capital Children’s Choir
Having performed with acts such as Vanessa Carlton, Florence and the Machine and the Spice Girls, the Capital Children’s Choir is one of the most renowned youth-choral arrangements in the world. Started in 2001 and based out of London, this group of talented youngsters has received praise from the likes of Lady Gaga—who called them “flawless and otherworldly”—and even the Queen of England. Their recent a cappella cover of “Untrust Us” by the Crystal Castles (which was recently plastered amongst numerous entertainment blogs) shows that not only are they willing to cover a ridiculously diverse range of content—but they’ll also do it damn well. While tryouts are required, their scholarship programs support the education and involvement of children from various economic backgrounds. Ryan Kehr (English/Journalism)
Let’s take another look at selling out Once upon a time, there was a guy who had a favorite band. He loved that band with all his heart–he listened to them everyday, had six of their disgustingly overpriced concert t-shirts, and made obscure references to their music when speaking to unenlightened acquaintances. Then, that band got a record deal. And their next single had a slightly different sound than that of their previous album. Next, a decently popular radio station played that single. And that single popped up in a car commercial. The guy was heartbroken; his favorite band had sold out. He wasn’t sure how he could go on… That’s a bit exaggerated, but it’s not uncommon, this idea of bands “selling out.” What is “selling out,” anyways? The Free Dictionary defines it as “to abandon one’s principles, standards, etc.” More specifically, fans see it as abandoning some standard of pure musical intent, while artists see it as sacrificing good music for mindless profit and less creative control. Why do artists “sell out” in the first place? Well, frankly, to put a roof over their heads. I mean, the idea of being a starving artist is romantic and all, but, after a while, one likely discovers that it’s not as great as it’s made out to be. The sad truth of the industry is that it’s hard to make a living out of being a musician. It takes hard work and opportunities from people with power in order to advance and live marginally well. Yes, this career is one of passion and love, but it’s just that: a career. Sadly (more so than I can possibly ever convey), part of being a real adult is supporting yourself with whatever career path you choose, and that involves turning a profit. Let’s take The Black Keys, for example. You’ve perhaps noticed how their music gets around, so to speak? Their songs have been used in several TV shows, commercials, and movies, including “Workaholics” and Zombieland. This is often called “selling out,” but they are frank in their self-defense. If Fall 2013
companies offered you $200,000 to use your song in a major ad campaign, would you say no? The Black Keys have admitted that they regret ever having turned down any of these opportunities out of concern for what others would think. Thousands of dollars can change lives, and it’s hard to think of a situation in which choosing to support oneself or one’s family is not the right option. This doesn’t make The Black Keys lesser artists, or defile their musical intent. They’re just able to actually make a living doing what they love. In fact, “selling out” seems to be a topic of discussion mostly in indie rock, and is not necessarily taboo in other genres. Can no pop artists “sell out?” Or have all Top 40 artists already “sold out” by default? Why in the independent music world are “good music” and “dirt poor” synonymous? Think about rap artists: there is a culture of “getting money,” postmodern and infatuated with consumerism. Does A$AP Rocky talking about all his money make his music inferior, illegitimate, etc? I’m not saying that independent music has to be obsessed with profit. But, just as A$AP Mob fans celebrate their favorite artist’s riches, why can’t fans of indie bands be happy for them? So now your band gets radio play, makes a profit and people actually know who you went to see at that show last night. Is success synonymous with selling out? Take the band
Parachute: they began playing together in high school under the name Sparky’s Flaw. They then garnered enough attention that Nivea wanted to feature one of their songs in a national TV campaign. However, in order for the song to be featured, they had to change their name; Nivea didn’t want the word “flaw” associated with their brand. And the outcome is clear: Sparky’s Flaw changed their name to Parachute for Nivea. If that doesn’t fit the prototype of “selling out,” then I don’t know what does. How does Parachute feel about this? They’re making music; they’re touring; they’re doing what they love while sustainably being able to do it. Maybe they really do like pop-sounding beats? While there are other ways of finding success, occasionally, one needs to take whatever is thrown one’s way, because another opportunity may not arise. And hey, if the artist is happy, then I’m happy. And if the music is still good, I’ll keep listening. If not, I’ll just move on to that new band. Maybe–just maybe– there’ll be room in my heart for a new love…
• Elizabeth Johnson-Wilson (Communication Studies)
recor ding a guide to bostonâ€™s
CYBERSOUND 349 Newbury Street (617) 424-1062
Ringing the buzzer to the second floor of 349 Newbury Street, I glanced up the stairs and for a minute thought I might be in the wrong place. I was there to take a look at Cybersound, a Music Production and Sound Design studio located in an office building smack-dab in the middle of the high-end retail stores on one of Boston’s most famous blocks. After someone buzzed me in and I walked up the stairs to the second floor, I was greeted by two young, smiling faces at the door of a quite luxurious lobby. After a brief introduction and explanation as to why I was there, the woman gestured me into the control room to speak with Perry Geyer, Cybersound’s producer. Geyer was posted up in front of the soundboard which takes up an entire wall of the room and was tapping away at a ProTools session which was booming Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Can Happen” over the speakers. “Right now we’re working on music for Boston Fashion Week which starts this Friday,” he explained, “and then later on in the day we have a classical composer from Italy, Silvio Amato, who is doing work scoring a movie.” Geyer went on to explain a typical day at the studio: classical composing for radio, tv shows, and movies during the day, hip/hop and electronica at night. Running 24 hours a day, Cybersound attracts artists from all genres.
A look inside Cybersound studios
Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Photos courtesy of Sanctum Studios
“In this day and age to have a recording studio you have to do everything. You need to do corporate voiceover work, you need to do all different styles of music, you need to be able to do radio ads… everything.” There are three different rooms for recording in Cybersound. Studio A is where I first found Geyer, the room has a soundboard, a monitor, keyboards, and extra seating behind the soundboard. Studio A’s glass window looks into the soundbooth, a smaller room with capabilities for vocals, drums, guitar, keys… pretty much any instrument you wish to record there can be fed into Studio A. Connected to the soundbooth is an even smaller room used for vocal tracks, an intimate space that would suit well for tracks with multiple vocal parts or artists who wish to record their vocals separately from the other instruments. The third room is Studio C, which Geyer explained is used for mixing and mastering of the recordings. Payment rates are either by hour or by project, and Geyer says he gets requests from record labels as well as individual artists. “We did the Sam Adams hip-hop record. He came in and recorded his whole album… so we get a lot of college kids who come in and record and they could be the next big thing.” Some of Cybersound’s other clients include Pink Floyd/Jon Carin, Jonas Brothers, Sarah McLachlan, L.F.O., and Jadakiss.
SERENITY EAST/ SANCTUM SOUND 107 South Street (617) 556-8090
Serenity East/Sanctum Studios puts out quite the vibe for their clients. The whole office, which takes up about half of the basement at 107 South Street, is covered in warm colors and Tibetan artwork by Joanna Ciampa. Engineer and Producer Ryan Hinkle met me at the entrance, a large metal door next to one of Ciampa’s whimsical paintings of a woman’s face at the end of a cream colored hallway. The metal creaked as the door opened for me, and I walked into a sanctuary of red and gold. The waiting room is comfortable as I wait to interview Hinkle, there are copies of Rolling Stone on the coffee table and pop music playing in an office across from where I sit on the couch. Others who work at Sanctum come over to shake my hand and I feel right at home. Hinkle is ready to show me around and brings me into Studio A, a large room (also red and gold) with amps, guitars, mics, a drum kit and some killer mood lighting. Attached to the room is a smaller control room where Hinkle and I spend the rest of our interview. It has a larger soundboard and seating for around 10-12 other people. There is also another smaller room around the corner from Studio A, which is used for mixing and mastering.
After the tour, Hinkle and I relocate to the main control room to discuss what Sanctum Studios is all about. Owners Steve Catizone and Leo Mallace started Serentity East/Sanctum Studios in 2000 and have recently expanded to Hollywood Boulevard in LA, where they co-own with Sully Erna of Godsmack. Hinkle talks to Catizone at least 10 times a day, but for the most part the two owners stay in LA to run Serenity West, the larger of the two studios. Hinkle proceeds to pull out a large crystal statue and says that Serenity East caught it’s big break after metal group Tribe of Judah won a national award for outstanding new rock band in 2001. Since then, Hinkle says they get a really big name every few months or so. Justin Bieber recorded recently with about 12 other people in the studio and Hinkle said it was a madhouse: “They brought $50 in McDonalds. Their producer, “Pooh Bear,” who’s won like 6 Grammy’s, got 2 bass dinners from Legal Sea Foods and everybody else is eating McDonalds.” They also recorded and produced Karmin’s first demo, which led to their signing with Epic records and eventually their rise to fame. There are around 15 interns working at Sanctum who are constantly researching YouTube, Soundcloud, etc. for any musicians who they think would be successful producers and songwriters. “We’re always looking for the best songwriters and producers, especially Top 40 and EDM for melody and lyrics,” Hinkle said. Although Sanctum is very Top-40 driven, Hinkle said that they have worked with Hip-Hop acts, indie rock acts, metal acts–you name it. They also are looking for anyone who would be interested in taking guitar/vocal/DJ lessons; their top instructor spent 15 years at Atlantic Records. For $65/hour clients work with an engineer and assistant to clean up their work and record it in a professional-grade studio, they also offer 12-hour blocks (which do not have to be used all at once) for $65/hour.
more studios... Cover Story
The Bridge Sound and Stage 18 Edmunds Street Cambridge, MA (617) 714-5413 Etcetera
Studio A $50/hour, with House Engineer $60/hour, with Head Engineer $100/hour for production $450 for 10-hour block with House Engineer $540 for 10-hour block with Head Engineer Studio B $35 an hour, including House Engineer $300 for 10-hour block with House Engineer
Established in 2009, this studio is just a baby. They have hosted clients such as Sheryl Crow, Keane, David Gray and Amanda Palmer among many others. They also offer music recording classes and software training for those who wish to learn more about the process before starting their project.
Sanctum Studios Cybersound
Jamspot Somerville 111 South St Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 666-7529
Along with recording capabilities, Jamspot also has practice rooms and rehearsal space available for any who wish to use professional equipment for a small price.
Boston Recording Studio 131 West Concord St., Suite 1 Boston, MA 02118 (857) 207-2247
$80 per hour $75 per hour when booking 10+ hours $70 per hour when booking 20+ hours
Along with recording, mixing, and mastering capabilities, Boston Recording Studio offers a house band and other professional musicians to utilize during your sessions if you need a little extra heft to your work. Clients range from jazz ensembles to rock groups and everything in between, so whether youâ€™re expertise is classical or modern music, theyâ€™re interested.
572-586 Rutherford Ave. Charlestown MA 02129 (617) 224-6897
$55/hour for 1-2 hours $200 for 4-hour block $288 for 6-hour block $360 for 8-hour block
$100 for piano tuning $90/track simple mix: 6-10 channels $135/track median mix: 11-24 channels
Based on the plethora of video content on their website, Perfection Studios seems like a sleek and comfortable place to record and produce. They have a grand piano, a drum kit, countless microphones, and a clean atmosphere for recording anything from salsa music to pop covers. Mackenzie Nichols (Journalism/Music Industry)
An Interview with Dirty Beaches â€˘ Written by/Photos by Ben Stas (English/Journalism)
Alex Zhang Hungtai has been releasing challenging, personal and consistently fascinating music as Dirty Beaches since 2007. From his early bedroom recordings to this year’s expansive, studio-produced double record Drifters/Love is the Devil, Hungtai has employed droning synthesizers, clanging loops of percussion, samples, saw-toothed electric guitars and his own voice, often drowned in distortion, to tell the stories of his characters and himself. Hungtai recently toured the U.S., joined by collaborator Shub Roy, in support of the new album. Tastemakers had a chance to catch up with him at the Boston date to discuss touring life, “lo-fi” culture and why it was really difficult to get into Frank Zappa back in 1996.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): So this is only the second night of your tour – how has it been so far? Alex Zhang Hungtai (AZH): It’s been good. We just got back from Europe so we’re trying to get adjusted. It’s very different. First of all, we have to do more things ourselves. In Europe the promoters always get you a hotel. When we tour the states we just try and stay with friends and reduce costs. Sleeping bags. TMM: How do you approach the challenge of performing your music while touring, given that your records have such a specific sonic character? Is it difficult to reproduce?
AZH: In the past no, because I recorded exactly how I performed, because it was just me by myself. I’d have just one channel, everything comes out of one amp straight to a tape deck. But now, with the last album, we did a lot of overdubs–it’s all digital. It’s a lot harder. Especially with strings and stuff like that, so we just kind of rearranged. TMM: Your music is often described as “lo-fi” – what do you make of that as a genre tag? AZH: I think for most people, like myself and my friends, it’s more like a circumstance. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money you just earned working minimum wage jobs and piss
it away at a studio where you don’t know the people, working with engineers that don’t give a fuck about your band. They’re just looking at their watch, pointing at their watch saying, “You’ve got 20 minutes left.” It’s just not a very nice environment to create in. You’re stressed and you’re rushing. I’ve done it before in my old bands when I was a teenager, and we’d save up after a couple months of working and then go into a studio and piss it away in a weekend, and end up hating, hating, the recording, because it’s recorded by a dickhead. It’s like some poppunk producer, who makes your bass sound all “dig-a dig-a dig-a” (laughs). And you’re like, “Please don’t do that.” With the last record we worked with our friend, who had a semi-professional recording setup in our jam space. So that was a lot easier because we were working with our friend, and he fucking cares. That was a big decision, because prior to that it was just me being like, “I can’t afford it, I’m washing dishes, so I’m just gonna record in my bedroom, because at least I can control in my limited budget how it’s gonna come out. I can spend all the time I want.” And of course, I don’t know shit about mixing, so that’s why it sounds “lo-fi,” because it’s mixed and recorded by people who don’t know how to mix and record (laughs). I think people who do a clean recording and then add noise onto it afterwards, those are the people who are just going for the fashion, the stylistic approach. To trained ears, you can tell right away. There’s this tinny sound on Garageband, on Macbooks – people just record something clean and click distortion, there’s a certain sound. You can definitely identify who recorded on tape decks and who recorded on their Macbooks and put distortion on it.
TMM: Your website mentions that you wouldn’t be playing any songs from [2009 LP] Badlands this tour – is that standard practice for you? Focusing on the here and now in terms of your music? AZH: The last time I played New York, I didn’t have enough money to fly my bandmates over. So I just went over and did two completely
different sets with my friends in New York. I think that the real fans kind of expect that–that I’m always going to do something different live. They already expect that from the recordings, so why should they expect any different from the live show? It’s only the people who just caught on yesterday on Spotify or something who are like, “Oh, he didn’t sing that ‘Lord Knows Best’ song.” Some girl who shops at Urban Outfitters. Not to rip on them, it’s fine, I’ve bought like, swim shorts there too. I’m not like ripping on people, it’s just sometimes there’s certain types, like really fashionable people, and they come up to you and they’re like, “Oh we love that song, that’s the only song we know, you didn’t play it.” And you’re like, “Yeah, that’s exactly why I didn’t play it. I’m not a fucking one-trick pony, not here just to play that one song, to please you.” TMM: You’ve mentioned in interviews that many people seem unaware of the music you made prior to Badlands, and that all of it is available on Bandcamp. Not many artists put everything they’ve ever recorded out there like that. AZH: I prefer that, because then they can decide what they like and don’t like about my catalog. At least they would know, because they can stream it for free. I think it’s just fair for the listeners, just trying to make it more accessible. I remember when I first got into Frank Zappa, I really liked one song, but then I went to a record store and was like, “Fuck, there’s like 20 albums, I don’t know even which one to buy or where to start.” This was
like in 1996, before I got on to downloading stuff. I just wanted to avoid that and make it like, “Hey, if you’re curious about it, you can listen to it all.”
of money, and it’s still gonna be presented as ‘part one, part two,’ just people get it all at once.” So I figured, that’s not a bad idea, since it’s the same story.
TMM: So you think that digital availability is a good thing for artists? AZH: Yeah totally, I think it’s good. If it wasn’t for the Internet I would still be washing dishes.
Like, if you see it from a movie perspective, you have one that’s like third person view, and part two is first person view. The third person view is definitely manipulated, it’s how we as musicians want to be viewed: the romanticism of touring life, a hedonistic lifestyle, irresponsible behavior, traveling to exotic places. But then the reality of it is, you’re surrounded by strangers all the time, you don’t get to see your family, if you have a relationship, it’s doomed. Like nine months at a time, you don’t get to see this person. So that’s the reality. I wanted to present it as a whole, like a full spectrum of the story.
TMM: Coming around to the new album: were Drifters and Love is the Devil conceived and recorded separately, or was a double album the plan from the beginning? AZH: No, it actually wasn’t planned out. I just had a bunch of songs for Drifters, and I recorded a bunch of them in Montreal and then I left, for personal reasons. So I moved to Berlin with like a half-finished record. By circumstance, I was lucky enough to have a friend help me out and I recorded at his studio for free, and I finished the record. So it was kind of assembled as my life was taking turns. It was very different than what I wanted to do when I started recording. TMM: So how did it get released as a double album? Do you think the two halves complement each other in certain ways? AZH: Originally after I finished Love is the Devil I wanted it to be like “part one, part two” and release them separately. But then, for logistical reasons, Zoo Music, the label that put it out, they said, “Well, it’s gonna double the production costs for press and everything and they’re gonna compete with each other, but if you put them together, you’ll save a lot
TMM: Does that play into the sound of the records as well? Drifters feels more accessible, whereas Love is the Devil is a lot more challenging and dark. AZH: Definitely. Love is the Devil is also more similar to my early recordings. Drone and instrumental–stuff like that. Drifters was kind of picking up where Badlands left off, not going back to that sound, just kind of, “Well, Badlands gave me a career, here I am, touring the world,” and it’s telling a story from that kind of perspective. The other one is just like, “This is what became of me, and I’m still that person I was before, I’ve just been through all this fucked up shit.”
Local Talent Fall 2013
FUNERAL ADVANTAGE A few years ago, Tyler Kershaw was in a band called The Devil and a Penny that was pretty active in the Boston area. When his bandmates decided it was time they took their project to the next level by moving to California, Kershaw declined, having landed a good job and entered a serious relationship. Suddenly band-less, Kershaw suppressed his mounting boredom by recording some songs of his own in his parents’ basement, intending to circulate them among his closest friends and family and few others. Instead, they spread from friend to friend to the point that even old acquaintances with whom Kershaw had bad blood were putting aside personal differences and asking him for copies of his demo. Now, Funeral Advantage has an impressive following both in around Boston; Kershaw is continually surprised at how organically his fanbase grows and how his shows become better and better attended. Kershaw is originally from Mansfield, Massachusetts, and, like many youths from the region defined as “not Boston,” he owes his musical chops to punk and hardcore. His influences don’t quite match this profile, however, and Kershaw finds inspiration in artists as varied as The Drums, The Cure, Xiu Xiu, Oasis, Björk and classic rock acts Foghat and Thin Lizzy. His oddball influences match his openhanded approach; Kershaw resents music designed specifically for a particular audience or demographic, instead preferring that his own art be just as appealing to his roommates as to his own parents. And apparently, he manages to reach a pretty diverse crowd. Kershaw bemusedly recalls opening at southern Massachusetts hardcore concerts where, “big guys wearing shirts with cut-outarmholes would nod along and get sad to my music.”
Amusing as that image may be, Kershaw’s broad appeal shouldn’t be surprising. Fundamentally, he understands that there’s more to songwriting than writing pretty chords and matching some vocals to the tempo. Kershaw’s music isn’t necessarily any more complicated than that, but it’s definitely more calculated. There’s a palpable deliberateness to Kershaw’s songs that is mostly manifested in his immaculate transitions; delicate drum fills sharpen his otherwise-muddled vocal annunciation, and clean, satisfying guitar riffs gust in and out of the instrumental harmonies. The result is accessible, spectroscopic shoegaze that achieves startling novelty. Kershaw covets complete control over his music, and, despite having an accomplished–and relatively steady–live band, maintains sole songwriting responsibility for Funeral Advantage (and is its only permanent “member”). To date, his catalog consists of a five-song demo and a split EP with Caténine, another local artist with whom Kershaw has often collaborated early in his career. Currently, Kershaw is working with a 19-song collection of new demos that he intends to turn into his first full-length album. Before heading to the studio, however, he wants to be sure that he’s ready to deliver a quality product. Kershaw wants his forthcoming album to have immediately recognizable, unifying features such that, years from now, listeners could attribute a song to a particular album based on style alone. So far, all of Funeral Advantage’s music is available digitally on his Bandcamp. And though the cost of the download is at the buyer’s discretion, Kershaw’s music is definitely worth a pretty penny. Nick Hugon (International Affairs)
Tyler Kershaw c o l l a b o r at o r s
Mike Nirenberg (Longshot) Parker Ackerman (Do No Harm) Spencer Smith (Coke Fiend) John Murphy (Magic Magic) Andrew Capone (Da Heartbeatz) sounds like
If Girls or Deerhunter played faster-tempo, “prettier” songs with muddier vocals r eco m m e n d e d t rac ks
Weightless, Christine After, Wedding albums
Split EP w/ Caténine,
c h e c k o u t f u n e r a l a d va n ta g e
s the progressive rock scene becomes heavier and less accessible, the guys in Aero still put a lot of stock into the craft of captivating melodies and memorable choruses. Aero’s music is sonorous--on their debut, Chaos, hefty rhythms and seductive grooves are strung together perfectly by frontman Nick Cardone’s honeyed vocals. For a relatively new group, there is some striking musical chemistry that exists between members--perhaps because their musical careers have been intertwined for years. Cardone and bassist Rob Grove have never played in a band without the other. The latter’s younger brother, Timmy Grove, has handled drums for several of their projects before joining Aero full-time. Guitarist Eddie McCarron was the drummer of the now-defunct Gerard Mellen, an indie rock outfit that often played alongside some of Aero’s precursors. So really, it’s unsurprising how quickly they’ve settled into a sound of their own. Chaos, as a debut, does a lot to showcase that the boys in Aero have got chops. Any guitarist worth his salt can pull off a sloppy solo in key, but all of Cardone’s solos are laboriously phrased to their greatest
melodic potential. Rob Grove’s bass lines are intricate, but never compete with the other instrumentation. Subtle rhythmic tricks make Timmy Grove’s otherwise pounding drums groovy and memorable. McCarron’s guitar licks are sophisticated and add a certain resonance to these tracks--his presence is as essential as it is welcome. Cardone, a graduate of Northeastern University, generated an impressive back-catalogue of music on campus, some of which ended up on Chaos. While his early work was a solitary endeavor, Cardone says that he would like Aero’s songwriting process to be more collaborative. “Going forward, I want to be less like, ‘Here’s a song, let’s play it for a while and change a couple of things,’” said Cardone. “I want everybody to be contributing because Eddie’s a great songwriter too and all of these guys have a lot to offer.” After a summer of rigorous touring and promotion, Aero are settling in for a while to film their first music video. Meanwhile, songs from Chaos have been picked up by a slew of local and independent radio stations. And I just can’t see it stopping there. Joseph Dussault (Journalism)
check out aero
Nick Cardone: Guitar and Vocals
Chaos, (February 2013)
Rob Grove: Bass Eddie McCarron: Guitar Timmy Grove: Drums sounds like
Incubus, Coheed, and Cambria r eco m m e n d e d t rac ks
“Spiral Eyes,” “Missing,” “Feels Like Rain”
Around this time last year, Brooklyn-natives Haerts burst onto the scene with the first single off their upcoming debut EP: Hemiplegia. This single, “Wings,” proved to be a catchy slice of electro-pop for listeners of all sorts and signaled a promising start for Fall 2013
Haerts’ career. Now, after a year of touring and placing the finishing touches on their material, Hemiplegia is ready to be released upon the masses.
Right before the EP’s drop, Haerts swung by Northeastern to headline our bi-annual Tastemakers Presents show. As the night wound down and the dust settled from an impressive set, they sat down with us to discuss their creative process, influences and plans for the future. Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): So, your new EP, Hemiplegia, comes out in just three days, are you excited for the release? Nervous at all? Nini Fabi (NF): I think we’re very excited about it, we’ve only had pretty much one song for real out for sale, and I think, especially being on tour, it’s come to this point where we just need more songs to give to people. So we’re really excited, not nervous or scared at all. TMM: When did work on Hemiplegia start? NF: Well the EP actually didn’t start as an EP. It really started as the whole recording process of Haerts. And the EP is basically four songs that are taken off the album—a kind of preview to the album. When we started recording two years ago, we just rented a studio; Haerts really started in the studio. We just started experimenting with sounds, working with St. Lucia, and, yeah, that’s kind of where it has its origin. TMM: So tell me about the creative process that went into it, was it collaborative? Ben Gebert (BG): Nini and me have been writing and playing music together since we were teenagers—about fifteen years old—and in the beginning it was just us and John from St. Lucia experimenting in the studio. NF: Even before we started with John, we had a lot of material written. I think we gave him, I don’t know, seventy voice memos or something. BG: [laughs] It was a lot of stuff. NF: We had written a lot of music previously to going into the studio so there was a lot to choose from. We kind of went through it together and said: “lets try this” or “lets arrange this”. Some songs stayed the same, others completely transformed.
For more pictures and content, visit facebook.com/tastemakersmag or tastemakersmag.com Find HAERTS at haertsmusic.com and facebook.com/haertsmusic
Interview Guitarist Garret Lenner
Lauren Kovalefsky (Business) HAERTS performing at tastemakers presents, Centennial Common, Oct. 5
Ryan Kehr (English)
TMM: Out of this material, did you go through and pick the best of the best or was the process more complicated? BG: There was so much experimentation going on we didn’t even think of any of that, you know? It was more like— NF: Whatever felt right. BG: Exactly. TMM: So what’s your next step? Are you looking to work more on material for the LP or thinking about continuing your tour? Garrett Lenner (GL): Well right now we’re just working on finishing the album. We’re also going to be playing a few dates in Europe in November and December but until the end of the year we’ll just be working on finishing the album. We just finished with three months of touring so we’ve really been on the road for most of the time. The album itself is mostly done; we just want to try a few more things.
TMM: I’m excited to hear it. Do you think you could describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard you? Five words or less. BG: Fuck. [laughter] This is one of the hardest questions to answer. It’s because we’re so close to the music, you know? That it’s almost like, to me, if someone
says, “it sounds like the 80s”; I don’t even hear that anymore, you know? When you’re so deep in something…we’ll I’m trying to be specific but… NF: And for us really, the music is kind of the outcome of everything we’ve been doing so far: of all of us, of our lives, both musically and personally. Something we’ve talked about is that for us, it’s more about conveying a sentiment that we have, things we feel, things we think about. It’s more about that than a specific ‘sound’ that we’re achieving. So it’s really hard to tell people what we sound like. I think it’s the same as if you say, “this song is about this or that”. I don’t like doing that because what each song was, for me, when I wrote it, can now be about something else entirely. It should be something else for everyone that listens to it. In the same way, I would never say: “hey, this is a song called hope and it’s about getting your heart broken, being sad about something, or overcoming something”—everyone should just take music the way they want it and put it in their own little categories themselves. So, we failed at your question. [laughter] TMM: Would you say you have any notable influences? Maybe something you were listening to while writing and recording? BG: Absolutely. NF: So much stuff.
BG: We are influenced by all types of music, we influence each other musically, it’s just all one big influence. NF: Ben grew up around a lot of classical music and Garret grew up around a lot of Jazz, for you [referring to drummer Jonathan Schmidt] it was Nirvana. Everyone brings their own ‘thing’. For me, I was always interested in voices and words and melodies. I think the thing we all have in common is that we’re all non-genre specific. We were saying that we listen to everything in the car from Wagner to “Blurred Lines.” [Laughter] You know what I mean? We listen to everything—Emmylou Harris, Rihanna, Phoenix. We listen to such a wide variety. Tonight we’ll have a playlist of African music that JK is going to provide. So really anything that touches us. GL: That’s why the next album is going to be totally europop.[laughter] TMM: Along a similar vein, is there anyone that you’d really want to collaborate with? Living or dead? NF: Patti Smith. BG: As a musician I think I would have liked to meet John Lennon... but he’s dead so… NF: Garret? I think I know yours… GL: Who? NF: Thom Yorke?
GL: No…Wagner. [laughter] NF: You’re all picking dead people. [laughter] Derek McWilliams (DM): I’d like to hang out with Berry Gordy for the afternoon. Just to talk to him about the early days of Motown, about what it was like to make music back during those times, and influences for how Motown came to be. Jonathan Schmidt (JS): Early Stewart Copeland. That’d be cool. I think he was a lot more involved, musically, than just the drumming so…yeah that’d be cool. DM: [Referring to me] Who would you hang out with? Who would you collaborate with? TMM: It’s a hard question; you guys had a lot of inspiring answers. I think…Bill Evans. BG: I’d hang out with him…or at least do some heroin. [laughter] GL: If there’s one guy to do heroin with it’s probably Bill Evans. [laughter] JS: Your hands would be tied. [laughter] Ryan Kehr (English/Journalism)
TMM CONCERT SURVEY
Ever wonder about your peers’ concert experiences and preferences? We’ve all got some crazy and memorable stories from shows. Take a peak at what the Tastemakers staff had to say about the concerts we’ve been to over the years. • Cara McGrath (Graphic Design)
WHO IS THE FIRST ARTIST/ BAND YOU EVER SAW? The Beach Boys – but the fake version without Brian Wilson and with Uncle Jesse from Full House on drums. Ben Stas, Reviews Editor The first band I ever saw of my own accord was Arctic Monkeys in high school. The first concert I ever went to was Sister Hazel at South Station in kindergarten. Nick Hugon, Editor-In-Chief I saw Avenged Sevenfold when I was in the sixth grade. I am still embarrassed about it. Don’t print this. Joey Dussault, Interviews Editor
NAME THE WORST/MOST DISAPPOINTING ARTIST/BAND YOU HAVE SEEN PERFORM. Well, I went to MixFest this year, and I was pretty disappointed by the Backstreet Boys’ performance. They literally performed four songs, a third less than the other two artists/bands, and didn’t put on that compelling or interesting of a show, though the other acts treated this like one of their own concerts (if that makes sense). Eh, I’m glad I didn’t pay for that, though Of Monsters and Men did make the trip worth it. Elizabeth Johnson-Wilson, Staff Writer
NAME THE BEST ARTIST/BAND YOU HAVE SEEN PERFORM. Seeing Radiohead was as close as I will ever come to a religious experience. Ben Stas, Reviews Editor Radiohead. I saw them last year during their King of Limbs tour in the U.S., and it was the culmination of five years of being a huge superfan. I knew every song, and they played (what’s probably their best song) “Everything in its Right Place” with an intro that quoted Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.” Mike Doub, Reviews Editor Radiohead headlining at Jisan Valley Festival, South Korea. First ever live appearance in the country, more than two hours of set, three encores, Thom Yorke danced bare chested before approximately 100,000 people... phenomenal. Martin Au, Marketing
NAME THE MOST IMPRESSIVE OPENING ACT YOU HAVE SEEN.
Backstreet Boys. They played like five songs and left. Plus, it was a bunch of 40-year-old men doing synchronized spins and pelvic thrusts, so it was sort of guaranteed to be bad anyway. Amanda Hoover, Staff Writer
Filligar opening for The Counting Crows, River City Extension opening for Nicole Atkins, The White Buffalo opening for Chad Stokes, or The Wombats opening for The Kooks. I discovered all of these bands as openers. There’s also the time I saw John Butler open for himself in a separate act with his wife. I like openers. Cara McGrath, Staff Writer & Designer
Passion Pit. They were just really disappointing and you felt like you were just waiting for something big to happen the whole time... that “big thing” never came. Mackenzie Nichols, Staff Writer
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, opening for Sharon Van Etten Nathan Goldman, Senior Staff Writer/Marketing
Passion Pit. Agganis is a terrible venue, and they had adjusted their sound for the larger audience. It wasn’t an experience I would repeat, and was super disappointing considering that before I heard them live they were easily my favorite group. Wendy Schiller, Designer/Illustrator
These questions are too hard. Caitlin Kullberg, Marketing Director
NAME AN ARTIST (DEAD, ALIVE OR BROKEN UP) YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BUT WISH YOU COULD. The Smiths Cara McGrath, Staff Writer & Designer
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A SHOW?
The Beatles (cliche, but come on...) Emily O’Brien, Designer The Beatles. Tears. Mike Doub, Reviews Editor
I touched Jim James. (In an appropriate way of course.) Sarah Maillet, Marketing
The Doors. Obviously. Mackenzie Nichols, Staff Writer
When I was in middle school, I went to see Green Day and ended up getting pinned to the ground by stage divers. I looked up and made eye contact with Billie Joe Armstrong, who then stopped the show to make people let me up – every 13 year old girl circa 2007’s dream come true. Amanda Hoover, Staff Writer
The Doors Amanda Hoover, Staff Writer
I once had a cityscape drawn onto my left arm in watercolor. No words were exchanged. Our eyes met for a single moment and then...they began to draw. Ryan Kehr, Features Director
WHAT IS THE BEST COVER YOU HAVE SEEN LIVE? NAME ORIGINAL AND COVER ARTISTS.
WHAT IS THE CRAZIEST STUNT YOU’VE SEEN A BAND/ARTIST PULL AT A SHOW?
One of the following three: either Nick Lowe playing Elvis Costello’s “Allison,” Glen Hansard playing “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison, or Arctic Monkeys playing “Last Christmas” by Wham! Nick Hugon, Editor-in-chief
The three members of Dispatch zip-lined from the top of the Red Bull Arena in NJ to the stage. But also, the infamous Foxy Shazam cigarette consumption. Cara McGrath, Staff Writer & Designer The lead singer of Foxy Shazam ate cigarettes... and hung from the ceiling. Sarah Maillet, Marketing Foxy (Shazam) wins with the cigarette eating. Joey Dussault, Interviews Editor Yolandi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord showing her bare ass to the crowd, or Alice Glass of Crystal Castles crowd surfing with a broken ankle/ crutch. Mackenzie Nichols, Staff Writer Fall 2013
The Smiths Caitlin Kullberg, Marketing Director
Die Antwoord. Everything they did. Ryan Kehr, Features Director
Anjimilie covers Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” Ally Healy, Designer FUN. covering “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon Emily O’Brien, Designer
CREATE YOUR DREAM LINE-UP INCLUDING TWO OPENERS AND A HEADLINER. Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, The Black Keys Elizabeth Johnson-Wilson, Staff Writer Carly Rae Jepsen, Emeralds, Smog Nathan Goldman, Senior Staff Writer & Marketing Flying Lotus and Radiohead opening for Biggie. Carissa Tong, Co-Art Director
WHAT BAND/ARTIST HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOST TIMES? INCLUDE THE NUMBER. State Radio nine times, but Chadwick Stokes in all of his acts combined: 14. Cara McGrath, Staff Writer & Designer I’ve seen Coheed and Cambria about nine times since ‘06. Joey Dussault, Interviews Editor
WHEN DO YOU TEND TO ARRIVE TO A SHOW? Unfortunately, late. Caitlin Kullberg, Marketing Director I’m pretty OCD about time so I’ll be there for the first opener. Carissa Tong, Co-Art Director
WHERE DO YOU TEND TO STAND AT A SHOW? As close as I can, preferably up close to the stage so I can lean on it and rest my feeble legs. Mike Doub, Reviews Editor Right behind the mosh pit unless I’m feelin rowdy. Caitlin Kullberg, Marketing Director I try for the front; festivals I’m usually in the middle of the crowd. Eric Lee, Designer
NAME THE BEST LINE-UP YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. THIS CAN BE A FESTIVAL, IF YOU WISH. Boston Calling – FUN., The Shins, The National, Of Monsters and Men, Matt & Kim, Young the Giant, Andrew Bird, Marina and the Diamonds, Cults, Ra Ra Riot, The Walkmen, Portugal. The Man, Dirty Projectors, Youth Lagoon, MS MR, St. Lucia, Caspian, Bad Rabbits Emily O’Brien, Designer The National, Yo La Tengo and Wye Oak at Bank of America Pavilion. Ben Stas, Reviews Editor
DO YOU EMBRACE OR AVOID MOSH PITS? I’m okay with mosh pits, but the type of mosh pits I’ve survived probably wouldn’t impress too many metal fans. I’ve only done the baby stuff. Nick Hugon, Editor-in-Chief Avoid. It’s fun until the moment you lose your teeth. Martin Au, Marketing Embrace 100%. Eric Lee, Designer Frightened indifference. I generally tower over the other savages in a given pit so I end up swaying like a tree blown by a gentle wind. Ryan Kehr, Features Director
Andrew Bird into The National. Ryan Kehr, Features Director
WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT SHOW YOU ATTENDED? Pacific UV when I spent my summer break in Hong Kong Martin Au, Marketing Outside Lands music festival Eric Lee, Designer Shakey Graves and Shovels & Rope at the Royale... so good. Shakey used a suitcase drum. He’s essentially the hottest one man band in existence. Ally Healy, Designer
The Weeknd Kiss Land Release date September 10, 2013 Label Republic/XO Genre R&B Tasty tracks Love in the Sky, Wanderlust, Kiss Land
The Weeknd has come to us as if in a dream. For two years, a raw and haunting voice fading in and out of the R&B limelight is all we’ve heard from Ontario native Abel Tesfaye. Cloaked behind a series of photos of women’s body parts (too artsy to be porn, too porny to be art) that serve as covers for his incredible 2011 mixtapes (compiled into 2012’s Trilogy), the Weeknd has done the impossible: kept his life private in a culture obsessed with fame. Until now. In his first interview ever with Complex magazine, Abel summed up his new philosophy with admirable eloquence. “I want to show the world that I can shit out albums like nothing.” So what’s a 23 year old star whose built himself primarily in the shadows to do? Naturally, exactly what he’s been doing. With Fall 2013
his latest work, Kiss Land, Abel has delivered a record that operates on much the same plane Trilogy did, stories of love, lust, and drugs abound. For many seasoned fans, Kiss Land will be a dream come true; but only because it serves as another piece of a puzzle they’ve already invested themselves in: Abel himself. Whether the record will strike a chord with the broader audience he desires is less promising. The first track off the album finds Abel’s voice cutting through a dark cathedral of sound. “Professional” picks up right where Trilogy left off, and sets the stage of the ominous, hyper-sexualized world where the Weeknd can thrive. It is only after a few tracks however, that Kiss Land starts to feel jaded. While standouts “Love in the Sky,” “Wanderlust,” and “Live For” (featuring a welcome guest spot from Drake) are very good, the rest of the album feels like a rinse and repeat cycle both lyrically and instrumentally. The exception is the title track. “Kiss Land” is the album’s climax, it’s most impressive track, and a culmination of the whole shebang. Here we find Abel in his element: performing, getting high, and
seducing his ravenous fangirls. The hook is dangerously catchy, the bass is heavy and unrelenting, and Abel sings with an alluring malice that draws all those around him in, including the listener. At about four minutes though, something changes; Abel comes up for air. “I went from starin’ at the same four walls for 21 years/ To seein’ the whole world in just 12 months/ Been gone for so long I might have just found God/ Well probably not, if I keep my habits up” When he reaches his relationship with God, he turns away. Convinced he is too far gone to belong to a life of a purity, he descends back into the madness of the moment, and the song enters a second phase of even more troubling and obscene lyrics. “This ain’t nothing to relate to/ Even if you tried” Abel croons on the outro, solidifying his self-inflicted isolation and confirming the sad truth that he will not find solace in this record despite whatever success and fame it may bring him. In a music industry both blessed and plagued by perpetual change, innovation is key to survival. It is not for lack of some great singles that Kiss Land won’t rocket the Abel to the next level, but for his failure to progress since the days of Trilogy. But there’s more to it than that. Abel’s inability to change stands out because we know he so desperately needs to. If nothing else, Kiss Land shows us the razor thin line Abel and many artists like him walk between the euphoric highs and despondent lows of touring, drug use, and fame. He too knows this, which is why Kiss Land just feels tired at many points throughout. It’s like watching someone who knows better make the same mistakes over and over again. Do not be fooled. The Weeknd is very much alive and on the rise. He finds himself at the epicenter of a R&B movement that’s challenging the borders of genre itself: a revolution spearheaded by similars Miguel, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, and more. But while these names take center stage, it’s as though the Weeknd is still performing in the dodgy club next door, entangled in the past, looking for a glimmer of meaning in a dark and illusory place.
Thomas Reid (Theme Park Engineering)
Run the Jewels Run the Jewels Release date June 26, 2013 Label Fool’s Gold Records Genre Hip Hop Tasty tracks: We Hit a Wall, Sick, House of Metal
Don’t be fooled by the price tag on Run the Jewels. This free-download self-titled collaboration between Atlanta hip-hop veteran Killer Mike and Brooklyn-based producer El-P is one of the best hip-hop albums of the summer, and arguably of 2013. The duo, who previously worked together on Killer Mike’s 2012 album R.A.P. Music, successfully bring together the violent tones and sinister beats of contemporary alternative hip-hop with biting social criticism and southern rap drawl on Run the Jewels. In the process they’ve created a work that gets you ready to start a fight, whether it be against oppressive political agendas, corrupt cops, or evil music corporations and the sell-out “f**k boys” who submit to their standards. Killer Mike and El-P make their intentions absolutely clear on opening track “Run the Jewels,” which sees the duo trading rapid-fire verses about their refusal to back down and surrender to the powers that be.
Drake Nothing Was The Same Release date September 20, 2013 Label OVO Sound, Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Republic Records Genre Hip Hop Tasty tracks Tuscan Leather, From Time, Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 (Feat. Jay-Z)
Drake – born Aubrey Graham, best known as Wheelchair Jimmy – is soft. He is, in fact, pillow soft. He’s not softer than a koala bear in a bathrobe on a Tempurpedic, but he’s close. Long-time rappers like Common and Pusha T have criticized his mixture of singing and rapping, and hip-hop purists like Internet persona BigGhostFase have cracked countless jokes at his expense. Drake even got into a scrap with Chris Brown, although if there’s anyone more likely to attract distaste than Drake, it’s Chris Brown. If Drake is sheepish about his unpopular musical niche, he doesn’t show it on Nothing Was the Same. When he’s not churning out more pitiful heartbreak anthems, Drake spends ample time bragging about his rise to the top. Ubiquitous first single “Started From the Bottom” is one such toast to Drake’s recent prosperity, though its repetitive chant long overstays its welcome. Opening track
This opener sets a theme for the album over a combination of gravelly, bass-heavy synth beats and funk-organ and bongo samples in a style that represents a bridge between oldschool and modern landscapes of rap. Tracks like “DDFH” (an acronym for “Do Dope F**k Hope) and “A Christmas F**king Miracle” speak out against inner-city struggles and unjust social systems, while songs like “36” Chain” and “Get It” boast the duo’s quality and position as veterans of the rap game, with Killer Mike claiming to be “stuck in a time capsule when rap was actually factual.” Although each rapper’s respective skills are several notches above their mainstream contemporaries, both in content and cadence, the major draw of the album is El-P’s production and beat-crafting. The songs on Run the Jewels are thick with distorted synth melodies and rumbling sub-bass growls held up by dense drum tracks. What really distinguishes El-P’s style from other producers, though, is his combination of these writhing tones with what essentially amounts to melodic space. His beats are full of sound, but they aren’t overly busy. They don’t touch you in the feet or arms to dance, but rather grab you by the sternum, pull you close, and fill your chest with a thumping tension. There’s a deep, deliberate heartbeat that runs throughout the work, and you’ll instinctively
“Tuscan Leather” is more successful, with Drake declaring his newfound status as a platinum-selling artist and radio commodity over the course of three colorful verses. Things take an aggressive turn on “Worst Behavior,” where Drake calls out disrespecting naysayers. Even if he’s held fast and stuck to his guns on Nothing Was the Same, the constant criticism he’s received has got to sting. The rest of Drake’s lyrics on Nothing Was the Same play as the same Drake you’ve always known, albeit meaner. On the misleadingly titled “Wu-Tang Forever” Drake uses his fame to pick up a hometown crush. Later on “305 to My City” Drake tries his hand at a stripper anthem, again using his wealth as a lure. What distinguishes the Drake here from his performances on 2011’s Take Care, though, are the leaps and bounds he’s since made as a rapper. The way in which Drake nimbly navigates all three beat changes on “Tuscan Leather,” for example, is one the album’s finest moments. It’s apparent on album closer “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” too, when Drake raps circles around a much diminished Jay Z (officially the most leastimproved rapper of 2013). He’s come a long way from the wimpy pleas for success that appeared on 2009’s So Far Gone. Credit where credit is due: Nothing Was the Same succeeds largely due to production and beats from Noah “40” Shebib, Drake’s collaborator since that mixtape.
bob and nod to the heavy rhythms under Killer Mike and El-P’s verses, even on the more up-tempo tracks like “Get It” and “Banana Clipper.” Run the Jewels is a short album, ten tracks amounting to around 33 minutes. But once you start listening, that half hour will be filled with some of the most powerful and refreshing hip-hop you’ll have heard in a long time and, like with so many other shamefully slept on artists, you’ll find yourself an instant believer in the power of Killer Mike, El-P and Run the Jewels. David Murphy (Psychology)
Shebib’s dreamy instrumentals are lush and punctuated by heavy-hitting drums, as on the new wave stomp of soon-to-be-classic “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Elsewhere, the sparse piano and ghostly vocal he employs on “From Time” make it an album highlight. However the supreme draw of Nothing Was Ever the Same is Drake, who embraces his mope-adope tendencies here and wields them with a swagger and authority he didn’t quite have on Take Care. He may not have started from the bottom, but there’s no denying now that Drake is here. Mike Doub (Psychology) 45
Chelsea Wolfe Pain is Beauty Release date September 3, 2013 Label Sargent House Genre Indie Rock Tasty tracks: We Hit a Wall, Sick, House of Metal
Reviews Fall 2013
Four albums in three years and Chelsea Wolfe’s distinctive goth princess aesthetic remains unwavering. But with the September 3rd release of her fourth LP, Pain is Beauty, Wolfe proves that “doom-folk” does not define her. Pain is Beauty is all about layers, both instrumental and emotional. From the first pulsing, electric notes of “Feral Love,” Wolfe mesmerizes her audience with cinematic simplicity. And that’s where bandmates Kevin Dockter, Dylan Fujioka and Ben Chisholm (who also co-produced) step in. While Wolfe launches into lyrics about strange nature, the dense layering of distorted electric guitar, over haunting synth effects and pummeling bass drum, all on top of the song’s original pulse build to create an uneasy atmosphere that never quite peaks. Instead, Wolfe fades and the song seems to end a little prematurely— but not before the second track hits. “We Hit a Wall,” the second track, is Wolfe’s strongest on this album. Her booming vocals hold their own in the song’s first delicate moments, then Wolfe goes big with a thumping bass and a simple, yet effective guitar riff that straddle the line between postpunk and orchestral rock. In fact, multiple songs on Pain is Beauty string together disparate genres. “The Warden” features dark, electro-pop synths that almost sound like Crystal Castles and “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” is oddly reminiscent of psychedelic surf-pop similar to Best Coast (but that just might be all the reverb). Yet the ever-present influence of Scandinavian black metal and folk calls back to Wolfe’s previous records, notably Apokalypsis, in songs like “Kings” and “Ancestors, the Ancients.” The influence presents itself lyrically as well. Chelsea Wolfe consistently delivers on abstract themes such as natural disasters, isolation, ancestry and of course, with an album title like Pain is Beauty, tormented love.
But the sentiment isn’t contrived. It’s honest and even more transparent than her previous works. In “Sick” Wolfe displays a lush agony— “Come closer now and step right into/ The wide mouth, the sharp teeth of the one you love/ I’m not the kind of sick you can fix/ Don’t you worry about me baby”—yet the song doesn’t sound like it’s trying overreaching. And as an artist that’s approaching 30, Wolfe’s lyrics evoke a certain maturity not found in most early 20-somethings. Certainly, Wolfe’s vocals can occasionally be indecipherable. But her intoxicating melodies and sheer vocal range (think Zola Jesus or a post-apocalyptic Florence and the Machine) carry significant weight. By featuring echo-y vocal samples on loop throughout the album, Wolfe manifests herself as a one-woman choir. Pain is Beauty
is an album that exhibits Wolfe’s undeniable talent, along with lyrical growth and an ability to carve her own niche. It’s emotionally exhausting, yet not overbearing; isolating, yet inviting. If you’re patient, and don’t mind being grouped in with her cult-like following, Pain will resonate. Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism)
If you would like to submit a review to be considered for publishing in print or online, e-mail: email@example.com
Notions of Promotion album releases in 2013
When a new album comes out these days, what draws you in? Maybe you fell head over heels for the first single and wanted to hear more, or maybe you were already a fan of the artist in question and have been waiting on their next move for a while now. It’s even possible a publication you know and love wrote a rave review, and then there’s the “internet buzz” factor to consider. But in 2013, the most reliable way to get people to listen to your album has proven to be a promotional campaign.
Editorial Fall 2013
“Promotional campaign” is a formal term for a loose concept. In practice the aim of an album’s promotional campaign is simply to get people talking, often people who might not otherwise care about the soon-to-be-released record. Consider for example the new album from one of rap’s most legendary elder statesmen Jay Z (formerly known as Jay-Z). In 2009 Jay Z (then Jay-Z) released the third album in his Blueprint series, titled The Blueprint III. Despite a few noteworthy radio tracks, Blueprint fell short due to Jay’s notable decline as an MC, and his performance on 2011’s Watch the Throne collaboration with Kanye West did little to shake him out of the slump. Hints about an approaching album surfaced occasionally, but a clamoring for new Jay material was nonexistent. I personally wouldn’t have minded a second Jay Z retirement, with an occasional update on the family he’s made with the most beautiful woman in the world. Instead, cut to Game Five of the 2013 NBA finals. Jay Z aired an ad during a commercial break promising to “write the new rules” with his upcoming album, surrounded by big-name familiar faces like Rick Rubin, Pharrell and Timbaland. This is followed by more videos, a few lyric sheets (one of which quoted the chorus of That One Nirvana Song) and a ridiculously star-studded cast of collaborators. There was also the unprecedented team-up between Jay and Sprint to stream the new album, not to mention the goofily bombastic title of the album itself: Magna Carta Holy Grail. Suddenly it was like Jay Z never left, just by hyping his record in a way that got people talking their heads off. And here’s the thing: Magna Carta Holy Grail sucks. There are some redeeming moments in the production and in its features (Frank Ocean! Justin Timberlake!) but as albums go it’s not a great one. Yet a lot people still listened to it. Even I listened to it (once sincerely, two more times for the laughs). In part this is due to Jay Z’s legendary name, but there’s little doubt that listeners tuned in in large part because the way Jay chose to endorse Magna Carta was a slick, well-oiled machine of a promotional campaign. These days, that’s what gets you the album sales. Contrast this with the promotional campaign of long-time Jay Z associate Kanye West’s new album, the spectacular Yeezus. Rather, the almost complete lack thereof. In the months leading up to Yeezus Kanye was uncharacteristically silent. Even when he officially announced the record, it was in the form of a sparse tweet saying “JUNE 18.” A few promotions followed. Kanye took SNL by storm when he played “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves,” two aggressive cuts on an already aggressive album. He also famously projected himself rapping “New Slaves” on the sides of buildings all over the world. But that’s it: the promotion of Yeezus was as minimal and confrontational as Yeezus itself. And though less successful than Magna Carta, Yeezus still moved 327,000 copies during its first week of sales. Yeezus and the way Kanye advertised it reflects the new standard for an album’s relationship with its pre-release campaign. They’re companion pieces, the latter foretelling the direction of the former.
Take the Jay Z example again. Everything we heard about Magna Carta before it came out promised that it would be as rich-sounding as its creator. Who else could afford an ad during the NBA finals? Who else could enter an unprecedented partnership with a phone company for distribution? The album’s production is expensive-sounding, and Jay’s lyrics never stray far from “look how much money I have.” Even though Magna Carta’s quality is suspect, it’s not relevant here because we still got the album we were promised. The way it was promised. If that hypothesis holds true, then it bodes fantastically for Arcade Fire’s upcoming album Reflektor. Reflektor’s release was foreshadowed by world-wide graffiti of the misspelled word “reflektor,” and later by Arcade Fire’s enigmatic fixation on the number nine. First single “Reflektor” was released on September 9th at 9 p.m. (9/9 at 9) and Arcade Fire played several undercover shows at a Canadian salsa club as The Reflektors, charging $9 for entry. Since then more details have come to light about the record. It’s produced in large part by James Murphy for one, the mastermind behind DFA Records and recently departed band LCD Soundsystem. It’ll also feature six Haitian percussionists, which fits with the interactive video for Reflektor’s first single as well as the widespread graffiti campaign. But beyond mystery and globalism, the Canadian seven-piece mastered humor on Reflektor’s release cycle. While noteworthy for their melodramatic passion (the chorus on one of their more popular songs goes “working for the church while your family dies”) the Arcade Fire of 2013 seems intent on making fans smile and scratch their heads. This aim was especially prevalent on their bizarre SNL special, which featured a stacked list of celebrity cameos as well as excellent new songs. Reflektor’s tracklist is also loaded with hilariously inscrutable titles, from “Flashbulb Eyes” and “Porno” to the mention of Greek names in several others. Reflektor will be released on October 29th, and if the promotion strategy reflekts the record’s sound, then we can expect a collection of percussive, global songs with a dance edge that we can laugh and move our bodies to. Granted, artists need name recognition to deliver these kinds of left-field promotions. Kanye and Jay have been household names for ages, and Arcade Fire’s Album of the Year win at the 2012 Grammys provided the stage necessary for Reflektor’s scheme. But would these artists have infiltrated conversations about music this year had they stuck to the traditional album release format? We’ll never know, but the success (or in the case of Arcade Fire, certain success) of all three albums points toward a trend. So to all you aspiring musicians, get creative: music is only half the battle now. Mike Doub (Psychology)
guarantee you that “ Ilisteners tuned in mainly because the way Jay chose to endorse Magna Carta was a slick, well-oiled machine of a promotional campaign.
“ The promotion of Yeezus was as minimal and confrontational as Yeezus itself. ”
mystery and globalism, Arcade “ Beyond Fire mastered humor on Reflektor’s release cycle. ”
TASTY RECIPE After a seven-year hiatus—spent collecting misdemeanor charges and weekly trips in and out of rehab—Banana Bread is back and, suffice it to say, better than ever. The succulent, buttery undertones hit the tongue only seconds after the sublimely mashed banana and the effect is nothing less than intoxicating. This most recent entry not only solidifies banana’s status as a delectable fruit, but also proves that it’s willing to change up the game and collaborate with others. Look for this buzz-worthy baked good to drop next spring in a kitchen near you.
Banana bread Type of dish Dessert Preparation time 20 minutes Cook time 1 hour Difficulty Easy
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter 2 eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1 cup banana, mashed 1/2 cup sour cream 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup walnuts optional
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, then beat together. Sift dry ingredients together in separate bowl, then combine with butter mixture. Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix together. Add chopped nuts. Pour into well-buttered loaf pan, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
ZOOMED Can you tell which six album covers we’ve zoomed in on here?
The National High Violet, Baths Obsidian,Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights 2nd Row:
CHVRCHES Bones of What You Believe, Run the Jewels Run the Jewels, Dr, Dog Fate 1st Row:
CRYPTOQUOTE We’ve hidden Nicolas Cage somewhere in this issue. Find him and maybe something cool will happen...
“ IF THERE’S ONE GUY TO DO HEROIN WITH IT’S PROBABLY ” LIBL VSANE