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Wes Davis’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

Written by Staff. Posted in Lists, Music

By Wes Davis

I had a lot of trouble deciding on the best albums from this exciting and emotional year for music. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen represent the end of an era where artists stood behind their music, seen best by Bowie’s persona of Ziggy Stardust. However, we are starting to see a revival of this idea that the music can speak for itself. Look at Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, and Chance the Rapper’s gospel album, Coloring Book. Despite the modesty in some artists, we are reminded that fame exists and it is intoxicating. As I listened to Life of Pablo I could feel Kanye’s desire for redemption from the people and his knowledge that God’s grace can set him free from his sins. Life of Pablo goes from praising and thanking God in “Ultralight Beam” to pleading for forgiveness in  “FML”.

Despite there being a plethora of great Indie albums this year, like Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, Whitney’s debut album Light Upon the Lake, Mitski’s Puberty 2 and many more, I kept finding myself coming back the Hip Hop and rap albums released this past year. From underground Chicago rappers like Joey Purp to Kanye. Without a doubt, 2016 is a big year for the hip hop scene. West Coast hip hop in the past year has been heavily influence by Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 To Pimp a Butterfly, prominently seen in Anderson Paak’s Malibu and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade. Childish Gambino’s recently dropped album, Awaken, My Love has unexpected throwback sound for the young rapper, bringing the west coast groove and ’70’s rock to the hip hop scene, with his sound and his transition from “word-play” rap to this hip hop groove makes it one of my favorite albums this year.  So it makes sense that many of Top 10 albums this year revolve around the hip hop genre.

  1. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
  2. Bon Iver, 22, A Million
  3. Kanye West, Life of Pablo
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table
  5. Frank Ocean, Blond
  6. Conor Oberst, Ruminations
  7. Anderson Paak, Malibu
  8. Noname, Telefone
  9. Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial
  10. Childish Gambino, Awaken, My Love

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

An album review by Emma Poor

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor is her seventh studio album and one of her best ones yet. For most of her songs she recorded with a full orchestra that increased the intensity of her music. Her lyrics are powerful and well-written, digging to the heart and begging you to listen. Her songs are more lyrics driven than anything where the full orchestra adds to the lyrics by swelling up behind her words. In Tornadoland when her lyrics turn more jazz inspired, the orchestra remains eerie and increasingly grows louder. In most of her songs, she sings in a minor key that is balanced out by her light vocals. The minor key is common in most of her music spanning across all of her albums. The song Obsolete is over six minutes long and entirely worth listening to with the dark lyrics, questioning life and its meaning while directly after, Sellers of Flowers is reminiscent and carefree. The first two songs have hints of pop music and are more upbeat than the rest of the album. I thoroughly enjoyed the album and would definitely listen to the album over and over again.

Phantogram’s “Three” Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

phantogram-three Review by Becca Malott

The electro rock group Phantogram led by Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter is getting closer to the popular alternative genre with their album “Three” released October 7th 2016. This band contains elaborate guitar riffs with electronic twists and gritty yet airy vocals that defiantly steal the attention of the audience. The band originated back in 2007 in their hometown Greenwich, New York. They have released a total of three studio albums.  Interestingly enough the group records all of their music in a remote barn near Upstate New York. The album’s number one hit “You Don’t Make Me High Anymore” is definitely pulling Phantogram closer and closer to mainstream alternative. Songs like “Same Old Blues” have an alluring mixture of almost blues and pop creating a paradox of interesting vocalizing and rhythmic beats.  Other songs like “Answers” and “Funeral Pyre” which contain a slower melody focusing the attention to the more emotional lyrical aspect of their music. This album is a must when it comes to unwinding with friends, or just jamming out in the car.

Catfish and The Bottlemen-The Ride

Written by Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

The Ride: Catfish and the Bottlemen Reviewthe-ride

By: Chase King

The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen, the second album being released by the indie alternative band formed in the wales in 2007. The band follows influence most strongly by the Killers, stating in an interview that they were going to cover the Killers because they had already ripped off enough from the band. Not only are there similarities between Brandon Flowers and Van McCann voices and expression in vocals, but the songwriting and instrumentals are fairly closely related. The Rides main single, Sound check, is the albums best relation to mainstream indie rock, as the main chorus doesn’t have much specific unique sound to it, an aspect that doesn’t do the rest of the album justice as the albums highlight is its interesting and very raw instrumentals reinforcing vocals that aren’t focused on hitting incredibly ranged notes but rather giving the message of the song within a very eased and comfortable voice. Overall, while Sound Check is definitely one of my favorite songs from the album, it does seem to be set up for success by the band just due to its more streamlined sound, not something that fans of the band would be hoping would come out of the album. The albums strong suit would have to be the mix of acoustic and electric guitars to establish different moods within the song, and the electric guitars not having a large and high energy tone to ruin the soft sound.

Overall, The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen has a lot of good things going for it. The instrumentals work with McCanns voice towards a very chilled out indie sound. The album is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy the music that the station plays.

XXYYXX – XXYYXX Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

By Evan Cole

XXYYXX is the self-titled debut album of Orlando producer Marcel Everett, stage name XXYYXX. Released in 2012, this is currently Everett’s only album. XXYYXX is currently 20 years old, and was 16 when he released this album — something to keep in mind when listening. While XXYYXX isn’t necessarily a mainstream artist, his work, and this album in particular, has received a well-deserved cult following. The best way I can describe XXYYXX is psychedelic electronic, though I am not the best person to talk to when having to define and categorize music. What I can say, though, is that this album is entirely production, and it does it incredibly well.

The album opens with About You, a song that immediately puts you into a semi-trance that carries you throughout the rest of the album. This album is chock full of samples in each song, going anywhere from Jon Brion to Beyoncé; the first one you hear is a part of a Jillian Aversa verse, with the phrase “forever in time” played in reverse with a much higher pitch. This sample is changed throughout the song, changing its speed and its pitch, creating the basis that the beat blends with to create excellent production. When I first listened to this album, this song particularly captured me, and is one of the strongest.

The most glaring problem with this album is the overuse of repetition. When listening to an individual song on this record, it is easy to be two minutes in and think “will it just keep going on like this?” the most obvious example being Fields, one of this album’s singles. Every song on this album has repetition, sometimes minor, such as with Love Isn’t Made, but often it is apparent that XXYYXX is taking a single well-made 30-second clip, and repeating it while making small changes throughout. This can often make the songs feel a lot longer than the 3-4 minutes that they are. This issue is somewhat mitigated when listening to the record as an entire album, as I believe it enhances the feeling of a trance you are in when listening, purposefully causing you to lose track of time or even where exactly in the album you are.

Overall, even with its flaws, I think this album is an incredibly strong record, especially for a debut album.  I highly recommend trying XXYYXX out, it has become one of my favorites.

Rating: 9.5/10

Favorite songs: About You, Fields, DMT, TIED2U

Least favorite song: Witching Hour (If I have to choose one)

Find this album alongside his other releases at https://xxyyxx.bandcamp.com

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