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Albums with Gunner: Quit the Curse by Anna Burch

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

Anna Burch’s Quit The Curse album took me by surprise as being one of my favorite albums of 2018 so far, possibly because it is one of the few albums I’ve listened to that I enjoyed.  The indie-artist’s debut comes to life with the vintage sounds provided by the use of reverb and guitars.

 

Quit the Curse brings me summer vibes, with the joyous guitar strings and the energetic drums. I keep imagining 1960’s aesthetics with each song and I am in no way complaining because I love all things vintage. One of my favorites include “Belle Isle”, mostly because of the play on guitars which have a poppy melody that gives listeners an imagery of paradise. The opening of “In Your Dreams” had me swaying my head back forth on the beat of each drum.  And of course, the angelic guitar intro  was amazing. (If you can’t already tell, I love guitars). There were a few songs that lost my interest, possibly because of the monotone presence Burch displays in her songs. In the songs that I liked, her voice was paired perfectly with the instruments, which made me favor them more.

 

The entire album is composed of lyrics in which Anna Burch expresses her romantic disasters.  The entire album gives off a Lana Del Rey sound, with Burch possibly taking inspiration from the mainstream-alt artist, as well as working with the her sound engineer. I listened to this album imaging myself standing up in a vintage car, with my hair blowing in the breeze on the California coast. I would definitely listen to this album again, for aesthetic purposes of course.

 

Rate: 7/10

Albums with Gunner: Earthtones by Bahamas

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

Earthtones marks Bahamas fourth studio album. The album has tunes where one can bop their head or tap their toes to, but nothing too hard where they’ll be out of their seats dancing unless of course they prefer this type of music to jam to.

 

The album takes on a new form of indie, providing listeners with fresh r&b and soul with tracks like “So Free” and “Any Place” but it is tracks like “Alone” and “Everything to Everyone” that caught my attention with the heavy beats. “Alone” starts off very slow, but gives a taste of pleasantry with the background vocals provided by the band’s backup singer Felicity Williams. It moved me through the song, and I appreciated how the song ended with a heavy set of dreams. It set a tone for the rest of the album where drums would be essential in carrying out the tunes. Overall, the guitars in the album stand out for me, as they do in every album, because they help complement the R&B and Soul style that band has going on. Even though I wasn’t alive in the 70’s, the guitars create a sense of the groovy era.

 

Compared to their 2014 album Bahamas is Afie, which had a folk-style to it, displays the versatility of Bahama’s, enabling them to be inspired by any music and correctly projecting it to an audience. The soft vocals in Earthtones makes the album essential for days spent in coffee shops or even for fun elevator music. I personally do not enjoy music like this, but my ears were satisfied with what they heard. 

 

7/10.

 

Top 10 albums of 2017- Joe Swymeler

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Lists, Music

  1. Dan Auerbach- Waiting on a Song

    The Black Keys guitarist/vocalist is back with his 2nd solo effort and it does not disappoint, with an outstanding classic rock sound that very much surprised me the first time I heard the album. With myself being a huge fan of both The Black Keys and Auerbach, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes, The Black Keys have drifted from their gritty blues garage rock sound heard in their first couple of efforts, so it is no surprise Auerbach has done the same, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a nice blend of country, soul, and folk, with a timeless feel to it. Notable tracks include “Waiting on a Song,” the excellent opener and title track, as well as the single “Shine on Me,” a very George Harrison-ish sounding track. Other excellent songs are “Malibu Man,” Living in Sin,” and “Stand by my Girl.” This album also features classic musicians such as John Prine and Mark Knopfler as well. Waiting on a Song is a breath of fresh air that I enjoy every time I listen to this album.
                                                                          

  2. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory


    For me, Big Fish Theory, the sophomore album of Compton native Vince Staples, sounds like nothing I have ever heard before in terms of hip hop and that is a wonderful thing. You can clearly hear Staples interest in electronica on this album, with heavy techno electronic dubs, aggressive fast beats, and sometimes avant garde sounds make this album very interesting to listen to (and get down to as well). I have honestly never heard anything like it in terms of a hip hop album and that is what I like about it so much. Staples’ lyrics on this album are very much about the down side  of things, dealing with death as well as the horrors of fame and success as well as the current state of the world. The album features many appearances, samples and not, by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Damon Albarn (Blur and Gorillaz), and also is amazingly produced by the likes of Flume and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) helming the project. Big Fish Theory was definitely the most interesting and all encompassing album I have listened to all year, and I can’t wait to see what Staples has in store next.

  3. Mac DeMarco- This Old Dog

    Everyone’s favorite gap-toothed Canadian indie boy is back in his much anticipated fourth outing, but This Old Dog is much different in nature then the laid back indie rock lp’s we’re used to. It’s a much more moodier album than we are used to with DeMarco, with the album’s theme centering around the troubled relationship between Mac and his father, who wasn’t supposed to hear this album due to terminal illness, but interestingly enough he survived and the rest is history. Of course with any Mac album, there is many solid tunes on this album. Yes, it’s much more melancholy than say, Salad Days, but it doesn’t disappoint, having some of Mac’s best tracks.

     

  4. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN.

    Over the years, Compton raised rapper Kendrick Lamar has emerged as one of the greatest artists of the modern era, and his 4th album, DAMN, keeps that status alive. While not as story driven as Good Kid, M.A.A.D City or as full as To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN does not disappoint. His past albums, particularly Good Kid and Section 80 deal with Kendrick’s struggle filled Compton upbringing. DAMN has a fair amount of weight to the lyrics, but it more of strikes a middle ground somewhere between success and struggle. It really doesn’t have a bad track on it and in my opinion, his songwriting and lyrics have never been better. Lamar is, in my opinion, one of the most ambitious and thought provoking musicians I have ever heard and that’s what I love about his albums. The subject matter definitely carries its weight, but that’s a good thing. DAMN is a very good balance between energetic fast bangers and thoughtful reflections, all revolving around Kendrick’s rap destiny, whether good or bad.


  5. Randy Newman- Dark Matter


    Throughout his 40+ year career, singer/songwriter Randy Newman has always had a keen sense of satirical irony and humor, as well as a knack for perspective and writing songs about characters in real and interesting situations. While most know Newman for his work on many Disney film soundtracks, particularly Toy Story, Newman’s work goes far beyond that. His latest album, Dark Matter, is gorgeous and thoughtful. There are many interesting scenarios in the songs, and that’s why it’s so good. It touches a lot on politics, particularly the first track, “The Great Debate,” an 8 minute mini opera of sorts, having characters debate the argument of science vs. religion. Other interesting tracks include “Brothers,” a humorous imaginary conversation between Robert and John F. Kennedy regarding the Bay of Pigs Invasion and Cuban girls, and “Sonny Boy,” the true story of blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson, who was murdered in Chicago and his name, songs, and reputation was essentially stolen by another man, Sonny Boy Williamson II. With a full orchestra on deck and Newman’s signature garbled voice and soft piano, Dark Matter is as touching and absolutely gorgeous as it is smart and satirical, and a must listen.

  6. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Flying Microtonal Banana


    At the end of 2016, Australian psych monsters/workaholics King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard said they would have 5 albums under their belt by the end of 2017. While many skeptics had their doubts about this claim, they were proved very much wrong as KGLW did in fact release 5 whopping albums, each one very good and more different than the last. The album range in genres from psychedelic lounge jazz to heavy Sabbath- like rock about a giant robot vomiting all over the universe. The quirk to this album is that all of the instruments are in microtonal tuning, which means every single note on the album is in a minor key, giving it an eastern and interesting sound for King Gizz, although it still has their signature sound written all over it. Still featuring their awesome harmonicas, flutes, and smashing drums and fuzzy guitars that make KGLW so much fun to listen to.

     

  7. Drake- More Life


    A
    fter lukewarm reviews of his 2016 album Views, Toronto native and music giant Aubrey Graham aka. Drake, returns with a absolute slam dunk. Let me tell you, I have always loved Drake. He has been a big influence on me, and I have been a pretty big fan since his 2010 debut, So Far Gone. His 2011 album Take Care takes the cake as my personal favorite hip-hop album of all time. The production on his records and mix tapes are always top notch, and he is an excellent rapper and singer. I thinks what strikes me most about his music is his ability to never hide how he feels. He is very “real” in that sense, and he isn’t afraid to show his emotions, and I like that. With that being said, More Life is definitely a blend of old and new, and everything in between. It goes back while treading new ground. It is a blend of everything from hip-hop and trap to afrobeat, pop, and Jamaican reggae inspired dancehall. Once again, the production is nearly flawless and every track is dripping with good energy and lush sounds, some would even say as the title suggests, life. It’s all flows and breathes really well and in that way it reminds me a lot of Kanye West’s 2016 album, The Life of Pablo. More Life serves as a reminder that Drake is still a excellent musician and a force of nature in a genre that never stops changing.

  8. Thundercat- Drunk

    American jazz musician Thundercat released his first album in 4 years, and this album really took me by surprise. Drunk is a unique blend of groovy modern jazz fusion with a constant groove going. It features many guest appearances such as Kendrick Lamar, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald. The production is amazing and I really love the album cover for it. I’m quite surprised this album didn’t get bigger than it did, because it really is a good album listen that I find myself listening to a lot.               

  9. Joey Bada$$- ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$
                                        

    Joey’s sophomore effort is very well done, and I was very struck the first time I heard it. This album is definitely a throwback to the 90s, “golden age of hip-hop,” but it still has a very fresh feel to it. It’s definitely one of the most politically charged albums I have heard in a while, but that’s a good thing in my opinion. The lyrics are definitely one of the memorable things about this album. Rap has always been rooted in politics, and it’s interesting to see a modern young artist like Joey Badass convert that feeling on a modern scale. The production is amazing, with a jazzy feel to it with plenty of samples and record scratches in it too. It’s the closest thing to old school hip-hop I have heard in a long time, and you can definitely hear it on this record. It reminds me a lot of A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy in particular.

  10. Fleet Foxes- Crack Up
           

    After a 5 year hiatus, Washington indie folk group Fleet Foxes is back with their 3rd album, and is an interesting departure in terms of flow for them. If you would imagine Fleet Foxes as a bunch of long haired bearded dudes playing acoustic guitars, you’ve got their image down, but their sound is so much more. They’re known for their immaculate chamber like vocal delivery, and excellent song writing, courtesy of lead vocalist Robin Pecknold, as well as Josh Tillman, now better known as Father John Misty, who left the band back in 2012 to pursue a solo career. Fleet Foxes also have a good sense of production, which is very important in a genre like folk music. In term of modern folk and Americana music, there are a lot of generic bands and sound-alikes, which makes the genre feel pretty stale to me. Fleet Foxes is the opposite, always keeping things fresh and interesting, and Crack Up is no different. It is definitely not as good and as their self titled debut album or Helplessness Blues, but that’s because it’s so different. Every song flows into one another and it can be hard to distinguish sometimes, but it’s a good album to get lost in. Each song soars and swirls with hoards of big drums and acoustic guitars. Sure they tried something different, and it made for an interesting album that mixes up things for them.

Review: St. Vincent – “MASSEDUCTION”

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

MASSSEDUCTION marks Annie Clark’s (stage name St. Vincent) fifth album. Her previous pseudonym titled album St. Vincent went on to receive a Grammy for Best Alternative Album however MASSEDUCTION may add to that collection. The album, which was co-produced by Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff (famous collaborations include Lorde & Taylor Swift) provides a refreshing ‘80s sound with flaring synths and heavy 808’s. The sound adds to the idea of “seduction” and positively adds to the growing sub genre of futuristic pop. The captious lyrics allow for a dark expose of Clark’s life as a whole taking on topics such as addiction (“Pills”) and suicide (“Smoking Section”). However, Clark is able to turn her recovery into a work of art as she puts together the broken pieces of her life and creates a beautiful musical puzzle.

Overall, the thirteen tracks provided were invigorating to say the least but only a few stood out to me. The title track provided for the idea of attraction. Clark spoke about the title track as her either being “seduced or the seducer”. The lines “I can’t turn off what turns me on/I hold you like a weapon” stood out to me the most as both seemed go along with the idea of attraction. What she has her eye on is dangerous but the force is too strong to be reckoned then saying she can not “turn off” what turns her on.

The instrumental track “Dancing with the Ghosts” serves as an emotional prelude to “Slow Disco” whose title is often repeated into the track. I loved the melancholic strings of the track as it resonated with mood of “Slow Disco”. The introduction tells the listeners that what they’re about to hear is somber. Clark has done this before on her first album with the two tracks “We Put a Pearl in the Ground” serving as an introduction for “Landmines”.

“Pills” and “Smoking Section” seem to be the controversial since they take on such harsh topics. “Pills” begins to go on about how it is much easier to live life when drugged rather than being sober. The chorus of the track “Pills to wake/pills to sleep” describe how Clark felt during a short period of her life when she would take sleeping pills. The chorus is a play on how she felt taking pills was the way to live her life. “Smoking Section” takes listeners down a much darker road as the lyrics are critical to the safety of life.  Many lyrics in this song are ways one could possibly end their life such as the lines “Sometimes I stand with a pistol in my hand/ I go to the edge of my roof” and I feel like St. Vincent wrote these lines to discuss the thoughts she’s had. The title of the song even describes something that’s risky for health. Sitting a in a smoking section could cause second hand smoke. My analysis of the title could be a stretch however, it correlates with the meaning of the song. However, the song concludes with Clark repeating the lines “it’s not the end”. It seems as though she turned around and let go of the negative thoughts and reassured herself she has more to live for and go on.

Overall, MASS SEDUCTION provides for a new sound for both genres of pop and alternative. I truly think it could be a contender for the 2019 Grammy’s possibly allowing Clark to receive her second grammy in Best Alternative Album.  I enjoyed the unique sounds of the album and the compelling lyrics making St. Vincent an asset to the music industry.

Sam Carroll’s Selections: 2015

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Lists

10. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

 

Panda Bear’s funky electronic psychedelia maintains traces of his signature Beach Boy-esque poppiness but pushes the frontier of the Animal Collective’s aural legacy into a more mechanically organic creation.

Best Track: Come To Your Senses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHQnMdPMZW4

 

9. Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes

Jeff Bridges’ spoken word ambient album.

“Sleeping Tapes. Ha. I love that right there. And all that it implies, you know?
Sleeping Tapes.
Sleep, of course implies waking up.
Tapes – imply recording. Yeah? Sharing things. Sort of implies, you know, the past and the future. Things recorded in the past, to share in some future time.
(Sigh) I think ah, done everything… Ha Ha Ha.
Everything implies everything else, you know? Yeah. Sleeping Tapes.”

– Jeff

Best Track: Temescal Canyon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHEv-Go1Bcc

 

8. The Underachievers – Evermore: The Art Of Duality

Two of Brooklyn’s finest philosophically highlight contradictions in life while the stark duality of thought and behavior they explore manifests itself in two distinct phases of their album.

Best Track: Unconscious Monsters (Evermore Outro) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlhtMU_NFvo

 

 

7. Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, girl

A brilliant Norwegian singer with hybridized electro-instrumental backdrops gives a bird’s eye analysis of culture.

Best Track: Heaven https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufcx1wamdkE

 

6. Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom

Idaho’s 2011 lo-fi dreamy bedroom pop icon has developed his sound into a crisp, heavy, and unique array of electronic rock. Dealing with his own form of ennui, Trevor Powers’ lyrics explore loss and nostalgia in a replayable 40 minute ride.

Best Track: Free Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8J-sPFZx-I

5. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Amidst cultural and existential ennui, Father John relates the multifaceted mysteries of the concept of love and the place it occupies over lush and complex instrumentation.

Best Tracks: Strange Encounter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hefr781v2pc

True Affection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X36cTqByZ7c

 

4. Oddisee – The Good Fight

“Smart. Way smarter, way smarter than your average bear. And you gotta get that right off the tap, like, first things first, listening to Oddisee there’s just a couple of things you’re gonna have to acknowledge that are gonna go over your head, like just get ready for that… We’ve dumbed it down to the point where we want things to be super simple, we just want everyone to get it and Oddisee doesn’t really focus on that, I don’t think he really focuses on you getting it, I think he’d rather have you keep up with him, like actually use your brain for more than a hat rack, and you know, go ahead and keep pace with what’s going on in the music and if you need to rewind it, rewind it there’s no shame in that; if you need to look something up, look it up there’s no shame in that, but like, as far as the where the concepts are gonna go, and, and what the lyrics are gonna be, Oddisee is a dude who really holds that mark solid, and I think the only thing that keeps him from being mainstream is the fact that he won’t dumb down. Like he’s still fighting, I don’t know if it’s even fighting the good fight.”

– Worse Before Better

Best Tracks: Want Something Done https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0cGnfx4nWU

First Choice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJJzyvjmZes

3. Jamie xx – In Colour

This album is British. A colorful feast for the senses, a smattering of stylistic influences come together here to weave an electronic web of sounds that define individual patterns within songs but transition effortlessly between those designs to form one cohesive and addictive journey. I, and most people I know, weren’t initially impressed by this album; after I started with the second last track and let it loop- infection.

Let it loop.

Best Tracks: The Rest Is Noise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDiQgUS7HsE

Loud Places https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmtFPqZmOdU

 

2. Tame Impala – Currents

An album about change in a world solely defined by perpetual change. In a world solely defined by perpetual change, a word exists to define cultural pillars that embrace and contemplate the nature of the perpetual change that defines, enables, and is inextricably entangled with the concept of time itself: Timeless.

Enjoy the second law of thermodynamics.

Best Tracks: Let It Happen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ed6UeDp1ek

‘Cause I’m A Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hefh9dFnChY

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

“I remembered you was conflicted
Misusing your influence, sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screamin’ in the hotel room
I didn’t wanna self destruct, the evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went runnin’ for answers”

Best Tracks: Wesley’s Theory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0QtdISwioc

Alright https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z938ya2fbPo

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Going Down

Cannibal Ox – Blade of the Ronin

Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

The Internet – Ego Death

Jib Kidder – Teaspoon to the Ocean

Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

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