2017 is almost at an end and though it has been a terrible year for politics, and basically everything else, 2017 however, has been an incredible year for music.
Back in March, I put out an article highlighting some of my favorite albums that had been released early on in the year. Since then, we have been graced with even more outstanding, 10/10, listen-from-start-to-finish albums, so I would like to take a moment to showcase my top 15 picks (in a very particular order) of 2017:
Last night around midnight I was listening to, “The Brightside,” by Lil Peep when I came across a tweet that read, “RIP lil peep.” My initial thought was that this was just another media scam, but I refreshed my timeline and my feed was flooded with the news that Lil Peep had actually died.
It didn’t feel real to me. I was literally listening to his voice through my headphones when I found out that he had just lost his life.
For those who don’t know, Lil Peep (Gustav Åhr) was a SoundCloud rapper on the rise. He found a way to create an unique sound within his music by blending emo and hip-hop. Lil Peep had been recording in his bedroom from the skid row of Los Angeles – making something out of nothing – Lil Peep was one of the most promising and influential artists emerging from SoundCloud. In addition to rap, Lil Peep was also a fashion icon who had just begun making runway appearances. He was only 21. Only 21 years old and lost his life due to an alleged overdose.
Hey everyone! My name’s Sam, and welcome to my blog! I will be doing this blog once a month along with my show, The Daily Blend, which is every Monday at 4 PM. So first, introductions. I am a first-year student from Rockford, IL, which is like two (ish) hours north of here. I went to a high school with a performing arts program, which I was heavily involved in! I have also been a dancer for the past 14 years. When not doing my show or homework, I play for UIC’s rugby team and play and write music with some friends (not that it’s actually going anywhere…). I love all different styles of music, although I tend to favorite anything with guitars and drums over other music genres (oops). On my show, I play so much different music to give everyone something diverse to listen to, because let’s be honest, no one listens to only one style of music their entire life. Continue reading “The Daily Blend’s October Top Ten 2017”→
Anyway, in preparation for the upcoming show, I wanted to list the Arcade Fire albums, from my personal opinion on worst to best.
5. Everything Now
I hate to jump on the bandwagon to place the most recent album last for any artist or band, but I think that in this case, Arcade Fire had somewhat of a hiccup with “Everything Now”. I still think that it is a solid album, but among the rest of Arcade Fire’s discography, it falls short. This album sounds the most synthetic and electronic in Arcade Fire’s productions. The most notable negative of the album is the fluff. The concept of infinity in the album seems to be lost due to a lot of weaker tracks that take away from the cynical message of the entire album. I noticed that the album seems to split itself up with the tracks Infinite Content (1) and Infinite Content (2). These tracks are much weaker than the rest, and the position of the songs in the middle of the album breaks up the smooth continuity that I think should have been present in this album. I do like the message of the album, that being that the world is constantly choking on its own abundance of resources, and that pain will continue infinitely with the cultures we force ourselves to have. My personal favorite track on the album is Electric Blue. It stands out among the rest, and Regine Chassagne’s vocals are very much welcomed.
4. Neon Bible
“Neon Bible” introduces somewhat of a similar theme to Everything Now, but on a much grander scale. Everything Now was more about American cynicism and pain, while Neon Bible is about much more: dangers of religion, the government, and personal dread. Basically all of Arcade Fire’s albums talk about pain, but Neon Bible tackles this issue in the biggest way. There are a lot of Bruce Springsteen and American themes in how this album presents itself. The album is lower on my list due to my personal dislike for the flow of the album; almost all of the tracks stand out, but they do not work well with each other. Each track seems to be performing their own thing, and with concept albums like this, I think that the spread of themes was a bit too wide with Neon Bible. My favorite track on this album owns its album’s namesake: Neon Bible.
“Reflektor” is Arcade Fire’s largest album. The full version is almost double the length of Neon Bible’s. On CD, it is split up on two separate CDs, which makes this a double album. The music themes align to Haitian style music, making this album arguably the most unique sounding. The themes discussed in this album deal with the same religion and death that all Arcade Fire albums deal with. This album is an easy listen and is not overburdening in its themes. However, I do think that the album drags on due to its great length. It is does not carry the world like Neon Bible, and is akin to a personal journey more than a global one. A strange parallel that I relate with this album is that it sounds like a dark version of Vampire Weekend’s Contra. My favorite track on this album is Supersymmetry. (I first heard Supersymmetry in a trailer for the movie “Her” by Spike Jonze; I highly recommend it)
Arcade Fire’s debut album “Funeral” already starts off with a somber tone in its title. The themes in this album may seem obvious, but I want to say that this album deals with death the least. I think that this album talks more about the celebration of someone’s life rather than their death. This album is the most conventionally rock, but it is very satisfying to listen to each and every track. The album is a much more digestible piece of music than “Reflektor”, clocking in at 48 minutes. One theme that it covers very surprisingly are hometowns; Funeral has a backstory of youth living in small towns around the world, from America to Russia to France. I believe that Funeral has the deepest story in all of Arcade Fire’s albums. I would say that this is Arcade Fire’s best album, but I still personally enjoy the following album more. My favorite track in this album is “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)”.
1. The Suburbs
I can listen to this album any day of the week. “The Suburbs” draws so many parallels to my own coming of age and it is such a fantastic album to listen to. The deaths of childhood are prevalent in the themes of The Suburbs. It talks about the evolution of technology, the blind happiness of childhood, and the irreversible fate and cynicism of adulthood. The Suburbs is the most conceptual album out of all of Arcade Fire’s, and while “Funeral” had the most in depth, The Suburbs follows how a child would grow up in an average American suburb, along with the trials and tribulations that accompany the coming of age. It is a pretty long album, clocking in at 62 minutes, but I love every second of it. It is very much conventional rock in a musical sense, and it I would say that this album is the most relatable out of all of them. Even if you didn’t grow up in a suburb, everyone eventually grows up or dies before they do. My favorite track in this album is “Suburban War”.
We all should know by now that award shows are absolute garbage. Something that should be held to recognize achievements and events within the music industry as a whole, ends up only going to the top precenters and completely disregards underground and/or independent artists. And not to mention, a large amount of the people behind the scenes of these shows are either racist or sexist. Or both.
Frank Ocean showed his disapproval of award shows when he chose to abstain from the 2017 Grammy Award Show. Ocean said, “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
And I completely agree with his statement and the action he chose to make.
But even though I already know that award shows are a joke, I still couldn’t help but to be irked when the American Music Awards revealed their nominations today and presented a disappointing amount of female nominees.
Not a single female artist was nominated for the following categories:
Artist of the Year
Collab of the Year
Best Duo / Group
Best Pop Album
Tour of the Year
Video of the Year
There are so many incredible female artists, in the mainstream and underground music scene, who have been delivering an abundance of talent this year, but are going unrecognized. The lack of appreciation for these ladies in the simplest term is: frustrating.
Confident women expressing themselves is empowering and is something we need to pay more attention to.
With that being said, here are some female musicians I think everyone should check and support, because they truly deserve it:
Blogging season is back and I have album reviews and musical opinions ready to go, but to kick things off, here is a little summary of how my life has been going since my last post:
This week I’ve cried to ‘Supercut’ by Lorde approximately 68 times. I’ve drafted up several different blog posts, re-read them, and then deleted them out of fear of sounding mindless and shallow. I’ve had zero will to do the things I’m supposed to be doing, and instead have been hoarding bottles of Smirnoff in my room.
This past week I’ve embarrassed myself on at least 16 different occasions, one of them being right in front of Nick Jonas. I am going to snap my neck if one more person comments on how “edgy” my new haircut looks. I despise the word, “edgy” with a passion and being, “edgy” was not what drove me to cut off 12 inches of my hair, but in fact was just the aftermath of a full-blown Britney Spears styled mental breakdown, which I am still having. Evidently.
I out of impulse booked an appointment to get another tattoo (which I really can’t afford). I also booked plane tickets to go back to California (which I also, really can’t afford).
Ever since I went to California this summer, I’ve been extremely frustrated every morning when I wake up and realize that I am no longer in California. I whole heartily believe that is where I should be, and not in the Midwest, causing me to have even more of an existential crisis.
I’m on the verge of dropping every single one of my classes, I busted my iPhone, and I finished watching every season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” on Netflix and now I don’t know what to do.
And that’s been a brief summary of my life since my last blog post.
Though I sound like a total pessimist, I promise I am not. I’m living in a “glass is half empty, half full” kind of world right now, and while part of my life is going great (I truly do have a lot to be thankful for), and the other half is going not so great, I am trying my hardest to see the “half full” side.
With that being said, however, today is just not a “half full” kind of day, so here’s a playlist I put together to soundtrack this weird funk I’m in.
This year on my blog, I’m sticking to my theme of music news and reviews, with a political piece here and there, and in addition to that, I am also going to push myself to write a personal storytime piece every other week, so stay tuned!
If you want to keep up with with my saucy life, follow me here:
The incredibly talented Australian pop star, Troye Sivan, surprised his fans with a surprise performance at the 2017 Coachella music festival.
Sivan joined DJ Martin Garrix on the Sahara Stage during his set to drop their new song together, “There For You.”
This is the first piece of new music that we have gotten from Sivan since his 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
Sivan has been hinting on his Twitter that a new album is in the works, and new music will be coming our way in the, hopefully, near future.
“There For You” is a brilliant song with a beautiful message. It’s pop heavy and radio-ready, and while it may be a great song to bop to, the lyrics hold a lot in them.
“I got you, I promise
Let me be honest
Love is a road that goes both ways
When your tears roll down your pillow like a river
I’ll be there for you
But you gotta be there for me too”
Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. You cannot expect someone to always be there for you, if you cannot be there for them. Communication, and as stated in the song, love, goes both ways. One sided relationships are toxic and unfair and I cannot stress this enough.
“There For You” is a song I feel like everyone can relate to at some point in life, and songs like this are perfect to find comfort in. Sweet and soft.
With that being said, I cannot wait to hear what Sivan has planned for his sophomore album.
As a longtime fan of Troye Sivan (and a fan of music and talent in general,) it’s been an emotional ride watching Sivan go from posting quirky videos on YouTube, to preforming on the iconic Coachella stage.
It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something, and you want your dream bad enough, hard work and dedication pays off, and living the life you’ve always dreamed of, is possible.
“Treview” is a spontaneous and grossly-titled series in which I, Trev, review new tracks or artists that spark a greater conversation outside the music itself. Whether it’s titillating controversy, an impact on culture, or a shift in the musical landscape, these songs are more than meets the ear.
Make no mistake: I was very disappointed with the direction of Joanne, and while I frequently sweated through my intense CrossFit workouts light cardio to the multi-culture appropriating ARTPOP, I recognize it to be largely a flop as well. News of Gaga returning to more standard pop fare was exciting. After periods of jazz and faux folk, I, like many, desperately longed for some new, certified Gaga bangers. It’s revelation to absolutely no one that Lady Gaga hasn’t been as musically or culturally relevant since 2009, when she released her goth-pop masterpiece The Fame Monster EP. Meat dresses, #1 hits, anatomical controversies; Gaga was on top of the world, sparkler ti***es and all. Her weird, theatrical impact on pop music continues to this day. This is why listening to her latest single, The Cure, is so sad. Gone are the sonic risks, the sexual ambiguity, the Ra ra-ah-ah Roma roma-mas. Every aspect of her identity on this track has been weathered and dismantled, removed board by board until all we’re left with is Scheiße.
The Cure is a song that is sure to be void of radio failure, but is also totally void of herself. Even at her lowest, most celestial-centric moments, Gaga could still be counted on to be one thing: Gaga. Where some nauseatingly tried to cash in on civil rights movements in an act of marketing expediency, Gaga championed the LGBT community in her songs with a true and tangible compassion reciprocated to the fans that offered her support when she was no more than a club act with some buzz. Where most album covers are focus-group-honed, inoffensive squares of current trends, Gaga’s are a clusterf*** mashup of motorcycle-meets-maiden. Now, she has abandoned her signature anthemic sincerity and advocacy, replacing them with a hollow dance-hall track indistinguishable from the entirety of current Top 40 convention, complete with cover art that features, presumably, the best result of a photo shoot who’s rank insipidness challenges its very songsake and a background of grey that borders on sardonic. Remove the vocals, and it’d be virtually impossible to tell that this is a project of Mother Monster’s at all. One can’t help but wonder how much of it even is.
With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales.
I’m sure I’ll still find myself casually listening along, that is, if I can ever move past the fact that this is simply the least-Gaga Gaga song that’s ever been released. Having been a fan since I too was one of the many closeted, little monsters in a small town, listening for a source of identity and freedom (The Fame was the first album I purchased in its entirety), this admittedly cuts deeper for me than it probably should or does for most. It’s understandable for her to be fatigued after several attempts, and years, of trying to be true-to-self have, for the most part, not paid off critically or commercially. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with wanting your work to be appreciated. Perhaps this is the start of an era with a subsequent EP or album that will redeem it. Maybe this will just be a one-off Coachella gift. I have to admit, the initial seconds of the song gave me post-Joanne hope. Lady Gaga heading back to dance territory, or even dance-hall for that matter, is certainly something welcomed by myself and fans worldwide. This is to say as long as it’s her dance territory. As long as it’s not this. With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales. Little Monsters everywhere are asking themselves: “Where’s mom?” I feel sad listening to this. I feel sad for Lady Gaga.
The Gorillaz just released a new song called Let Me Out as I type this. My phone buzzed and everything. But more on that in a bit.
It took me a few days of listening to collect my thoughts on the four songs off Humanz we’ve witnessed so far. I’ve got mixed feelings about all of them, but they’ve only made me want to hear more. We know how the Gorillaz operate; the album is a message, so getting bits of it at various intervals isn’t satisfying. It’s like eating a steak dinner over the course of a week. But they put enough thought into their art to make it worth a six-year wait. And that’s why I love the Gorillaz.
We know we haven’t got the full story yet. Let’s recap:
–Hallelujah Money: 1/19/17
–Saturnz Barz: 3/23/17
–We got the Power: 3/23/17
–Let Me Out: 4/6/17
Hallelujah Money was released at an interesting time, all by itself. It drew tons of criticism for being “un-Gorillaz,” and its critics were further criticized for being critical. I have a few thoughts on this that you’ll likely want to hear, seeing as you’re reading my blog: The Gorillaz work hard to not have a typical style. In fact, their style is that they don’t have a style; they experiment outside of their genre. It adds mystique and rejects structured normativity and it’s what drives fans crazy with delight. All I can think is when fans listened to Hallelujah Money and thought, That doesn’t sound like the Gorillaz, they really meant was, That doesn’t sound like Plastic Beach.
My other opinion on this matter is that you can be a fan of something without loving everything about it. Example: I think the US is pretty neat, but I also wish we didn’t have a Cheeto as president. If you’re one of the people worried you’re not a Gorillaz fan because you don’t like what you’ve heard of Humanz, or if you’re on the opposite end telling others they’re not Gorillaz fans because they don’t like what they’ve heard of Humanz, cut it out.
But back to its release date: January 19th, 2017. The day before the presidential inauguration. The Gorillaz’ music has always been attune to what’s going on in the world at the time, and though it was written several months before the election, the creators admit that afterwards, the album took on a new meaning. I won’t badger you with my analysis of the significance of its release date and it’s lyrics; I’ll provide a few of my favorite lyrics here and leave that to you (and if you can tell me what the Spongebob wail at the end of the song means, you get bonus points).
Next up is Ascension. I’m not an EDM person, so I’m not a fan of this one, but it sure does have some killer lines. Albarn himself said in an interview that Humanz is a “party, club record,” but it has a “weird darkness about it.” Saturnz Barz is what really got me. The video was crammed with references to horror films, likely the work of Jamie Hewlett, who’s a huge fan of the classic thrillers. The main theme of the Clint Eastwood video and the ends of Rock the House‘s video are inspired by the horror genre. As it’s clear most of the visual budget was diverted to the Saturnz Barz video, I’d recommend watching it multiple times. There are tons of hidden gems in the details, the first being a creepy face in the basement window appearing only four seconds in!
We got the Power and Andromeda came next, judging by the corresponding music videos. Though similarly to Ascension‘s video, it’s clear the creatives didn’t invest as much as they did in Saturnz Barz. This is surprisingly common for the band. Tomorrow Comes Today‘s video was done in two weeks, as Jamie forgot he had a deadline for the project after animating other videos for their Gorillaz album.
I was intending to weigh in on Let me Out, but I’ve only listened to it three times. As any Gorillaz fan knows, that’s not nearly enough if you want to understand the song. Their music is so intricate and thought out, enjoyment comes with familiarization of each album.
This is why I’m excited for the end of the month. Three weeks doesn’t sound like too short, but stand by! Humanz will be released on April 28th.
2016 blessed us with incredible new music. From Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo, to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, and to in my opinion, the greatest album to have ever been produced, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, it was just a great year for music.
We’re three months into 2017, and the new music is starting to pour in. The year is still young, but here are some of the best new albums that have been released so far:
American Teen – Khalid
Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, is just the very beginning to the successful music career glowing in front of him. At only 18 years old, Khalid has made huge waves with his single, ‘Location,’ which can be found on American Teen. This album is emotionally crafted with soulful 90’s vibes and smooth vocals. American Teen is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish, without skipping any songs, and you’ll never get tired of hearing it. Highlights include: ‘Saved’, ‘Location’, and ‘Shot Down’
Mansionz – Mansionz
Mansionz is a new duo featuring singer-songwriter, Mike Posner, and singer-producer, Blackbear. The self-entitled album consists of electronic-based hip-hop and R&B pop. It’s a unique combination that deserves more attention. The transitions from each song are flawless, and blends perfectly. Highlights include: ‘The Life Of A Troubadour’, ‘I’m thinking about horses’, ‘nobody knows’, and ‘My Beloved’
CollXtion II: Unsolved – Allie X
Canadian singer-songwriter, Allie X, has been working on her second studio album, and it’s for sure a bop. Her sound can be described as edgy electronic pop, and it’s just different than anything else. Highlights include: ‘That’s So Us’ and ‘Too Much To Dream’
I See You – The xx
I See You is The xx’s junior album, and in my opinion, their best. The xx have always been known for their calming and soothing vocals, and they lived up to expectations yet again. The production of their third album has been a step up from their past work, and it’s honestly beautiful. Highlights include: ‘Lips’, ‘Brave For You’, and ‘Performance’
Process – Sampha
Heavy emotions can be found in Sampha’s debut LP. Process contains R&B roots, and vocals that sound almost haunting. Sampha rediscovers himself through his work, and you can hear the vulnerability in his LP. Highlights include: ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’, ‘Plastic 100ºC’, and ‘Take Me Inside’
I can’t wait to hear what else is yet to come in 2017, and I do have high expectations