Review: Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life”

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There’s a moment on Lana Del Rey’s fourth record, Lust For Life, that should hit her biggest fans (or as Hipster Runoff dudebros in 2011 once called them, apologists) harder than nearly all of her lyrical catalog. For those listeners that once found themselves entranced with the smoky voice totally consumed, and maybe a little depressed, by the moments of quiet domesticity with her lover on “Video Games,” it should come as a revelation to hear that same voice turned outward to the world around her: “We get so tired and we complain / Bout how it’s hard to live / It’s more than just a video game.”

This watchful eye on a world in turmoil is a motif across Lust For Life- which, in the early days of the promotional cycle for the album, seemed worrying considering all the obligatory “political pop” done so inelegantly by her peers. Still, if any major voice in pop music seemed fit for the challenge, it was Lana- an artist so deeply reliant on iconic Americana imagery that even the slightest shift away could seem like a revolution.

Continue reading “Review: Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life””

Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy

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Photo credit: Jen Squires

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). Make sure to mark your calendar for this Wednesday, June 28. Fast Romantics, an indie rock band out of Toronto with a flair for big Springsteen-style hooks, will be performing at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) in support of their latest album, American Love. I spoke with lead singer/guitarist Matthew Angus through e-mail (pictured 3rd from right) about love in times of political turmoil and rebuilding the band.

Noteworthy: For folks who may be hearing about you for the first time, tell us the origin of the name Fast Romantics.

The name Fast Romantics precedes this band.  It was the result of a brainstorming session we had in the very first version of the [group] many years ago. We just locked ourselves in a room and came out with those words. There’s no meaning behind it really. But when we reformed Fast Romantics a couple of years ago with all these new members, we decided to keep the moniker, and now it’s just one of those meaningless names you give to anybody. Like “The Beatles” or … “Fred.”

NW: The band got its start in Calgary and you recently filmed the video for “Alberta” there during a tour off day spent visiting family and friends. What is one surprising thing about the town that most people wouldn’t know about it?

Calgary is known for the Calgary Stampede and most people in America picture it as full of cowboy hats and boots and rodeos and farms but really it’s nothing like that at all. It’s become a pretty cosmopolitan town with a lot of amazing subcultures and a thriving music scene.

NW: Another American Love track, “Why We Fight” was recently played during a broadcast of this year’s NHL playoffs. What was that moment like and do you have any all-time favorite players from the Calgary Flames?

It did, that was a trip. As Canadians, having your song open up a hockey playoff game is kinda like playing the Grammys, it’s a big deal y’know. You’re talking to a band of mostly Toronto Maple Leafs fans, believe it or not, but Jeff’s still holding out for the Flames. Me personally, even though I’m a Leafs fan, you gotta love former Flame Lanny McDonald. Not only was he a badass hockey player but I went to school with his daughter and met him a bunch, and he’s just a super nice guy. Continue reading “Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy”

Troye Sivan Takes On Coachella

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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.

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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.

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Lana Del Rey – the goddess of dark pop –has done it yet again

On Mistajam’s BBC Radio 1 show, Lana Del Rey premiered the title track from her soon-to- be-released LP, Lust For Life, featuring The Weeknd.

Lana and Abel have teamed up in the past with Prisoner, Stargirl Interlude, and Party Monster; the two just mesh well together. Their eerie, silky vocals complement each other in the best way, and they proved that to be true yet again with the 1960’s inspired Lust For Life.

Lust For Life serves a sensual vibe, with layered synths, and honey-like vocals. As someone who has been a fan of Del Rey since Born To Die, I can honestly say I am satisfied with the new release and cannot wait to hear what is yet to come.

In February, Del Rey released the first single from Lust For Life, Love, as well as its video. There has not been a confirmation yet on when her fifth LP will be released, but you can read her interview with Courtney Love for more details here. 

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April Music Highlights

Hello, it’s your friendly neighborhood music blogger here to show you my favorite artists of the month.

 

Tank and the Bangas

Videos of this group performing have been circulating all over the internet. The electric vibes given off by their lively and playful performances Their album Think Tank reminds me of spoken word, soul, jazz, and The Roots Classroom Instruments bit merged and spun into an outstanding web of story telling and musical brilliance. Winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk music competition, Tank and the Bangas is a great addition to almost any playlist. New Orleans based, hopefully this band will find its way to Chicago some way or another.

Cupcakke

Recently placed in the top 40 best rap albums of 2016 by the Rolling Stones above artists live Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, and J Cole, Chicago based rapper Cupcakke dropped and album this month titled Queen Elizabitch and I was pleasantly surprised. 19 year old Cupcakke is known for her sexually provocative lyrics and body positivity, but Queen Elizabitch was so much more than an album about sex or body image. The album opened up with Scraps which gives the listener a dose of Chicago realness as Cupcakke sets the bar for what has to be the one of the strongest debuts yet in 2017. Cupcakke describes what it’s like growing up with a deadbeat dad and the hardships that come when facing adversity while also setting the scene for today’s social climate, which for me, cemented her place as a rapper not to be toyed with or looked down on. Of course, this album still has songs quintessential to the Cupcakke we know and love. Her single, Cumshot, embodies the sexual freedom that we are familiar with in past songs like Spider Man Dick and Deepthroat. I can see this album becoming a staple of many Summer 2017 playlists.

Passion Pit 

Passion Pit released an album that might have flown under the radar to a lot of fans. In agreement for retweeting a post that promotes funding for science and replying with your email, Passion Pit’s twitter account would personally email you the link to a download of the album, Tremendous Sea of Love. So far I have got to say that this album was exactly what I wanted from Passion Pit. I would not consider their new album their best work, but I will say that it is a fantastic album that has a good synergistic connection with their past works, seeming to give a quaint and slightly nostalgic nod to their roots, if their roots were a slightly stripped down version of the synth symphony we all went crazy for with Sleepyhead worth a listen, worth the tweeting, worth supporting science for.

Perfume Genius

While not in April, Perfume Genius has announced the release of their newest album No Shape along with the single Slip Away on May 5th. Owner of their own genre, Perfume Genius continues to release a solid selection of new music. Songs like Queen and Hood have created such raw and powerful statements, it makes me wonder what ambient journey the tracks on this new album will take us to in May.

The Best Albums Of 2017 So Far

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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

So, What’s Your Number?

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Selena Gomez is the most followed person on Instagram with 113 M followers.

How many followers do you have? How many numbers are in front of your followers count?

100? 500? 1000? 5000? More? Less? Does it matter? Are you more popular because your picture got more likes than the girl sitting next to you? Are you more relatable because 5000 people are following your tweets, and only 500 are following your friend? Does this mean you’re more liked, more wanted, more valued… more loved?

Is Selena Gomez worth more than the rest of us because 113 M people taped their phone screen to follow her feed?

All it takes is a millisecond for a person to tap their phone screen and hit the follow button. A millisecond and a tap is what determines our place in society. A millisecond. And a tap. You’re now either relevant and famous, or irrelevant and forgettable.

Numbers don’t stop there.

What does the number on your scale say?

100? 150? 200? More? Less? Does it matter? Are you hotter than the rest of your peers because the number on the scale is less than theirs? Are you a better person because of this? Does this mean you’re more liked, more wanted, more valued… more loved?

Are you counting the number of calories you consume? Are you healthy? Or most importantly, are you attractive? On a scale of 1-10, how hot are you?

Numbers don’t stop there.

What was your ACT score? 20? 25? 30? Does it matter? Did you get into highest ranked university? Does this number mean you’re more intelligent than everyone else? Does this mean you’re more liked, more wanted, more valued… more loved?

Will you be able to get a steady job now? Will you be able to provide for yourself and your family because of this number? Will you make a lot of money because of this number?

How many numbers are in your bank account? What are the numbers of your area code? What number were you in your class ranking?

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Numbers are all around us in society. The number of followers shows us how relevant we are. The number on our scale shows us how attractive we are. The numbers on our ACT score and other standardized tests shows us how smart we are. These numbers show us how successful we’ll be. And it doesn’t really stop there.

But does it all matter? Why are we letting these numbers determine our self-worth? Why are we obsessing over these numbers? Where do these numbers even come from and who is giving them value? These numbers are causing us to viciously compete with one another, and to become both physically and mentally unhealthy, and is it all worth it? Does it even matter? I don’t have the answers, I’m just simply asking the questions. So, what’s your number?

Below is a playlist of songs that sort of soundtrack our society’s weird obsession with money and fame and prominence and all that jazz, enjoy

Music Ratings are Nothing More than Opinion: Artists Done Dirty by Pitchfork

 

IMG_1433Judging music is merely an illusion. No one can actually quantify what the people like because the people, after all, are all unique. What one person thinks is crap, another will consider a masterpiece, and a small group of people can’t decide for the masses what is good and what is not in such a subjective field. Music is purely preference. My prime example has to be Pitchfork. I appreciate Pitchfork news and updates and being exposed to new music, along with the music festival they host in Chicago, but many of the ratings are far from what the populace would consider correct. Unless you’re Radiohead or someone who follows the “uncommercial” pitchfork aesthetic, don’t expect to find an album someone makes in the pitchfork perfect tens category. In fact, there are more than a handful of albums that I don’t believe deserved a perfect 10 in general or by genre. I implore you, the reader, to take any review with a grain of salt and listen to an album before you write it off. You might end up missing a diamond in the rough and hate yourself when you finally get into an artist and find out their concert was 3 weeks ago in your hometown.

1.  The Airborne Toxic Event  (1.6/10)
An old rating but a good album, the self-titled The Airborne Toxic Event is a popular indie band from the mid-2000s. While this band received praise on this album, pitchfork decided the album was not worth their time. It didn’t phase this band much, they even wrote an open letter sarcastically inviting pitchfork to watch one of their “moody and dramatic” concerts.

2.  Mumford & Sons- 1st and 3rd albums. (2.1/10-2.0/10)
This is an example band that doesn’t fit the mold the raters are looking for. I’ll admit, you either love them or you hate them, but in the end, Mumford and his band didn’t deserve the low ratings. The reasoning for the low rating was due to Pitchfork thinking that they are a Fleet Foxes knock off (Every rated Fleet Foxes album has received an 8.7 or higher), along with alluding to them being phony or fake artists ([They] are in the costume business.They’re playing dress-up in threadbare clothes.). Either way, after 2+ World tours, 3 albums, and 2 EPs, I don’t think M&S cares much for their ratings in the first place.

3. Hamilton The Mixtape (4.8/10)
Hamilton, the Tony Award-winning musical, received less than a 5 on the mixtape version, which consisted of many well-known artists collaborating on the rap tracks that the world has been learning history through all of 2016. The reason for the low rating? Basically, It wasn’t the same as the original and it lacks the narrative of a musical. Crazy. I invite pitchfork to find any musical soundtrack that has the same narrative as the onstage production, excluding operas and operettas, which tend to have no dialogue outside of their songs.

4. Nine Inch Nails- The Fragile (2/10-10)
Nine Inch Nails in 2017 received a 8.7 on their reissued album The Fragile, but in 1999 NIN received a 2/10 on the same album. After some digging, I found the original review. It still exists, but any linking to the page does not. Almost 20 years later after their review was deemed futile, and NIN popular, and the original deleted. The lead singer Trent Reznor had no nice words for pitchfork, which a lot of artists seem to agree with these days.

5. Childish Gambino- Camp (1.6/10)
Pitchfork basically said Gambino was too conceited for rap and should stick to comedy. Camp definitely isn’t Because the Internet or any of his other works, but it is a quality album that Pitchfork didn’t give the time of day. Find Gambino on any “Certified Bangers” playlist at your local college campus. Email me if you genuinely honestly believe this album didn’t deserve better.

6. The Killers- Any of their albums (5.2-6.4)
The Killers are known for their amazing songs. To this day I know every word off of Sam’s Town and any of their singles including Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me, which were both on Hot Fuss, The Killers’ first album. Pitchfork has never liked The Killers and basically say their sound is too generic or their albums aren’t cohesive enough, wanting every track to be the screaming your head off in the car with your friends while people stare at you masterpiece that Mr. Brightside ended up being (Hot Fuss deserves at least an 8.5 in my opinion). Even the greatest hits album received a low score, which means that Pitchfork just really does not like this band.

7. Ed Sheeran- Divide (2.8/10)
The initial Artist that inspired this article. Sheeran probably doesn’t care what an American music rating website has to say about his new album when it has no effect on whether or not he’s going to sell out his next stadium (to be clear; the stadium is going to sell out even if he released 50 minutes of straight fart noises). A short summary of this album review is that Ed’s music is that Ed shouldn’t rap and the shallow album has no real worth.

8. Travis Morrison- Travistan (0/10)
Fans of Travis Morrison will proudly say that Travistan is worth a listen. Lead singer of the indie band The Dismemberment Plan decided to come out with an album and got a crushing review from Pitchfork in 2004. If you are able to write, produce, and sell an album, anything written definitely does not deserve a 0/10 even if the content is poor. Not saying this album is poor, many people enjoy this album. The review mildly hurt Morrison’s career but he still made more music after this review came and out and for that, we thank him for proving his naysayers wrong.

 

Say what you must about these albums, but I can assure you that they are all pretty decent listens, even if they aren’t my musical preference. Take a second to listen to an album, even if you’re weary of what everyone says about it. It might end up being your favorite. If you have any artists you think were done dirty, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

Our Lord And Savior Lorde Has Returned!

Lorde – queen of dark pop – has returned with a new single and suddenly my skin is clear, the sun is out, I have been rebirthed  and I am ready to pop off!

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In 2013, Lorde released her debut album, Pure Heroine, which landed her two Grammy awards, keep in mind she was only 17 when this happened. 17.

Pure Heroine was a genius record. It was dark and dreamy, and different from any other pop music at that time. The writing was so mature and deep, and again I repeat, Lorde was only…17. 17. My biggest accomplishment at 17 was the ability to get out of bed each morning and sit through six hours of public school. Amazing.

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Anticipation has been boiling up since 2013 as we all have been waiting for Lorde to serve us with new music, and today, Thursday March 2nd, 2017, she has finally given us a glimpse into her newest work.

Her new single, “Green Light,” lived up to all of our expectations. It was a long wait, but it was totally worth it. The single and the music video itself single handily saved 2017, being the heartbreak anthem of the year, and I cannot wait to hear the rest of her sophomore album.

Lorde tweeted, “I am so proud of this song. It’s very different, and kinda unexpected. It’s complex and funny and sad and joyous and it’ll make you DANCE.”

And she’s not wrong. “Green Light” does hold an unique sound to it, different from anything off of Pure Heroin, but it’s normal for artists to grow and switch up their sound, and try new things. And most of all, this song is for sure a bop, and it WILL make you want to dance.

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Lorde has received so much support on Twitter from fellow artists such as Troye Sivan, Dua Lipa, and Katy Perry, and she deserves all the love.

Lorde is unbelievably talented. She’s unique, and there’s no other pop artist quite like her. We might as well give her sophomore album all of the Grammys right now.

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She Say That She a Wanderlust…

“She say that she a wanderlust, but she ain’t seen the world

So much to do at 21, you feel invincible”

Blackbear by far makes the cut in my top five favorite artists list. His music has a certain sound that stands out from any other r&b artist or rapper. He is just a goofy guy with a big heart that I am hella soft for.

One of his songs in particular that has always resonated within me is Wanderlust. This song is basically about a girl who is a wanderlust, but is also pretty clueless about the world.

Not to sound cheesy or basic, but, I feel highly connected to the wanderlust girl.

If you’re not familiar with the term wanderlust, it means to have a strong desire or impulse to travel. To wander and roam the planet.

I wasn’t raised in a wealthy family. There were no Disney World trips in the summer, or ski trip vacations in the winter. I’m 19 years old and I’ve never been on a plane and I’ve never been outside of the Midwest. And it is driving me insane.

I like to think of myself as cultured. That I know a lot about the world, and music, and the arts. That I am a free spirit. An indigo child. A wanderlust.  But… yet I have never left the cornfield states?

I’m kidding myself. I cannot be cultured if I haven’t seen the world. There is so much out there I haven’t seen or experienced, and I really am just a clueless college freshman from Chicago, Illinois at the end of the day.

Think about all the cities you’ve never been to. Or all of the states, countries, and continents. Think about the 7 billion people on this planet you have yet to meet and learn from. All of the things you have yet to try and to do. It makes my head spin just thinking about it.

I have high hopes and aspirations though. Just like Blackbear’s wanderlust girl who “wants to be an actress and a singer like Selena,” so do I. I have dreams of creating and travelling and growing.

I’ve recently purchased plane tickets to California and Florida this summer. While I’m beyond grateful for these future experiences, I don’t plan on stopping there.

I want 2017 to be my year of growth. I plan to travel as much as I can. I plan to meet as many unique individuals as possible. I want to make something out of myself and live my life the way I have always wanted.

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19 is such a strange age. It’s an age where you don’t really know yourself or know where your future lies, and I don’t think I’ll be able to figure it out if I remain in the same place.

Though I have not physically traveled much, my soul is definitely a wanderlust. I have that yearn to find something higher in life, and I promise I will find it before Earth and Nibiru collide. I mean, none of us live forever, so why not make the most of life and see what the world has to offer while we can.

There is so much undiscovered beauty in this world; let’s not take it for granted. I do not want to be caged up or tied down while the rest of the world is going on around me. And who knows, maybe I’ll find myself partying it up with the legend Blackbear himself during my future endeavors.