Review: The Surround Me Tour

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Sweden has produced an abundance of talented individuals ranging from Tove Lo to Lykke Li to Avicii, and so on.

Considering my family originates from Sweden, I always take great pride in artists who share the same origins. The sense of connectedness makes me root for them that much more.

On October 21, I had the pleasure to see the indie-pop artist from Sweden, Léon, perform live at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.

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Arcade Fire at the United Center – October 30th, 2017! (Also AF albums from worst to best)

Arcade Fire was last spotted at this year’s Lollapalooza. They return to town on October 30th, but this time, they have come with only one other musical compatriot (The Breeders).

I don’t have much to say about the upcoming show; Arcade Fire is fantastic live, and I urge anyone who is either fans of Arcade Fire or fans of electronic indie rock to see the show next Monday.

You guys can grab tickets here.

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

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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

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“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.

 

3. Reflektor

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“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)

 

2. Funeral

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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

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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”.

– Matt Cuartero

 

Support Your Female Artists

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:  

Continue reading “Support Your Female Artists”

Figuring It Out! with Sonia Universe

Hey guys! Welcome back to another semester at UIC and UIC Radio.

This year, along with blogging, I am hosting my own show, affectionately titled “Figuring It Out!” with Sonia Universe. Why? Because every week, you never quite know how the show is going to go . . . but we’ll figure it out.

I did a few test runs over the summer and have resumed my weekly shows during the semester, which is also my last semester at UIC!

I’m back again to serve up some conversations and tunes: alternative, indie, rock, electronic, and of course, k-pop. So be sure to tune in every Wednesday from 2-4pm here at uicradio.org for your weekly dose of jams!

A Welcome Back To My Blog

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 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:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarabolar

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarabolar/

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.

Lust For Life

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.