The Daily Blend’s March Top Ten 2018

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Yo, people of the internet! I am BACK for the month, and I’m so excited for this blog. March is one of my favorite months of the year, and this year’s March just happened to be an amazing month for music!

With everything that is played on my show, you all probably think I have way too much happening in the skull area of my body. So, I want to give everyone a little insight as to what’s going on in my brain, without having to look at the “Recently Played” section on my Spotify. The solution I came to was to tell everyone about the hidden (and not so hidden) gems in my music library for the month. Some of the music I post will be at the top of charts, some of the music won’t be your style, some will be a band’s biggest hit that I’ve just been happening to listen to a lot, and some will be completely unknown to you!

So, to start it off, here’s just a couple of my favorite artists for March, a little bit about them, and some song suggestions:

Continue reading “The Daily Blend’s March Top Ten 2018”

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The Daily Blend’s February Top Ten 2018

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Hey guys! So, uh, sorry in advance for the lack of variety in this month’s edition of good music. It’s been kind of a pain to put this together because I’ve been REALLY into like three bands all month, so I was definitely scrambling to get all of my eggs together for the month (did you see what I did there??). Regardless, I would never leave you guys hanging; I promise, I’ll always have some good music on here, and I won’t just put stuff on here to fill the blank spots. BUT ANYWAY, let’s get into the prerecorded message for every single one of my blogs!

Continue reading “The Daily Blend’s February Top Ten 2018”

Meditations: John Adams Strikes Again

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Look into my eyes and tell me that John Adams isn’t our sexiest president. Photo courtesy of  HBO.com

Picture yourself in the palace of Versailles in France during the revolutionary war. An ornate carriage makes its way through the gold plated gates and into a large stable. The side door opens, and onto the precisely crafted brick road walks a plain looking figure that would spark a feel of deja vu in anyone who has seen Big Fat Liar.

He looks tired, and by the way he walks you can tell that his shoes barely fit. His triquarter hat and wig hangs awkwardly to the side while his vest and and coat do their best to stop the advance of a ravenous beer gut.

Greeting our friend is a man ten or so years his senior with some very distinct looking circular glasses. Pleasantries are past over in favor of business, as our hero is eager to sit down and get to work after a long harrowing journey across the sea.

His colleague stops him mid sentence, and breaks the news that most of the work our man had intended to get done during the trip had already been finished while he was traveling. Although you can’t hear it, you can almost feel a sad trombone go off in the background.

Continue reading “Meditations: John Adams Strikes Again”

The Daily Blend’s November Top Ten 2017

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Hey all! Wow, has it been a busy month. I’ve been SO busy with homework, my job, this (my other, unofficial, job), and every possible other thing you could think of. BUT I have found time to get some new artists, songs, and albums into my music library. I’m going to be honest though, there definitely are a couple people that I listened to A TON in October that I continued to listen to in November. And that’s okay! We all have those artists that we always go back to no matter what. Continue reading “The Daily Blend’s November Top Ten 2017”

The Daily Blend’s October Top Ten 2017

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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”

American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground

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Martha’s Got a Limp Wrist (Photo by Christian Contreras)

This piece has been censored for the UIC Radio blog.

It’s difficult to write about punk without draining it of its chaos.

The greatest punk shows are soaked in sweat and blown into the red. The best punk lyrics are incomprehensible, the best punk venues include a highly suspect dirty mattress in the corner, and the best punk showgoer is one who will sweat all over you, push you into other strangers, scream in your face, and then let you bum a cigarette at the end of the night. When writing about punk neglects to include that sense of disorder and entropy, you get sterile talk of what is, above all, the art of violent, cathartic release.

When I was a teenager, DIY punk shows in Chicago were my safe haven. Growing up gay, there are very few spaces in which you know that you’re not the only outcast- which isn’t to say that I was some sort of hunchbacked adolescent hermit, but when you come out of the closet early, there’s a very thin line you have to walk, knowing all the eyes that rest on you. Getting drunk, then moshing and screaming and sweating in trashed apartments on the weekends was just the sort of chaotic release I needed to keep from cracking under the pressure.

There’s an energy at every great punk show that finds its way up your spine and lets you know you aren’t the only one who just needs a f*cking break. There are systems in place working against all of us- some more complicated or institutionalized than others- but the fun of a punk show is sourced from the moment it allows for young, frustrated, bored, and fed up people to stop needing to think for a while.

Eventually though, you stop being seventeen years old and it’s no longer socially acceptable to struggle through an Aquafina bottle full of whiskey, sweat through your shirt and make out with a high schooler at the end of the night.

Continue reading “American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground”

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.

Criminally Underrated: Juicy J & Three 6 Mafia

Today, in honor of Halloween, I’d like to speak about an artist who has done more to embrace the dark side of life in his music than just about anyone else.

That person is Jordan Michael Houston; 41 Year old rapper, actor, academy award winner, and innovator.

You might know him as Juicy J.

While known for his modern club bangers like Bandz a Make Her Dance or his work with Wiz Khalifa (different rant for a different day), I’m here today to tell you why Juicy J is one of the most underrated rappers in the history of Hip-Hop. Yes, really.

Continue reading “Criminally Underrated: Juicy J & Three 6 Mafia”

13 Albums to Make Your Halloween Extra Spooky

It’s Halloween weekend, and I thought it would be interesting to create a list of spooky albums to help get you guys in the spirit. Some of these are a bit demanding from the listener but if you enjoy the erie end of the art spectrum they should be pretty rewarding:

EXUMA: Self-Titled

This piece of late-60’s esoterica juxtaposes Caribbean culture against Greenwich Village outsider folk. The result was a Voodoo themed record which may the first example of the Freak-Folk genre that blew up during the 2000’s. While the album starts lightheartedly it eventually moves into darker territory. When Exuma and his followers begin their incantations, you’ll imagine yourself in the center of a zombie ritual.

Tangerine Dream: Zeit

Before this Berlin outfitted was soundtracking classic 80’s films, their early career explored the farthest reaches of space. Zeit is a dark ambient tour-de-force: 4 tracks spread across 2 LP, each completely devoid of any sense of rhythm. A string quartet sustains dissonant chords that shift slowly and at random. Crude synthesizer appear sparingly adding and otherworldly feel to the ambience. This is music made outside of time and space.

The Haxan Cloak-Excavation

The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation is among my favorite electronic albums and one of the most terrifying records I’ve ever heard. The artist places tropes of the doom and drone metal genre and places them in electronic context. On my first listen, certain moments actually made me jump as a track will fade to silence and then blast you with low end noise.

Sleep Research Facility-Deep Frieze 

This dark ambient album may not seem traditionally scary, but its central theme of isolation in desolate cold environments reminds me of films like The Thing. Though designed in part to aid in sleep, the record sounds like being stuck in the antarctic alone with nope hope of survival when listened to under waking circumstances.

Lustmord-Heresy

If any musician has perfected the sound of evil, it’s Lustmord. The dark ambient master is able to craft music that sounds like it’s coming from the deepest corners of hell. I often have trouble sitting through any Lustmord record due to how unsettling his work can be.

Suicide-Self-Titled

This electronic/proto-punk masterpiece is a perfect representation of dilapidated and crime-ridden mid-70’s New York City. The album is entirely based around primitive organ/synth lines and demented rockabilly crooning about subjects like nuclear war, undead comic book heroes, and murder. Midway through the album lies “Frankie Teardrop”, long considered one of the most terrifying pieces of popular music ever made.

Jandek-Ready for The House

Jandek is the most-unusual of Bluesmen. Instead of basing his songs on soulful mournings, his tracks are built around heavily dissonant chords. In some moments, his tracks begin to collapse entirely and hang on faint vocal lines. Ready for The House carries some of his most digestible yet disturbing work.

Klaus Schulze-Irrlicht

After working with various Berlin-based Krautrock groups, Klaus Schulze made his foray into drone music with Irrlicht. Composed mainly on broken organ and leftover orchestra rehearsal tapes, this album consumes the listener and places him in a horrific sci-fi world that remains creepy without ever being cheesy.

Slint-Spiderland

Back in 1991 a group Louisville kids crafted an eerie collection of songs whose jagged yet dynamic structures formed the basis of Post-Rock. While most of that genre conjures up images of earths natural beauty, Spiderland’s imagery more like living on the edge of suburbia, where one stares out into the black abyss that the streetlights cannot reach.

Scott Walker-The Drift

As far back as his second solo record, Scott Walker’s work has always featured off kilter string arrangements. The droning dissonant chords added an air of unease to his otherwise beautiful compositions. On “The Drift” these same elements become the core of the music. Tracks like “Jessica” and “Clara” can make my skin crawl every time.

Chelsea Wolfe-Apokalypsis

Spooky-aesthetics are central to the discography of singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. While her current work falls more in line with goth/post-punk, this 2011 LP is an exercise in ghostly folk music. Each listen is like creeping through an abandoned building, where remnants of something beautiful have eventually become deformed and demented by time.

Swans-Soundtracks for The Blind

Swans are notorious for there excruciatingly dark body of work, taxing the listeners with music so heavy and lyrics so depressing they could make the most stoic of people’s skin crawl. Soundtracks for The Blind takes all of these elements and amplifies them to the extreme. Across it’s 2 discs, Michael Gira and collaborator Jarboe compiled a chilling collection of post-rock, electronic, and ambient music that may fans and critics labeled the highlight of their career.

The Care Taker-An Empty Bliss Beyond This World

We all know that scene in The Shining where Jack’s character enters the hotel ballroom and begins interacting with the dead spirits that have been haunting his family? An Empty Bliss is the musical equivalent of this scene. The album is made up of old 78′ waltz records from the early twentieth century which are then chopped up and processed digitally. The decaying records individual pops, skips, and jumps create a ghostly atmosphere once sent through heavy reverb and delay.

Calling All Bands!

Welcome back, UIC! I hope your semester is off to a great start.

Are you in a band, or do you know someone in a band? Have you always wanted to be the best of the best? Are you currently attending UIC? Then enter to participate in UIC Radio’s third annual Battle of the Bands!

UIC Radio is currently accepting applications for local talent and UIC bands to participate in this upcoming March’s Battle of the Bands.

In order to compete, at least one band member must currently be a student at UIC. Applications are due February 7th. Enter here!

TanZen performing at UIC’s Battle of the Bands 2014 (via UIC News)