The Release of Bloom and How Troye Sivan Impacted My Youth

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With heart filled synths and a story of newly found confidence and love, Troye Sivan breaks his way into the world of mainstream pop with his sophomore album, Bloom.  

The lustfully melodic album — which was heavily influenced by his boyfriend — is an ethereally storybook that feels so personal to Sivan, while also feeling relatable to his fans.

The ten track album brings much needed queer representation into the music scene with hits such as “Seventeen,” which tells his story about a relationship with an older man, and the album titled track, “Bloom,” which is literally about gay sex.

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Trash Talk: A Rose Without A Thorn

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Golden Girls is a timeless classic. Period. There will be no debates. This show is just a good time for two friends, who may or may not host a radio show together, to have with each other on a chill day.  This is the start of a new blog series reviewing random Golden Girls episodes and relating them to the present day.

The most endearing main character amongst the ladies is hands down Rose Nylund, played by Betty White. Rose is often seen as very innocent and naive, which Betty White plays perfectly as she exudes this warmness. This is likely why everyone loves Betty White. When Rose has a struggle or is clearly in the wrong about something it makes the lesson she learns hit home a bit more because it is this well meaning person trying her best. This was apparent in episode 8 of season 1, “Break In”.

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In Defense Of Pop Music — Pop Music Isn’t Boring, You Are

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You can learn a lot about a person from their favorite music. For example, if you look through my March ‘18 Spotify playlist, you can learn that I’ve been repressing my latest existential crisis with excessive partying. Shuffling through Marina and the Diamonds, Are You Satisfied? to Tyler, The Creators, I Ain’t Got Time! to Lorde’s, Liability, and back around to Charli XCX’s I Got It, clearly I’ve been on a rollercoaster of highs and lows this month.

A lot of that stems back to being in a creative rut. The hard part about being a visionary with absolutely no talent is feeling the need to create and put out into the universe, but not feeling confident enough to actually put out the work. It’s a cycle of feeling frustrated that I’m not expressing my creative needs, creating something to express it, hating it, throwing it out, and then going back to phase one of frustration. And instead of sitting myself down and forcing myself out of this rut, I’ve just been becoming bff’s with four lokos.

luv feeling like im 16 again < 3

But my current love-hate relationship with creating music isn’t the point of this post. Going back to my first statement, you can learn a lot about a person from their favorite music.

Over the past weekend I hung out with a new group of people, just to find out that they all completely despise any form of pop music. Including Lorde and Charli XCX. tragic.

I love pop music. Pop girls especially. A pop girl could breathe and I’d be like ‘okay, wig

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Retrospective Video Game Review for the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

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In blurbs in some of my articles, I’ve stated that my favorite item in my possession is my copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This is not a joke. I legitimately carry the game everywhere I go, so just in case the need arises, I can play Oblivion. This video game means so much to me, and I carry quite the sentimentality with the game series. (Did I mention I am a fan of the Elder Scrolls?)

However, it has been a long time since I’ve played Vanilla Oblivion. I still play the game today, but in modded form with updated graphics, coding, and gameplay changes. I wanted to review the game in a retrospective lens and see how it has held up 12 years after its original release. With that in mind, I popped in my copy of Oblivion and started a fresh new character.

GRAPHICS:

When Oblivion first released, the graphics were lauded for being cutting edge, even photo realistic. This was a huge deal, especially with an open-world game, which usually lacks in the graphics department. Oblivion was released in 2006, so the next generation of game consoles at the time (Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii) were just released. These graphics on Oblivion pushed the limits of these systems already, and fans and critics alike were blown away with the graphics of the landscape, NPCs and items.

My first impression of the graphics were much better than I thought. I expected to pan the awfulness of the graphics; instead, I was blown away with how well the graphics have held up in the twelve years it has existed. Oblivion’s overall graphics have a stylized approach that has stood the test of time. It is more akin to a storybook about a medieval landscape more so than a realistic world, and I think that is why the graphics looks so tight after all these years.

There is one aspect of the graphics that has aged poorly: the NPCs. Many fans of the game will make fun of the NPCs of Oblivion. The human races look like potatoes, the elves look like sweet potatoes, and the beast races (specifically the orcs) look like Shrek. This is all well and true, and I completely agree with my fellow fans. Despite all of this, the NPCs are very charming and are at least good to laugh at how bad they were designed. They honestly look ridiculous and there are many memes on how bad they look. Then again, it just adds to the overall humor to the game’s community. Continue reading “Retrospective Video Game Review for the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”

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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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:  

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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.

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Note To Self

“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”

Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.

Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.

I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.

Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.

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This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, ouch, that really hits close to home.”

But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.

Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.

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I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To Self Here.

I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.

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TREVIEW: Why Lady Gaga’s “The Cure” is the Most Depressing Song of the Year

“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.


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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.

Listen to the song and cry along with me here:


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Connie’s Deep Cuts – Vol. 1

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On Connie and the Deep Time, we strive to introduce our listeners to new songs, artists, and even genres. Unfortunately, two hours isn’t nearly long enough for me to go into detail on all of the music that I play on the show. To make up for this transgression, I would like to officially unveil the first volume of Connie’s Deep Cuts. Now, you might ask, “Connie, what are you talking about?”. Well, I’m talking about three albums that have been stuck in my head for the past few weeks. Let’s get into them.

Thundercat – Drunk
Genre: Jazz Fusion/ R&B
Moods: Funky / Drunk

If you haven’t heard of Thundercat yet, here’s an introduction. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, certified funky dude, and has done collaborations with as far-ranging artists as Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and even Eric Andre (with whom he made a very entertaining music video with). On Drunk, Thundercat lays down tracks with what seems like a lack of inhibition. Within the span of a few minutes, Thundercat goes from contemplating life on the track “Where I’m Going”, to singing chorus for Wiz Khalifa on “Drink Dat”. Earlier in the album, Thundercat boasts about leaving a girl in the “Friend Zone” before pining about his feelings of ineptitude on “Them Changes”. While the topics of his songs may seem all over the place, its the production that really ties the album together. Harkening back to 70’s funk, Thundercat’s basslines and beats could get even the oldies grooving. On top of that, the album features a plethora of outstanding features, such as Kendrick on “Walk On By” and music legends Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins on “Show You The Way”. While I can’t legally recommend the consumption of alcohol, I can definitely recommend listening to Drunk.

Shag – Me Again
Genre: Beat Tape/ Hip-Hop
Moods: Chill

I first found Shag through a youtube video featuring his song “Know the Feelin'” overlayed over scenes from the movie Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy – and I was immediately hooked. The song features a sample from A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Stressed Out” and a primo beat. Words can’t really do it justice, so here’s the link. After a few weeks of deliberation, I finally gave his debut album a listen. Undoubtedly, Shag shows real finesse in picking out samples. The titular track, “Me Again”, features a sample from The Pharcyde‘s “Passin’ Me By”, another hip-hop classic. Just from these samples alone, it is obvious that Shag has an appreciation for 90’s rap – which makes sense, as the guy is only 24 years old. The majority of the album is relatively relaxed, except for highlight “Ring Out”, which has a distinct chiptunes-inspired production. If you’re beat-hungry or just need something to study to, give Me Again a listen.

Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band – S/T
Genre: Big Band/ Disco
Moods: Uplifting / Spring

I cannot explain how happy I was to stumble upon this album. I was hooked through an off-chance listening to “Sunshower”, a song that I can easily see myself listening to decades from now. With a chorus that is as much of an ear worm as it is cheerful, its hard not to love. A quick round of research revealed that the song has been sampled by the likes of Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest, among others. Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band was a disco band from the late 70’s, who are mostly known for their #1 Dance hit, “Cherchez La Femme/C’est Si Bon”. If you haven’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about, don’t sweat it too much. The point is, this is possibly one of the most feel-good albums of all time. Just listen to “Hard Times” once, with its booming bass drum and soulful hook, and I’m sure you’ll agree. The whole album features a plethora of instruments, utilized in a way that gives each one its own weight. The vocals are so interlaced with the beat that they are basically another instrument in the orchestra that is Dr. Savannah’s Original Savannah Band. If you ever find yourself on a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do, do something productive and give this album a listen – and then a few more.

I hope you liked the first edition of Connie’s Deep Cuts, dear readers. If you haven’t figured out exactly what this is yet, I guess I should explain (but honestly, I think you get the gist). Every few weeks I’ll be putting out these blogs to highlight some albums that I appreciate. Each new edition will feature completely different albums, with fresh moods and quirky tidbits. If you liked what you’ve seen so far, keep in touch and I’ll serve you up some more tasty recommendations. Come meet me in the Deep Time, Connie out.