This is probably going to be my last blog post of the semester. It has been fun, and I appreciate any one who stuck with my posts through the good times and the bad times (my Looper movie review). Since the year is ending, I guess it’s time for a post about my favorite/most-listened to songs of the semester. Most of this listening occurred in a frantic stage of studying in the library, but there was some fun had too.
Here is my best of the semester:
Girls, “Hellhole Ratrace”
A classic, sorrowful Girls track that, through its repetitive nature, is about 3 minutes too long. Call me crazy, it’s my favorite song ever.
Danny Brown, “Monopoly”
I saw Danny Brown live, became obsessed with hip-hop, and found “Monopoly” to be one of his best, both in concert and on the album “XXX”.
Ariel Pink, “Reminisces”
It was great to have Ariel Pink at the Sco, and even though he didn’t play this track, it is still worth listening to. It’s a groovy instrumental that fits well into cohesively structuring the 2010 album “Before Today”.
Frank Ocean, “Forrest Gump”
Everyone loves Channel Orange. I think it is a bit overrated, but it’s still a great album. Forrest Gump is my favorite song, it’s just too catchy.
Holy Shit, “My Whole Life Story”
Combine Matt Fishbeck, Ariel Pink, and Christopher Owens. The best track on “Stranded at Two Harbors,” in which Fishbeck at one point sings the chords being played.
Death Grips, “The Fever (aye aye)”
Death Grips is insane, and “The Fever (aye aye)” successfully conveys this. Vocalist “MC Ride” screams and shouts, simultaneously making you love/hate the song.
Like many others [I presume], I was very excited for dead prez’s new album. Eight years waiting; the anticipation was at an apex. Over fall break, a like-minded friend and I eagerly gave it a listen, and were absolutely baffled. “Could this really be dead prez?” we asked each other.
If there was a music award purely for the element of surprise, dead prez would get my unequivocal vote.
Though they still retain their socio-political messaging, M-1 and stic.man have chosen to rap their wisdom over dance-pop Top 40 beats –> an interesting artistic choice, but one that is quite astonishing and potentially alienating to their fan base. Shock value aside, it ultimately detracts from their profound poetics. True to their reputation, they created another thought-provoking album, but instead of pondering the school-to-prison pipeline, it is equally tempting to ask: “is that a sample from Ke$ha’s new single?”
I should note: not every track is synth-heavy and reminiscent of strobe lights, but even so, the sharp and eloquent lyrics so signifying of dead prez have lost their edge. M-1 and stic.man seemed to have stepped back from unabashed radicalism to embody a slightly more passive sage-like role. Instead of encouraging their listeners to rob pizza delivery boys, they instead advise love, patience, spiritual renewal, and perseverant education.
“Through the course of life, you gon taste some humble pie”
Definintely a message worth sending, but still an intriguing twist of tongue for M-1 and stic.man.
If you consider yourself a fan of dead prez, I would give this album a listen [or two]. The first time may be difficult and awkward, but I have found that Information Age is slowly growing on me. Once over the initial shock of the pseudo-rave beats, one can easily find the provocative politik that endears, engages, and excites dead prez’s audience. The vegan diet, the climate crisis, and the capitalist commercialization of Western religion all make an appearance. Though the question remains: are dead prez still Revolutionary But Gangsta? It is up to you to decide.
My favorite band, Girls, broke up this summer. I wasn’t too distraught, because I held the hope that the two guys in the band would continue making music, but it was still upsetting; I had no idea what was next for Girls, so as a fan, I was in limbo. I was mainly focused on news from Christopher Owens, the lead singer and primary force behind Girls’ success. Aside from a few twitter posts from his account “Cri55yBaby,” there was no real news. It wasn’t until October that Owens resurfaced, announcing his intent to release his solo debut Lysandre in January 2013.
The only tracks from Lysandre released to this point have been “Lysandre’s Theme” and “Here We Go.” In my opinion, both tracks are successful, yet it’s necessary to acknowledge that musically, Christopher Owens solo project isn’t really similar Girls. Sure, the singer is the same, but the instrumentation is very different, with Owens citing classical guitar as one of his inspirations. It shows. “Lysandre’s Theme” is an instrumental, consisting of Owens on guitar, with a flute laced through the track. It provides an effective transition to “Here We Go,” in which the flute serves as continuation. Owens opens with guitar, largely similar to Girls’ “Just a Song,” before providing vocals, about 20 seconds into the new track. Hearing Owens’ voice for the first time provides relief and familiarity, and for a moment, it’s like Girls are back again. This nostalgia primarily was at the 2 minute mark, in which Owens solos on electric guitar, but it’s only for about 10 seconds.
Although there is only a glimmer of Girls in Christopher Owens’ solo project, fans should still find solace lyrically. The themes of heartbreak and love, focuses central to Girls’ prior success, are still present, and Owens still is able to convey the multitude of emotions he encompassed while still part of Girls. “Lysandre’s Theme” and “Here We Go” are both definitely work checking out, they’ll get you through until the album’s release.
The single ‘Loose Fit’ from the Happy Mondays came out in 1990. Off of the label Elektra Records, the acid house band combines influences of funk, house, and dancehall hits. Check ‘em out in the WOBC vault!
I had a lot of work due right before Thanksgiving break; it wasn’t terrible, but it reminded me that finals are approaching. I know I’m going to be barricaded in the library soon, so it’s really important to have some music to listen to. Some people can work to music, others can’t, and I find myself in between. I can’t really read as I bump Drake, but I can write as I bump to Drake, albeit a little bit slower. I find it a reasonable trade-off, mainly because music helps relieve some stress and it’s great for keeping time, in the “I’ll take a break when this song is over” sense.
In picking music, it’s important to listen to something familiar. I’m all for finding new stuff, but it’s probably not ideal to catch up on some “Best New Music” when you’re swamped with work. Listening to new music requires divided attention, and it’s hard enough to focus on your work without any distractions; stick with what you know.
I already have some music lined up for my busy weeks. Here is some stuff that I think is work getting familiar with:
“Guillotine”, Death Grips – The musical equivalent of “I-smoked-two-packs-of-cigarettes-and-drank-too-much-coffee.” However, pretty good for subtly “going hard” in the library.
“Marvin’s Room”, Drake – Marvin’s room is just R&B, crooning Drake, which is great easy listening. He gets pretty emotional too.
“Vomit”, Girls – Girls broke up, which is terribly sad. So is this song, but it is definitely pop oriented and kind of perky in some parts. Make sure to check out the guitar solo around the 2 minute mark of the song.
“Last Kiss”, Jay Frank Wilson – This song was released in 1964, so it’s fairly dated. It’s really catchy and it’s generally an exciting, old, simple song. The bass is pretty cool too.