Album Review: Slowdive – Slowdive

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Slowdive’s original run in the 1990’s followed the typical indie rock narrative of the promising debut album (1991’s Just For A Day), followed by the genre-defining classic (1993’s Souvlaki), and capping it off with the polarizing and career ending third album (they were dropped by their label shortly after they released Pygmalion in 1995). Despite their brief first stint–maybe even because of it–Slowdive’s popularity and legend only grew over time. A reunion was inevitable. Read More…

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Album Review: Everybody Works – Jay Som

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Every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon an album that strongly resonates with the situation the album finds me in; it can be through the emotions expressed, the lyrical themes, or simply the sound of the music. And as I inch closer and closer to graduating and entering the real world, I’ve been experiencing the existential dread and angst that all early twenty-somethings go through at this point in their lives. Melina Duterte, who writes and performs under the name Jay Som, is no different. As a 22-year-old songwriter, she’s experiencing similar emotions of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty, all of which she documents on her debut album Everybody Works. Duterte’s hopeful perspective on such topics and the expansive and diverse set of songs she uses to explore them make for an album that’s a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. Read More…

Album Review: Care – David Bazan

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If there’s one thing I appreciate in a musician, it’s honest songwriting. David Bazan is an honest songwriter; he’s one of the most honest songwriters I can think of. Bazan is an interesting character: once an outspoken Christian writing songs about his faith and doubts in Pedro the Lion, he has since fallen away from the faith and now mostly writes songs dealing with crumbling marriages, existential anxiety, and arguments with God. His newest album, Care covers all these topics and more, and it’s done in a way only Bazan could do it. Read More…

Top Ten Albums of 2016

I’ve pretty much accepted that I will never complete this list before the end of January, let alone the end of the year. I’ve got no excuse for this aside from pure laziness (though I was in Peru for all of January, but that should be no reason why I didn’t get it done in December).

While 2016 had a number of releases from big name artists including Beyonce, Kanye, Chance, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, James Blake, and Radiohead (just to rattle off a few), as a whole, I was slightly disappointed with the year when compared to 2015. While it is by no means as disappointing as 2014 was for me, many of these releases from these big artists didn’t really live up to their hype for me. All this being said, there were plenty of albums by artists new to me that really surprised me. Stuff like Helado Negro’s Private Energy, Injury Reserve’s Floss, or Laura Gibson’s Empire Builder really impressed me (along with several others, but I don’t want to spoil the list).

Anyway, I’ve done enough deliberating as it is; it’s time for my top ten favorite albums of 2016. As usual, I’ll leave a link to a Spotify playlist of my favorite tracks and singles of the year at the end of the article. Read More…

Album Review: Loveless – My Bloody Valentine

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Visceral; ethereal; overwhelming; primal; emotional. These are all words I would use to describe My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 release “Loveless,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary on November 4th (the occasion for this review). The album was met with critical acclaim upon its initial release, but never sold particularly well. It garnered a small cult following in the following years and has been inspiring many to pick up a guitar and turn the reverb up to eleven. Twenty-five years later, the album still sounds just as fresh and unlike anything else as it did upon release. Read More…

Album Review: 22, A Million – Bon Iver

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Very few musicians can romanticize isolation, solitude, and loneliness the same way that Justin Vernon can. His first two albums explored these themes extensively and undoubtedly inspired countless listeners to long for a similar kind of experience in a snowy log cabin in the Midwest (it also inspired people to adopt a very distinct stereotype, but that’s a conversation for another day). After snatching 2 Grammys for his self-titled second album, Vernon seemed content to retire Bon Iver for the time, instead focusing on side projects (Volcano Choir, Shouting Matches) and collaborations with other musicians (Kanye West, James Blake, and Jason Feathers). After five years, Vernon has returned to Bon Iver to give us “22, A Million,” an abstract, glitchy, and cryptic album. Read More…

Album Review: Ology – Gallant

GallantWhen you have a voice as bold and beautiful as Gallant’s, you’re bound to turn some heads. Since the release of his EP “Zebra” in 2014, he’s garnered acclaim from Elton John, Sufjan Stevens, Zane Lowe, and Seal, and has been compared to R&B contemporaries like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, as well as the aforementioned Seal.

Despite this, I didn’t care for “Zebra.” It sounded no different from Soundcloud’s endless stream of bland alt R&B and trap musicians, such as Cashmere Cat, Flume, and SOHN. Gallant’s voice was the most impressive piece, so I wondered how much more enjoyable he would be with proper instrumentation. My curiosity was only heightened after seeing him perform live. It seems Gallant thought about this too, as “Ology” has greatly expanded the singer’s sound. Read More…

Album Review: Good Grief – Lucius

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Two years ago, I had the treat of seeing Lucius perform live at my university. To this day, that show remains one of my favorite concerts I’ve been to. The band brought to life songs that I already adored, and somehow made me love them even more.

Smash cut to March 2016, where Lucius have just released their second album “Good Grief.” The album boasts cleaner production, bigger instrumentation, and more danceable hooks. It also marks a shift from the 60’s girl power pop sound of “Wildewoman,” to a sleek, 80’s synth-pop sound that has seen a reemergence recently. It isn’t a bad shift, it just doesn’t feel like a necessary one. Read More…

Album Review: The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

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I’d like to get one thing out of the way; everything about this album is a trainwreck. I mean that in the best possible way

The Life of Pablo is Kanye West’s seventh studio album, and the hotly anticipated follow-up to his mercurial 2013 release, Yeezus. The amount of buildup and hype leading up to the release of this album is unlike any other album I’ve seen, and it’s apparently gone through several different variations (in 2014, actor Seth Rogen claimed Kanye rapped the entire album to him in the back of a limo). Ultimately, what we got was a collection of 18 messy, eclectic tracks. Read More…

Top Ten Albums of 2015

So I never actually got around to writing about my list last year, and that’s mostly because I had a difficult time finding stuff that I wanted to include in my top ten. There are several albums I thought about including that I haven’t revisited in the past year, so they probably weren’t worth including at all. So, I’m just going to pretend like last year didn’t happen.

On the other hand, I had a difficult time excluding albums for my top ten this year. Seriously, 2015 was an incredible year for music. Probably my favorite since 2010 (2012 comes in at a close second), and that’s when we saw Beach House’s Teen Dream, Sufjan Stevens’s Age of Adz, and Kanye West’s Twisted Fantasy to rattle off a few. If any of the albums in my top five had been released in a year other than 2015, they may very well have been my favorite album of that year (except 2014 – clipping.’s CLPPING was and still is a masterpiece, but it was my favorite album by a long shot). In addition, my favorite tracks of 2015 will be at the end of this list in a Spotify playlist.

But enough deliberation, onto my list:

Read More…