The Human Panda Bear

pandabear

Noah Lennox, who goes by the stage name Panda Bear, has recently released an EP titled Mr. Noah. However, the good news does not stop here. The release of Mr. Noah comes shortly before the anticipated “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper” album that is due to come out on January 13, 2015. With Panda Bear’s renewed activity in the music industry, I wanted to take time to recount the many accomplishments and upcoming developments of an admirable musician.

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Girls, Girls, Girls! A Look At Some Leading Ladies In The Current Alt Scene

misterwives
November 9th, 2013. Winter was upon us as potential students scurried around campus knocking leafs around the greek row sidewalks with their weathered, leather boots as they toured a campus and a city that might one day become a home to them. Pretending the brisk Nashville temperatures were still fall conditions, I dressed in a thin long sleeve shirt and prepared for the night ahead of me. We had been looking forward to this day for months. American Authors at one of Nashville’s most unique, bursting of character and quite frankly small venues, The End. Thrilled to leave the lonesome cave I’d created of post break-up tears and cheesy rom coms, other wise known as my room, my friends and I arrived at the venue minutes before the show facing a crowd of no more than 30 people. Lost in chatter and introductions a voice suddenly broke through the noise and stopped me in my tracks. Who was this girl with the powerhouse vocals strong enough to shatter the thoughts of everyone in the room and draw every eye in this small dive club to her luscious hair, small frame and impeccable style? The voice belonged to Mandy Lee, one third of the trio Misterwives hailing from New York City.

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Remembering Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon

On October 21, 1995, Shannon Hoon (second from left) died of a cocaine overdose.  He was 28.
On October 21, 1995, Shannon Hoon (second from left) died of a cocaine overdose. He was 28.

On this day nineteen years ago, four of Blind Melon’s five members woke up expecting to play a show that night at Tipitina’s in New Orleans.  The fifth, lead vocalist and chief songwriter Shannon Hoon, never awoke.  He had died of a cocaine overdose at age 28.  Today, to honor Hoon’s memory, I’d like to take a look at Blind Melon, a terribly under-appreciated member of the grunge pantheon.

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The War on Drugs Rocks Marathon Music Works

The War on Drugs @ Marathon
The War on Drugs @ Marathon

Despite severe weather warnings, on Monday I and a healthy crowd of Nashvillians head over to Marathon Music Works for The War on Drugs’ exclusive brand of heartland rock. Attendees sport beards, boots, flannel, and, many of them, years of life experience. I’m pretty sure this is the same multigenerational group that showed up in place of Vanderbilt students when Quake accidentally booked My Morning Jacket several years ago.

During their 14-song set, The War on Drugs makes it plain that they are a guitar band. Frontman Adam Granduciel is brought a different guitar before each song, and he goes into extended soloing throughout the night. The sound is straightforward and expansive, and upbeat numbers like “Red Eyes” have fans swaying and bobbing their heads. Two young lumberjack types in my vicinity start up an air guitar band.

Adam Granduciel in the Spotlight for "Suffering"
Adam Granduciel in the Spotlight for “Suffering”

The remaining instruments play a supporting role. The other band members are a keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, bassist, drummer, and a baritone sax player. At first glance the sax player stands out because of his instrument, but quickly he’s revealed to be a subtle part of the band’s atmosphere instead of a gimmick. The sax never takes the lead, but instead layers into the densely mixed structure. Excluding Granduciel’s harmonica outros and on-the-prairie ballads like “Suffering” and “Lost in the Dream”, War on Drugs could pass respectably as a shoegaze outfit. Though tracks like “An Ocean in Between the Waves” and “Under the Pressure” exceed seven and nine minutes, respectively, the band plays hard throughout.

In the live setting at Marathon the music develops a natural and full quality, and the sound clearly envelops the area. As a relatively new venue, Marathon Music Works strikes an impressive balance between friendly rusticity and a modern sheen. Granted, the former quality can partly be attributed to the style of music of the night since electronic bands I’ve seen here before (Beach House, Passion Pit) had me mostly thinking about the second part. Either way, the versatile atmosphere and open layout makes Marathon an excellent addition to the Nashville scene. The War on Drugs certainly fit right in, and I’d be excited to see them back in this space in the future.

Check out War on Drugs’ great 2014 release, Lost in the Dream:

The Hits of Homecoming

As you may already be aware, homecoming was just this past weekend. All week, our campus has been inundated with alumni of all ages coming back to relive their Vanderbilt experiences. So as we wrap up the weekend, here’s a homecoming soundtrack to put the weekend into perspective. Some of these graduates lived through some really great years of music (and WRVU). So without further ado, I present to you: the hits of homecoming.

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Music City: True to its Name

Recently, the Travel and Leisure Magazine came out with rankings of America’s favorite cities and lo and behold, Nashville was listed number 1 for concerts, the music scene, and also as the friendliest city around. Even only after a year of living here, I wholeheartedly agree that this is the place for music and entertainment. For those of you who are a bit skeptical, I’ve compiled a list of reasons that this ranking is well-deserved.

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Quake Performers Shine Despite Poor Acoustics, AC in Memorial Gym

The first thing that I noticed walking in to Memorial Gym last night for Commodore Quake was the oppressive heat.  The second thing that I noticed once I found a seat was the atrocious, garbled acoustics of our re-purposed basketball court.  I wish I didn’t feel like I have to include these sour notes as the very first thing in this recap.  I wish I hadn’t noticed these things about Quake at all.  But most of all, I sincerely wish that these weren’t the most memorable aspects of my entire night at Quake.

This year's Quake logo
This year’s Quake logo

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