At the end of every Vanderbilt academic year, on the verge of finals, anticipation starts to boil over for the annual Rites of Spring music festival. Recent years have seen EDM juggernauts, hip hop stars, and stadium rock bands alike take their shot at Alumni Lawn glory. So what has The Music Group brought us this year? We asked WRVU DJs for their favorite tracks from this year’s Rites artists, and here’s what they had to say.
“Deep house” is kind of a catchall term for laid-back, slower-paced house music using live-sounding instruments. The genre is a contrast to electronic dance music characterized by manipulation, distortion, and “bass”, and features jazz solos, string loops, tropical drums, alongside other sounds plausibly produced by physical objects. This list is about some of the memorable instruments that pop up in deep house tracks, and also serves as a countdown of my personal favorite tracks related to the genre.
6) Omar-S — “The Shit Baby” (2013)
Instrument Featured: Piano
In the middle of Omar S’ modest 2013 album Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself comes the unexpectedly fun piano jam-out “The Shit Baby”. For the uninitiated deep house fan this track is a great place to start: it starts with hi-hat/hand-clap triplets and a standard background bass kick, before someone hops on the keys for an impromptu crowd-pleaser.
RIYL: “Plastic Dreams”, pre-programmed keyboard beats + mad keys playin’ skills
It’s hard to believe it, but 2015 is already a fourth of the way done. It was not a light musical quarter by any means: in the past month we’ve seen high-profile releases from Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips, and many more. But what tracks stood out above the rest? We asked our staff to tell us a little bit about their pick for favorite song of 2015 so far. Read on for their selections, and be sure to check them all out in the Spotify playlist at the end.
Dan Deacon — “Feel the Lightning”
“Feel the Lightning” by Dan Deacon makes you do just that — feel an electrifying force pass your entire body. It is the perfect mixture of upbeat and hypnotic, catchy but complex, and successfully maintains the typical “Dan Deacon vibe” of collectively bizarre, yet intriguing electronic music.
In retrospect, Twin Shadow/George Lewis Jr. always belonged on a major label, though this wasn’t obvious at the time of his 2010 new-wave-revival debut, Forget. On Forget, retro guitars and a lo-fi drum machine kept Twin Shadow grounded in New Order’s more restrained brand of new wave instead of something flashier. Also like a New Order single, nearly every song on Forget reached for lasting vocal melodies. Songs like “At My Heels” and “Slow” were slick ‘80s style exercises in part, but the striking vocalist and memorable choruses left the lasting impression. Twin Shadow’s next album Confess (2012) honed in on these features and jettisoned potential distractions. While some missed the relative subtlety of Forget, this kind of pop music can benefit from directness. The intoxicating “This isn’t loooooove” on “Run My Heart”, “Five Seconds” with its “can’t get to your heart…”, “Golden Light”: Confess blew relationship feelings into massive proportion. If Forget is the Breakfast Club kids developing meaningful ‘80s connections, Confess is John Cusack in your yard with a boombox.
Last Thursday, WRVU hosted Kishi Bashi for an in-studio performance ahead of his Cannery Ballroom show that evening. The acclaimed chamber pop solo artist, real name K Ishibashi, played three stripped-down songs from his 2014 album Lighght: “Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her”, “Q&A”, and “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”. You can check out the three-song performance below via RVU Records.
Early-career mixtapes are often exciting event releases with production quality indistinguishable from a studio album. Think Acid Rap, The Weeknd’s remarkable 2011 mixtape trilogy, or Drake’s own So Far Gone. Once the major label contract is signed, however, “mixtape” doesn’t really connote high-quality, important work. One can argue mixtapes are rawer versions of more calibrated studio releases, but it’s hard to shake the nagging thought that mixtape tracks weren’t good enough to hold over for the album. Often when it comes to mixtapes, only the most dedicated fans need apply. So what’s this mean for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late?
On Friday January 24, DJ Ben Fensterheim hosted bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band in the WRVU studio. Check out the full interview and in-studio performance at our Bandcamp and embedded below. The…
The farther you are from past events, the more they blend together. Time periods – years, decades, centuries – make for easy, automatic categorization of those events. “Take on Me”, “Just Like Heaven”, and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” are distinctively “eighties” music in the public consciousness; today anything that sounds like synth-pop, from 1989 to “Seasons (Waiting On You)”, is an ‘80s throwback. Decades are efficient, well-defined genre descriptors, to the point where decades like the ’80s and ’90s feel so musically distinct that phrases like “1985-1994 in music” sound meaningless to someone who wasn’t around back then.
When WRVU announced the winner of 2014’s edition of our annual AOTY (Album of the Year) tournament, hardcore rap duo Run the Jewels emerged on top. Run the Jewels joined the ranks of Vampire Weekend and Tame Impala, who won the tournament in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
The tournament isn’t the whole story though. While its an exciting way to narrow down an overall winner, it doesn’t completely explain why we liked what we did. Additionally, there’s a worry that popular voting is biased against niche releases; it’s certainly not required that voters listen to each and every one of the 32 contenders to better inform their decision.
In the interest of calling out as much great 2014 music as possible, this post compiles the individual top 10 lists from our DJs. But first, a few tournament-related consolation prizes.
The Alternate Universe WRVU-AOTY Award
We’ll skip the analysis — there isn’t any need. These albums speak for themselves. Last round looked like this: Run the Jewels St. Vincent FKA twigs – LP1 Salad Days Who will be…
Big shout-out to William Doran for the creative design seen throughout this tournament. The Round Three/Elite Eight vote results are below, as well as previews of the Final Four matchups. But more importantly,
For us college kids, 2014 was consumed by late nights studying, barely passed exams, countless job and grad school apps, and maybe a few parties, concerts, and vacations to keep us sane. 2014 meant we were one year closer to the real world, except we didn’t feel older.
For music fans, 2014 meant a continuous stream of new music to sift through: a lot of it good, more of it bad, and some of it downright confusing. At the end of the day, it’s the good we remember, and 2014 had plenty. A pop left turn from America’s best-selling artist. A disconnected folk artist’s rumination on aging and death. Celebrated hip-hop producers and emcees honing their craft. These artists all made it to WRVU’s collection of the 32 best 2014 albums, but now they compete to be crowned album of the year.
Tournament seeds were awarded based on rankings from our DJs. Higher ranked picks received more points. Over 100 unique albums received votes, and the top 32 appear in this tournament. 16 will advance past the first round. Your favorite albums need your votes to advance. Your least favorite albums need your votes against them to be stopped. At the end of the day, only one will remain: the 2014 WRVU Album of the Year.
Design credit to William Doran.
2014 saw all kinds of hip hop floating around, from new stars and old. Countless tracks have already been forgotten, but this article is about the ones that really stuck. This is just one writer’s opinion, but here it is: the ten best hip hop tracks of the year.
10. Clipping – “Work Work”
While clppng is one of 2014’s more uneven releases in any genre, “Work Work” channels the group’s brand of bizarre industrial-hop into something almost party-appropriate. The sneering delivery of lyrics about pimps, gang signs, and dead homies comes caked in irony, but “Work Work” is charming and catchy enough to let us in on the joke.
9. Jeremih – “Don’t Tell Em”
DJ Mustard gets much of the credit for gracefully reconciling modern popular hip-hop with increasingly EDM-soaked pop charts, after previous attempts ranged from limp to mashup-tier. You can criticize Mustard for being formulaic, but when songs you didn’t even produce start following the formula you can’t deny its effectiveness. On representative track “Don’t Tell Em”, Mustard streamlines the hazy, stylish, “All the Time” Jeremih for mass consumption.
The most elaborate musical prank of this week is no doubt the Aphex Twin/Taylor Swift mashup album. The cartoonist who put Aphex Swift together put forth an astonishing amount of effort to link two totally different artists. The most shocking thing isn’t the choice of artists, however, since there are already endless examples of absurd mashups floating around the web. No, the shocking thing is that this WTF pairing is so well done.
My initial reaction is that there’s no way Aphex Swift works at all, but on several subsequent spins I have to admit that there’s something going on here. “Starlightlicker” is the song that gets the closest to working in any traditional sense, no doubt because “Windowlicker” is the closest Aphex Twin has come to any sort of pop crossover. It’s surrounded by “T4ouble” and “We Are Never Getting Girl/Boygether”, both of which pace hectic breakbeat productions from Richard D. James Album with two of Swift’s most massive pop smashes. Initially I’m convinced that these two tracks speed up the tempo on “4” and “Girl/Boy Song” because they sound impossibly complex underneath Swift’s one-line-at-a-time delivery, but on further review the tempo is unchanged. The juxtaposition serves as a vivid reminder of just how unique and unhinged each of Aphex Twin’s pseudorandom productions is.
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…
We recently had WRVU members vote for the best and the worst song currently in the Billboard Top Ten. Here are the results from the 17 WRVU-affiliated responders. Hopefully their comments will shed some light on the current state of pop music.
Note: The tragically mysterious Weezer story will be reiterated throughout for the uninitiated, but mainly this article is about Pinkerton.
It’s the early 90’s, and Weezer is the hottest rock band in America. Their self-titled ’94 debut is stuffed with timeless classics like “Buddy Holly”, “Undone – The Sweater Song”, and “Say It Ain’t So”. In a rock world taken with grunge, Weezer is a convincing reminder of rock music’s lasting pop appeal.
In ’96 Weezer follows that album with Pinkerton. This album trades studio glitz for rough self-production, and comparatively comes across as abrasive and uninviting. Gone are the quirky music videos, harmonica soloes, and songs about surfing. The lyrics are shockingly personal: 26-year-old songwriter and frontman Rivers Cuomo spills raw confessionals like he grabbed his teenage diary instead of the song lyrics. It doesn’t take the band long to depart from the goofy, clean-cut band that recorded Weezer.
By most metrics, How to Dress Well still has a lot of room to grow in the music industry. This past Tuesday, singer/songwriter Tom Krell’s first appearance in Nashville meant a twelve dollar Tuesday show at Exit/In that maybe half sold out. The intimate crowd size and locale seemed much more befitting to How to Dress Well’s early lo-fi work than to 2014’s immaculately produced “What Is The Heart?” While his music is influential to similar indie-R&B peers like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, Krell is several orders of magnitude behind the breakout recognition those two have enjoyed. Critical appeal has grown with each full-length release, and so has both the production quality and amount of potential breakthrough singles, which makes it hard to say why Tom Krell has yet to experience a higher level of cultural significance.
Lots of music out there is just a little bit different, and that’s the common thread running through the songs on this playlist. The experimental, unconventional, and slightly off: all are highlighted in “Left…
The summer Spotify series continues. Here’s what DJ Gracie Gonzalez has to say about her playlist, “Ridiculous”. I crafted this playlist at the beginning of summer, imagining my friends and…
Just in time to help ring in another year of freedom for the reigning greatest country in the world, it’s WRVU’s officially certified Party Playlist. Turn Up features hard hitting…