27 Hot Tracks to Soundtrack Your Summer

We’re getting into the hottest part of summer, and our DJs are scattered all across the country and the world right now. Until we resume regular programming in the fall, tide yourself over with these 27 tunes.

This summer-themed Spotify playlist compiled by our staff should be just what you need to kick back and enjoy whatever you’re up to for the next few months. Perfect for the beach, road trips, playing badminton, and more!

A First Look at the Rites of Spring Battle of the Bands

The Rites of Spring Battle of the Bands provides a great opportunity for local bands to play on a big stage--and for you to discover their music!
The Rites of Spring Battle of the Bands provides a great opportunity for local bands to play on a big stage–and for you to discover their music!

It’s that time of year again at Vanderbilt.  The Student Alumni Board is passing out free shirts at Rand; there are dozens of garbage bins lounging pell-mell on Alumni Lawn; the fraternities are gearing up for their crawfish boils and pig roasts; fierce debate regarding 2 Chainz’ arraignment echoes across campus.  What else could it be but Rites Week?

Love it or hate it (and, as always, there’s been a lot of both emotions in reaction to this year’s lineup), the week of Rites of Spring is the best time for music at Vanderbilt every year.  Though the main event will be an epic spectacle that should trump last year’s in terms of debauchery and Dionysian life force–after all, NEEDTOBREATHE probably played before the most sober Rites crowd ever–my favorite part of the week is the Battle of the Bands, which will take place this Thursday at 7:30 PM in Rand Lounge/Dank New Rand.  The Battle of the Bands is easy to overlook, especially with the winners’ prize being the chance to play on Friday afternoon before most students will want to arrive, but it’s a great showcase of some local talent (including a number of Vanderbilt-based acts) and winning would be a tremendous affirmation for any of the competitors.  And this year, you as an audience member have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in determining the battle’s victor, as the crowd’s vote will account for two-fifths of the final decision (alongside the three judges).  The idea seems to be that the winner should be able to draw a crowd to Rites as early as possible, with the ability to do this on a Thursday night supposedly predictive of the ability to follow suit the next afternoon.  So if you are friends with one or more of the contestants, the most important thing you can do for them is to show up at the battle on Thursday night and bring a pack of friends along for the ride.

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Who is Le Youth?

Photo courtesy of leyouth.com

American DJ and producer Wes James, otherwise better known as Le Youth, first came to fame last summer with his debut track C O O L, a groovy R&B/House track heavily sampling Cassie’s song Me & U. The single received enormous attention on his SoundCloud played and was a huge hit in the UK and Denmark. Since his first single he has only come out with one additional track, a techno dance track named Dance With Me sampling TLC’s No Scrubs (which has been a very popular track for DJs to sample recently) and featuring the young, popular rapper Dominique Young UniqueDance With Me is just as brilliant as his debut single and has received ample attention from listeners and DJs/producers around the globe.

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Five Recently Discovered Semi-Recent Artists

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I’ve come across a lot of new music through a few friends of mine. “New” of course is quite relative, since for the most part the songs I’ve discovered were released months or years ago. The genres vary greatly, artists have little in common, but all give off excellent vibes and are all tunes that I would highly recommend to others. Without further ado, here are the top five artists I’ve been enjoying the past couple weeks.

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5 Famous Songs That Are Actually Covers

Most people are familiar that Johnny Cash’s famous “Hurt” is actually a Nine Inch Nails song, that Led Zeppelin took much of their catalog from early blues recording, or that all of the various recordings of “Hallelujah” owe themselves to Leonard Cohen’s original.  But what about those song’s that we associate with one artist entirely when they are actually the creative genesis of another artist entirely?  These five songs fall in that category; that a listen to the original versions.

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Rap for a Reason: A Conversation with Shadower

Shadower is a Nashville-based rapper who released his single "Bully Me" last Tuesday.  All proceeds from the single will go to charity.
Shadower is a Nashville-based hip-hop artist who released his single “Bully Me” last Tuesday. All proceeds from the single will go to charity.

It’s safe to say that regardless of whether or not you think Kendrick Lamar got robbed at the Grammys, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis accounted for a significant shift in the scope of issues dealt with in mainstream rap music.  Into a culture dominated by the elegant hedonism of Kanye West and Jay-Z was infused a dose of reality–”fifty dollars for a t-shirt” (or, as famously offered by Yeezy, $120) is beyond the fiscal considerations of most Americans and shouldn’t be a standard to which ordinary folks are held.  The challenges that The Heist issued to the industry’s status quo opened up lines of dialogue that had been confined to the independent outskirts for much of the past decade, particularly regarding the materialistic, misogynistic, and heteronormative culture that has dominated mainstream rap.

In this rapidly changing paradigm, any social issue can be captured and crystallized into a song with the potential to move millions of affected listeners and inspire the unaffected to take corrective action.  With his new single “Bully Me,” Nashville hip-hop artist Shadower attempts to take the serious issue of childhood and adolescent bullying and preach empathy as the cure.

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Music and Memories

“Taxman” always makes me think of this. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Willis)

I’ve read over and over again that olfaction is the strongest sense at evoking memories. I think it has to do with the amygdala or something — hey, I’m not a neuroscience major. There are certain smells that bring up memories for me, some specific and some general; the smell of pine and sugar cookies makes me think of Christmas; the smell of “Midnight Pomegranate” hand soap, weirdly enough, makes me think of playing Call of Duty 4 back in 8th grade. Growing up in the plains of Northern Indiana, I always looked forward to the first day of summer — not June 21, but rather some Saturday in late April or May when I’d wake up, open the window, and smell the first faint, sweet, loamy scent of soil carried across the fields on the constant breeze. Every once in a while I’ll catch a brief whiff of it in Nashville and it still makes me excited.

Despite all this, one sense evokes more memories than scent for me: hearing. Specifically, hearing music; nothing else so vividly conjures up the events of my life as it does. [Read more...]

8 (+1) MORE Songs That Are Hauntingly Beautiful

Photo courtesy of kicswila.com
Photo courtesy of kicswila.com

So, my friend Lucas did a post on this same subject a while ago; I liked the idea so much, I wanted to create my own spin on the subject of hauntingly beautiful music. Many sources define “haunting” as “remaining in the consciousness” or “not quickly forgotten;” however, the significance of this term surpasses its somewhat shallow definition. Music that is haunting doesn’t just remain in the consciousness for a long time, it transforms it. The moment this music enters our ears, it lifts us to a higher plane of existence. We begin to contemplate, as The Shins put it in one of the songs I will reference, “the bitter mechanics of life.” We forget how and why we exist. The only thing that matters, in that moment, is the music that is filling us, and we are forever changed by it.

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