On the Friday before spring break, I had the pleasure of seeing the Vanderbilt Core Choir perform their home concert that began their week long tour to Florida. The front end of the program was a typical classical repertoire, featuring works from Bach, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. Via short sets focusing on international pieces and original compositions by choir members and friends, there was a gradual transition into what I found to be an absolutely stunning performance of Americana songs at the tail end of the program. There was a complete change in atmosphere of the concert, and it was in no way related to the quality of the music going up for some strange reason. The performance level was stunning throughout; in the roots set, it was just like the music stopped being a performance and began to be a warm and welcoming conversation. It focused strongly on spirituals, arrangements of songs by The Wailin’ Jennys to highlight some of the ensemble’s remarkable sopranos and altos, and a selection for the male vocalists to shine on that happens to be one of my current favorite songs. This was an adapted arrangement of Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac’s recording of “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” for the 2013 Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis (you can listen to a recording of the choir’s men performing the selection above). The film follows a week in the life of Llewyn Davis, a fictional folk artist in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s struggling to make it by, providing a dreary reminder to the audience that for every Bob Dylan or Joan Baez success that came from this vibrant folk movement there were countless careers that failed to start. Again and again in this dismal setting, the film’s music shines through, punctuated by performances from Oscar Isaac in his titular role. The man that put that soundtrack together was T-Bone Burnett.
“Can we start it all over again this morning?” Beck asks early on in the opening track of Morning Phase, his first album since 2008′s Modern Guilt. After a gorgeous 40 second instrumental opening, strings give way into the plaintive guitar strums of “Morning”, and it truly does feel like a something entirely new, a rebirth — which is odd, because Beck has specifically said this album is a spiritual successor to his 2002 masterpiece Sea Change.
And sure, the beginning of “Morning” has an uncanny resemblance to the beginning of Sea Change opener “The Golden Age.” And sure, all of Morning Phase is ostensibly similar to its much-vaunted predecessor. It does feature the same musicians and the same California-folk influence. And yeah, even the cover art (Exhibits 1 and 2) looks strikingly similar, Beck’s steady gaze staring out behind smears of orange and blue.
But hear me out: the truth is that it’s only similar in the sense that all music by an artist sounds similar to previous music produced by that artist. No left turn is truly a total departure: even the cold, Kraftwerk heartbeat of Kid A‘s “Idioteque” had its roots in the laserbeam percussion loop of OK Computer’s “Airbag”.
The point of all this is to get you to look at Morning Phase in the ways it differs, rather than its similarities, because these differences are what make Morning Phase the best Beck album since 1998′s Mutations.
It’s no secret that Aphex Twin (AKA Richard D. James) is one of my favorite artists, but I can see how someone who’s yet to give him a listen might be intimidated by his scattered discography. Following are my picks for the top 10 Aphex Twin productions.
Kurt Cobain, the famed frontman of Nirvana, grew up in Aberdeen Washington. In interviews, Cobain rarely mentioned the city, sometimes saying things like, “In Aberdeen, I hated my best friends with a passion, because they were idiots.” Later recounting his childhood, Cobain reflected on Aberdeen as “a depressed and dying logging town.”
Spring Break is nearly here for the students! With less than two weeks until the unofficial halfway point of the semester and the weather warming up from the 30′s to the 60′s, the latter half of February is looking pretty good! I don’t know about the rest of y’all but I’ve been having a hard time finding some new dance tunes to pump me up for the break (if you have any send them my way!). But luckily for you all, I’m about to introduce a new artist by the name of Kiesza and her breakout tune Hideaway.
Legendary hip-hop group De La Soul made their entire discography available for download this Valentine’s day. Here are eight love tracks to help you sift through the epic collection of beats and rhymes. [Read more...]
In the past decade, a new style of music has wormed its way onto the music scene. While dubstep rose in popularity late in the first decade of the new millennium, with its driving, syncopated rhythms and epic bass drops, a completely opposite subgenre of quasi-electronic music also became popular. Chillwave, also known as glo-fi or shoegaze, is a much more ambient style that is reminiscent of popular music from the 1980s. It incorporates a lot of effects processing, sampling, use of synthesizers, and ambient background noise. Its slower tempos, light, ethereal vocals; relatively simple and singable melodies, and ample synthesized effects remind its listeners of the sounds of the summer, especially since its sudden explosion in popularity occurred during the summer of 2010.
Back as a sophomore in high school I came across a very peculiar album cover that had could have well been a classic art piece, if not for the strange bread-like object that had replaced the girl’s face in the artwork. I decided not to judge an album by its cover and went to listen to a couple songs. It was unlike anything I had heard before – eerie, dreamy, lyrically ambiguous, but somehow very beautiful. It was none other than the album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel. I would never have guessed that a little over three years later I would watch the band live after their indefinite hiatus.