A Much Delayed Top 5 Songs of 2013

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2014 is over a month old now, the Grammys have finally aired, and it’s high time for me to compose this before the moment passes and 2014′s release schedule starts to heat up as the year pushes into spring. And what better time is there to catch up on music than a rainy Nashville February?

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Music Releases of 2014

In a ranking of the months by number of great albums released, January would be right there with December at the bottom. That trend has been proven especially true this year, since there’s been a severe lack of releases that anyone will be listening to a month from now. Between disappointing releases from the promising young artists of today (Warpaint, Young the Giant) and disappointing releases from artists who were promising and young in 1997 (Crystal Method, Mogwai), January 2014 has gone down in music history as a good time to catch up on music from another era.

Fortunately, the rest of 2014 should be jam-packed with great new music. I now present the top 10 upcoming releases most worthy of hype, starting with…

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5 Drummers of Indie Rock To Pay Attention To

A great drummer can make the difference in a band. Anyone will tell you that’s a fact. Try to imagine The Who without the thunderous, kinetic play of Keith Moon. Or “Be My Baby” without that famous drum break and frantic yet tasteful fills by Hal Blaine. Or James Brown’s classic records without the “Funky Drummer” himself, Clyde Stubblefield. Even the much-maligned Ringo Starr knew exactly when to accent a moment in a song with a perfect fill (think “Helter Skelter” or “Drive My Car”) and when to sit back and let the music groove.

Sadly, the drummer is often ignored in indie-rock conversation. Maybe it’s because the genre itself doesn’t lend itself to the kind of flash that classic rock and roll or funk or jazz does (there aren’t a lot of soloists in indie rock). The drumming in a ton of indie rock music also doesn’t move beyond simple timekeeping or tasteful grooves, which doesn’t immediately impress as much as a great jazz solo or a thunderous metal part. As a drummer and indie rock fan, I’ve found the genre to house plenty of interesting and excellent players, some of which don’t get the respect they deserve. These are just a few of the drummers of indie rock who deserve more attention.

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She’s Just Got That Soul Power

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If there’s one up-and-coming artist you should check out right this second, it’s Connor Zwetsch.  At the youthful age of 21, Connor has already managed to harness both the talent and the self-actualization required to help her rise into a promising career.  So rare is it that a musician successfully propagates such candor and humility that Connor’s work is invitingly reassuring.

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Little Known Classics: Rhymes & Reason

Photo of MC Tree Courtesy of Rhymes & Reason

I’m a Chicago kid. Born in the city and raised on the Southside. It’s what I know, it’s what I rep, it’s the place I love and call home. We get a bad rap on the national media for the violence, the public schools and the corruption (at least, in part, rightfully so) but all in all, I’m proud of where I’m from. So when something good comes out of where I’m from, I have to bump it. [Read more...]

Let’s Get The Album-Of-The-Year Countdown Hype Started: My Albums of the Semester

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2013 has been a year of marvelous releases.  A few personal favorites have been Kanye’s Yeezus, James Blake’s Overgrown, Streetlight Manifesto’s The Hands That Thieve, and Daft Punk’s triumphant return with Random Access Memories, but these don’t even begin to comprise a complete highlight list.  Coming up with my list of Top Albums for the year is going to be an intensive process and I’m looking forward to it; in between debating the merits of different albums, I get to listen to all of them again.  It’s going to be something truly magical.  A much easier list to make, though, is my favorite albums of the semester.  While a lot of the heavy hitters for the year were released outside of that time period, there’s a great amount of quality for just these ~3 months.  In my opinion, these were the cream of the crop (presented in alphabetical order by artist). [Read more...]

Little Known Classics: Marvin Gaye

I admit, we all know Marvin Gaye as one of the all time greats. But do most of us know Marvin Gaye beyond “Let’s Get it On”? I have 8 less appreciated tracks from the legendary soul singer’s more popular albums that you can appreciate whether you’re hip to crooner’s catalogue or just taking your first listen. [Read more...]

Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is Nothing Short of Astounding

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It’s here.  After a beautifully executed marketing campaign highlighted by street art veve drawings and fictional bands, Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, Reflektor, has arrived to bring music to our waiting ears.  At a personal level, this record has struck a vibrant chord with me.  The simplistic epic that was “Wake Up” from Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral, was one of the first songs that opened up my musical horizons past classic rock, where I had always thought that the guitar solo was king.  I’m finding my tastes diverging now into more like that of a dance-maven, and so a danceable album from the band that was a real catalyst in getting me to originally expand my musical horizons might just be my favorite release of the year when it’s all said and done.

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