Run The Jewels 2 Wins the Album of the Year Contest

aoty

The results are in! Run the Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 has bested FKA Twigs – LP1 by a slim margin of 3 votes.

Arguably the second most popular album during nominations (Mac Demarco - Salad Days being the first), Run the Jewels 2 claims its spot as the top dog of WRVU this year.  This is hardly surprising, given Run the Jewels’ sold-out concert at Exit/In earlier this semester and the sheer hype the album generated upon release.

Run The Jewels 2 Album Cover
Run The Jewels 2 wins 20-17

Killer Mike and El-P have outdone their previous self-titled success with a sequel that hits harder, shouts louder, and tackles tougher issues in its rapid-fire verses.  Whether it’s the club-ready bangers like “Oh My Darling, Don’t Cry”, the more solemn and serious tracks like “Crown”, or the silly tracks littered with El-P’s jokes and sci-fi references like “Lie, Cheat, Steal”, there is something on here to scratch every hip hop itch.  Check out my full review published around its release.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the contest!  You all made this tournament possible.

El-P and Killer Mike
El-P and Killer Mike

aoty

Elite 8

The Sweet 16 round of the Album of the Year tournament has come to a close.  The round featured some very close finishes, with two matchups determined in tiebreakers. Click the box to find out what remains.

Click to see bracket!
Click to see bracket!

The remaining eight albums can be called elite, but they’re by no means champions. For that, they need to win three more times. Let’s take a look at this round’s matchups.

Mac Demarco - Salad Days and Beck - Morning Phase face off for a spot in the Final Four.  Salad Days’ popularity in the nominations indicate it as this matchup’s favorite, but don’t count out the Grammy-nominated Morning Phase.

Swans - To Be Kind and its small, loyal following look to derail R&B star FKA Twigs’ LP1.

Run the Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 looked strong in the first two rounds of voting. We’ll see if it can maintain its momentum against Aphex Twin – Syro.

St. Vincent – s/t takes on Flying Lotus - You’re Dead! in what may be a close matchup with no clear favorite.

But you already know who you’re voting for, don’t you? Go on, then.

VOTE HERE

Read on for a recap of round one.

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http://wrvu.org/tourney-8/

aoty

Top 32

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.

Click to see bracket!
Click to see bracket

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.

VOTE HERE

Design credit to William Doran.

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http://wrvu.org/aoty-tourney/

Nine Years Later, System of a Down Still “Mezmerizes” Me

System of a Down managed to capture the zeitgeist of American anti-war sentiment in 2005 with their shocking hit album Mezmerize.
System of a Down managed to capture the zeitgeist of American anti-war sentiment in 2005 with their shocking hit album Mezmerize.

It may be surprising to see a retrospective of a nine-year-old nu metal album on this blog, particularly from a writer who has vented at length about the overall lack of quality of mid-2000s popular music.  Then again, everything about System of a Down’s music, from the band’s ability to mash together disparate and seemingly irreconcilable influences to their shocking success on the mainstream airwaves, is a bit surprising.  System’s landmark 2005 album Mezmerize happened to be on my mind as I put together a discussion for my psychology class, and revisiting it as I worked resulted in three dominant trains of thought, none of which dealt with my homework: 1) nostalgia for the days when my biggest concern was whose backyard trampoline the neighborhood kids would be hitting up after school, 2) amazement at how irresistibly fun the eleven songs are, and 3) wonder at System’s ability to somehow maintain this fun amidst livid, highly caustic lyrics and guitar riffs.  In conjunction, these concurrent streams of consciousness brought me to the crucial question: how the hell did a band like System of a Down hijack the popular music consciousness?

I think the answer boils down to two factors: perfect timing and the group’s ability to infuse its thrashing songs with elements that made them palatable to mainstream listeners.

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Shake It Off or Take It Off (of Spotify): Interpreting Taylor Swift’s Bold Move

Taylor may have swiftly changed the game when it comes to the future of streaming music.
Taylor may have swiftly changed the game when it comes to the future of streaming music.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the news: Taylor Swift has removed all of her music from Spotify.  As in, everything.  Not just 1989.  The only track you can find that even features Swift is “Safe and Sound,” her collaboration with The Civil Wars.  Go now and listen while you still can, before we have all been forsaken by the great blond goddess of our musical age.

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