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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Why Everyone Should Experience the Honda Battle of the Bands

I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps you’re thinking marching band is lame. When you see or hear the words “marching band,” you might think of the stereotypical “band geek” who walks around talking about cork grease and spit valves. Or maybe you think of sexually frustrated high schoolers, who brag about all the unmentionable things they did during that one time at band camp (looking at you, American Pie). But, I can promise you that marching band isn’t really like that…

…well, except maybe for that one time at band camp. Anyone who’s been in marching band knows band camp can get pretty wild for a number of reasons.

All band jokes aside, here is an explanation for why everyone should experience the Honda Battle of the Bands at some point during their lifetime.

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Five Side Projects Turned Supergroups

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The diverse members of Gorillaz

Despite plenty of success and years of experience, some artists just want to mix things up. This motivation creates what we may call side projects or musical supergroups. Take all the best qualities of similar, or not so similar, musicians, put them in a recording studio, and watch the magic happen. In the past decade or so, five projects in particular have redefined the expectations of musical collaborations. In fact, some of the names may even surprise you.

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Rites of Spring 2014—Who Might Be Coming?

Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound

In 2011, I predicted that Kid Cudi would headline Rites of Spring, based on the similar success he and Drake were having at the time and Drake’s performance the previous year.  In 2012, I predicted Wiz Khalifa would headline, again based on his break-through hip-hop success that was similar to Drake and Cudi.  I further predicted that MUTEMATH would be coming that year, albeit not as the Friday-night headliner they ended up being, based on their fall, winter, and spring tours all circumventing Nashville while traveling through the southeast (they had to come here sometime).  On the other hand, I failed marvelously at predicting what the 2013 Rites lineup might look like, following my previous trend of looking at breakthrough rap success to peg Kendrick Lamar, who ended up coming for Quake this past fall.  In short, over my four years at Vandy, making Rites artist predictions has become a hobby of mine, much in the same way that people make predictions for Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and so many others of the festivals that have become so popular throughout the country.

Of course, all of these predictions and guesses were made in the relative comfort of my friendgroup, where no one would give me too much grief if I was wildly offbase and drinks would be had in my honor if I happened to be correct.  They’re much more forgiving than the scores that swim the internet waters, but this year I decided to up the stakes by sharing my predictions in a public forum.  Please note that I hold no affiliation with the Music Group or any other arm of the Vanderbilt Programming Board, and that I have no sources for my predictions other than the reasoning presented in my own words to you.  These are a couple of my personal hopes, dreams, and deductions presented to a wide audience, for glory or for shame. [Read more...]

Crafting the Contemporary Music Taste

A world without musical taste is chaos.
A world without musical taste is chaos.

Music is an inescapable fact of life.  It streams from our computers like a waterfall; it fills the empty space in our bars and restaurants; it augments the visual impact of television shows, movies, and advertisements.  On top of this universal presence of music, the democratization of the recording and distribution process has ensured that the variety of music available to the general public is vaster than ever before.  Yet it is precisely because of this deep and pervasive connection between music and human culture that it is necessary for you to make sense of this cacophony.  The person without a distinct musical taste risks being lost in the sonic forest, unable to converse about music with other people and unable to discern their own character.  In short, having a defined sense of what music you like is vital to becoming a contemporary man.  So, how do you develop a musical taste that keeps you both interested and interesting?  Read on to find out!

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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...]