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!

[Read more...]

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

semestercollage

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...]

Reflections on Christmas Music

There’s a golden rule that it’s generally impermissible to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s to contain everyone’s excitement; maybe — as my girlfriend likes to remind me — it’s to preserve the sanctity of Thanksgiving, the best holiday. My mom, in the past a proponent of this rule, announced with guilt that she’s been sneaking Christmas music: “I’m usually able to hold off until Thanksgiving but I was weak this year.”

In the past, I would’ve groaned; I was, like her, a staunch proponent of the Thanksgiving Rule. But this year even I find myself slipping into a Christmas mood earlier than usual. So I broke. I listened to Barry Manilow’s Christmas album, then all of my Christmas favorites. And I feel phenomenal. Christmas is the itch, and its music is the salve.

[Read more...]

Campy Music (and some other stuff)

None of the songs on this cover were written after 1971.
None of the songs on this cover were written after 1971.

Hey everybody,

It’s been one of those weekends that wasn’t any sort of break from the action of the week, but definitely in a good way.  Things got started with a bang when I scored free tickets to see Fitz and the Tantrums, Capital Cities, and Beat Club at Marathon Music Works on Thursday night.  All three bands started in Los Angeles, but each has a distinct sound within the broader category of indie pop-rock.  Beat Club has a very retro feel and their sound is very influenced by The Strokes, which makes sense because they are connected with Julian Casablancas.  Capital Cities is straightforward synth-pop and put on a very energetic show, closing with a fifteen minute rendition of “Safe and Sound” that turned into an electro-dance party.  Other than the last song, however, I didn’t find their music terribly engaging; all the songs sounded very similar but lacked the catchy hook of “Safe and Sound.”  This is only natural, though, since they have released just one LP.  The fact that they already have a Top 10 single at this point in their existence is very promising.  Unfortunately for Capital Cities, their performance was totally upstaged by that of Fitz and the Tantrums, whose neo-soul had a perfect dancing groove but didn’t feel superficial.  “Moneygrabber” was a highlight, leading off the encore and featuring a confetti explosion in the middle of the song.  Overall, the night of music was supremely satisfying, and there should be a lot of buzz about these three bands. Here’s some of the better songs that were played.

The real highlight of the weekend, however, was going home for a weekend of summer camp-related festivites: a bar mitzvah, an official camp reunion, and lots of running around to see as many friends as possible before heading back to school this morning.

[Read more...]

8 Songs to Play at a Halloween Party That You Might Not Have Thought Of

My fellow staff writer Lucas Kunsman recently wrote a very good list of songs that are hauntingly beautiful. A few of my favorites — “Oh Comely” and “Kasimir Pulaski Day” — made the list. But it got me curious: what are 8 songs that are actually appropriate for a Halloween party? Now, these aren’t all Halloween songs, I know, and a lot of them aren’t really that dark or scary; I didn’t want to give you a list filled with horror-film scores and industrial metal. I also didn’t want to give you a list of songs like “Monster Mash” and “Thriller”, so I tried to pick songs you haven’t thought of.

So here are a few songs that are vaguely sinister and festive, but still fun enough to justify playing at a party. No one wants to hear the theme from Psycho while they’re sipping a beer and trying to hit on the girl in the inappropriately revealing costume.

[Read more...]