Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gambino Is A Mastermind: Rapper Childish Gambino Hits UCONN 10/25/12

I had never heard of the rapper Childish Gambino up until about two months ago. But, after hearing only a few songs, I could tell he was more talented than your average rapper. As I listened to his album, Camp in closer detail, I also came to notice that he wasn’t just talented in his rapping style but also in his lyrics. Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, is a writer, comedian and actor in addition to being a rapper. He has appeared on and written for shows such as 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Recreation. Evidently, Donald Glover has some pretty impressive writing skills. His rhymes are so unbelievably clever and it’s almost impossible to not be jealous of this quadruple threat.

At the University of Connecticut, the concert committee on campus, SUBOG, announced in late September that the performer for the fall concert would be Childish Gambino. Every single floor seat for the concert sold out in under 3 hours. I was so unbelievably excited to see him live after hearing how incredible he is in person. It is safe to say that Childish Gambino did not disappoint.

A rapper named XV started the show off and really got the entire crowd hyped up. He engaged the audience immediately and interacted with everyone during each song. XV definitely had a lot of stage presence and was rather reminiscent of Kid Cudi at times with his quirky beats and unconventional writing style. I highly recommend checking out his newest EP called Awesome EP!, which features Pusha- T on the title track.

As soon as XV left the stage, everyone started chanting, “GAM-BI-NO!”. Then, the lights dimmed and the crowd went absolutely insane. Gambino took center stage surrounded by his band. I have been to many rap concerts before. Most recently was the “Watch the Throne” tour with Kanye West and Jay-Z, but I had never seen a band play with a rapper before. Gambino’s band consisted of a drummer, violinist, pianist, guitarist, and a very skilled bassist. This element truly brought a unique feel to his set. Childish Gambino rapped his most famous songs including “Bonfire,” “Fire Fly,” “You See Me,” “Heartbeat,” and “Freaks and Geeks” to name a few. He also played a handful of new songs that everyone went crazy for. Childish Gambino is a performer and an incredible one at that. My personal favorite part of the show was when he went a cappella and started freestyling. I would definitely recommend checking out all of Childish Gambino’s albums, EPs, and mix-tapes  including his album Camp and his latest mix-tape, Royalty.

Brilliant and talented rappers are hard to come by nowadays, but Childish Gambino is definitely only going to start receiving more recognition and acclaim as his fan base expands. No one quite says it better than Gambino himself in “Bonfire” when he asks the age-old question: “Why does every black actor gotta rap some?” to which he responds, “I don’t know, all I know is I’m the best one.” Childish Gambino is the shit. No humblebrag.

-B. Greenberg

Becca Greenberg is a freshman at the University of Connecticut studying Human Rights and Political Science. She is an actress and singer/songwriter from New York City. She is a big country music fan but loves rap, classic rock, and indie.

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Yelawolf and Travis Barker Release “Push ‘Em”

If you’ve kept your eyes on this site you can tell that one of our favorite rappers is Gadsden, Alabama’s, Yelawolf. Yelawolf is also growing into one of the most popular rappers in the music business expanding into clothing, skateboarding, and even doing promotions for his favorite auto company, Chevy. But let’s get back to his latest musical endeavor, an EP that is collaboration between  Yelawolf and Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker entitled Psycho White. The EP is set for release November 13th, and will feature five new tracks including the track, “Hard White”

“Push ‘Em’” is a good track, but if you were expecting a hybrid of Yelawolf’s dirty southern rhymes and Blink-182’s feel good pop punk, then this is not the track for you. If you were expecting something like, “Let’s Go” of off Barker’s solo album, Give the Drummer Some, you would be a lot closer because this song is rhythmically intense. To keep up with Barker’s fast paced rhythms  Yelawolf lays down a tight performance and spits with authority on subjects including cars, boozing, and raging. The song also features appearances from Skinhead Rob and Tim Armstrong.

Be sure to check out Psycho White because I’m sure it won’t be like anything you’ve heard before.

-B. Harlow

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Taylor Swift Releases Her Fourth Album, ‘RED’

So let me just start off by saying that I am not a regular on this website, and honestly not even the biggest enthusiast of music so no biting my head off for not analyzing the music right and no pointing out something that I probably missed. I am an enthusiast of Taylor Swift however. To me, she can do no wrong and her music will always be a favorite of mine. Her new album, Red, that was released on Monday is now my new obsession and I am not ashamed of it.

Having already listened to each of the songs more than a dozen times in just the first couple of days, I have to say that I enjoy this collection that she has created. People may say that she no longer belongs in the country genre with the release of this album, but I honestly enjoy her music no matter what genre she ends up in. You have to remember that Taylor is an artist, one that has a broad range of fans and I feel that she is trying to appeal to everybody; she is expanding beyond her country days, and by doing this challenging herself in other genres. So come on people, let’s try to commend what she has done because I bet it wasn’t easy.

Right off the bat I had a few favorites. Having downloaded the several singles that she released before the album dropped, I was already pretty well acquainted with those songs and I enjoyed every one of them. Of course, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is a sort- of “Call Me Maybe” piece that is catchy and annoying yet you just can’t seem to get it out of your head. Then she released “Begin Again,” a slower number summarizing how her love life is starting to turn around and realizing that what she used to have with somebody might not be as good as what lies ahead with someone new.

Let me just say before I keep going that yes, Taylor Swift does write a lot of mean, angry love songs about boys that screwed her over, and hey maybe she is a little crazy, but her songs are entertaining right?? I personally love the truthfulness that her songs contain, and honestly most of them are really freakin’ catchy.

Okay, back to the songs. Her third single that came out was “Red” and honestly it is one of my favorite songs of the whole album. Describing different parts of breakups, “losing him was blue like I’ve never known, missing him was dark grey all alone” Taylor makes you imagine love, the good and the bad parts of it, in a different way than you normally would because “loving him was red.” The fourth and fifth singles released were “I Knew you were Trouble” and “State of Grace.” Many people might disapprove of the “dubstep” sound present in “I Knew you were Trouble,” but I personally enjoy the song and it adds variety to the album and to her list of talents as well. I have not been able to connect with “State of Grace” as much as the majority of the songs, but I like it, it’s another upbeat song about the beginning of a new love and her not expecting it. I feel as though a good amount of her songs on this album have to do with new love and it is refreshing to see that.

There are another 10 songs or so, which would make this review way too long, so I will just emphasize a couple more of my favorites. “Everything has Changed” featuring Ed Sheeran is pure magic. Their voices work so well together and it is a perfect combination of two people and a guitar mixed in with other instrumentation. And my other favorite is “22,” a song that never fails to make me want to get up and dance around my room like a typical girl. It is so upbeat and makes you feel good because “we’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical oh yeah.” Will be on repeat for a while that’s for sure.

Overall, I am a big big fan, and I think that everyone that has always liked Taylor Swift should definitely check Red out. It is different from her usual material, but that is what makes her the unique artist that she is and why most of us love her! Hope everyone enjoyed my post; this was a lot of fun to do. Also, her “Begin Again” music video came out Tuesday night so also check that out.

-K. Heller
Kyndal is a native of Shrewsbury, MA and is currently a sophomore at Clemson University studying elementary education. As a newly appointed “southern belle,” she is a big fan of artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, etc. and has attended a number of country concerts, including Taylor Swift’s of course (3 to be exact)!  

 

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Stone Sour Release First Part of Their Saga, ‘House Of Gold & Bones Part-1’

On October 22nd Stone Sour released the first part of their saga, House Of Gold & Bones Part-1. The albums second half is expected to be released in 2013.   The album package comes in two parts, when the second installment is released the pieces, will combine to make the House Of Gold & Bones. The band will also be releasing four comic books that will go along with the album. Eventually singer Corey Taylor wants to turn the concept into a film, but that will be a little further down the line.

I recently got to listen to the new record, and unlike the last Stone Sour Record, Audio Secracy, this album doesn’t get monotonous as the tracks go on. This album builds upon itself getting better and better as the listener gets more involved. The album starts out with the track, “Gone Sovereign”  which has a different feel due to the lack of instrumentation at the beginning of the song, but I actually enjoyed this. Eventually the full band comes in, and this is when the great skills of the band come especially Corey Taylor’s vocals. Also this song features some great guitar solos from both Jim Root and Josh Rand.

The next song, “Absolute Zero” sounds to me as a more stripped down version of Root and Taylor’s other band Slipknot when it comes to the rhythm, but when it comes to melody it is clearly, Stone Sour. “A Rumor of Skin” is the third track on the album, and starts out with a very interesting guitar line that leads into a heavy groove, but I found this track boring except for Taylor’s vocals which tell a great story, and keep the listener entertained.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Time Travelers” which is a slower acoustic driven track with great lyrics from Taylor who paints a great picture of his emotions. His vocal performance is also great in this track because he shows his more venerable side, and doesn’t let production techniques cut out the humanness of his voice. Eventually this track fades into odd sound bites and leads into the next track, “Tired.” “Tired” starts off with a groove centered riff with a lead line played on top of it. The vocals come in next, and let me say Taylor’s voice sounds excellent with odd orchestra noises in the background. This song is odd though because it’s not a ballad or heavy song, but a mix of the two.

“RU486” is the sixth track on the album, and it’s a pure thrash track featuring chugging guitars, and very rough vocals that never find a real melody line. This is odd for Stone Sour because this is the voice Taylor would use in Slipknot. “My Name is Allen” follow “RU486,” but this is a more typical track you’d hear from Stone Sour. I enjoyed Taylor’s vocal on the track as well as Roy Mayorga’s work on the double bass throughout the chorus which gave the track more movement.

The eighth track on the record is called “Taciturn,” and is a beautiful ballad. Taylor’s voice sounds good on this track, and it seems as if his voice gels perfectly with the acoustic guitars. Eventually however the song picks up pace with the addition of piano and eventually the addition of drums and electric guitars. But the song maintains the same melancholy till the whammy pedal drenched guitar solo.  “Influence of A Drowsy God” is the next track on the album. This song starts up slowly with a very prog like intro, but eventually the guitars come in, and this is when the track takes off to another place.  One will listen to the guitars on this songs mixed with Mayorga’s drumming and see how great the two are when combined and make this very thunderous open sound.

This is followed up by “The Travelers, Pt. 2” which is a carefully orchestrated song that starts off with a harmonized guitar part, but then leads into a more melodic section featuring just piano, and Taylor’s vocal. This then leads into a heavier chorus typical of a ballad, but the song builds and builds after this chorus unlike most ballads, and just as it seems it’s going to take off it comes to an end. The final track, “Last of The Real” is up next and this is a song that sounds like a perfect Stone Sour song, a mix of great clean vocals and heavy music.

This is an odd album, but I like it because of its uniqueness. It’s definitely not what I expected band, but maybe that’s a good thing.

-B. Harlow

Check out the Music Video for “Gone Sovereign” Below:

 

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Evan Pharmakis’ Wind In Sails Release Debut Album, ‘Brighter Days’

One of my favorite local artists over the last year has been Evan Pharmakis and his project, Wind in Sails. Pharmakis who was a founding member of the post-hardcore five piece, Vanna has been working on this new softer project since he left the band in January of 2012. Pharmakis has collected his first batch of songs and put them out on a record called, Brighter Days that was released independently through bandcamp.

Brighter Days is a real departure if you were expecting anything like Vanna. The songs are much more subdued and melancholy, but have the same type of power. The album features eight tracks starting with, “Abandon” which is a song that is mainly driven by acoustic guitars, but accentuated nicely by drums and electric guitars. “Deep Down” is the second track on the record, and this is one of my favorite tracks because of the subtle guitar and delicately voiced vocals. Pharmakis touches lyrically on a lot of things in this song mostly losing a friend and starting from scratch. “Live” is the next song on Brighter Days, and I have to say I like this song because of its very interesting verse structure that leads into a very open sounding chorus.

“Murder Backwards” is up next. What drew me to the song initially were the chords in the song. They bring about a bittersweet/melancholy feel. They also keep the song moving into the vocal in which we see Pharmakis excel. At first the vocals are one track, but eventually they split, and a sweet harmony is laid beneath the initial melody. The arrangement may be simple, but it is effective in portraying the mood of the song. The song lyrically seems to deal with moving on from the past and letting go. The song then goes on to speak about moving forward in a different direction.

“Set Adrift” is the next song on the album and features a multi-tracked strummed acoustic, a very nice layered acoustic, and a very bluesy solo played on an electric guitar. The track that is about five and a half minutes in length seems to have a somber feel and seems to reflect Evan’s inner conflict between home and his former band. “Set Adrift” is definitely another favorite off of the album, as is the next track, “Knowing.” “Knowing” is a great song with a very bluesy feel to it, and very dark lyrical content.

“Yours” is the seventh track on the album, and is a blatant love song. I liked the song, and especially what felt like natural reverb on the track. “Breathe” is the eighth and final track on the album, and I like how Pharmakis uses the lyrics of the song to tell a narrative about living a life that is worth living, and opening ones eyes to the world around them.

Brighter Days is a fantastic collection of eight tracks that are really poetry set in motion. Pharmakis does a great job of forming melodies around story lines which brings the listener in. Check this album and Wind in Sails out.

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: High on Fire

One of my favorite bands is High on Fire who are a Oakland, CA based three-piece. The band was formed by vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel, and bassist George Rice who was later replaced by Jeff Matz. Pike was also a founding member of the legendary stoner metal band, Sleep whom he has released five albums with between 1990 and 2003. But luckily for High on Fire fans, Pike’s efforts lately have focused on High on Fire.

The band which has been together since 1998 has released six albums the latest being 2012’s, De Vermis Mysteriis. The band’s first big release was 2001’s, Surrounded by Thieves which was an excellent record released on Relapse Records. This was followed in 2005 by the album, Blessed Black Wings. This album features one of my favorite High on Fire tracks, “The Face of Oblivion” which sounds a lot like Mastodon mixed with thrash giants, Machine Head. 2007’s Death is This Communion, featured some awesome tracks one of my favorites is “Dii” which is an acoustic intro that leads into the great track, “Cyclopian Scape.” Another key track on that album was the epic, “Rumors of War” which is definitely one of the band’s best songs.

In 2010 the band released their album, Snakes For The Devine.  Production was up a notch on this record, this was largely due to the talent of legendary producer, Greg Fidelman. The album features great tracks such as “Frost Hammer” and the title track, “Snakes For The Devine.” De Vermis Mysteriis was released this year, and is a great album and an excellent follow-up to 2010’s, Snakes For The Devine. The band’s sounds the same though, remaining endlessly sludgy just like their first release, but with obviously better production quality.  

B. Harlow

 

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The Rolling Stones Release New Song, “Doom and Gloom”

In 2002 my Dad went to see The Rolling Stones at was then called the Fleet Center in Boston. Ever since then I’ve been jealous that he got to see the legendary group. As a fan of the band and most of the bands albums you could see why I was jealous. The Stones are amazing, and their albums including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and the amazing Exile on Main Street will always make it close to the top of the list of my favorite albums. If you couldn’t  tell already I was ecstatic about this new release. To be honest I have to say, “Doom and Gloom” is probably the best song The Stones have released since 2002’s, “Don’t Stop” which was featured on the bands greatest hits collection, Forty Licks.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the track. , “Doom and Gloom” is the first in studio collaboration between Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood in seven years. Let’s just say the track delivers. The song starts off with a classic Stones riff that sounds as if it was written in the mid 70’s. Jagger’s vocals come in next, and let me just say he sounds exactly like he did on those classic albums. He truly has not lost much of his voice and performance capability considering the singer turned 69 in July of 2012. The band sounds tight, and Richards and Wood deliver their riffs that complement each other’s playing in what Richards calls “The ancient art of cross weaving.” All the while the Stone’s silent hero, Charlie Watts keeps a steady beat, as he always has in the chaos around him.

“Doom and Gloom” is a great track, but what remains to be seen is whether or not it will stand up to the band’s spectacular catalogue.

-B. Harlow

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Ellie Goulding’s Sophomore Release, ‘Halcyon’

Almost everyone knows that I have a soft spot for English Songstress, Ellie Goulding. Ever since I heard her debut, Lights which was released in 2010 it seems as if though I can’t go a day without hearing the catchy tune. Whether it be on at the mall, the 7/11, or the radio Goulding seems to have a firm grasp over the airwaves. Two years after her first release we have her new album, Halcyon.

The album features twelve tracks that were mostly written or co-written by Goulding. The album starts off with the track “Don’t Say a Word” which starts off in a very atmospheric then builds slowly. Next up is the track “My Blood” which is a track I thoroughly enjoyed do to the lyrics and how they worked in the context of the music. I also love how, Goulding who has a very strong voice showed vocal restraint throughout the verses. The album’s single follows, and I have to say I don’t like this track one bit. The modulation on Goulding’s voice is quite simply annoying. It sounds as if they plugged her microphone into a reverb and delay pedal. “Only You” is the fourth track on the album, and on this trick I actually enjoyed the experimentation upon Goulding’s voice as instrumentation.

The title track, “Halcyon” is a great track. Lyrically it shows a very vulnerable side of Goulding that I quite  enjoy, but the sound was overproduced. In my opinion due to the nature of the lyrics it would have worked better as a stripped back acoustic track. “Figure 8” is up next, and I have to say this is a very melancholy track, but builds up to a semi-dubstep chorus.

The next track, “Joy” is one I’d really like to take notice of. It starts off very slow, but eventually a nice orchestral section comes in and takes the track to a never level. Sonically the orchestra whether real or synthesized help set the mood, as Goulding’s voice takes off nicely.

“Hanging On” is the eighth track on the album, and it also happens to be the only track that Goulding did not help co-write. This would seem odd because it seems to fit right in on the album. It also feature Goulding in her spectacular upper register throughout the song, but at times it seems as if there is auto-tune used to round out the sound of her voice.

“I know You Care” is the next track that I’d really take note of. It starts with a nice piano driven intro, but just when you think Goulding is about to break into a spectacular chorus she lays back. This leads to a very nice track that is mellow and one of my favorite on the album due just to the barebones nature of it.  The album closes out with the track “Dead in The Water” I thought that this was a nice song, but when I thought it was going to build up to a grandiose conclusion it just puttered out.

Goulding seems to be moving to a more mature sound on this album. It’s much different from her debut, but the jury is still out whether that is good or bad. We’ll see!

-B. Harlow

 

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Machine Gun Kelly Releases His Debut Album, ‘Lace Up’

On Tuesday Cleveland’s hometown wild boy released his debut album. Machine Gun Kelly, better known as MGK released his album entitled Lace Up through Bad Boy and Interscope Records. Fresh off of a tour with Tech N9ne, anticipation was building over the release of MGK’s first album and for MGK to take the big first step from EP to LP.

The 13-track album is already found in the three spot on iTunes, and is gaining more credit by the day. The album’s lead single is his hit song “Wild Boy” that was released last year on his EP, Half Naked & Almost Famous. MGK got his name on the map after the Wild Boys Remix was featured on the soundtrack for Project X. Prior to the drop of the album was the release of the music video for the track “Invincible” featuring American singer/songwriter Ester Dean. Lace Up is full of sick beats which MGK has been notorious for on his previous EPs which makes the album even more impressive.

MGK is also known for his rapping ability and for how tight his rhymes are which separates him from other rappers nowadays. One of the other featured bits of Lace Up is the extent of collaborations and features on the album. The album features artists like DMX, Young Jeezy, Twista, Lil John, Tech N9ne, and even M. Shadows and Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold. Working with all these artists gives the album depth, which is hard to come by in a rap album. Make sure you check out the tracks “Wild Boy,” “Save Me,” ‘D3MON,” and my personal favorite track “Edge Of Destruction.”

Over the past few years I’ve been listening to MGK’s mix-tapes and have always thought he was different from other rappers. Make sure to check out his mix-tapes and EPs, which include Half Naked & Almost Famous and EST 4 Life. Be sure to check out Lace Up and support this American wild boy.

-M. Tozeski

 

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Adele’s New Song “Skyfall”

If you were to walk up to 100 people at any time during the day and ask them who their favorite musical artist is, undoubtedly a large majority would say, Adele.  And without a doubt a number of them would have also seen a James Bond movie. But what happens when you add the two together? The answer is Adele’s new track, “Skyfall” which is also the title of the new James Bond movie that will be out next month.

The track starts out with that familiar ominous Bond orchestra sound.  This then leads into a slow piano section that is reminiscent of the original Bond theme by John Barry. Adele’s vocals come in, and lets just say she sounds amazing. The lyrics and melody slither together to create a very mysterious sounding verse. What sounds like a full orchestra comes in next and when this happens the song takes off to a new level.

This song will make you sit up in the movie and pay attention to the backing music. It’s a great composition, and I wouldn’t be if I said it was one of the best Bond themes.

-B. Harlow