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Spinning Singles: Mitski, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alicia Keys, Steve Gunn

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“Happy” — Mitski

“Happy came to visit me, he brought cookies on the way.” Mitski softly spills out the words in a ghostly, vibrating mumble, over a quick, blasting automatic weapon-esque drum machine pulse on her single “Happy” — the second pre-released track from her forthcoming, sophomore sum, Puberty 2. The track is a beautiful mystery: a queer, sad, riddle of a song. The track recounts the memory of a visit from Happiness (who goes by male pronouns) who laid her down, told her it would all be okay, then vanishes while she’s in the bathroom, leaving a mess and reminders of the visit in his wake for the singer to clean up. In the song’s three brief verses, Mitski crystallizes the intoxication of happiness — the everythingness of small moments, the sun-filled room, cookies and tea with a lover — and the violent hangover of the come-down, the desperation to get it back. However, the most haunting emotion on the track, is Mitski’s apathy about the whole affair: that she is not heartbroken, screaming or crying: just a little bit sad, as she quietly cleans up the debris: “And I turned around to see/All the cookie wrappers/And the empty cups of tea/Well I signed and mumbled to myself/Again I have to clean.”

As it turns out, ambivalence about heartbreak is much sadder than heartbreak by itself.

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TEST SPIN: Inspiraling — Resolve Yourself

Released with minimal hype by Electric Buffalo Records at the end of a blustery April, Resolve Yourself, the first release from Inspiraling (aka Gil Israel ’16), seems far divorced from landlocked Ithaca. The album occupies a beachy vein that tenuously falls under the surf-rock heading, but mostly rides its marriage of keyboards and hazy guitars into a nebulous realm. Few of Resolve Yourself’s tracks channel powerful momentum. Rather, they slowly drift along like musings from a lazy, sun-drenched afternoon. Resolve Yourself resembles early releases from slacker-rocker Mac DeMarco.

CAMERON POLLACK / SUN PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Design, Empathy, Collaboration: RAW EXPO at Milstein Hall

RAW EXPO can perhaps best be described as a gathering of creators and question-askers deconstructing barriers to collaboration. In the wide concrete dome of Milstein Hall, over 50 groups of and individual artists, publishers, engineers, developers, musicians, architects and people who came simply due to curiosity conversed and tested out products and processes. Simply put, a desire to create a fully interdisciplinary environment undergirds RAW EXPO. Now in its second year, RAW EXPO was hosted by and served as a kickoff for Medium Design Collective, a group of students that champions collaboration and design-oriented creation. Many members of ASSOCIATION, the group that organized RAW EXPO’s inauguration last year, remain in Medium.

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Out of this World: Kurt Riley Rocks Klarman

Playing an album live, end-to-end, can prove arduous for many artists. Rather than tailoring a set list to crescendo, climax, and resolve for a given night, the performers must trust that the same progressions that worked on the album will similarly thrill live audiences. The same challenges that can sink such a play-through, however, can also elevate a concert. A performance can offer testimony to the narrative and vision that inspired an album rather than simply offering up a smattering of tracks from an artist’s career. Kurt Riley’s Kismet proved to be a viable work to bring to Klarman Auditorium, in its entirety, on Friday night.

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Spinning Singles: Blink-182, “Bored To Death”

As the number of members in a given band decreases, the worries of a “Ship of Theseus” transformation increase if band members join on or drop out. As such, Blink-182’s decision to slot in Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba in place of former vocalist and guitarist Tom DeLonge 14 years into their career must have elicited trepidation amongst many long-time fans. In “Bored To Death,” the first single off of Blink-182’s California, which is slated for a July 1 release, fans get a glimpse of Skiba’s contributions to the trio. The new collaborators have seemingly decided to pass on delving into radically new material in their first public debut, instead offering up a song that could easily slot into any of Blink-182’s most middle-of-the-road, polished releases (Enema of the State, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket). “Bored To Death,” however, evidences the darker, more mature tone that Blink-182 has started moving towards as its band members near their mid-40s.

COURTESY OF JOYFUL NOISE

Spinning Singles: Beyoncé, Yoni & Geti, Brian Eno

Yoni & Geti — “Wassup (Uh Huh)”
Every indie geek whose taste has ever skewed eclectic and depressive should consider it a true-blue blessing that Yoni Wolf (WHY?, Clouddead) and David Cohn aka Serengeti transformed their friendship into musical collaboration. True, Serengeti’s 2011 Family & Friends saw Wolf take the production reigns, and his influence could be heard on Serengeti tracks like “Goddamnit” that channel his kitsch-as-loneliness approach. A nagging feeling, however, remained that Serengeti and Wolf still hadn’t truly pushed their collaboration into exciting territory that maximized each wordsmith’s staggering potential. The time has come. The duo has a match-matchy name (Yoni & Geti), an album title (Testarossa) and a release date (May 6).

COURTESY OF ELECTRIC BUFFALO

TEST SPIN: _____ , Paralanguage

“Our music doesn’t have words and neither does our name,” ______ write on their Bandcamp, and often state at their shows. Last Friday, the duo (comprised of Brad Nathanson ’17 and Carsten Thue-Bludworth ’17) released Paralanguage, their second album following August 2015’s the linden sessions on Ithaca’s student-run Electric Buffalo Records. Recorded at the same Linden Avenue home as their previous release, Paralanguage offers 37 and a half minutes of complete sonic immersion. It is, at points, soothing, angular, sprawling, concise and susceptible to having many more descriptors tacked on to it. Yet, I offer a slight modification of _____’s mantra-of-sorts: not only does their music “not have words,” it doesn’t need words to convey interesting, intricate ideas and overwhelming moments of beauty.

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GUEST ROOM | Air Bud as Embodiment of Corporate Capitalist Dogma

What is more emblematic of the United States’ corporate capitalist narrative than Air Bud? A well-groomed, intelligent Golden Retriever frees himself from an abusive owner to provide both athletic success and companionship to a fatherless boy. Yet, as Air Bud nears its 20th anniversary in a year and change, it is imperative to reconsider this touchstone family film. Is Air Bud a story of basketball glory and family cohesion, of friendship between human and other animal, or is it truly a parable of an oppressive corporate system cloaking the workers’ alientation in false empathy? Buddy, the film’s protagonist, represents the indoctrinated masses.

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TEST SPIN: Teen Suicide — It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot

Is Teen Suicide’s It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot a long album? Its 26 tracks boost it to a nearly half-hour longer duration than that of the Maryland band’s 2012 i will be my own hell because there is a devil inside my body. And even though many clock in at two minutes or shorter, the pure number of songs on the release can seem intimidating. Or, if you switch your mindset, welcoming. It’s the Big Joyous Celebration does not pack neatly into a succinct metaphor.

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TEST SPIN: Kurt Riley — Kismet

Desolation, betrayal, evil and, above all else, sacrificial love feature prominently in Kurt Riley’s 2016 release, Kismet. Riley — the musical alias of Industrial and Labor Relations student Kurt Fritjofson ’16 — crafted Kismet around a narrative that draws upon grand and utterly thrilling science fiction motifs. In brief, Kismet follows King Bandele, a character whom Fritjofson often sings as and portrays in his music videos, as he travels to Earth in pursuit of his Queen, Heaven Snow. Bandele lives in a civilization that, I would argue, seems to be a reimagining of the human race’s trajectory. In place of human greed and violence, Bandele’s society is selfless, thoughtful and compassionate; Bandele’s contemplations of the duality of human cruelty and kindness drive much of the album’s tension.