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50. Horse Lords — Interventions
Horse Lords — a four-piece avant-rhythms band from Baltimore with more creativity than they’ll ever know what to do with — have been specializing in freaking us all out since 2012, but Interventions is their first release which brings it all together into one coherent vessel you can really dive right into. Maybe it’s because they’ve finally said goodbye to anything resembling rock music; maybe it’s because they’ve figured out how to make that flitting groove stick around from start to finish. Either way, Interventions’ mind-busting polyrhythms and brain-zapping dissonances no longer sound like Pere Ubu outtakes or Steve Reich scraps. Every second on Interventions sounds just like Horse Lords.
Swedish, indie pop-rock group Radio Dept. walks the line between complacent and passionate. Their sound in Running Out of Love, released this October, mixes easy to listen to harmonies with fast paced, energetic beats and shocking lyrics. The three merge to unpack social frustrations. With an eerily calm tone, their lyrics call to mind serious issues and leave them unresolved.
Jimmy Eat World’s newest release, Integrity Blues, weaves its way through nearly every subgenre of alternative in 11 songs. It’s got a little bit of progressive rock, a chunk of emo, a healthy dose of pop and a block of dark electronic. It’s diverse, well rounded and flows pretty well. It’s not completely cohesive, but moves through its different phases as gracefully as possible. The first phase is poppy and catchy.
For those who don’t know, the revival of emo is upon us. In a recent article titled “Modern Baseball and How Emo Grew Up,” Pitchfork’s Dan Caffrey describes how a torrent of bands have emerged over the past few years who bear the influence of the emo acts of the ’90s and 2000s, while eschewing the lyrical immaturity, and bitter misogyny characteristic of those earlier waves. These bands sound far less like the “emo” bands that are freshest in our memories — mainstream acts like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance whom genre purists wouldn’t consider emo in the first place — and much more like their more indie-influenced predecessors. How appropriate it is then, that two prominent bands of this resurgence — Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms — have joined emo veterans Brand New on their final tour?
For the most part, I feel that the recent clown scares across multiple states are harmless but creepy. The motivation for dressing up as a clown and, in most cases, simply loitering, confuses me. What interests me most about the whole trend is not the faux-clown’s compulsion but the “real” clown’s indignant reaction. Both characters merely dress a part. But, the “real” clown feels a right to their act and a justification in accusing their counterpart of cheapening their jolly role.
When I stooped into the basement of 660 Stewart on Saturday night to catch the debut performance of Cornell’s own West End China Shop, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Going to Fanclub Collective and Ithaca Undergound shows, one sees their fair share of lo-fi rock bands. While there are many standouts, far more common are the acts which are perfectly forgettable. Would West End China Shop be yet another half-serious, irony-soaked project by a group of 20-somethings who, at the end of the day, probably had something better to do? Another whiney, soul-bearing emo band?
Rap’s John Grisham, El Presidenté, Blowbama — these are just a few of the titles that Virginia rapper Pusha T appoints to himself on his latest single, “H.G.T.V.” Those last two, in particular, feel like a coronation years in the making for the 39 year-old MC, who just last year became president of Kanye West’s label, G.O.O.D. Music. Braggadocio and cocaine puns have anchored Push’s brand of rags-to-riches lyricism since at least the early 2000s, when he first garnered widespread attention as one half of Clipse — the now defunct rap duo formed with his older brother. But unlike his contemporaries from that era, the rapper born Terrence Thornton has only gotten better with age, showing time and again his ability to work with this week’s in-demand producers while making music that is distinctly his own. “H.G.T.V.” continues that hot streak, condensing plenty of quotable Push-isms into a single verse over menacing, bass-heavy production. Last year’s Darkest Before Dawn featured some of the weirdest beats on a major label rap album in recent memory, with known quantities like Timbaland mining for left-field samples to operate in Push’s gleefully menacing orbit.
There are select phrases that evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling inside of me. Among them are “Warped Tour” and “Hot Topic.” And I still wholeheartedly believe that it’s perfectly okay to long for Warped Tour and Hot Topic even in 2016. You see, there’s something about teenage angst that epitomizes nostalgia. Something comforting, even. But this same nostalgia reminds us that the heyday of pop-punk has long since passed.
In 1987, Zakir Hussain released one of my favorites among his “nontraditional” albums, Making Music. It was a prophetic title for the world’s leading Indian classical tabla player, whose dedication to doing just that is never clearer than when experiencing him in a live setting. Ithacans had the fortune of doing exactly that last Friday night, when a crowd of over 1000 filled Bailey Hall for his two-and-a-half-hour performance with Niladri Kumar. In characteristic humility, Zakir introduced himself as little more than Niladri’s accompanist, on a mission as he is to promote the rising sitar virtuoso to new, global audiences. The duo began with a Rageshree, a Hindustani raga following a 16-beat rhythm cycle, before moving on to lighter material for the second, along with a few modern surprises.
Esperanza Spalding sees something different in her music than I do. Out of Emily’s D+Evolution — her most recent album whose namesake tour brought her to the State Theatre this past Sunday — I personally got not only the best album I’ve heard this year, but one of the most halting pop-jazz records I’ve ever heard, period: that rare/vital kind of stuff that manages to wrap music at its most complex and daunting in a package that’s not just digestible, but alluring and outright dazzling, too. If we can take her Sunday performance as any indication, though, Spalding’s own take on the sounds she makes must be pretty far removed from mine. After (or maybe because of) releasing a hifalutin album like Emily’s that’s been getting laurels heaped on it like wood on a fire, it’s little wonder that Spalding seems to be suffering from that age old plight of the popular musician: taking herself way too fucking seriously. Under the guise of a prophet or a sage or a savior or something else like that, Spalding turned what could’ve been a showcase of her downright excellent music into an overwrought mish-mosh of histrionics, bad ideas, philosophizing and pretension.
In the two years since I first saw Real Estate play The Haunt, I have done a lot in the way of growing up. In 2014, I was a naïve sophomore with a head full of possibilities and uncertainties. Now I am a senior with one eye toward graduation and the “real-world” beyond; probably still naïve, but much more settled in my views and plans. Real Estate, in contrast to my development, has remained fairly static. The band hasn’t released so much as a Single since 2014’s Atlas: the record which they were supporting on that previous spin through town.