Show Me The Body, Sammus Slay at The Chanticleer

Note: The reviewer arrived too late to see the opening act, What Nerve. The Chanticleer’s top floor is the perfect setting for shows that bridge the divide between performer and audience. The room has no stage and is too small for there to be much distance between the two, making it feel more like a space of shared experience than a performance with separate performers and viewers. Both Sammus and Show Me the Body made excellent use of the room’s potential; both, although in remarkably different ways, managed to make the audience feel like part of the act. Sammus, a rapper and Ithaca native who is also a graduate student at Cornell, is without a doubt one of the most exciting acts that can be seen in Ithaca.

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Spears Falls Short of Glory

Pop has changed. Over the course of the last decade or so, what was once an outlet for one-dimensional electronic ballads such as Spear’s Top 10, Toxic, has become one that allows expression of the complexities of more than simply romance, artists are expressing the intricacies of their lives. Pop has come to encompass a great deal of music as well. Suddenly, Adele, Ed Sheeran and Britney Spears are all in the same category. That being said, in many respects, the pop bar has been raised in just the last 10 years.

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TEST SPIN: Glass Animals — How To Be A Human Being

Glass Animals’ sophomore album, How To Be A Human Being, presents a bold expansion from the intimate and smooth vibes in 2014’s ZABA. The band has had a distinctive sound since they released their first EP, Leaflings, in 2012. That sound has carried with them through their second self-titled EP and first album. Unlike the cryptic lyrics on ZABA that better communicated feelings than messages, each track on this album tells a story inspired by hundreds of recorded conversations with real people that the band met on tour. These conversations were distilled into the 11 fictional characters featured on the album artwork.

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TEST SPIN: Carly Rae Jepsen — E•MO•TION: Side B

The great CRJ may be the only person in history who can give you a one-year anniversary gift made entirely of last year’s leftovers and leave you feeling blessed beyond belief. Released on August 26 almost exactly one year after the release of its first part, E•MO•TION: Side B is actually a short and sweet compilation of the songs that didn’t make the cut for the former album. It drips with simple pop and cascades into a kind of positive despair at the difficulty of relationships which culminates in the standout “Store” which — oh, oh, we need to have a chat about “Store.”

I remember not wanting to like her music when she came out with her earlier albums; they felt vapid, they had empty lyrics and a spaced-out ’90s background that felt like some selection of music chosen from a deflated volleyball. I mean, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy/Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry/Sunshine on the water that is so lovely/Sunshine almost always makes me high” is not groundbreaking lyricism; neither is “You talk so sweet and it’s dribbling like honey/It’s just one taste/I see what your tryin’ to do, oh oh, yeah yeah/It’s hot, stakes are getting higher.” But at some point I decided that there’s something in there, some strange Krabby Patty secret recipe that hits you with that dopamine and makes you crave the replay button. To be fair, the Krabby Patties weren’t cooking too well in her first Album, Tug of War.

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Not Strange At All

Chicago-based Louis The Child performed on the Arts Quad on August 26, delivering a killer set that was meant to be enjoyed by all, from the frequent festival-goers to the unsung indie-listeners. The EDM duo, comprised of Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren, stand out from the slew of emerging EDM artists with their unique blend of tropical house instrumentals and futuristic bass synths. I first heard Louis the Child perform at a basement dance club in D.C. known for its patronage of obscure, underground DJs and indie bands. They had opened for Shawn Wasabi — another notable EDM button-masher — and blew me away with their remix of “Roses” by The Chainsmokers. At the time, I knew Louis the Child was a group to keep an eye on; their approach to EDM was so fresh and diverse that of course EDM-lovers all over America would realize their genius in the upcoming months.

Kanye West performing in Indianapolis on August 25.

Kanye West’s Buffalo Dystopia

8:12 p.m.: We arrive in Buffalo. Jack bought a pass online that lets us park in a clearing under a bridge. A sign bolted to a cement support lists the rates — $75 daily maximum. It’s dark and we’re in a half-awake state from driving on Western New York backroads into fading light. 8:19 p.m.: We walk to the First Niagara Center.

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TEST SPIN: Frank Ocean — Blonde

I have a difficult time describing Frank Ocean’s music. Perhaps it’s a surreal introspection of the most morose and neurotic reactions to something tragic, like the loss of love and the painful journey that follows it. Maybe it’s a conceptual project of youthful hope and fervor in a world that is far less than ideal. Maybe it’s just sad. Regardless, Ocean’s new album Blonde is brilliant.

COURTESY OF POLYVINYL RECORDS

The Sun’s September Concerts Preview

G-Nome Project
Wednesday September 7, 9 p.m.
at the Haunt
When was the last time you went to a concert that was billed as “Israeli Livetronica?” Probably never, I’d assume. Or at least in a really, really long time. Well, if you’re interested in changing that, you should check out the music of G-Nome Project, Israel’s premier electronic band. They’ve been filling bills in their home city of Jerusalem and building a name for themselves as one of Isreal’s hottest live music acts. But don’t assume that you’ll be out of place at their show at the Haunt even if you’ve never heard of a single band from Israel: G-Nome wants you to be rest assured that fans from any anywhere and any background will be at home among the good vibes and hardcore dance moves at any one of their concerts.

COURTESY OF JOY VOID

TEST SPIN: Katie Dey — Flood Network

Who the fuck is Katie Dey stealing from? I’m scratching my head and listening to Flood Network over and over and over again, but I just can’t figure it out. At first glance it seems like there’s no way an album so steeped in internet culture, electronic beats and that post-ironic brand of savvy melancholia which has come to define bedroom maestros the world over could possibly have sprung into itself sounding so brashly little like anything else in the world. But — excepting Dey’s first EP, asdfasdf — it does. It’s an album to itself, and a remarkable, confusing, comforting, vulnerable, terrifying, difficult one at that.

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Spinning Singles: PWR BTTM, NAO

“New Hampshire” — PWR BTTM 

PWR BTTM is a pretty unilateral band. A great and unashamedly unilateral band, but one-sided all the same. Frankly, there are only so many types of sounds a guitar-drum rock duo can concoct, and it’s not like PWR BTTM, even at their best, have been bounding through any boundaries, sonically. Ugly Cherries was remarkable more for what it was (a thrashing, vulnerable paean to queerness and what it can mean in all its iterations) than for how it sounded (pwr chords and pwr vocals that both, in turn, skidded from blared to whimpered with the click of a distortion pedal). As I heard it, their last album’s noises were auxiliary, secondary to and supporting the inescapable choruses, bleeding confessionals and brash, almost gaudy humor that stood at the top of the soundpile.