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A Review of Deer Tick Live at The Haunt

Deer Tick does a pretty good job of subverting your expectations. Judging from the album cover of their first full-length album, “War Elephant,” which includes nothing less than the band members sitting on a sand dune in front of two women in bikinis holding a shotgun and an AK-47, you might not expect the mellow fingerpicked guitars that follow. Moreover, after hearing Deer Tick’s infectious blend of tender folk and rollicking roots rock, you might not expect it to be something you could mosh to. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what we did at Deer Tick’s March 3 show at The Haunt. The night began with comedian Solomon Georgio taking us through his life as an African immigrant and “professional homosexual,” interweaving narratives of childhood bullies with social commentary on racism and homophobia.

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GUEST ROOM | Has Chance the Rapper’s Chance Passed?

Not only was Acid Rap one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade, but it was a million times better than Coloring Book. For pre-Coloring Book era fans of Chance the Rapper, what I just said comes as no surprise, so allow me to be a little more radical. Coloring Book, quite frankly, fell short. Considering it is one of the most discussed pieces of music in recent years, one would expect something that sounds better. But upon further investigation, it becomes apparent what made Coloring Book so successful: Chance’s accomplishments as a humanitarian, its cost (zero), and the albums all-star cast.

Courtesy of Low Country Sound / Elektra

TEST SPIN | Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You

Sitting in Ithaca Bakery getting ready to listen to By the Way, I Forgive You, I thought back to the first time I heard Brandi Carlile during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Her song “The Story” was a major part of the musical episode in season seven and it’s been a constant in my Spotify throwback mixes since. I already associated her music with the faux cloudy Seattle of Grey’s, so I was ready to delve into the new album with my latte in hand. “The Story” showcases what folk singers and specifically Carlile do best: wrap a heartbreaking story in anthemic music. In her opening line (“All of these lines across my face / Tell you the story of who I am), Carlile makes something personal feel utterly universal.

Drake in "God's Plan"

Drake Brings ‘God’s Plan’ Down to Earth

“The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away. Don’t tell the label.”

Drake’s catchy and uplifting song, “God’s Plan,” has been his fastest to jump to top 10 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop charts and has not trickled down since. For over four weeks now, fans have been savoring this record, and many Cornellians have been bumping it on replay during fraternity parties and hikes up the slope. Drake followers were then stunned by his Instagram post last Thursday: a picture of a clapperboard with the caption “The most important thing I have ever done in my career…”

He did something a little different this time around.

Courtesy of Matador

TEST SPIN | Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

“You gotta listen to Twin Fantasy!” urged my friend to me at about the same time that Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 Teens of Denial was prompting me to reconsider whether rock was actually dead. I knew lead singer and songwriter Will Toledo had already released a whopping 12 albums under the Car Seat moniker before signing with Matador Records, but after watching Toledo shriek out “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a toy drum set to accompany him in what must be the shrillest Tiny Desk Concert to date, I struggled to believe that his work could get any more lo-fi. When I did finally endeavor into Toledo’s 2011 homemade opus Twin Fantasy, I was torn. While I could recognize the gumption of a kid who self recorded 10 minute rock n’ roll epics about his depression and somehow had the talent to make it all sound convincing, I struggled to plod my way through the blown-out vocals and macgyvered production to find something that resonated with me. Eventually, after several more dogged listens, I finally accepted defeat and admitted to myself that I just couldn’t get into Twin Fantasy.

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SWAN | The Collective Anxiety on Little Dark Age

Last week, MGMT released Little Dark Age, the duo’s fourth studio album. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to much of MGMT beyond their hits from last decade like “Kids” or “Electric Feel,” but nevertheless I really enjoyed listening to Little Dark Age. The album appears to have received generally positive reviews, with most critics asserting that Little Dark Age is a welcome return to MGMT’s commercial-pop sound after their foray into a more experimental quality during the early 2010s. Little Dark Age is rather quick to convey a retro vibe, made apparent from the breach by songs like “She Works Out Too Much,” “Little Dark Age,” and “When You Die.” MGMT seems to have pulled from the vernacular of 1980s pop music, with warm, analog synthesizer tracks on essentially every piece of the album. “Little Dark Age” the lead sample from the album which was actually released back in October, contains a machinated drum beat and near monotonic vocal track, both of which bring “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats to mind.

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SPINNING SINGLES: Kurt Riley, “Love is in My Heart”

Kurt Riley ’16  just released a new single for Valentine’s Day. “Love is in My Heart” represents the importance of love to Riley, as well as his musical inspirations. Riley’s performances feature bright letters spelling out his name, which is very similar to the way that The Killers — one of his biggest musical inspirations — tend to put a K on the stage when they perform. Additionally, just as The Killers do on holiday season, Riley has released a single today. However, this does not mean that Riley is simply following what The Killers do.

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TEST SPIN | AWOLNATION — Here Come the Runts

I was fortunate enough to discover AWOLNATION early, and I continued to listen until their first album, Megalithic Symphony, caught the attention of the masses. With this, I abandoned them out of pretentious spite. Years later, I am happy to say that Aaron Bruno and company haven’t lost their ability to create unique, genre-noncomforming music. If AWOLNATION was a lesser band, they may have simply tried to recreate the sound and success of their smash-hit “Sail.” However, Here Come the Runts sees Bruno dramatically shift his instrumentation, following in the footsteps of ’80s-era rockers. This is echoed in the album’s thematic focus — Bruno’s “runts” are the successors to Springsteen’s working-class Americans, those that are pushing on despite the stress and struggle of modern America.

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WVBR to Bring Alternative Music to Ithaca

WVBR 93.5 FM Ithaca’s “real rock radio” is out and “Ithaca’s Alternative” is in. This change of genre for the independent, Cornell student-run radio station comes after increasing confusion as to what constitutes “real rock.” In the recent years, the station has failed to focus its efforts on any particular decade or subgenre, leading to a lack of consistency within their sound. With the new alternative format, the station will play songs from the ’90s, classic alternative if you will, to the present. Under the genre of alternative, artists like Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Cold War Kids and Tame Impala coexist with only one thing to bind them: a willingness to experiment with non-traditional sounds and stage antics. What is most interesting about this is that the station is trying to escape an unfocused format by switching to an incredibly broad format.