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TEST SPIN: Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed — Magic & Bird

I have to confess: I know little to nothing about basketball. For the longest time, I thought James Harden was the best defensive player in the NBA, and believed Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan were the same person till the former passed away. Yet despite my ignorance, when I heard that after a few years hiatus, rappers Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed would get off the bench and enter back into the rap game by releasing a joint basketball-themed project, I was intrigued. Basketball and hip-hop both thrive on competition and require collaboration, and while many rap songs have explored this connection, from J. Cole’s “I Got It” to Post Malone’s “White Iverson,” none have been able to do it quite like Mineo and Wordsplayed (John Itiola) have with Magic & Bird, a mixtape that is a pinnacle of basketball-hip-hop fusion. Incorporating ingenious wordplay over infectious trap beats, this fast-paced project is a tonal Valhalla.

Sun Sessions with SadoSan

Sun Sessions with SadoSan

SadoSan attempts to do something with his music that more than a handful of artists have aimed at, but which not all that many can claim to have actually accomplished: build something big and brilliant and smart and meaningful off of foundations that couldn’t be much humbler… awkward parties (“Should’ve Known Me”), dusty samples (Ikpeazu), cringeworthy interactions (this very video), and the like. What Sado gives us here in his Sun Session is just a sliver of that ethos: “‘Know Know’ is about dating in NYC,” he says, “and more specifically how it can be when you end up in an intense situation with someone whom you don’t know very well. Sometimes it can be hard to express to someone — especially right to their face — that you just want them to leave.” That’s it.

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TEST SPIN: Logic — Everybody

Concept albums are often a substantial sacrifice to commercial success. If an artist’s impulse to explore a certain idea outweighs their desire to make simpler songs with less context, that are a better fit for their brand, the album may not grab the popularity that a less complex album could have. For some people, the idea and passion that ties a project together may be enough to excuse a lesser quality of music. For others, having an exceptional concept isn’t enough to uphold an otherwise lackluster album. Logic’s Everybody, his third studio album and his seventh musical project released in the past seven years, should be enough to satisfy, if not please, both sides.

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Sun Sessions with West End China Shop

West End China Shop is a shabby rock outfit comprised of four self described “basement dads.” They play garage rock tunes with plenty of keyboard, for the kids and no one else. Drums: Jonny Collazo, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Bass: Stephen Meisel, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Keys: Franklin Ellis, CALS, Development Sociology/ IARD, Class of 2019
Vox/ Guitar: J. Benjamin Montaño, Arts and Sciences, Gov’t /Comparative Literature, Class of 2019

Set List
“Courtyard”

Instagram: @westendchinashop
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/WestEndChinaShop/

Credits
Videographers: LeeAnn Marcello
Video Editor: LeeAnn Marcello
Audio Engineer: TJ Hurd
In collaboration with Electric Buffalo Records and Fanclub Collective

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Live Sufjan Stevens Gives Song New Life: Should Have Known Better on Carrie & Lowell Live

Just last week, singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens unexpectedly dropped a live version of his seventh album, Carrie & Lowell. After having relentlessly poured over the contents of that haunting, minimalistic tour-de-force all of two years ago – has it really been that long? – the sudden reincarnation of what is arguably Stevens’ greatest album invites loyal fans to re-examine the differences in cadence, nuance and theme that inevitably arise from hearing recorded familiarities performed live. But as much as I’d like to provide an exhaustive critique of the entire live album, one song in particular stands out for being both more potent than its studio counterpart, yet confidently similar in style. “Should Have Known Better,” Carrie & Lowell’s third track, was never my favorite of the original release, but when performed live, its thematic density becomes astoundingly apparent.

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TEST SPIN: Gorillaz — Humanz

There are few things more complex and engaging than a virtual band in the era of technology and the internet. British virtual band Gorillaz, created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, has been around since 1998. Since then, the band and technology have been pushing forward rapidly. The four members — 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel — are not meant to be a normal band. They have an unusual dynamic, and as Russel described in a recent Skype interview, their “history is a dirty, shallow lake, clogged up with grievances, grudges, decomposing bodies.” Indeed, for 2010 album Plastic Beach, Murdoc kidnapped 2D and forced him to make the album with him.

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Barenaked Ladies put on Enthusiastic and Entertaining Show at The State

The Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies played at Ithaca’s State Theatre Sunday night and delivered an incredibly upbeat and engaging performance. The group is known best for singles like “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and “If I Had $1000000,” but every song they played was filled with passion. Alan Doyle and his band, who blend folk and rock, opened for the group. Doyle was an excellent frontman who engaged the audience, even though most did not know the lyrics to his songs. Singer and fiddler Kendel Carson was an especially impressive member of the band, dancing around the stage while playing flawlessly.

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TEST SPIN: Kurt Riley — Tabula Rasa

Kurt Riley ’16 is, first and foremost, an optimist. Riley’s imaginative blend of rock, blues and theatricality always gazes forward, hoping for a more enthusiastic and less cynical future. While Riley took on the persona of an alien king to critique humanity from the outside on his 2016 release Kismet, Riley and his band have come back to earth on 2017’s Tabula Rasa. With his distinctive style of “21st century rock,” Riley turns to problems that have been all too pertinent throughout the past few years: a sense of helplessness in a massive political system, a news cycle filled with depressing stories and growing malaise. Yet, Tabula Rasa, with all of its forward-looking anthems, begins on a decidedly somber note.

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TEST SPIN: Ulver — The Assassination of Julius Caesar

“The most hunted/Body of the modern age/Flowers crown her head/Ancient goddess of the moon”

So purrs lead vocalist Kristoffer Rygg on “Nemoralia”, the opening track of The Assassination of Julius Caesar. The track is named after the Roman festival celebrating the goddess Diana, syncretized here with Diana, Princess of Wales. The contrast of Princess Di’s famously untimely demise with the ancient immortality of the gods creates a troubling contradiction – if celebrities are our new deities, what does it mean that those we have imbued with godhood also die? Ulver, a Norwegian experimental band whose genre-defying catalog has ranged from black metal to electronica and even opera, has declared their latest to be their “pop album.” Indeed the eight tracks which compose The Assassination of Julius Caesar have an immediate appeal akin to pop, a pulsating, polished immediacy given menacing depth, a more baroque version of the glamorous anguish found in the music of popular artists such as, say, Rihanna or Drake. The Assassination is as immersive and intense, each song a perfectly realized expression rich in aural detail.

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Spinning Singles: Lana Del Rey, “Lust For Life”

Lana Del Rey’s new song “Lust For Life” debuted on BBC1 on April 19.   The song is the titular track off her upcoming album. It features rich vocals and a collaboration between Lana and the singer Abel Tesfaye of The Weeknd. The track opens with Lana Del Rey’s seductively saying “Climb up the H of the Hollywood sign, in these stolen moments, the world is mine.”  These sultry lyrics are followed by “we’re the  masters of our own fate.”  Lana’s vocals proved to be just as mellifluous as usual, and her performance gave off similar vibes to her first album Born to Die.  

I felt that the collaboration between Lana Del Rey and Abel Tesfaye was disappointing.