“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There has always been a certain magic to Girlpool. The bond that duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker share is unlike any other. Girlpool stands out due to their lack of a drummer: Cleo’s guitar chords and picking fit perfectly with Harmony’s bass — or vice versa when they trade off. Their vocal styles also seem to have been made for each other and are instantly identifiable. Their music was perfect already without a drummer.
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday evening and opened with an appearance by Kendrick Lamar. His performance consisted of a medley with songs like “DNA.” and “XXX.” from Damn. and “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack. To accurately describe his performance in words would ultimately futile — though I will briefly attempt to do it anyway. I encourage you to check it out.
For a generation who practically grew up on the internet, the age-old American adage of “Do It Yourself” has never loomed so tantalizingly close overhead. Want to make a music video for Youtube? Do it yourself. Want to organize a rally on Facebook? Do it yourself.
In January of 2017 Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, gave a shout out to three of music’s hottest on-the-rise M.C.s: Quavo, Offset and Takeoff. Together they formed the group Migos. A few days after Glover’s mention of the trio, Migos dropped the album Culture, which quickly reached critical acclaim. From there, Migos saw a successful summer, playing on a massive tour with Future and making several festival appearances. In the midst of their busy summer, Offset dropped a major bomb: the announcement of Culture II.