Jamila Woods performs in Risley Dining on Saturday night. (Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor)

Healers and Protesters: Jamila Woods, SadoSan and Paulitics

Even before Jamila Woods stepped on stage, you could tell it was going to be an incredible night. At first, the Risley dining hall seemed too stiff of a venue for a show that celebrated black artists as healers and protesters (after all, the room is modeled after the Christ Church Refractory at Oxford), but openers Paulitics and SadoSan brought energetic and fun tracks that made the somber portrait of A.D. White peering over their shoulders appear ridiculously irrelevant. Paulitics — Cornell’s own Paul Russell ’19 — blended hip hop and indie rhythms for the perfect intersection of jumping and chill. Dancing without restrain across the stage, Paulitics basked in the fun absurdity of his songs and got the crowd moving. From “college is exploration with ecstasy in between” on his opening song “Hotels” to “I’m falling sideways / I guess that’s all I ever do” on the aptly-titled “Youth,” his lyrics embrace and surrender to the emotional precarity of young-adult lives.

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Gorillaz is Back and It Feels Good

Yesterday may have been cloudy, rainy, windy and overall depressing, but Gorillaz came through and released four new songs. I’ve been a fan of British virtual band Gorillaz since the early 2000s. I would jam to “Clint Eastwood” when I was in elementary school (I was the coolest, edgiest third-grader in my day), rapped along to “Feel Good Inc” and when every high school crush rejected me, “On Melancholy Hill” healed me. Creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett not only created the members 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel, but they gave these characters a story and world of their own, which they have shared with us through music and animation. Since then, I have eagerly dropped whatever I was doing to listen to any new songs when they’re released.

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Blind Spots and Bottom Boys: A Night of Eclectic Rock

It was St. Patrick’s day and the Haunt is a bar, so there was a crowd. I suspect the two acts performing helped attendance. The Ithaca Bottom Boys were already on stage when I got in, and people were clearly digging their music. The dance floor was packed, but since the Haunt has like three chairs in the entire building, this was not surprising.

Music Department Presents “Song of the Land: Poems of Ishion Hutchinson”

Barnes Hall was packed for “Song of the Land: Poems of Ishion Hutchinson,” a performance presented by the Music Department that put Hutchinson’s poetry to compositions by graduate student composers. The performance presented a fusion of the old and the new, incorporating multiple forms of art to deliver a powerful concert. Guest artist Rachel Calloway, a mezzo soprano, sang a dramatic reading that conveyed the emotion communicated in the performance, and did so in a way that drew the audience in to share in the experience with her.  This innovative project brought the respective virtues of literature and music into a symbiotic relationship that managed to showcase both the artistry of the music and the postmodern themes of Hutchinson’s poetry. The English department’s Ishion Hutchinson writes narrative poetry that investigates colonialism through his depictions of landscape and the emotional weight of colonial history.

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TEST SPIN: Drake — More Life

Imagine that the More Life playlist is your first exposure to Drake. What sort of artist would he appear to be? With plenty of Afro-Carribean beats, lots of bare bone bangers and a handful of thoughtful verses, Drake seems to be reinventing himself once again.
The playlist is great not only for its music, but for what it symbolizes about Drake’s career moving forward.

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TEST SPIN: Depeche Mode — Spirit

I knew pop music reached a turning point when Depeche Mode released their single “Where’s the Revolution” and Katy Perry followed, a week later, by releasing “Chained to the Rhythm.” Ever since the presidential election, everyone became “woke,” including artists. I expected Katy Perry to buy into this, but not Depeche Mode. “Where’s the Revolution” left me hoping for something less industrial and more like the band’s trademark upbeat synth sounds. I had high expectations for Spirit and, sadly, they were not met. Rather than continuing to make thoughtful, soul-searching soundtracks, Depeche Mode bought into the rising “Purposeful” or “woke” pop act.

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TEST SPIN: Pitbull — Climate Change

Well-worn but never quite worn out, Pitbull classics like “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” and “Hotel Room Service” are always a go-to for playlists if you want a song everyone can sing along to. He’s been around for a while now, having released his first album M.I.A.M.I. in 2004 and been on an up and up trajectory with many collaborations with big-name artists. In Climate Change, released Friday, Pitbull has (once again) gathered artists like Enrique Iglesias, Robin Thicke, J-Lo and Kiesza to do a lot of the heavy lifting in most of his tracks with their vocals.

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SWAN | Chuck Berry and the Things We Ignore

MUSIC 1101, Elements of Music, begins with a rather thorough discussion of the Voyager Golden Records. Each record contains a somewhat lengthy selection of music, which was compiled in 1977, by a committee chaired by Cornell’s Carl Sagan, then professor of space sciences. Of course, this spurs the musicological debate on archival selection and canon formation. Is it even remotely fair that an American professor, grounded in Western culture, is in charge of leading the effort to select music representing societies of the entire world? The final lineup is indeed unjustly skewed towards the inclusion of Western musical examples and traditions.

The Adam Ezra Group Fills an Empty Haunt

The long and short of the Adam Ezra Group’s concert at the Haunt is that it was a great show that no one really went to. Ten or so fans and at least a few people who came for drinks or dinner contributed to the overall sparse feel of the venue. Somehow they still ran out of chairs and stools. I suppose you’re supposed to dance, but the only people on the floor were a middle aged man and a girl I hope was his daughter. It almost seemed like the Group was trying to compensate for the emptiness of the bar with the fullness of its roots rock sound.

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TEST SPIN: Greg Graffin — Millport

In elementary school, running into your teacher outside of school was like watching your favorite television character walk right out of the screen. Our grade school teachers only existed in construction paper covered classrooms, between cursive writing lessons and popcorn reading. As we’ve grown, of course, it’s easier to see that teachers have lives too. They wait with us in line at Temple of Zeus; they peek at their phones during discussion. But Greg Graffin, a professor of evolution this past fall semester and former PhD student at Cornell University, forges new boundaries for the teacher-form.