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TEST SPIN | We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

The last time A Tribe Called Quest released an album was 18 years ago, when I was just learning to crawl. Now, they have released their much anticipated sixth and final album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. The quartet consisting of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White began work on the album earlier this year in secret after Q-tip and Phife repaired long standing damage to their relationship. During the production of the album, Phife Dawg lost his battle with diabetes at age 45 following ongoing health issues.

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TEST SPIN: The Radio Dept. — Running Out of Love

Swedish, indie pop-rock group Radio Dept. walks the line between complacent and passionate. Their sound in Running Out of Love, released this October, mixes easy to listen to harmonies with fast paced, energetic beats and shocking lyrics. The three merge to unpack social frustrations. With an eerily calm tone, their lyrics call to mind serious issues and leave them unresolved.

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TEST SPIN: Jimmy Eat World — Integrity Blues

Jimmy Eat World’s newest release, Integrity Blues, weaves its way through nearly every subgenre of alternative in 11 songs. It’s got a little bit of progressive rock, a chunk of emo, a healthy dose of pop and a block of dark electronic. It’s diverse, well rounded and flows pretty well. It’s not completely cohesive, but moves through its different phases as gracefully as possible. The first phase is poppy and catchy.

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TEST SPIN: Leonard Cohen — You Want it Darker

For the most part, I feel that the recent clown scares across multiple states are harmless but creepy. The motivation for dressing up as a clown and, in most cases, simply loitering, confuses me. What interests me most about the whole trend is not the faux-clown’s compulsion but the “real” clown’s indignant reaction. Both characters merely dress a part. But, the “real” clown feels a right to their act and a justification in accusing their counterpart of cheapening their jolly role.

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TEST SPIN: Taking Back Sunday — Tidal Wave

There are select phrases that evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling inside of me. Among them are “Warped Tour” and “Hot Topic.” And I still wholeheartedly believe that it’s perfectly okay to long for Warped Tour and Hot Topic even in 2016. You see, there’s something about teenage angst that epitomizes nostalgia. Something comforting, even. But this same nostalgia reminds us that the heyday of pop-punk has long since passed.

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TEST SPIN: Baba Brinkman — The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos

I have a lot of admiration for music as a way of sharing information and ideas. It has the power to bring people joy and excitement, to catalyze casual or critical thinking and to incite discussion and reflection on problems. Music also teaches in a way that’s memorable and comprehensible. It has incited social and political change time and time again, and has ingrained all sorts information into minds. Because of its capacity for influencing and teaching, musicians like Baba Brinkman have tried to capture its power for education. Baba Brinkman’s 18th educational hip-hop release, The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, takes on climate change, spitting verses on everything from policy to ecology to religion.

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TEST SPIN: Danny Brown — Atrocity Exhibition

Right off the bat, I want to let you know that I’m not going to review this new record, Atrocity Exhibition by the Detroit rapper Danny Brown, objectively. Danny Brown is my favorite rapper of all time, I’m disposed to review this record positively, and it’d be dishonest to pretend otherwise. I also want to let you know that even though Danny Brown is a great, great rapper, he’s also extremely transgressive and sometimes difficult to listen to; his music is so weird that it inspires obsessive love in some while alienating many more. Accordingly, Atrocity Exhibition is as uncompromising and bizarre as it is brilliant. Danny raps in a nasal, high-pitched squeal that mimics the effects of stimulant abuse, and his music is dissonant, arrhythmic and stressful.

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TEST SPIN: Mac Miller — The Divine Feminine

This year has made it apparent that Mac Miller is trying to distance himself from Donald Trump in more ways than one. The combination of the chant he uses to get the crowd going when he performs —one of his old mainstays at concerts (“Fuck Donald Trump”) — and his new album’s tone — which is decidedly more Al Green than Beastie Boys — draws a line that he has been trying to mark out for years. Each of his albums has represented a drastic musical shift from those preceding it, and The Divine Feminine is no exception to that trend. The album opens with “Congratulations,” which features both Mac and Bilal singing. If you haven’t heard Mac sing before, you should.

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TEST SPIN: Nick Cave — Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, a “post-punk super group,” plays the kind of music that makes you want to be a roadie, a groupie, a super fan. They sound like an older, alternative Adele: refreshingly soulful.  Skeleton Tree, their new album released on September 9, carries the weight of a universal conscience. Nick Cave patches together old lyrics in a new way that resonates in your ear drums, makes its way into your cerebrum and sends a cascade of interneurons down toward your heart.  Skeleton Tree is irresistible from its first echoing electric chord.

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TEST SPIN: Izzy Bizu — A Moment of Madness

Once in awhile, an artist appears who produces exactly what you were looking for. The pop music scene has been overly blessed with strong female leads, from any of Ariana Grande’s continuously multiplying tracks (I love her and Nicki Minaj, but “Side to Side” is a bit much for me to get out without wincing a bit — “wrist icicle/dick bicycle?” Really?) to any of the pure gold that Rihanna and Beyoncé rain down on us. I’d been craving someone with a bit of a different sound for a while and around last spring ran into Izzy Bizu’s “White Tiger,” off her 2013 EP Coolbeanz. This track is liquid happiness and believe me, it makes a much better alarm then your AT&T default track “Spring Morning.” With a minimal rhythm of piano and percussion by her side throughout, it feels about as wholesome as watching How to Train your Dragon with your grandma (which is a 10/10 would recommend, by the way). It’s clean in lyrics and in production, it’s light, it’s substantial and it leaves you feeling the same as the track comes to a close.