TEST SPIN | Daniel Caesar – Freudian

As I walked across the arts quad on a nippy Tuesday evening, I began to hear vibrations that resonated with the current zeitgeist of my soul. To love, to lose, to suffer, to love again. Toronto R&B singer Daniel Caesar’s debut studio album Freudian gives artistic form to that central pillar of being human. The album consists of 10 tracks, making it his first full length work. It was released on Aug.


TEST SPIN | Foo Fighters — Concrete and Gold

In the world of modern rock and roll, one group has reigned supreme for the better part of this millennium: Foo Fighters. The group was founded by Dave Grohl in 1994 as a solo project following the separation of Nirvana on account of Kurt Cobain’s passing. And with the help of guitarist Pat Smear and drummer Taylor Hawkins, Grohl has brought Foo Fighters to critical acclaim and mass popularity. Throughout the years, Foo Fighters have had numerous top singles, including the David-Letterman-endorsed “Everlong,” along with several world tours and major festival headlining spots. They even were able to command an audience at this years BottleRock Festival despite festival organizers pulling the plug on the sound during the end of their set.


TEST SPIN: BTS — Love Yourself: Her

Back in May, K-Pop boy band BTS (Beyond the Scene in English, 방탄소년단 in Korean) made a huge splash in America when they won the Billboard Social Artist award with a total of over 321 million votes, while runner-up Justin Bieber garnered only 23 million. K-Pop has never been a part of mainstream music, but shortly after the Billboard Music Awards, BTS became a nationwide sensation and artists like the Chainsmokers, Halsey, Steve Aoki and more wanted to meet them after finding out how successful their music is. Each BTS album follows a theme and their music videos never fail to accrue millions of views within hours. Every tweet by BTS receives hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets. I have come to understand that this is due to the amount of passion the group puts into their music and fans.


TEST SPIN: Kitty — Miami Garden Club

Miami Garden Club is the kind of album that makes you want to wake up at 2 p.m. and spend the rest of the day playing Animal Crossing and taking selfies in your Calvin Klein underwear. Kitty’s been laying the groundwork for such an album for a while. In her earlier tracks, the Daytona Beach-based rapper mixed goofiness and sadness with occasional glimpses of stark honesty. She’s at her most evocative dropping lines like, “You apologize to me when I see you do a line, but like/I’m open-minded and it’s fine/I don’t do that shit but I don’t really mind it.” But with tracks like “Give Me Scabies” and “Ay Shawty: THE SHREKONING, ” Kitty long fronted her tumblr tongue-in-cheek detachment over her vulnerability. I first fell in love with Kitty’s “Florida.” Over a shimmering beat by Hot Sugar, Kitty spins out emo hometown angst.


TEST SPIN | LCD Soundsystem — American Dream

It has been nearly two years since the reformation of LCD Soundsystem, the Brooklyn-based dance-punk band led by James Murphy, critically- and commercially-rewarded for their searching, yet funny, lyrics and dense, mesmerizing beats. After announcing their return in the wake of a five-year hiatus begun by an aggressively-momentous farewell concert at Madison Square Garden, Murphy and his outfit quickly announced a series of high-profile festival appearances, including headlining Coachella, and also announced that a new album was in the works. A lot of time has now passed since the album was promised. At an LCD Soundsystem concert I went to in June in their Brooklyn backyard, I couldn’t help but sense an increasing collective impatience among fans — especially after LCD had made such a fuss in 2011 about their dissolution being permanent. As much as we may gladly re-experience the somber, yet danceable, melancholy of LCD’s greatest triumphs – Sound of Silver (2007) and This is Happening (2010) – a lot has happened in seven years.


TEST SPIN: Iron & Wine — Beast Epic

Music critics (often) fall into two traps. The first is comparison. Lacking a way to describe lyrics, songwriting, production and so on, critics get tempted to compare. We write about how a musician conforms to or subverts their genre. We provide a catalog of suggested listening, a list of similar musicians.


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.


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.


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.