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SUN SONGS: 9/22/17

This week’s playlist features music by The Killers, BTS, Cristobal and the Sea, Sleeping with Sirens and more. One of America’s best rock bands, The Killers, released their last album, Battle Born, five years ago. Now they’re back with wonderful, mature new album Wonderful Wonderful. It’s almost as if The Killers grew old and are now everyone’s cool parents that continue to play music everyone enjoys. K-pop boy band BTS’s fresh new album Love Yourself: Her is a beautifully crafted love letter to fans and currently holds the title of top album on Apple Music.

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TEST SPIN: Chance The Rapper & Jeremih — Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama

A holiday wishlist in 2016 is a strange concept, and I’ve found mine filled mostly with things that I don’t want. In no particular order: I don’t want any more surprise election outcomes, I don’t want music and film icons to continue dying in such quick succession and I don’t want to walk into another store that’s playing Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I should have known that what I really wanted — what we all wanted — was a Christmas mixtape from Chance The Rapper and Jeremih. The surprise project arrives as a much-needed dose of relief, in particular for those faithful to the Church of Kanye West left rudderless by their leader’s newfound bromance. Last holiday season, I wrote a column on the sacred tradition of Christmas-themed rap songs, a small but undeniable canon that originated with Run-DMC’s classic “Christmas in Hollis” (which, not coincidentally, Chance parodied on last week’s SNL). In one fell swoop, Chance and Jeremih have nearly doubled the size of that canon, contributing nine original songs in a project more cohesive than it has any right to be.

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TEST SPIN: Childish Gambino — Awaken, My Love!

This isn’t what we expected. Maybe if you attended Donald Glover’s PHAROS concert, or if you took him seriously when he said that this project would be completely different, you weren’t caught off guard. Though, for most of the casual listeners, the switch from hip-hop to soul/funk/R&B is an unprecedented move. Being that Paper Boi, a central character on Glover’s his hit television show, Atlanta, produced rap music, it seemed that Glover himself would continue on this path. Nevertheless, the decision to switch from his original genre didn’t result in a flop; rather, “Awaken, My Love!” is a masterful collection of Childish Gambino’s premier work.

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The Sun’s Top 10 Songs of 2016

In a great year for rap, hip-hop and emo, The Daily Sun’s Arts & Entertainment writers came together to name the 10 best songs of the year. 

10. “(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)” — Car Seat Headrest 

Steve Jobs once said that hallucinogens reveal another side to reality, but in “Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School” — written about an acid trip taken by Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo — the revelations aren’t so pleasant. On acid, Toledo sees himself and his friends as “filthy people,” hedonistic pleasure-seekers with no meaning or purpose. Good thing the song is so fun. The band’s album, Teens of Denial, builds huge, operatic epics from the building blocks of indie rock, and “Joe” is a perfect example, a seven-minute journey that begins with Toledo strumming an acoustic guitar and develops into a foot-stomping breakdown.

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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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Spinning Singles: Pusha T, “H.G.T.V.”

Rap’s John Grisham, El Presidenté, Blowbama — these are just a few of the titles that Virginia rapper Pusha T appoints to himself on his latest single, “H.G.T.V.” Those last two, in particular, feel like a coronation years in the making for the 39 year-old MC, who just last year became president of Kanye West’s label, G.O.O.D. Music. Braggadocio and cocaine puns have anchored Push’s brand of rags-to-riches lyricism since at least the early 2000s, when he first garnered widespread attention as one half of Clipse — the now defunct rap duo formed with his older brother. But unlike his contemporaries from that era, the rapper born Terrence Thornton has only gotten better with age, showing time and again his ability to work with this week’s in-demand producers while making music that is distinctly his own. “H.G.T.V.” continues that hot streak, condensing plenty of quotable Push-isms into a single verse over menacing, bass-heavy production. Last year’s Darkest Before Dawn featured some of the weirdest beats on a major label rap album in recent memory, with known quantities like Timbaland mining for left-field samples to operate in Push’s gleefully menacing orbit.

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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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JONES | Venison and Numerology: The Stories of Bon Iver

Sometimes, the story behind an album eats up the album itself. The legend is that 25-year-old Justin Vernon, graduate of the University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire with a degree in religious studies, had hit a rough patch. Tortured by the unfulfilled yearning of his hungry, wild heart, he retreated to a cabin in Wisconsin to commune with the gods of young white male pain. Alone in the snow, he crafted out of the forge of his soul a collection of songs of such tender, fragile beauty that they didn’t even need discernible lyrics to make you cry. The resulting album, For Emma, Forever Ago, quickly helped define a growing scene of bearded, flannel-wearing, woodsy/folksy/strumming singer-songwriter hipsters, a movement that vaguely championed a return to nature and natural instruments.