TEST SPIN | 6LACK – East Atlanta Love Letter

East Atlanta Love Letter is exactly what it’s called — a letter. Not an email, text or DM. 6LACK’s sophomore album works to escape from what he deems love has become. He brings us back some decades, even inviting fans to an authentic drive-thru album release event. In this new project, which he tells took over two years to complete, 6LACK steps away from the kind of subject matter that we find in mainstream rap.

Courtesy of Interscope

TEST SPIN | Machine Gun Kelly – BINGE

In the midst of a beef with the best-selling rapper of all time, Cleveland native Machine Gun Kelly figured now would be the opportune moment to release a nine-track EP, entitled BINGE. He should have taken some more time. The project, a jumbled mess of clunky lines and off-beat rapping, is riddled with excessive drug glorification and braggadocious verses that come off more cringey than cool. If Kelly wanted to take advantage of his momentary popularity, this was not the way to do it. Machine Gun Kelly cites Eminem as an influence for his music, and any big fan wants his idol to recognize him.

Cayuga Sound Rocks Stewart Park

Last weekend marked the second annual Cayuga Sound. Lady D & Shadow Spirits and Sofi Tukker kicked off the first night of action from Stewart Park. While both acts performed some of their more well-known selections and energized the crowd, their sets were limited by the threat of thunderstorms and relatively small audience. As it got closer to 7 p.m., Dan Smalls ’92 of DSP Shows, the company which organizes Cayuga Sound and most other concert events in Ithaca, came on to the stage to introduce Young the Giant and to let festivalgoers know of the impending bad weather. “We’re hoping to give you all an hour of music,” Smalls said before turning the mic over to Friday night’s headliners Young the Giant.

Courtesy of Cayuga Chamber Orchestra

Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Kicks Off New Season

The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra’s (CCO) performance at Ithaca College’s Ford Hall on Friday, September 21st, was aptly titled “A Heroic Beginning.” The orchestra began its 42nd concert season with a delightful evening featuring the overture to Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and Ludwig van Beethoven’s classic Symphony No. 3 with guest pianist Prof. Miri Yampolsky, music. A staple in the city of Ithaca, the CCO has been a premier institution of classical music performance since 1976. Opening the evening’s concert was the energetic overture of the renowned opera “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which first premiered in 1762 in Vienna. The piece is based on a Greek myth in which Orpheus makes a deal with the god of the underworld to resurrect his dead wife, but only if he can walk in front of her out of hell without looking back.

Courtesy of Noname

TEST SPIN | Noname – Room 25

Hailing from the same Chicago music scene as other prominent artists such as Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and Saba, Noname shines with an album that may be the best of all. Initially known for her verses on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and her own mixtape Telefone, which has gained a cult following, Room 25 shows Noname cementing her name among some of the best lyricists in rap music today. “Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?” Noname spits on “Self,” the opening track for the album, before reminding us that she’s at the top of her game. Tracks like “Montego Bae” hammer this point home as she flows with a cadence that seems to duel the drum beat of her track. Even more unique than her flow throughout the album is her ability to craft narratives.

Homecoming 2018: A Tale of Two Acts

Whenever someone asks me if homecoming weekend is fun, I say, “It’s overrated. If you have work to do, just do that instead. It happens every year and you won’t miss much.” While I skipped all other homecoming activities this weekend, the only one I thought was worth getting out of bed for was the concert — and not just because I had a free ticket. Back when the lineup was announced for the homecoming concert, I could not believe that Cornell students chose CupcakKe to headline such an important event. CupcakKe is a female rapper from Chicago and her sexual, vulgar lyrics are unlike anything else (perhaps her most popular song is called “Deepthroat”).

Courtesy of Capitol Records

TEST SPIN | Paul McCartney – Egypt Station

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most greatest musicians of all time. From his Beatles years to his successful Wings albums and James Bond theme songs, his music choices have almost always been varied and bold. In recent years, however, McCartney’s albums have not carried the same interest and uniqueness as some of his earlier solo work, and not even close to that of his Beatles hits. His new album, Egypt Station, released earlier this month, is filled with delightful songs, many of which flow with a sense of familiarity as keen listeners can hear similarities that fall somewhere between Beatles’ hits and McCartney’s early solo discography. On Egypt Station, when the standout songs work, it is amazing — McCartney highlights his skills as both a descriptive lyricist who allows audiences an intimate look into his life, and as a one of a kind musician able to blend genres and instruments with ease.

Courtesy of Myles Cameron

Myles Cameron Is Bringing His Melting Pot of Music to The Haunt

The Cayuga Sound Friday After Party, co-sponsored by Ithaca Underground, promises to be a thrilling night at The Haunt tomorrow, September 21st, with a lineup including Elucid, Space Clubs, Lazy Bones and Myles Cameron. At just 21 years, the final artist on that list is already making waves. His most popular song, “Caged Bird,” has nearly 600,000 plays on Spotify. With a self-described genre of a melting pot, drawing from pop, R&B, hip hop, and indie-electronic, his beats are calm and his lyrics rhythmic. Looking at this trending song, one can easily see the poetic tendencies in his writing.

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Cayuga Sound Grows to Two Days of Music in Stewart Park

The first annual installment of Cayuga Sound saw both X Ambassadors and The Roots headline. But while this past year has certainly been a busy one for X Ambassadors — as the band has been hard at work on their second major record which Sam Harris, X Ambassadors frontman, described to me as constantly in flux but “expected to be completed sometime in 2019” — they have grown their festival to include a second night of action in Stewart Park. This year’s ticket includes acts such as Young the Giant, who rose to stardom through singles like “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” Talib Kweli, Towkio and dance duo Matt and Kim. Harris described the process in curating this year’s festival in a recent interview with The Sun:

“Honestly, we really just kind of reached out to [this year’s] artists blindly. We didn’t really have any prior relationship with any of them.

X Ambassadors performs at the inaugural Cayuga Sound festival at Stewart Park, September 23rd, 2017.)

Music, Ithaca, Activism: A Conversation with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors

If there’s anything we learned from last year’s Cayuga Sound Festival, it’s that X Ambassadors are more than just a band. They are expert showmen, skilled curators and philanthropists:  home-town-heroes in every sense. Cayuga Sound began last year as X Ambassadors’ homage to their roots and is hosted in Stewart Park — a place Sam Harris, the frontman of X Ambassadors, says holds tremendous sentimental value. “I was a camp counselor at Stewart Park Day Camp … it was a place where I would go to play soccer as a kid,” he described. He continued on to discuss how he “has a very deep emotional connection with the park” and how “it is insane to be able to put a festival on there.”

Harris notes that as a kid he “just wanted to get out” of Ithaca.