Dead and Company’s Epic Farewell to Cornell

When Dead and Company confirmed a few days after their mysterious post that they would, in fact, be playing a concert at Cornell this spring, the question hung in the air for students, alumni and deadheads alike: Will the 2023 concert be able to compare to the 1977 performance at Barton Hall, widely agreed to be one of the Grateful Dead’s best performances? I answer with reverence for the Grateful Dead’s musical legacy, yes.

Beach House’s Become Puts You in a Little World of Your Own 

Listening to Beach House’s new extended play feels like being underwater or alone in space, in the best way possible. It was perfectly consistent with the dream-like sound of their older music, and subverts the typical structure of a song into something new. It isn’t quite an absence of structure, but it definitely is not typical. 

The first song,“American Daughter,” has a really unique melody that clashes slightly with the instruments behind it and is very satisfying to listen to. The same simple vocal melody repeats for the first two minutes of the song, layered over synthesizer and electric guitar. There’s no clear distinction of chorus, verse or bridge.

Rowan Drake Talks Ithaca Roots and Upcoming EP

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing the banjo player of an Appalachian folk band, at one end of what the rich Ithaca music scene produces. On the other end of Ithaca’s music spectrum is Rowan Drake, a 19-year-old alternative pop artist who spoke to me about his upcoming debut EP. Rowan was born and raised here in Ithaca, NY. He released his first single “Closure” in 2020 and, since then, has garnered over 5 million likes on TikTok and 1.3 million views on YouTube. He also recently signed with Atlantic Records.

Big Red’s Next Icon: After Six

Cornell recently held its annual Big Red Icon to determine which student band will get to play on Slope Day as an opener. I spoke with Josh Sokol, the saxophonist of this year’s winning band After Six, about their musical style and what makes them unique. 

The Sun: How would you describe the type of music that After Six makes? Josh Sokol: I feel like we have a diverse style. We also change what we’re going for depending on the event, but we keep it centered around what After Six is. A mix between neo soul, funk and hip hop.

CHARI | The Concert Experience and the Value of Anticipation

This summer, I am seeing Beyonce live for the first time. 

Her upcoming Renaissance World Tour is, by far, the biggest concert I have ever been to and definitely the most expensive. RENAISSANCE was my most played album of last year, immediately becoming my favorite Beyonce album and one of my favorite albums of all time. Beyonce is known for her fantastic showmanship, and I knew that she would outdo herself for her latest tour. 

I admit, I did not do any of the work to acquire the Renaissance tickets. In fact, it was my friend who had the verified presale and that sat at the computer, pressing the exact buttons at the right time (I had class). He wanted a good seat.

XU | It’s a Lovely Day for alt-J

I have been hunting for a specific kind of lyrical, melodic, soft electronica. I went through Sufjan Steven’s The Ascension (think “Video Game”), Jamie xx, a bit of Tame Impala and lots of Joji before remembering alt-J. The British band combines elements of electronica, rock and pop to create the distinct texture of their music. I knew their most popular song, “Breezeblocks,” but I had never really listened to their albums seriously up until now. It was down this lane of rediscovery that I stumbled upon alt-J’s version of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.”

Alt-J peaked around 2015.

Below Ocean Blvd and into the Mind: Del Rey Guides Us Through Her World on Latest Album

“When you’re good, it’s gold,” Lana Del Rey reminds us on the track “Margaret” from her ninth studio album Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, released on Friday, March 24. The singer-songwriter Del Rey’s ability to convert singular, diaristic stories into beautiful folk-pop melodies — and some surprise hip-hop-influenced tracks harkening back to her Born to Die era — underwrites this proposition: When Lana is good, emotionally and spiritually, she’s gold. 

Del Rey’s early albums, too, felt like a storybook, but one that was ultimately a deliberate creation. Listeners became accustomed to her tales of  “facin’ time again at Rikers Island” in Born to Die (2012) and “dying by the hands of a foreign man” on Honeymoon (2015). Yet, since her critically acclaimed 2019 album Norman F*****g Rockwell, there has increasingly been a convergence between “Lana Del Rey” and Elizabeth (Lizzy) Grant, the real life New York-raised artist who caught fame at the dawn of the Instagram era. 

Her latest release marks their long-awaited unification. She directly addresses her now decade-long struggle of managing both the public’s and her own perception of herself on tracks such as “A&W” and “Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of my Father While He’s Deep-Sea Fishing” (yes, that’s the full title).

Slowthai’s ‘UGLY’ Is Anything But

On March 3, after a two-year wait, British rapper Slowthai finally released his third studio album UGLY, the successor to 2021’s Tyron. With its raw, introspective content and meshing of hip hop with a punk-focused sound, UGLY checks all the boxes for a hard-hitting, genre-bending record that will undoubtedly and deservedly draw critical acclaim for its ambition and emotionality. By the time Tyron dropped in early 2021, I had only vaguely heard of Slowthai from rumblings that had started from his debut album Nothing Great About Britain. That project was highly regarded right off the bat, so Tyron had a fair amount of hype behind it, which I would say it lived up to. Throughout its runtime, Tyron fairly consistently stays in the mold of a conventional, trap-influenced project, but this element of mainstream conformity doesn’t take away from it being a high-quality album.