Almost one year ago, Homeboy Sandman played to a crowd of about 30 students in Armstrong Theater. The passion that he performed with was commendable seeing as he was playing to a measly crowd of college students on a Friday night in Colorado Springs, CO. The rapper, who hails from New York City, has made a living on his understated and poignant raps. In “God,” the MC creates a friendly image of God in his distinctive poetic flow. “God gives me dreams / God gives me bed bugs / The big and the small God gives it all.” The world of “underground” hip-hop is a curious thing and I hope that Stones Throw Records can continue to expose Homeboy Sandman to a bigger audience, because the man has something to say.
Fourth week, tuesday night. The most savage night of the most savage of weeks. Coming to you from the fishbowl, downing coffee, writing an essay on this band, Talk Talk. Dare I say one of my favorite bands. Their final two albums are utter masterpieces (Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock for the unfortunate bunch to not have these albums enter their ears), but here’s an earlier cut, one from 1984’s It’s My Life. This fine piece of synthpop seems kinda relevant, since living your life is probably hasn’t been in cards for you this week. Whether writing, studying, or swirling about in a downward spiral of anxiety and despair, power through it. It’s your life, don’t you forget. And if you’re like me, you did fuck all the past three weeks of your life. So it goes. At the very least, listening to this song on repeat has helped me write good.
Being a Porches fan is a struggle when you’re not crazy about electronic style music. Before I discovered “Scrap and Love Songs Revisited”, an album consisting mainly of stripped down guitar tracks, I had to search around Youtube for acoustic versions of my favorite Porches songs. “Peach Pit,” a bonus track, is about as stripped down as you can get. The simple, repetitive melody and soothing acoustic guitar motif makes it feel sort of like a lullaby. But despite its sweet, childish lyrics, its tone is mature and melancholic, and at times comes off as worn down, emotionally weary. Give it a listen!
If you’re a fan of Sylvan Esso then “Breathe” by ANIMA! is definitely worth a listen. With a low-key electronic vibe in the background and strong, clear female vocals, these two artists share an uncanny resemblance. Even if you’re not a big fan of Sylvan Esso but you’re looking for a great song to write a paper to, then this is for you. Calm enough to be background music when you want it to, it still has enough depth for a great easy-listening song while putting off writing that final paper.
One joyful week this summer, two albums that I have since grown to love, and which I consider creative summits for both artists, came out : “Freetown Sound” by Blood Orange and “Wildflower” by The Avalanches. I’ve seen Blood Orange pop up quite often this year on the SoCC blog, and (in my humble opinion) with good reason. Still, I didn’t want the Avalanches’ album to be overlooked. While its lyrics may not be as emotionally/socially charged, the production value of the album is outstanding –– for proof, just listen to how intricately tens of seconds of samples are woven through most of the songs. For the Song of the Day, I chose “Subways”, the fourth song off of “Wildflower”; listen below and find out why.
Downtown Boys are a self-proclaimed “bi bilingual party from providence.” Although they released this song last year, I listen to it quite often. It’s the perfect song for a mid-day dance break. You can scream, jump up and down, and run around in circles…basically anything but the shopping cart dance move.
I have a love hate relationship with the mod pod. I love the bright orange exterior because it is so ridiculous. I hate the bright orange exterior because it is also TOO much to look at most days. But when you spend 16+ hours in the mod pod in a single day during fourth week because the library is closed, you just need some good music to listen to. Below is your very own mod pod playlist for block 2. Enjoy!
“Making Breakfast” by Twin Peaks
Besides my blatant affinity towards punk rock bands, I am also quite sick of the classic “all male identified rock band because it’s cool and hip” vibe that has been a constant trend since forever. Nevertheless, this song is an exception to my feelings towards these bands. I love how this song builds up in volume. It’s a perfect song to begin your trek to the mod pod to, where you will inevitably do your homework, an activity that most are not fond of.
“Healthy Punk” by Chastity Belt
This is a fantastic song to bike, walk, or listen to while strolling into the mod pod. 10/10 would recommend. The tempo also makes you feel like a badass. You know?
“Coat of Shellac” by Ava Luna
This song gives me the vibes of Courtney Barnett combined with “buckle down because you really need to do your homework now.” If there were a song written so that you would feel the need to take your notebook and reading out of your backpack, this would be it. The beat is also low key enough that you can also start the very reading you pulled out of your bag while finishing the rest of the song.
“E.V.P.” by Blood Orange
When I listen to this song, I want to get shit done. Every song on this album, Freetown Sound, is incredible. Dev Hynes is a genius and brilliant artist. So if you need a playlist longer than 20 minutes for your trip to the mod pod (which you probably do unless you’re just going for the printer), put this whole album on your queued list for the afternoon.
“Phenomenal Woman” by Laura Mvula
Ok so you’ve made it through one Blood Orange song or the entire new album and now you’re starting to get antsy but still need to finish your work. Good thing Laura Mvula exists. This song will make you want to kick ass in every way.
“Loner” by Mykki Blanco
So now you need the actual last push to finish your work. Good thing Mykki Blanco just released a new album too. This album inspires speed-reading like no other. Get out of this bright orange trailer. If you need more, the whole 13-song album is on Spotify.
“Bitch” by Lolawolf
You finished your homework and/or just decided that it was time to leave the mod pod. Congrats! You are a badass bitch. Just listen to Zoe Kravitz as you stroll out of the mod pod feeling better than ever whether you finished all of your homework or only did 5 pages of reading in 2 hours. Pay attention to the chorus. Trust me.
This might be one of the most “feel-good” songs ever recorded… but don’t take my word for it:
(While the validity of this study is highly questionable, I still think it’s a pretty damn fun song)
Radiohead’s fifth and often-overlooked album, Amnesiac, boasts a hidden gem. “Life in a Glasshouse”, one of my favorite songs, opens with a heavy, discordant piano riff that sets an anxious tone. Yorke, accompanied by horns, sings the first verse with palpable strain and exhaustion, using the metaphor of the glasshouse to communicate his struggle with the media and the maddening lack of privacy that comes with fame. If Yorke seems to be on the verge of a mental breakdown during the verse, by the chorus he sings as though he has been pushed off the edge. As the horns burst in at full volume, both his voice and his lyrics become crazed, forceful, and bitingly sarcastic. The jazzy, New Orleans-esque big band sound distinguishes this track form the rest of the album, and helps to build an emotional intensity that never fails to impact me.
It may be 10 years old but Master of None by Beach House is definitely still worth a listen. Tucked away in the middle of their eponymous debut album, this piece has stuck around, racking up the plays. With a simple yet almost harsh opening, Master of None then slides into a full-on dream pop piece, complete with the haunting vocals that have become a Beach House staple.