Mikey B’s Top Five Albums & Songs of 2017

By: Mikey Bamarni


Best Albums of 2017


phoenix5. Ti Amo – Phoenix

In June of this year, I reviewed this newly released album by Phoenix; yet here we are in December and the record is still just as amazing. It’s even more incredible due to the fact that the album has vibes reminiscent of summer. The more listens you give it, the more you notice the small little details that make this 10 track tour de force so griping. It’s the ultimate indie rock band release of 2017.

 


alvvays4. Antisocialites – Alvvays

Before this year, I had never heard of Alvvays. When I did stumble upon them on the World Wide Web I instantly disliked them. Alvvays?? V’s?? Do you want to be CHVRCHES?? Their name alone made me blood red mad. Since the album artwork was particularly enticing, I decided to judge an album by its cover, and it ended up being a great call. This record is the background music to your favorite dream and most relaxing happy place. Definitely recommend that you listen now.

 


visions3. Visions of a Life – Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice have been on my radar since their debut album released in 2015. Their music sounded like it was straight from the 90’s, but with modern production and less depressing lyrics. The combination was something special. This year they released a phenomenal album. It has many standout songs and fantastically expands the sound they started to show the world two years ago.

 


The_xx_-_I_See_You2. I See You – The XX

The XX is an excellent band. They have three albums that I highly recommend giving a listen to. Their third record, which they released this year, is probably their most up-tempo release yet. It’s always interesting to see this band explore new sounds, as they always end up succeeding. You must listen to the album all the way through at least once. I See You may be the best introductory album for this group, as it’s their best yet.

 


268x0w1. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar

Everyone was stunned by the jazz and political lyrics of the 2015 Kendrick album, To Pimp a Butterfly. While it was clearly a musical masterpiece, it was a hard listen for the more mainstream rap fans to grasp. Especially for those who loved the beats and production of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, it was hard to get into the more instrumentally driven follow up.

DAMN, however, does the trick of combining the political and personal lyrics of the 2015 album with a production that is even more beat driven than M.A.A.D City. It is a journey of a record, with each track focusing on a single aspect of what Kendrick Lamar wants to discuss in 2017. This is truly a masterpiece.


Best Songs of 2017


5. GOLD – BROCKHAMPTON

When I was on Twitter one day, I noticed a lot of talk about BROCKHAMPTON. At first I thought it was a TV show, or perhaps a cool indie rock band. But, to my surprise, found out that they were a self-described rap boy-band. With this niche classification, I knew I had to be check them out. The stand-out song out of the vast amount of tracks they released in 2017 is this heavy bumping jam. With a catchy chorus and lyrical swag, this song is truly golden.


4. PRIDE – Kendrick Lamar

DAMN was a darn good album (scroll up to see my thoughts). The standout to many critics would be HUMBLE or DNA, but for me, it’s PRIDE. The song is incredible in all aspects. Musically unique and mid-tempo, the lyrics are incredibly poetic and detailed, complementing Lamar’s silky-smooth vocal delivery. It’s a fiery track worthy of your peep.


3. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles

When 1D reached its peak, I was a Zayn Malik kind of guy myself. Mostly due to our similar ethnic backgrounds and shy guy personalities. When Harry, the other arguably most talented member of the bunch, released his debut single, I didn’t have super high hopes. But, I was interested and gave it a listen. This song floored me. The incredible thing is how it’s a straight rocker, yet still reached number 3 on the Billboard 100. Harry went solo with with a huge risk, and he hit it out of the park.


2. Say Something Loving – The XX

They released this song on January 1st, and thus making it a contender for song of the year. The XX did something beautiful with this track. They made a song as infectious and catchy as it is introspective and deep. With fantastic sampling and beautifully mellow vocals, it’s a song you need to listen to before it slips away.


1. The Man – The Killers

The Killers had an epic comeback in 2017. They released their best album in about 10 years, which included the ultimate pop/rock song. With influences from the Bee Gees, David Bowie, and a sample of Kool & The Gang, it was destined for greatness. It exceeded that predicted strength. Although the lyrics may seem cocky and arrogant, a quick watch of the music video explains that the song is mocking the guy who thinks he’s the king when, in reality, he’s just a human (or maybe a dancer).


To see Mikey B’s top picks of 2016, click here.

Lit&Local with Samantha Haas (HAAS)

Local singer-songwriter Samantha Haas (HAAS) joined WGMU’s Jackie Reed in the on-air studio on Friday, December 8. From Manassas, Virginia, she’s done covers from WALK THE MOON, Harry Styles, and Lukas Graham, all while creating her own music too. Her rock and pop-alternative covers are inspired by artists like Fleetwood Mac, PVRIS, and Paramore. Haas stopped by to talk about her upbringing in music, the stories behind her songwriting, and her upcoming EP.

Interview with DJ Jackie Reed
“Never Let Me Go”
Behind “Home”
“Home”
 Follow Samantha Haas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

Jaws of Love @ DC9

Photo By (Julie Luu/WGMU).

Photo By (Julie Luu/WGMU).

By: Julie Luu

You know Local Natives and now you get to know Kelcey Ayer. Kelcey Ayer has been a key member of Local Natives since their beginnings in California but now he takes his piano and vocals to step aside from the band to stand behind Jaws of Love.

Jaws of Love. visits our nation’s capital for his first solo tour on December 6th. DC9 was the percent venue for Kelcey Ayer. The venue matched the artist and his music perfectly, allowing the fans and the artist to connect on a more intimate level.

The show’s opener was COMBAT!, an experimental electronic solo artist, Mark Nieto, also doubled as the second half of Jaws of Love. Both from the LA area, the playful and intimate banter between Kelcey and Mark kept the atmosphere light and enjoyable throughout the show.

Ayer tours his debut album titled, Tasha Sits Close to the Piano (2017), named after his and his wife’s dog. The album possess heartfelt lyrics accompanied by his unique vocals and strong piano driven ballads. There are times I would get lost in the music and grow nostalgic of Local Natives’ Hummingbird (2013). Even though that feeling is present, Ayer proves that he can stand on his own two feet as Jaws of Love. The entire album is so pure offering a look inside Ayer’s heart in a way no other musician has done before.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jaws of Love. live. Ayer embodies an essence reflected in the album and live that makes you cherish how special love is from the simple and difficult moments in life.

 

Cut Copy At 9:30 Club

By: Jackie Reed

Australian electropop band Cut Copy stopped by 9:30 Club on Wednesday, November 29. Their show was beautifully constructed; it featured a mixed bag of old and new synth tracks, an elaborate light setup, and a fan base that has clearly developed over the years.

Coming from an ill-informed music enthusiast and “blind” ear, Cut Copy put on a concert experience that truly amazed – their set was hyped up with methodical transitions, well-cued lighting, and offbeat symbolism that celebrated their most recent album, Haiku From Zero (2017).

Though their performance mainly highlighted tracks from Haiku From Zero (2017), nostalgia still beamed with classics like “Pharaohs & Pyramids” from Zonoscope (2011) and “Future” from Bright Like Neon Love (2004). Some songs were more recognizable than others, but transitions kept things interesting throughout. At points, it was even difficult to discern when a song ended and when another one began – it was like one, elongated story that Cut Copy successfully told.

Photo By (Jackie Reed/WGMU).

Photo By (Jackie Reed/WGMU).

In addition to the energetic setlist, visual elements kept gazing eyes peeled to the stage. Seeing “Free Your Mind”, the second song off of Free Your Mind (2013), was a trip to watch. It was epic beyond capacity. Strobe lights circulated the crowd and the verse “free your mind” morphed across the backdrop, dancing with intentional dysfunction. This is a prime example of how their visuals went down in correspondence with the night – contrasting black-and-white blocks, chromatic patterns, and geometric visuals palpitated the human psyche.

Overall, Cut Copy’s musical compass is a distortion of imbalanced sounds and earthly undertones. With unwavering swagger and an animated charisma, their upbeat nature and off-key style set them apart from other EDM shows.

Feature Photo By (9:30 Club/Official Website).

 

Bleachers At 9:30 Club

Photo By (Jackie Reed/WGMU).

Photo By (Jackie Reed/WGMU).

By: Jackie Reed

On Saturday, November 18, Bleachers led a sold-out show at 9:30 Club – one of the last stops of the raved Gone Now tour. Bleachers, fronted by New-Jersey based singer-songwriter Jack Antonoff, did little to disappoint. His cheerful tracklist and awkwardly infectious song breaks made for an honest and appealing concert.

The Fun. guitarist and Steel Train vocalist opened with “Dream of Mickey Mantle”, the introductory song to his most recent album, Gone Now (2017). With lights dim low, the underlying bass purring, and the red moon cascading on the blank stage curtains, the atmosphere was a mixture of angst and excitement. When the reverbed drumbeat hit, it matched the queue of the lights – and there he was. In an instant, Jack Antonoff was front and center, flaunting his bejeweled military-esque outfit – timely and the right way to set the mood.

It was completely surreal. Jack Antonoff, the songwriter behind singles of Taylor Swift’s Reputation (2017) and 1989 (2014), along with Lorde’s Melodrama (2017), made a huge impression on the audience. Acknowledging his discography and being in the presence of a mastermind was an experience within itself. His lyricism and musical arrangements were known anecdotes that made the concert unlike any other.

Of course, Antonoff used passed hits to get everyone feeling universally nostalgic. He played a cover of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “American Girl“, followed with a slower rendition of Fun.’s “Carry On“.

At one point, he spoke harshly yet comically about Chris Christie’s beach antics – alluding to Christie’s actions as risqué and a rather low representation of New Jersey’s populous.

With a mix of Bleachers’ songs both old and new – it continued to keep the energy lingering. Though there was no encore, the send-off was memorable – Bleachers ended the show with “I Wanna Get Better” and “Don’t Take The Money”.

Also, let’s mention that Antonoff took time to introduce the other bandmates – the two drum soloists, the bassist, and saxophonist. Their solos were insane! With Antonoff on the guitar, him and the saxophonist had a battle in a sense, where he would follow Antonoff’s lead. The fact that he could match those guitar chords, and go an extra step, left fangoers amazed.

Overall, the concert was a grand hit. Jack Antonoff took matters into his own hands and created a show that was built around the root of the cause, the music itself.

Read an album review on Bleacher’s Gone Now (2017) here.

Hippo Campus at 9:30 Club

By: Nick Wodzinski

Minnesota based indie-rock quartet, Hippo Campus, made their way through D.C. on November 13 during their 2017 fall tour. Known for their quick wit indie-pop and youthful sound, Hippo Campus delivered a high energy and electric performance at the 9:30 Club.

The sonics were not far from the studio version and their on stage performance was fun and thrilling. The setlist was diverse, containing tracks from their latest full-length album Landmark (2017), along with highlights from their other EPs, especially their debut, Bashful Creatures (2015). From the opening song “Way It Goes” to their encore performance of 2015’s “Violet”, Hippo Campus had the club dancing, head-banging, and screaming their lyrics. Their boyish charm combined with their indie appeal and rockin’ energy to create a highly enjoyable experience.

Remo Drive. Photo By (Connor Siedow/The Show Last Night).

Remo Drive. Photo By (Connor Siedow/The Show Last Night).

Prior to their set, another Minnesota based group, Remo Drive, took the stage. Fresh off of their debut release, Greatest Hits (2017), Remo Drive delivered some the best emo/punk-pop I’ve heard in a while. Combining elements of indie-rock with straightforward punk, this trio came through with a half an hour of solid tunes.

Although they probably won’t be back to D.C. until 2018, I would highly recommend checking out this group live if you get a chance. For now, you can enjoy Hippo Campus’ latest work, Landmark (2017), along with Remo Drive’s debut, Greatest Hits (2017), on all streaming platforms.

 

Feature Photo By (theconcurrent.org/Official Website).

 

Death From Above at The Filmore

Photo By (Death From Above/Official Website).

Photo By (Death From Above/Official Website).

By: George Minning

On October 28, The Filmore Silver Spring welcomed the eclectic rock-duo Death From Above! The Canadian group consists of only a drummer/vocalist and a bassists/keyboardist, but the band delivers so much energy and power through their music, that it feels like nothing is missing. The group is on tour supporting their most recent album, Outrage! Is Now (2017), and as such opened with the first track on the album “Nomad” – a hard-hitting track perfectly queued to start the excitement.

Next up, they followed with some tracks from their older albums, like The Physical World (2014). They continued bouncing about through their discography, leaving very little out and hitting every song I was dying to hear. The wild intense energy they started with kept growing as the set went on, and the crowd’s energy grew right along with it.

Death From Above clearly had a no-frills approach to the set, with only simple but effective lighting to go along with the music. There were no crazy effects, extras, or distractions. And while at first this may seem boring, my excitement never dipped; it allowed you to give your focus purely on the music and truly appreciate the talent and showmanship these guys both have.

When the set came to it’s apparent end, the crowd stuck around and chanted for an encore. Like the rest of the show, the band delivered. They came back out for two more songs, one called “Right On, Frankenstein!”, for Halloween. The other was “Blood On Our Hands”, my favorite track from them. This single was dipped out of the live setlist for years, but they brought it back once for this show.

Looking back at old videos of the band live, you can’t help but see amazing improvement over the years. The band has perfected their craft after years of touring, and they gave one of the most exciting and energetic shows that I’ve ever experienced. Next time they are around, I will definitely be seeing them again.

To stream WGMU’s phone interview with Death From Above’s Jesse Keeler, click here.

 

The Megaphone Podcast: Manfred Veizaga

20171019_151553-1On this week’s episode of the Megaphone Podcast, Igor interviews Manfred Veizaga, of MCN and the Society of Professional Journalists, about what it’s like to be a student journalist, as well as how to balance journalism with student life. Listen here:

The Megaphone Podcast: David Carroll

20171019_132637On this week’s episode of The Megaphone Podcast, Igor interviews David Carroll, the Associate Director of Student Media at George Mason University. They discuss his role, how Student Media operates, and the role of student leadership within Student Media as an organization. Give it a listen!

 

 

 

The Megaphone Podcast: Chris Byrne

IMG_2973On this week’s episode of The Megaphone, Igor interviews Chris Byrne, the host of “What’s Your Style, Mason?” on MCN. They talk about teamwork, MCN, his show, and being a TV anchor. Give it a listen!