Track of the Day

Vundabar – “Chop”

By: Jesse Benitez

Last night, I had plans from a while back to see Vundabar live for the first time in the nation’s capital. Due to the on-going pandemic, however, I resorted to listening to their music in my home instead. I spent most of the night revisiting Gawk (2015), the second full-length album the trio released. The first track off the record titled, “Chop,” features some rambunctious chord progressions paired with squawky vocals. The whole album itself is boisterous, ear-piercing, and husky— all the best things reminiscent of good old garage encapsulated into one album. The guitars in “Chop” feel hoarse but still zippy, and I can’t help but bop to the sludginess within the song. It’s weird, because in some ways the tune is poppy and jaunty, but at the same time gruff and raucous. The juxtaposition of these two colliding sounds within the song is what works for me. Their most recent album may not be as garagey as Gawk (2015), but it’s still worth a good listen. Check out Vundabar’s latest release, Either Light (2020).

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Jack Stauber – “Buttercup”

By: Jesse Benitez

Quarantine has us picking up new hobbies, discovering new music, and undeniably, downloading Tik Tok. Yep, even I’m guilty for having the video-sharing social networking app on my phone. What can I say? It helps pass the time while introducing me to all kinds of music: new, old, and the reintroduction of songs I wish I had forgotten from my youth! Nonetheless, I respect the abundance of creativity shared through the service from all around the globe. Every now and then, I get a good laugh from some of the videos as well. One of the tunes I couldn’t get out of my head a while back, was from that viral Tik Tok of a ferret dancing. You know the one I’m talking about, where the ferret moves to the beat along with an origami Pikachu friend. Man, the internet can be a wonderful place.

Later, I came to discover that this cute ferret was jamming to Jack Stauber’s shimmery “Buttercup,” the first jam off his upbeat 2017 release, Pop Food (2017). The track doesn’t hesitate to get right to the popular mix of fluctuating synths and hammer-ons along the guitar. Stauber’s voice elevates in an emotional pitch, singing words that don’t seem to make much sense to us, yet somehow we can’t stop bopping and melting within the song. “Pop Food’ is the perfect way to describe what the music feels like, it’s like floating asteroids that liquify into a psychedelic sonance, ultimately feeding into your soul. The whimsical trip slowly transforms into a noir landscape, with a ballad out of the 50s, as Stauber lovingly serenades listeners briefly, before exploding back into a splashy confetti of colorful pop. Stauber is a truly expressive artist, experimenting with a mix of rich and translucent amounts of sounds to give his songs both dimension and texture.

 

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Jarami (feat. Cautious Clay) – “Post Mates”

By: Faby Velasquez

Dancing is human. No skill is ever required to jive, and that’s freeing. 

Jarami, renowned Swedish electronic production duo, collaborate with GW alum and contemporary R&B singer, Cautious Clay, to create a dreamy track; perfect for some quality evening vibes.

Whether you are taking a drive to clear your mind and get some fresh air, or needing a boost while getting though online assignments, this song meets the mood. 

Post Mates” is filled wall to wall with a funky baseline, ethereal electronics, and smooth vocals that cradle you as you bop. Rather than his usual indie projection, Cautious Clay’s voice is given a new stage as Jarami pulls back from their usual, hyper upbeat style. With these varying styles put into play, we are met with something unique and dare I say, kind of addictive?

The lightness of Clay’s voice through the verses and chorus is unwavering as they cut through the beat and lift you up. The lyrics reflect longing but also acceptance, and bring a peaceful tone to match its musicality. At the end of the day this track is nothing short of soulful. 

For now, the dance-floor is at home but that doesn’t mean you’re dancing barefooted alone. 

 

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Kevin Morby, Waxahatchee – “Farewell Transmission”

By: Jesse Benitez

Already being a fan of Jason Molina, the man behind Songs: Ohia and creator of Magnolia Electric Co., I was immediately struck when hearing this version of “Farewell Transmission,” released in 2018 by indie rockers Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee. The tune, originally from Molina’s Magnolia Electric Co. (2003), is timeless, and has always seemed inimitable to me. Morby and Waxahatchee, however, demonstrate that their rendition of the song is not about replication, but about cherishing the enchantment of the original tune. The collaboration of these two artists on this iconic song brought out some of the most emblematic melodies of the track, from the sliding shrills of the steel guitar, to the pulsing cymbals in the drum beat. The muzzling, hazy echoes lingering from the steel guitar enclose the delicate vocals of the singers. 

The softness of this tune is what makes it so otherworldly, yet simultaneously, its sadness is what grounds me back in reality— for the awareness and acceptance of unfulfillment in life that it concocts. When inspecting deeply into what this song is truly about, it becomes clear that it’s profoundly dismal while at the same time, an effort to resurrect from one’s old self or past. 

We’re often taught to believe that covers are somehow lesser than the original work; substandard to. I think that’s a notion that needs to be abandoned. More often than not, covers bring out the best within the original work while incorporating an artist’s own love letter to the story. The cover made me recognize that no matter who performs the song in whichever way, “Farewell Transmission” is one of the greatest soul-searching songs ever written.

 

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Mac Miller – “Good News”

By: Matthew Vargas

Mac Miller was a renown, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist who passed away on September 7, 2018, at the age of 26 from an accidental drug overdose. Before his passing, he had released four studio albums over the course of his career, founded a record label, signed with Warner Records, and served as a record producer for various artists. After Mac’s passing, the hip-hop community and music industry mourned and celebrated his legacy, emphasizing the direct positive impact he had on people’s personal lives and careers.

On January 8, 2020, Mac Miller’s family announced a posthumous album titled, Circles (2020). One of the tracks, “Good News“, had a music video subsequently released via YouTube on January 9, 2020, reaching #1 in trending that day on the video streaming platform and peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Good News” became Mac’s highest charting song ever.

Fans of Mac Miller praise the music video because, to some, it feels as though the song is a message from Mac himself. One commenter, currently named “Setya W”, exclaims that it “Feel[s] like he just [sent] this song from heaven”.

 

 

 

 

Album of the Week

The Strokes – The New Abnormal

By: Justin Spiegel | Top Tracks: The Adults Are Talking, Bad Decisions

The Strokes of course were a touchstone of early 2000s garage revival. Known for their wiry guitar riffs laden in feedback, they were pretty much the outfit of millennial angst at the time. Their debut album, Is This It (2001), captured an exceedingly common feeling, albeit with a rare, precious sort of success. Hits like “Last Nite” and “Barely Legal” helped lend an anthem to what was then a burgeoning unease among the millennial demographic—the sort of isolation that came hand-in-hand with days upon days of objectless fun. The Strokes managed to speak loudly and fondly to a stilted and stranded post-911 adolescence.

All the Strokes-loving teenagers of the era have since grown up, leaving behind those formative years like an untidy room. I can only assume that today’s shriveled economy has a lot of these fans wishing they could go back to the early 2000s, when things were simpler—or at least when they didn’t seem so irretrievably complex. I’ll confess I’m a bit too young to be part of this original demographic—I was born in 1998, being hardly three years old when Is This It hit the market—but at the same time, I’m far too old not to have at least heard of The Strokes. I had given Is This It a few listens some years ago, so it was with mild curiosity that I approached their latest album, The New Abnormal (2020), released this month. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, seeing as the band had fallen off both commercially and critically following their second album.

As soon as it was over, I listened again. I recommend others give it a try, too. It’s got a sort of soft-spoken, subtle mastery to it, at once faithful to their old ethos and weathered by all the intervening years. And the timing, moreover, is perfect—Gen Z could use an escape, too.

 

 

 

Track of the Day

The Black Keys – “Weight of Love”

By: Melissa Borgen

I was able to rediscover “Weight of Love” by The Black Keys through an Instagram post I’m partaking in called the “30-Day Song Challenge.” Each day, it prompts you to choose a song based on the description to share with your followers. This one was “A song to drive to”. I remember going to my local Barnes and Noble to purchase this album in the summer of 2014. I got in my car, took off the plastic and marveled at the hot pink and blue color swirl of the cd. I lowered the windows, inserted the cd and took to the streets of Miami. The sun was giving off that bright orange light just before it sets. The humid air frizzing up my curls. The first track started to play. It begins softly, steadily. Eerily peaceful. The longer it plays, the more my heartbeat becomes one with it. The momentum is there but it doesn’t overtake just yet. Teases.

The melody builds up the excitement of better days to come. It gives you those butterflies you get the day before you start something new. The increase of the guitar solo had me begging for a red light so I could close my eyes and just feel what Dan Auerbach’s fingers were creating. The climax is mesmerizing; addicting. They finish off lightly to have you come back to reality with just enough time to play it again.

 

“Weight of Love” is the first track on The Black Keys’ eighth studio album, Turn Blue, released in 2014. It’s the follow up album to their highly popular El Camino (2011) record. Writers and producers were Dan Auerbach, Danger Mouse, & Patrick Carney.

 

Track of the Day

Cleo Sol – “Rose in the Dark”

By: Rhema Johnson

I believe we can all agree with Jesse that music has served as the main source of escapism during this stressful period. Being home, artists have retreated to livestream concerts, nostalgic DJ battles, releasing albums/singles/EPs, etc. in order to help bring the collective together and keep us uplifted. On a personal note, I’ve been on a UK Jazz/R&B binge recently (thanks to the UK Jazz playlist on Spotify) and one artist that I’ve been following for a while, Cleo Sol, released her album, Rose in the Dark (2020) on March 27th. Cleo Sol is a R&B singer/songwriter who hails from London and is notable for her mellow vocals and soulful, cinematic instrumentation. In addition, Sol incorporates beautiful harmonies that accompany her vocals and when it’s fused with orchestral arrangements, it creates her enticing sound that can truly move your spirit. “Rose in the Dark,” is a track from the album that has a classic, vintage feeling with its steady tempo, deep melodic background vocals, smooth bass-line and gentle guitar licks. With her crisp, ambient vocals, Sol lyrically moves the listener through her personal journey of self-awareness and healing while also serving as a form of support and encouragement. Why is this track of the day? Well, I’ve observed that being home has caused individuals to go into deep reflection and come face to face with, “The Man in the Mirror.” Sol describes a similar experience within the song and repeats, “hold out a little longer, it’ll be alright,” reminding listeners of the light at the end of the tunnel. So, give this track a listen and let the rhythms nurture you during this time as it has for me!

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Frah Quintale – “Nei Treni La Notte”

By: Kareem Mitchell

Anyone who knows me would agree that I’m always wandering off to somewhere— physically, spiritually, or even emotionally to marvel at things, big and small. During this health pandemic, I’ve been stuck at home a little more than often, trying to keep things safe. Although my life is now confined, I still try to find some way to cast myself out without stepping outside. Currently, I’ve been listening to Frah Quintale’s bittersweet love letter about a metropolitan city unbeknownst to us. The song is  “Nei treni la notte,” or “On the night trains” in direct English translation. It is an Italian hip-hop/pop track released back in 2017, the eighth song from his French titled album, Regardez Moi (2017).

In my second year of studying Italian, I needed some extra substance to dive deeper into the beautiful language. During that quest, I found this little melody on the streaming app, Spotify, and I was instantly astonished about its careful presentation of intrusion and wonder. Frah Quintale talks about going back to a newly industrialized city that was once a beautiful home to him. There’s some melancholy in his voice, but he still has a warm heart for his former city; he tries to, as he memorably says in the track, “add some color” to the machines. And by machines, he means the trains. Who knows… the industrialized vehicle that took him out and brought him back in. A true statement of adventure.

 

 

Track of the Day

Wallows – “OK”

By: Alexandria McAlpine

Known for their mellow 1980s inspired sounds, the indie-rock trio Wallows, comprised of Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston released their newest single, “OK,” and it does not disappoint. The first song released since their debut album, Nothing Happens (2019), “OK” is not quite recognizable as a classic Wallows song from its muted introductory tune, until the bright jingle and familiar soothing vocals kick in. The beginning of “OK” is faster-paced and more upbeat; reminiscent from their debut 2017 singles. Halfway through the song they implement a cool-warped vocal verse, leaning into their 80s synth sounds before tapering off to finish with a feel-good melody, recognizable from the sounds on their last album.

“OK” is a great way to start a morning lounging on your back deck (like I am) or move through an exciting afternoon indoors dancing around your living room.  Wallows is right when they ask, “Can we get up and try to feel okay again?” while strumming enticingly on the guitar. The world is getting stranger with each passing day and it’s the little things, like listening to good music, that can help grant a feeling of normalcy again.