Album of the Week

Bloodboy – Punk Adjacent

By: Alexandria McAlpine | Top Tracks: Is Now A Good Time To Ruin Your Life?, All My Idiots

Musician Lexie Papillion, the talent behind Bloodboy, has created a slightly-softer-than-punk-rock sound with her debut album released summer 2019. The album has 10 tracks with jazzy grandiose sounds fore-fronted by Papillion’s belting vocals. 

First off, the song titles are incredible. It starts with the first track, “Is Now A Good Time To Ruin Your Life?” and ends with the blunt title, “Die Aunt Mary!” The lyrics across the album are raw, honest and introspective. Her moxie and spunk come through in the lyrics; Papillion puts all of herself in the open for listeners to take or leave. 

Trained in opera when she was younger, the vocals are one of the most noteworthy elements of Bloodboy’s work. The third track, “Can’t Go Home With You Tonight,” is a slower, more ballad-like melody with a chorus that demonstrates the strength and range of her voice. 

My personal favorite, “All My Idiots,” embodies the “punk attitude” of Punk Adjacent (2019), of fighting to never let go of what you love. The eighth track (and fourth single off the album), “Underground Girl,” has a dreamy rock tone about putting aside all responsibility and escaping cabin fever, which is unexpectantly relevant during this pandemic. 

Other songs include “(FKA) Surfer Girl,” which reminisces in Papillion’s past as a competitive surfer, and “Hard To Be Honest,” with a choppy staccato beat that the chorus washes over like an ocean wave. 

Bloodboy is an up-and-coming LA-based singer who deserves a listen, especially when you have nothing else to do during social isolation!

 

 

 

Track of the Day

Deeper – “Esoteric”

By: Jesse Benitez

Being stuck inside during this quarantine has got some of my buried teen angst resurfacing, but this time, in a much more contained form. “Esoteric,” the first track off Deeper’s latest release, Auto-Pain (2020), brings back some of that sad-punk nostalgia I’ve been missing for a long time. The riot-y vocals and head-banging chorus brings me back to the days where I was more carefree; where not much mattered at the time, and where consequences were dealt with after all the fun. This song also brings back memories of the intimate community of indie musicians in my hometown, and how much I miss going to live shows in the city. “Esoteric” is rigid yet contemplative, and that fusion of simplicity and complexity is what makes it numbingly honest. I don’t know what genre closely represents Deeper, whether it be indie rock, post-punk, or something in between. All I can say is that their lo-fi, bedroom record sound has a spirit that really takes me back in a lowkey, introspective way.

 

 

 

Track of the Day

 

Fragile Girls – “失去尼歐”

By: Jesse Benitez

In the summer of 2018, I spent my time learning Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, Taiwan. I found that some of the best ways to learn a new language was to immerse yourself in the art, whether that be with books, movies, or music. Knowing my passion for discovering new music, I made it a point to visit as many local record shops as I could and get into as many live musical performances in a given week. The music scene in Taipei was unbelievable; I found myself surrounded by an extraordinary amount of talented indie singers and songwriters, where everyone had a story tell in the most inventive ways. I’m forever grateful for my roommates, some of which were Taiwanese, who helped me navigate such an amazing world of creatives. 

One particular song that stuck out to me was one I heard during my travels, propelling my journey in acquiring the record, which by the way, I’m still trying to get my hands on! “Lost Neo” (失去尼歐), from Fragile Girls’ (脆弱少女組) 2017 release, Some Pop Songs You Can Listen to When You’re Sad (2017) (一些難過的時候可以聽的流行歌曲) is a mix of dreamy, chill pop with a hint of rock. The song starts off slow and melancholic, but eventually kicks up with a jolting guitar solo. The track has a very sentimental tenderness to it, and it pairs well with the retro synthiness in the melodies. Every time I revisit this track, it prompts within me some wishful thinking, yet the yearning it imposes also reminds me of the closure I need to accept— whether that’s with love, closing a chapter in my life, or leaving a place where I felt at home.

 

 

 

 

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.