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The Best Verses of 2022

2022 has seen some incredible verses, both guest features and artist’s verses that stood out on their own song. I’ve compiled a list of 10 verses (and a few honorable mentions) that, in my opinion, were the best of the year. This could include lyrics, flow, effectiveness, and whether the verse makes you rewind it to listen to it again.

(I’ve included time stamps for each verse, but I recommend listening to each song as a whole to fully experience the verses).

Honorable Mentions

“Freestyle 3” – Ken Carson

Ken can’t miss with his freestyle series.

“Almighty Gnar” – Lil Gnar

Lil Gnar one-ups Chief Keef on a song that’s named after one of Sosa’s legendary mixtapes.

“Big 3” – Babytron

“Wockiana turned my cream soda into Hennessy

Pull up from wherever, I got demigod tendencies

Unky fucking up the rope from West V to Tennessee

Hunnid dollar eighthy, heard you smoking shit that’s ten a G”

Bars.

“Intro” – Dbt Tha General/Seiji Oda

The verse is originally from 2007, but Seiji remixed it using City Pop-inspired production to do this Dbt’s verse justice.

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Kentheman 

A stand-out verse on a male-dominated cypher.

“MDMA” – Destroy Lonely

Image courtesy of DLonelyArchive

2022 has been a monumental year for Destroy Lonely, Ken Carson, and the rest of Playboi Carti’s Opium label as all of the members (except for Carti) have dropped their own studio albums. Although this verse isn’t from Lonely’s solo album, it makes you question whether this song should’ve been on it. Ken Carson delivers a decent verse but keeps the same flow throughout most of it. Lonely doesn’t do anything new in this verse, but his calm yet enthusiastic delivery matches the production of this song. When Lonely punches in, he builds upon Ken’s flow, but then switches it up in a satisfying way by rapping:

“Big bro still serving rocks, yeah, but please keep that on the low

Yeah, shawty, I’m a rockstar, my guitar got a scope

I’m rockin’ all black and my cross upside down, I’m not the Pope”

This song is one of the best off of X, and it’s made even better with Lonely’s flow switch and passive delivery. This song is a definitive introduction to the Opium-style that has been taking Hip-Hop by storm, and Lonely’s verse solidifies it.

Destroy Lonely’s verse starts at 2:07

“The Kingdom” – Thaiboy Digital

Image courtesy of The Fader

This year we’ve seen multiple projects from the Swedish collective, Drain Gang, and Thaiboy Digital third solo project Back 2 Life is a part of this. While this project is nothing new for Thaiboy, it’s a welcome addition to his catalog. Thaiboy has generally remained the most consistent of the group, with the other members’ music sounding wildly different with each of their projects. “The Kingdom” opens with a solid verse from Bladee, but Thaiboy’s verse does this video game-like beat justice. If you’re looking for insane wordplay, bars, or storytelling, this verse might disappoint you. But if you know about Thaiboy’s struggles with drugs and the Swedish government deporting him and his family, the opening lines to this verse hit harder:

“Feeling resurrected, man, I can’t go back to hell

I was fucking up the balance, so the darkness tipped the scale

Now I’m going so damn hard, I’m making sure they’re living well

My life is a movie, tell my daughter fairytales”

Thaiboy and the other DG members’ lyrics and production have reflected more positivity, especially when compared to their early work. This verse follows this trend. This verse expresses a level of emotional growth and despite the darkness “tipping the scale”, Thaiboy’s able to overcome it and grow from it.

Thaiboy Digital’s verse starts at 0:55

“aero3” – Seiji Oda

Image courtesy of The Martorialist

Seiji Oda’s album lofi//HYPHY was an exploration of genre-bending music. This album mixed the well-known Lofi genre, popularized by that one YouTube live stream that had that looping video of the anime girl chilling with the cat, and Hyphy, a genre native to the Bay area, which is characterized by its danceability. Aero3 is more of a Lofi cut off the album, however, the drum patterns and dance track sound effects sprinkled throughout the song add elements of Hyphy to the mix. This song is personal, with Seiji going into detail about his family, friends, and past relations,

“Can’t say her name, but we ain’t talk in a minute

Some people, you gotta love from a distance

You made your choice, I made mine, what’s the difference?

I still hope that you find what you’re missin'”

The production in this section is all over the place, in the best way possible. Seiji’s ability to keep up with the constantly changing beat and switch his flows accordingly makes for a great listen. His vocals stay relatively calm throughout the verse, but he’s able to explore different vocal ranges within his calm delivery if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, just listen to the song, if it does, you should still listen to it. To make things even better, there’s a Hyperpop version of this song, which I talk about in my interview with Seiji (check it out).

Seiji Oda’s second verse starts at 1:27

“Murdaman! (Remix)” – Chief Keef

Image courtesy of Hip Hop DX

2022 was a relatively quiet year for Chief Keef, mostly doing features and focusing on his clothing brand and label, 43B, which saw him signing Lil Gnar. He’s hopped on a few features and delivered every time. This feature is no exception. “Murdaman!” by YungManny originally blew up on TikTok (yeah I know, just bear with me). He then asked fans on the app who he should get as a feature on the remix, Lil Uzi Vert or Chief Keef, and an overwhelming amount said Sosa. Great decision. The Chicago rapper’s bold delivery, flow, and lyrics perfectly fit this chaotic and aggressive beat. Sosa spits:

“Murder man, you ain’t never seen no murder man

If Chief So’ was still up on this block he’d probably serve a fan

*****s always got they damn hand out, that shit don’t hurt your hand?

And I swear to God that God the only ***** I’m worshippin'”

And he keeps going. In this verse, Sosa feels like an unstoppable force, and the beat is an immovable object. His vocal inflections perfectly match the blaring horns and his grizzly delivery forces the listener to be totally immersed in this bloodthirsty verse, both lyrically and sonically.

Chief Keef’s verse starts at 1:44

“Flawlëss” – Lil Uzi Vert

Image courtesy of Consequence

At the beginning of this year, Yeat and Lil Uzi Vert posed for a couple of photos for Yeat’s Instagram, and he shared a snippet of their first song together “Big tonka”. In February, Yeat dropped a solid 12-song project Lyfë, which included Uzi on the opening track, “Flawlëss”. This song is a triumphant opening track, and Uzi helps secure it. Uzi’s energy and cadence is infectious, especially with the animated opening line to this verse:

“Flawless, flawless, flawless, yeah

Buffy the Vampire Slayer with these Cartiers”

This line will send chills down your spine, trust me, just listen to the song. Uzi utilizes the heavy autotune on his voice to the fullest, working around the usually awkward autotune pitch changes whenever he decides to go baritone or falsetto, or whatever. This verse is exciting and energizing, made for Yeat’s mosh pits, despite how cringy his fans make them.

Lil Uzi Vert’s verse starts at 1:14

“Type Shit” – Babytron

Image courtesy of BabytronSB

2022 was definitely Babytron’s year, with the release of Megatron and Bin Reaper 3, Tron always leaves the fans satisfied but also wanting more. “Type Shit” is a two-part song, with the first part being slower than the second part. The theme throughout the entire song is the word “type shit”. If you don’t know what that means, just look it up on Urban Dictionary. The second part is where the Detroit rapper shines, with absurd bars about selling codeine to basketball superstar Giannis Antetukumpo and more:

“You internet thugging, I ain’t finna type shit, bro

Adonis, we’ll pull up with that baby Drac’

Charged up off a yerky, bet not try shit, bro

In Milwaukee charging Giannis for a pint of Quagy, ayy”

This isn’t the end of the hilarious and well-crafted bars that Babytron delivers in this song. He also raps about flying to Europe with an “enhanced fake ID” (whatever that means) and ends the verse claiming that he freestyled the entire thing:

“Freestyle type shit, no, I ain’t write shit”

It’s impressive how Tron’s able to use the phrase “type shit” in creative and innovative ways throughout the verse. This is a great song to introduce any new Babytron listener to his style, and it definitely won’t disappoint long-time fans.

Babytron’s second verse starts at 1:14

“Tomorrow 2 (Remix)” – Cardi B

Image courtesy of Dazed

Although Cardi B is known for her pop/rap hits and being a brand ambassador for pretty much every major designer, most recently Balenciaga, “Tomorrow 2” shows her skill as an MC, with raw, unapologetic bars that seem to flow naturally. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts and criticisms of Cardi B, but this verse proved to me that when she wants to, she can rap. GloRilla and Cardi B have become an unstoppable duo on social media, and Cardi compliments GloRilla’s deep voice and aggressive flow on this song with lyrics like:

“Ridin’ with my twin and ‘nem, and we all look good as fuck

She say she my opp but I don’t know her, had to look her up

I know that I’m rich, but I can’t help it, bitch, I’m hood as fuck

I’ve been on these bitches neck so long, sometimes my foot get stuck”

Cardi’s energetic, assertive voice and flow, which adds a lot to the already aggressive lyrics, make this song an instant classic. This one verse will have you rewinding the song multiple times, it’s that good. With 2022 being a great year for female rap, this song is sure to cement its place as not just one of the best female rap songs of 2022, but one of the best rap songs of 2022.

Cardi B’s verse starts at 1:53

“Dark Hearted” – Freddie Gibbs

Image courtesy of NPR

Freddie Gibbs’ album $oul $old $eperately was a victory lap for the rapper after countless personal and legal issues with his label, and Freddie’s as confident and consistent as ever on this project. “Dark Hearted” is a song about betrayal, perhaps the way the executive who signed him to RCA betrayed him, or maybe something more personal. In this song, he reflects on how most of his life, he had to depend on a life of crime to sustain himself and his family. Because of this, he’s constantly paranoid about being betrayed by the people he trusts and loves. While both verses are similar, it’s impressive how he’s able to reutilize lyrics and rhyme schemes from the first verse in his second verse.

In the first verse raps:

Dirty .30 in my hand

DEA and detectives, they got me cuffed on that ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Send a hit and scratch off a hit, bitch, I’m the murder man

Pray the Lord put his hands on me

And I know I took a risk with this shit when I put my hands on it

All my enemies watchin’, they plot and plan on me

They gon’ end up one of them dead homies

In the second verse, he raps:

Dirty .30 in my hands

Shoot him, if he ain’t DOA, we shoot up the ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Bulletproof my shit, they might hit it, bitch, I’m the murder man

Dead ***** put his hands on me

I’ma pop another bottle and pour one out for your dead homie

Swear my friends turnin’ fed on me

Man, these pussy *****s might take the stand on me

Violent, unapologetic, and dark (hence the name of the song), Freddie leaves little to the listener’s imagination, or does he? Is this a retelling of his life in Gary, Indiana? Or is this a metaphor for the label executives blackballing and betraying him? The reutilization of the first verse in the second verse is impressive, and maybe it was done as a way to drive the message of this song home.

Freddie Gibbs’ second verse starts at 1:21

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Big30

Image courtesy of Rap Radar

Big30 is one of the main rappers from the new generation of Memphis rap to break through to the mainstream. As an affiliate of the recently incarcerated Pooh Shiesty, and coming off the death of Memphis legend Young Dolph, it’s up to him and the other young Memphis MCs to carry on their city’s legacy of Hip-Hop. Big30 had his moment in the spotlight in the 2022 XXL Freshman Cypher where he was joined by Nardo Wick, BigScarr (another Memphis rapper), and KenTheMan. Big30 punches in right after Nardo Wick’s verse, which, while enjoyable, is monotone and emotionless, a style Nardo has embraced. Big30’s energetic, southern drawl counters Nardo’s sonic numbness and emphasizes the lyrics that reflect his life in Memphis, including,

“***** spin my block incorrect, then somebody gettin’ killed

My young ***** fifteen with four bodies, can’t even buy a fifth

He ain’t even old enough to vote, that lil’ boy bangin’ Crip”

As dark as these lyrics are, it reflects the conditions of many young men living in impoverished communities in America, including the city Big30 is from. He’s able to let these lyrics sink in despite the speed and catchiness of this flow. This verse doesn’t contain insane wordplay, but 30’s able to utilize his heavy Memphis accent to rhyme “killed” and “fifth”, which I find extremely impressive, especially in a setting where most people freestyle their cyphers. In this one-take verse, 30 maintains a consistent flow with bars hitting left and right without missing a single word or going off beat. This is the best XXL cypher verse of the year, and one of the best verses of the year.

Big30’s verse starts at 1:25

“Father Time” – Kendrick Lamar

Image Courtesy of Complex

Kendrick. That’s it.

Alright, I’ll actually explain why this is the best verse of this year. Kendrick dropped one of the best albums of 2022 with Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Among the many songs that stood out to me, this song, especially Kendrick’s second verse, is ingrained in my brain. This song breaks down the concept of masculinity, passed down from father to son, and how it’s reflected in modern culture, especially Hip-Hop. In this verse, like many other Kendrick songs, the lyrics and delivery are relatable, whether you’ve been affected by the topic or not. Kendrick dives into nearly every element of modern masculinity, so much so that I could write my senior thesis on this verse. Kendrick opens the verse with:

“I got daddy issues, that’s on me

Lookin’ for, “I love you”, rarely empathizin’ for my relief

A child that grew accustomed, jumping up when I scraped my knee

‘Cause if I cried about it, he’d surely tell me not to be weak

Daddy issues, hid my emotions, never expressed myself

Men should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped”

Despite being a fantastic lyricist, Kendrick doesn’t hide the message of these bars behind metaphors (which is also what makes this verse so special), so I won’t sit here and mansplain this. Kendrick continues:

“His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon?

His first reply was, “Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon”

Daddy issues, fuck everybody, go get your money, son

Protect yourself, trust nobody, only your momma’n’em

This made relationships seem cloudy, never attached to none

So if you took some likings around me, I might reject the love”

This part needs a bit of analysis. Kendrick discusses the individualistic and stoic mindset that many young men are forced to develop. I could even argue that the line “His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon? His first reply was, ‘Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon’” reflects the capitalist and stoic idea of masculinity, where men should ignore emotions and personal obstacles in the pursuit of their goal. While Kendrick delves into the habit of fathers molding their sons into the tough men they want them to be, he ponders the lack of a father figure in some men’s lives, and how it affects their perception of masculinity. Kendrick raps:

My *****s ain’t got no daddy, grow up overcompensatin’

Learn shit ’bout bein’ a man and disguise it as bein’ gangsta

He ends this verse with a stunning conclusion:

“And to my partners that figured it out without a father

I salute you, may your blessings be neutral to your toddlers

It’s crucial, they can’t stop us if we see the mistakes

‘Til then, let’s give the women a break, grown men with daddy issues”

In the final line of the verse, Kendrick critiques the history and future of male misogyny, whether external or internal. The reason I find this final line so important is that many rappers and rap music can display misogynistic tendencies both personally and in the music (not always, there are many exceptions). Hip-Hop is not the only genre where misogyny is present and obvious, unfortunately, most musical genres contain some level of sexism and misogyny (classical music is a prime example). Since Kendrick is a rapper, and one of the best, this verse could be viewed as not only a critique of misogyny in rap music but an analysis of it, where Kendrick tries to explain and identify its roots.

Kendrick starts this verse by angrily delivering and shouting his lyrics. As the verse progresses, we see him mellow out, coming to terms with his internalized masculinity and understanding why it’s made him act in certain ways. This makes this verse feel extremely personal not just to Kendrick, or men, but to everyone, including women who usually experience the effects of toxic masculinity (“Til then, let’s give the women a break”).

Everything about this verse could be analyzed in greater detail, but I’ll let you do that for yourself, and I have a bunch of reading to do for class.

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Album Review General In Case You Missed it Interview

Tank and the Bangas announce new album, “Friend Goals”

New Orleans-based band Tank and the Bangas have been blending together funk, gospel, spoken word, and hip hop since 2011. After winning NPR’s Tiny Desk concert in 2017, they accelerated to stardom and received universal praise for their 2019 album Green Balloon. That album, along with the reputation they’ve established for their extraordinary live performances, landed them a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist.”

Now, the world is anxiously awaiting their next project: an EP called Friend Goals, to be released on November 20th. In a virtual press conference, the band shared some details about the upcoming album.

Tank and the Bangas’ upcoming album, Friend Goals

When asked to describe the album in three words, the band agreed it’s “friendly, featureful, and fantastic.” Tariana “Tank” Ball, the lead singer, added “It’s got a sexy lil vibe to it… It’s sure to keep you moving.”

The new album features contributions from Duckwrth, CHIKA, and PJ Morton, among others. “The reason it’s called Friend Goals is because it’s a collaboration with all of our friends,” Tank said. She especially loves the “creative funness that you get when you hear somebody else’s unique, fresh voice on your project.”

Tank described one of the songs on the new album, “TSA,” as “an essential New Orleans song that everybody could bump” and recalls having “so much fun” creating that song with the band’s three other collaborators: Joshua Johnson, and Norman Spence, and Albert Allenback. The band viewed quarantine as a welcome break from touring. “It’s hard to be on the road constantly… so we needed this time at home to create,” said Tank, adding “We got our covid tests so we could create with each other!”

Photo credit: Jamelle Tate

The album’s lead single, “Self Care,” is a bouncy, trilling song; driven by a bass-heavy beat. The lyrics detail the joys of what you can get away with while spending so much time alone in quarantine. The song features Jaime Woods, a vocalist known for her work with Chance the Rapper, who sings “put a dress on, maybe less on / take a bath for no reason” and later announces “boutta make some bacon then I’ll roll one / so fun.”

In addition to writing songs for the new album, the band members have been making time for their own self care practices. “Self-care for me this quarantine, personally, has been having time to step back and take a look at the type of person I am. You know, refuel spiritually,” said Norman, “It’s important, and I was neglecting it.”

Tank and the Bangas have been hard at work on themselves and on their music this quarantine, and they can’t wait to share their new songs. Allenback said “This is some of the best recorded stuff we’ve ever made. It captures us in a really fantastic way. Our spirit’s really there.”

Watch the music video for “Self Care” below:

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CONCERT REVIEW: Wilco at The Mission Ballroom in Denver

Wilco won’t let you down. Over the course of twenty-five years and eleven albums, they’ve established a fervent fanbase. Their live performances have a solid reputation; they’re known to play at least two-hour sets at every show, and they always include some fan favorites along with the songs from whatever album they’re promoting. In fact, they even have a spot on their website to enter song requests for different shows.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

When I saw them on Nov. 19, frontman Jeff Tweedy announced that it had been twenty-five years and two days, to be exact, since their first show. When he said this, I was applauding just like everyone else, but I found myself regretting that it was only my first time seeing them. I went to the show on my own, and the two hours I spent alone in the front of the crowd were some of the most stunning and exciting in recent memory. I hope I’ll see them again and again.

Even though I’d read a lot about Wilco’s live shows previously, their performance at the Mission Ballroom blew all of my expectations away. After a decade of rotating through various members, their current lineup has been consistent since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. Each member was highlighted various times during the show, and most of them had incredible solos throughout the set.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

In addition to the most iconic member of the band, Jeff Tweedy, I was especially excited to see guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche. Cline was named “a true guitar polymath” by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, and it watching his iconic solo from “Impossible Germany” was a highlight of the show. Kotche was also named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, as they named him “a Jim Keltner-John Cage hybrid” for his talent and originality. Around the half-way point of the show, Kotche was dripping in sweat as his drumming drove one song after the next. Although Tweedy, Cline, and Kotche usually get most of the attention, each member put so much energy into the performance; it seemed like they were having just as good of a time as the audience.

Nels Cline. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

Most of the songs they played in Denver came either from their latest album, Ode to Joy, or 2004’s A Ghost is Born. Beyond those two albums, they threw in plenty of crowd favorites, such as “War on War,” “Hummingbird,” “Random Name Generator,” “Forget the Flowers,” and of course, “California Stars.”

Wilco’s sound and lyrics speak to various emotions around living, loving and so much more. As evidenced by the increasing size of venues they play on each subsequent tour, they manage to keep attracting more fans because of their consistently impressive shows and versatile music. They care so deeply about their craft, and it shows. For me, Wilco will always reign supreme.

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General Music Personal Piece Reviews

On Top of the World: Louisville, White Reaper, and I

My old Kentucky home is the land of many of the world’s superlatives. The world’s greatest horse racing, the world’s best bourbon, the world’s most influential boxer, the world’s largest baseball bat, and also the World’s Best American Band, White Reaper. Both White Reaper and I hail from the same city, Louisville, unknowingly frequenting the same restaurants and music venues for years before I discovered them. They put out their first EP in 2014, three years before I would first register hearing their music, and four before I would meet them and grow to be a huge fan. I must admit that I have not been a fan of White Reaper’s for long, but nonetheless, their music has grown to become a significant part of my life.

The author’s signed White Reaper album. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

My relationship with White Reaper’s music started on Record Store Day a year ago, when I was lucky enough to stumble upon a DJ set by the Wilkerson brothers, twins Sam and Nick, who make up the rhythmic section of the band. They play bass and drums, respectively and amazingly. That day I also met Tony Esposito, lead vocals and guitar, and Ryan Hater, who rocks harder than any other keyboard player I’ve seen live. (This experience left out Hunter Thompson, an incredibly talented guitarist who ironically has the same name as a Louisville icon though he is the only band member who is not from Louisville). At the record store I remember picking up one of their records from the “W” artist section, looking at the picture of the band on the sleeve, holding the record up to my face right next to the band members in real life, and doing a double-take. Within five minutes the record was purchased, I already had their signatures, and was engaged in conversation with the boys. From multiple interactions with the band members it is with ease and certainty that I can say they are some of the most genuine guys I’ve met in the music scene today. I acknowledge my bias as a fellow Louisvillian, but their onstage charm translates offstage as well. Their fan base is so dedicated partly because of how personable they are. They’re cool guys making cool music.

(from left) Ryan Hater, Tony Esposito, Nick Wilkerson, and Hunter Thompson rocking out at Louisville’s Forecastle Festival 2018. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

“The World’s Best…” is a title I would readily give them if they hadn’t already given it to themselves. Their second studio album, The World’s Best American Band, cements their self-fulfilling prophecy as one of the new, upcoming “greats” with tracks that rock, and don’t stop. Listening to the album I was immediately seduced by “Judy French,” as all other listeners are. Soon my favorite off their sophomore album became “Daises,” and before I had exhausted The World’s Best… I was already deep into their earlier tracks: first album “White Reaper Does It Again” (funny, right?) and self-titled EP. Fast forward a few weeks from the day I met them and all my “Spotify heavy rotation” tracks belonged to White Reaper—some personal favorites are still “Alone Tonight,” “I Don’t Think She Cares,” and “Tell Me.” Go a couple more weeks into the future and I’m getting whiplash in the front row at their concert.

Ryan Hater, Tony Esposito, Sam Wilkerson, and I at Forecastle Festival 2018. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

Headbanging and moshing to White Reaper’s music is easy with their catchy guitar riffs, strong rhythm, and especially Esposito’s piercing and unique vocals. You can listen to any White Reaper track once and then be able to pick out Esposito’s voice again, that’s how unique and profound in a strange, ambiguous way he sounds. In combination with their recognizable sound, their stage-presence as some sort of self-proclaimed rock gods also entices and draws in a dedicated audience and fan base. Their energy is pure and contagious. They easily bring everyone to their feet—with songs like “The Stack” it’s impossible not to dance. In this song Esposito sings the truth, “If you make the girls dance, the boys will dance with them,” but White Reaper doesn’t need to make people move because the audience is already dancing. The songs on White Reaper Does It Again, though the production can sound fuzzy at times (something I think adds to the character of some of the more eccentric tracks, like “Friday the 13th”), end as strong as they start. Listening all the way from their first EP to The World’s Best… it’s fun to watch the band grow, gain members, and develop a sound that has potential to fluctuate, develop, and continue to excite. Saying I’m excited to hear new tracks from them in the future would be an understatement—their music makes me feel at home.

(from left) Nick Wilkerson, Hunter Thompson, and Sam Wilkerson during their Forecastle set. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

Strangely enough, of all the things to be proud of about my city and state, White Reaper is at the top of my list. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them live in Louisville—how genuinely proud I was to be a fan of their music, proud of the great Louisville music scene they’re helping to develop, and proud of them being great, compassionate people. From my new, small room in Colorado Springs, listening to White Reaper takes me back to Kentucky in the fall. While blasting White Reaper I’m driving fast around Louisville at night, hanging out with my friends, and feeling like I’m strong, opinionated, and on top of the world.


You can listen to White Reaper’s discography on this handy playlist I’ve made of all their songs on Spotify:

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Featured Show General Local Reviews Shows

Concert Review: Courtney Barnett at The Ogden Theater on 9/28

Taken by Eric de Redelijkheid on Flikr

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to see the first night of Courtney Barnett’s North American tour promoting her most recent album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, released this May. My sister and I navigated our way through a crowd of IPA-drinking and Blundstone-wearing 30-something-year-old fans and eventually made our way to the front of Denver’s Ogden Theater. I’ve been lucky enough to see Courtney twice before – once with Kurt Vile promoting their joint album Lotta Sea Lice at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and another time at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – but this was the most intimate venue I’d seen her play.

From the moment she stepped on the stage, no one could take their eyes off of her. I don’t play guitar myself, so I’m not typically apt at telling a guitar virtuoso apart from a player who’s just okay, but after watching Courtney’s intricate fretting all over the guitar neck, I realized what exceptional talent she had. She’s been praised countless times for her lyricism, but her abilities on the guitar are seriously underrated.

If you’re already familiar with Courtney Barnett, you’d know that she’s been lauded for her witty attention to detail and ability to create memorable songs out of mundane events ever since she started making music in 2014. For instance, some of her best-known songs are about an asthma attack, house hunting, and eating ramen noodles. However, some of her songs are a much more personal and vulnerable account of life through her eyes. The audience lost it when she sung one of her most well-known songs, “Pedestrian at Best,” and everyone yelled with her as she screamed “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you! / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you!” Her self-deprecating remark is an ironic statement about not wanting to be fame that inevitably comes along with being a musical phenomenon.

Similarly, one of the songs on her new album is titled “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and here she is also especially critical about herself (“I never feel as stupid as when I’m around you / And indecision rots / Like a bag of last week’s meat”). However, she still comes across as uninhibited – never caring how her audience will receive her perceived self-consciousness. Even though that songs ends with her claiming “I don’t know, I don’t know anything,” and repeats it literally twelve times, it’s obvious that one thing she does know is herself.

At one point during the show, she introduced one of her older songs “Are You Looking After Yourself?” by telling us she wrote it after a long phone call with her parents. The song begins with a line that was spoken by her parents: “Are you working / hard my darling? / We’re so worried,” but she counters their criticism with: “I don’t want to no 9 to 5 / Telling me that I’m alive.” Later in the song, her parents suggest “You should start some / sort of trust fund / just in case you fail.” I imagine that being a musician, especially one who writes so personally like Courtney does, can be terrifying since she has to constantly rely on others’ validation and positive reception in order to keep going. However, Courtney replies with a sarcastic response and sings “I don’t know what I was thinking / I should get a job… / should get married / have some babies / watch the evening news.” The thought that Courtney, a woman of such obvious talent, would quit making art and instead get a job is ridiculous.

Her humble attitude helps explain why 1,600 of us in the sold-out Ogden Theater were so entranced by Courtney for her entire two-hour long set; she’s so devoted to her work and in love with what she is doing that we couldn’t help but marvel at all of the energy she put in to every note and every word. Thanks, Courtney, for blowing us all away once again, and I hope this won’t be the last time I see you!

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Featured Show General Local Local Shows: Previews & Reviews Music Shows

Concert Preview: Jungle at the Black Sheep 9/28

jungle
Credits: BBC Radio 6 Music/ prvnce.com
Jungle, an English modern soul musical collective was formed by Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson in London back in 2013. McFarland and Lloyd-Watson had known each other since the age of nine, where they lived as neighbors in Shepherds Bush, London. After playing in various musical groups throughout their secondary education, the pair formed Jungle. The pair became known as J and T, after advocating for a concentration on the aesthetic of their sound, focusing on art and video, instead of their own personal identity taking stage.  

Since its formation, and after their first year spent playing with other artists of a variety of disciplines, Jungle has become a seven-piece band. J and T resisted the route of re-producing their music and performing on laptops, and instead rendered their music into authentic, live performance. J and T understand music to be a collective and collaborative experience, and that energy is absolutely palpable when they perform. 

Their first album, “Jungle,” was released in 2014, and since they have released various singles, and just recently came out with a new album, “For Ever,” on September 14th of this year. The music collective has travelled across the world to perform, and will be visiting Colorado Springs for the first time next Friday, September 28th, 2018.  

Jungle’s style is often characterized as “midtempo 1970s funk,” with sounds such as tropical percussion, wildlife noise, falsetto yelps, and psychedelic waves. Whether it be the inclusive nature of the band, or perhaps the diversity of their sound, Jungle offers a performance of absolute energy.  

Be sure to check out CC’s Concerts and Shows Facebook group for carpool opportunities to the show. We hope to see you there. 

 LISTEN: “Busy Earnin’” 

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General Music Reviews

Plugged In Collaboration with 91.5 KRCC

We’ve recently started a new limited-run collaboration with KRCC about music we’re listening to. The posts will be shared on both the SoCC and KRCC websites; check out the first post below.

Plugged In is a limited-run web series for 91.5 KRCC Music in which contributors from Colorado College’s student radio station, The SOCC, tip us off to great new releases, under-the-radar favorites, and other music they can’t live without. 

Hey 91.5 KRCC listeners & readers. I’m Paulina Ukrainets, the online content manager for The Sounds of Colorado College, CC’s radio station and music blog. I’m also an intern with 91.5 KRCC’s Air Check. Below are some songs I’ve been listening to lately (though they’re not necessarily new), and a little bit about why I like them.

Saba ft. Chance the Rapper –– LOGOUT

Usually I’m not a big fan of the currently super-prevalent “trap” style of hip-hop production, but this song is different in its beautiful amalgamation of piano, sax, synth and the standard trap percussion beat. When I listen to most music (but especially to hip-hop) my attention instantly gravitates to the lyrics, and here they don’t disappoint: “look at how much fun I’m havin’/ain’t no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers” are just two of Saba’s lines from the ridiculously catchy chorus. This is a hip-hop anthem for the age of Instagram––the age in which young, up-and-coming artists like Saba can get the recognition they clearly deserve, but at the price of the complete destruction of their privacy in the name of online presence/promotion. As my professor Idris Goodwin would say, LOGOUT is pure bars.

 

Frankie Cosmos –– Ur Up

This song is only 36 seconds long, so I kinda feel like I’m cheating with this one, but it’s full to the brim with the kind of sincerity Frankie Cosmos fans (myself included) adore her for. The lyrics and title of this song refer to a meme-esque phrase that gets used by teenagers as a sort of shorthand booty call… or so I’m told. Here, Greta (FC’s lyricist/frontwoman) mirrors the shorthand/meme-culture form of the phrase in the song’s brevity, but totally inverts the concept the phrase refers to. It rings honest and sweet, especially in the studio outtake at the beginning. I’m super grateful for this little Frankie Cosmos-shaped window into their creative process.

 

Honour Council –– Olingo

Honour Council are a Colorado Springs band that I’ve been a fan of since their formation, but this is the first recorded song they’ve shared with the world; I’m so excited to expose people to them! I find it hard to pin their sound down to a single word or genre––some people say they fit into the shoegaze realm, but I say you should just listen. If you like what you hear, come see them play a donation-based Cloud Factory show on May 5that local house venue, The Bump! They’re supporting Dead Sullivan, a really awesome indie band from Texas. Find more details of the event here.

Taylor McFerrin –– Degrees of Light

If this artist’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the son of Bobby McFerrin (if you’re bad with names, he’s the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” guy). Taylor’s music couldn’t be more different from his father’s––this song is totally instrumental, relying heavily on synths and electronic percussion that take you on a journey through what does feel like thousands of different degrees of light. Listen to this song, and you’ll hear how the sounds shimmer and reflect off each other. It’s the most multi-sensory listening experience I’ve had in a while.

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Featured Show General Local Shows: Previews & Reviews Regional Concert Calendar Reviews Shows

CONCERT PREVIEW: Keys N Krates @ Boulder Theater, February 9

Welcome back to school and reality, everyone! With the new year comes a host of dope concerts. The SOCC will be posting previews of shows we think are worth checking out. If you’re looking to enjoy a good night off campus, you can catch Keys N Krates with NYC’s DJ Jubilee at the Boulder Theater on Friday, February 9th.

Toronto’s Keys N Krates have established themselves as one of the biggest names in electronic music, with their song “Dum Dee Dum” achieving RIAA gold status without radio airplay. Party-makers in their own right, KNK also throw an annual festival in their hometown Toronto booking acts like Virgil Abloh, River Tiber, AraabMuzik, and Lunice. More recently, they released “Glitter” ft. Ambré which saw them break the conventions of the dance world and explore R&B. On their forthcoming album Cura they continue to explore sounds outside of the electronic world, a genre that they have led for several years.

One of the inconvenient realities of living in Colorado Springs is that most big names tend to pass us by. While it’s not too hard to get up to Denver or Boulder for a show, most tend to fall on weeknights. Luckily, the Keys N Krates show is on a Friday night, so you don’t even have to worry about making it to class the next morning.

You can buy tickets online here. Check out their single “Glitter” below!

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General Music

Alone Again (Naturally)

creds to Mitski for screenshot

It’s Wednesday of 3rd week. I’m on the I-25, crawling through rush hour traffic foggily towards Denver. The Cranberries ask me over the stereo if I have to let it linger. A little anxious pit in my stomach starts to open again; I push it down. My day, up to this point, has been a sort of tug-of-war between feeling really excited about the Tyler, The Creator show I’m currently on the way to see and the weird, soul-sucking feeling people’s responses have prompted in me when I told them I was going to the show alone.

     The first show I went to alone was an Alex G show in the summer after my senior year of high school. None of my friends had really started to like him yet, but I’d been listening to DSU non-stop since it came out, so I told myself I’d go. “I’m a big girl now,” I thought, “I can go to shows alone.”
     The hour-long train ride there consisted of me pushing down anxiety-nausea with big gulps of water. I would spend time obsessively thinking about what the people at the show might think when they see me alone. Then I’d tell myself that nobody would be paying enough attention to anybody else to notice that kinda thing. Then I’d get sad. You get the picture.
     That show was probably one of the best I’ve seen to date, slightly ruined by the fact that this girl (another alone-attender, though she had a “Press” badge to deflect the blame onto) would not stop following me around until my subway station on the way home. A part from her mild clinginess, there was nothing wrong with this girl––if anything, she seemed pretty sweet. Having experienced a small part of the show alone, though, I didn’t wanna turn back. Being in this small, 100-year-old basement, listening to Alex play guitar, his face covered in cake (don’t ask), felt really intimate. I wasn’t distracted; or, rather, nobody was distracting me. I was completely there, and it was really fucking wonderful. (Until Lindsay tapped me on the shoulder and asked what my name was. Bitch.)
     Go to shows alone! Or, rather, don’t let a lack of company stop you from seeing any bands live. CC is a more socially-focused environment than most, but even here, shows don’t exist for you to be seen. Shows exist for you to see, listen and pay attention to who’s on stage.
     The Tyler show was amazing. I took the empty spots by the stairs of the Ogden, left behind by a crowd of five k-holing teenagers that were being escorted out by the cops, as I walked in. For the next hour and a half, I just listened. It was the best night I’d had in a long time (maybe I really am a big girl now).
Categories
General Music Playlist

4th Week Playlist

Don’t let fourth week murder your sense of adequacy; groove on down with your confusion with Nelson Kies’ playlist of beautiful abstraction beats.
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