Artist Spotlight : Xavier Wulf

By Oliviero Zanalda

Every so often, an artist or group of artists will emerge and immediately cause an impact, becoming widely acknowledged by the public as influential. While certain artists have been fully credited for their music and influence, as they should be, many artists haven’t received the full recognition they should get. This series is meant to highlight artists that haven’t been fully credited for their experimentation, artistic capabilities, and influence on music. 

Xavier Wulf is by far one of my favorite artists of the past decade. The Memphis born, LA based rapper is one of the pioneers (along with Bones, Chris Travis, and Black Smurf) of the dark, underground Memphis rap scene that created the “trap-metal” subgenre of hip hop. Some of the most notable current mainstream artists include $uicideboy$, City Morgue, 6ix9ine (in sound, not persona), and XXXTentacion. This sub-genre utilizes loud, often vulgar, and in-your-face lyrics, dark trap production, and reckless personas that aren’t focused on money and fame like many mainstream trap artists. In its birth in the early 2010s, trap-metal was highlighted by its rejection of the mainstream and its embrace of skate and BMX culture. While many of these artists have changed and conformed to current trap standards, Xavier Wulf has always been the self-proclaimed king of the underground, which we hear in “Request Refused”, where he states, “I’m an underground king and I ain’t gonna drop the belt”, and that’s why he has such a loyal fan base. 

Biography and Early Career

Xavier Wulf, whose real name is Xavier Beard, was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1992. He started rapping in his late teens around 2011, originally going by the name Ethelwulf as a part of the rap group RaiderKlan, which included rappers such as Spaceghostpurrp and Denzel Curry. He released his debut mixtape The Wolf Gang’s Rodolphe in March of 2012, before leaving RaiderKlan to pursue a solo career. RaiderKlan’s importance can’t be understated as they were one of the first rap groups to exclusively release music through free streaming services, being cited as early pioneers of the 2016 Soundcloud movement. Wulf’s early work was heavily inspired by Memphis legends Three-Six Mafia with absurdly violent lyrics and rudimentary production (listen to “Who the F**k is You” and “Help Yo Self” for early examples of Wulf’s solo work). It wasn’t until the release of Blood Shore Season 1 in 2014 that Wulf started to develop the sound that he’s so well known for. His breakthrough mixtape Blood Shore Season 2, released the same year as the first mixtape in the series included “Psycho Pass”, which blew up on the now non-existent social media app, Vine. This is how I was introduced to his work. 

How I Discovered Him

When I discovered Xavier Wulf, I was a moody 7th grader in late 2015, the era of hoverboards, Fetty Wap, and Vine. I was coming off a three year long Eminem phase and I was searching for rappers who broke the lyricism mold that I had become so accustomed to. When I first heard “Psycho Pass”, I only heard seven seconds of the song, which was only the beat drop, but I was immediately hooked. The song’s repetitive, submarine-radar-like beeping accompanied by the rapid 808s and slow bass, which are all introduced separately, counter Wulf’s pugnacious voice and lyrics. His lyrics in this song are simple and almost as aggressive as his delivery, with the topics consisting of infidelity, smoking weed, ridding himself of his opponents by any means necessary, and burning incense for some reason. One of the best parts of the song is when Wulf says, “I’m standing on a boat finna set the damn sail/I burn incense because my brain likes the smell/She get a whiff and thought that it was a spell/I ain’t say, ‘Come,’ but she at the hotel” which he spits right before the aggressive beat drop where the production finally matches his energy. I continued to listen to the rest of Blood Shore Season 2, which is widely considered as his best project by critics and fans alike. Following the success of the mixtape, he continued to drop similar two Tundra Boy Season projects and Project X, which includes the song “Akina Speed Star”, another breakthrough song for Wulf which includes an intro sampled from the anime Initial D.

 

Anime

Another aspect that sets Wulf apart from many rappers of the genre is his love of anime. In many of his songs, including “Akina Speed Star”, he references anime characters and settings. In “Tis the Season” he states, “Princess Mononoke chiefing chee out with Chiyoko”, Princess Mononoke is a reference to the 1997 anime Princess Mononoke from anime legend Hayao Miyazaki and Chiyoko is from the 1998 anime Akira, which is also referenced in the title “Akira Speed Star”. On “Tokyo Drift”, he remixes the Japanese hip hop group, Teriyaki Boyz iconic song “テリヤキ・ボーイズ TOKYO DRIFT (FAST & FURIOUS)”. These days, the fusion of hip hop and anime is common in the industry as Rappers have adopted the Japanese art style to design album covers, merch, music videos, and public persona. Rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s Instagram bio makes the controversial claim that he’s “Asian on the inside”. In 2018, Kanye West claimed that Akira “is not only the greatest animation achievement in history, the subject matter is so relevant to the current state of the world” on Twitter. Some fans even claimed that his outfit at the first Donda listening event was inspired by the film. What Xavier Wulf does differently from these artists is how he is (relatively) subtle about his passion for Japanese culture. He doesn’t have wrapped cars like Uzi and doesn’t go on rants about anime on Twitter like Kanye, but instead makes references to characters in his music and collaborates with Japanese artists (listen to “Riding Shotgun in Japan”, Xavier Wulf’s collaboration with Japanese rapper KOHH). His merchandise doesn’t contain anime characters and most of his album covers lack any reference to his love for anime. I appreciate this because I think that the way Lil Uzi uses anime is borderline cultural appropriation, a theme that I’ve noticed is emerging in hip hop.

Fashion and Public Persona

Another aspect that makes him stand out from other rappers is his taste in fashion. Wulf and his collaborators often choose dark clothing and baggy hoodies over designer pieces and overwhelming chains. While Wulf’s main focus is hip hop, he also collaborates with many independent clothing designers and owns his own brand, Hollowsquad. His concerts are as loud and aggressive as his music, reminiscent of underground punk-rock concerts with mosh pits, stage diving, and injuries being a common theme at most of them. His ability to create this kind of energy without assistance from technology is astounding, with reporter Boom from The Knockturnal declaring, “his energy is felt like an atomic bomb with the wave of excitement that passed through the crowd the entire show. No major light show, no pyrotechnics, or star-studded surprises”. Wulf is also known for his passion for refurbished cars, with his BMW E46 m3 making several appearances at his car meet ups around southern California. He recently refurbished another BMW m3 and seems to be working on another BMW. Before becoming a passionate gearhead, Wulf was a BMX enthusiast, however, his keenness for the sport has faded away in the past few years.

Collaborators and Next Steps

Wulf isn’t known for collaborating with bigger rappers, with his most mainstream collaborations being a 2016 feature on Lil Peep’s “drive by” and a 2017 feature on “F**k a Swisher” by Smokepurpp. Wulf’s main collaborators include Bones, Eddy Baker, idontknowjeffery, and, until recently, Chris Travis. What all these rappers have in common is that they hail from East Memphis and blew up around the same time, which is probably why Wulf chooses to collaborate with them instead of branching out. He’s released two mixtapes with Bones, a mixtape with idontknowjeffery, and countless features including the same array of East Memphis rappers. What’s next for Wulf is up in the air as the last project he released, Rude Dog, wasn’t received well by fans. This was due to the fact that he swapped his iconic, aggressive delivery for a lazier flow with mundane lyrics over mediocre production. Since then he’s only dropped a few singles and hinted at Blood Shore Season 3 but hasn’t followed up on the project since. Xavier Wulf’s been in the game for about 10 years and has been dropping projects relatively consistently since he began, so I don’t blame him for wanting to take a break if that’s his plan. If the next project is the third installment in the Blood Shore series, I’m excited to see whether or not he ditches this new flow for his classic delivery. Regardless of this, Xavier Wulf’s impact on hip hop won’t be forgotten. As the genre continues to evolve, his influence will adapt with it and always allow for an alternative sub-genre that one can look for when seeking a harder, darker sound than what mainstream trap can provide.

Recommended Albums:

Blood Shore Season 2

Project X

Tundra Boy Season 2

East Memphis Maniac

Brace

Recommended Songs:

Video of Xavier Wulf performing his 2015 song “Fort Woe”:

Interview with Xavier Wulf from 2014:

Concert Review: flipturn and Haiva Ru

By Margalit Goldberg

As we walked down the stairs to meet our Uber, I remembered to ask everyone if they had their vaccine card. Being on campus, it’s not something we all thought to carry around, but in the era of mid/post-pandemic live music, most venues are requiring proof of vaccination- including The Black Sheep. As we waited in line to enter the venue and had our IDs and vaccine cards checked, I scanned the crowd and it seemed like flipturn and Haiva Ru was drawing in an eclectic crowd.

By the time the Haiva Ru came on stage, the venue was only about three rows full, but the excitement and energy from the crowd could be felt nonetheless. Having only listened to about three of Haiva Ru’s songs beforehand, I didn’t have many expectations. But right off the bat, the difference between her live sound and studio sound was apparent. She sounds much pop-ier in her discography which includes her album released in 2021, Bloom Baby Bloom, but on stage her performance leaned more towards the gritty Nashville roots of her music.

Haiva Ru’s lead guitarist, Noah Rubin, killed it – playing everything from dreamy, synth-like progressions to gnarlier licks. Strangely, I don’t think he made a single facial expression, and the most movement we saw was a slight head bop. Devon Vonbalson,  stolen from flipturn, backed them up with high-energy pop-punk drums. The band was very much supporting lead singer Allie Merrill, which she made clear when she introduced them as her band.

Haiva Ru played both the electric and acoustic guitar slowing her set down in the middle to play “Wildflowers”, an emotional song about the loss of her sister and the destructive wildfires that plagued her hometown Santa Barbara. She ended her set with “Work It On Out,” which she was proud to mention was just used in an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial, which was very fitting given the track’s poppy sound. Also worth noting that Allie makes Christian pop music under the name Allie Page. Do with that what you will.

Flipturn took the stage and immediately their dynamic and carefree chemistry was illuminated. They’ve been together since 2015 when they formed as a high school band in their small town of Fernandina Beach, Florida and you can see the closeness and communication they’ve been able to create in the way they bounce around together on stage. The lead singer, Dillon, and lead guitarist, Tristan Duncan, begin almost every song face-to-face staring each other in the eyes. Then they burst into dancing and headbanging, bringing the energy in the venue even higher. Looking around, a good chunk of the crowd knew the words to every song, which is a testament to their growing fan base.

Despite their high energy stage presence, they hinted that the tour had begun to wear them out. When Dillon introduced the band they included the rubber chicken that they had bought and brought with them to each show. In a moment of honesty and slight desperation, Dillon explained that to break away from the monotony of touring they started an Instagram account for the rubber chicken. Upon request from the band themselves, here is a link to follow along on Jalapeno the tour chicken’s journey, and peek into the slight delirium that touring can cause.

Flipturn played two unreleased singles from their soon-to-be-released first full-length studio album, “Playground” and “Space Cowboy.” “Playground” kept with their feel-good indie rock vibe, but “Space Cowboy” gave a peek into the evolution of their sound that I’m hoping to see in their upcoming release. The track still had lively guitar riffs but it slowed down into something reminiscent of dream-pop, a step in a new direction for flipturn.

The encore was the most fun part of the night as the band and the audience used up the last of their weekend energy to chant the lyrics to Chicago, shouting the loudest during the line “I get high in Colorado.” Dillon came off the stage to mosh with the crowd and it became clear that the band would have the same energy no matter what size venue they play. They are all doing what they love and putting on a great show while they do it.

While waiting for flipturn to set up, I was able to snag the very last tour shirt and after the show, I talked to the band and had them sign it. They kept their carefree attitude off the stage and were all clearly excited to interact with their fans.  If you ever get a chance to see flipturn live don’t pass it up, but for now you can check out their Live at Sugarshack Sessions EP to feel the aura of a live performance.

Greensky Bluegrass with Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real

by Max Brown

It’s August 7th of this year, and I’m standing in a crowd with some of my closest friends, unconsciously swaying while the sounds of dobro, banjo, and mandolin wash over me. I close my eyes, but behind my eyelids I can still make out the soft blue lights from the stage. I’m at Salmonfest, a music festival in my home state of Alaska, and Greensky Bluegrass is rocking my world for the first time.

Cut to September 17th, just over a month after my first exposure to the group, and I’m on my way to see the band again, but this time for my very first concert at Red Rocks Ampitheatre and with four brand new friends. I’d never been to Red Rocks before that night. I’d seen photos, heard stories, even listened to and watched recordings of live shows there. But I knew none of that would come close to attending a concert there in person, and I was beyond excited for the opportunity.

Walking into the venue, what was immediately striking was the energy. Everyone was excited to be there, and the feeling was totally infectious. I spotted several folks wearing Grateful Dead apparel, and while I’ve never actually been to a Dead show, I imagine the vibe would be quite similar—smiling and laughing folks everywhere you looked.

Opening for the show that night was Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, and they were already playing as we made our way through the crowd, listening to Nelson crooning to the bustling masses that were settling into the stands. Nelson’s voice is both piercing and soothing—while playing “Just Outside of Austin,” his voice rolled over the crowds and seemed to emanate from around the sandstone lining the venue, singing affectionately of his family’s ranch in Luck, Texas. When the band played their most popular tune, “Find Yourself,” absolutely every member of the crowd was singing along, and my friends and I were no different.

When Greensky Bluegrass came on, the sun had completely set, and the only light around came from the stage and from the Denver city lights that were the backdrop of the event. The setting for the show was completely psychedelic. The stage flashed green, blue, and purple, and the band appeared as colorful silhouettes until a spotlight shone on whoever was blowing minds with a solo. I couldn’t help but feel as if this was the kind of show Red Rocks was made for—driving, lively bluegrass music and a strikingly beautiful venue amplified each other effortlessly.

Throughout the whole show, dancing was simply required. Slower song, faster song, absolutely blazing song, it didn’t matter. Whatever they were playing, all the music made you want to do was move. Even the event staff couldn’t help themselves from dancing with the crowd. With such a rocking, roll the windows down and feel the wind in your hair kind of feeling in so many of their songs, I had to keep reminding myself I was listening to a bluegrass band. Standout songs included “What You Need,” a loping tune with some fantastic solos from dobro player Anders Beck and mandolin player Paul Hoffman, and the group’s rendition of “Atlantic City,” a timeless classic made new with a bluegrass twist.

My favorite tune of the show came right at the end of the night—the band came out for an encore and played a brand-new song from Hoffman called “Grow Together.” Energetic and vibrant, it was a perfect song to end the night and send the crowd on their way home.

My first time at Red Rocks Ampitheatre (now my favorite venue I’ve been to), my first time seeing Lukas Nelson, and my second time seeing Greensky Bluegrass—a night I won’t forget any time soon.

Greensky Bluegrass’s new album, “Stress Dreams,” is available starting 1/21/2022.

NEW PLAYLIST: reflections on deflections, avoidance, navigating the shitstorm

By Maeve Goodrich

Is this playlist a direct manifestation of my Covid consciousness? YES. Warmest of welcomes.

If you’re in the market for some delightful tunes with which to harmonize whilst screaming into the void, I’ve got some great news: this playlist. This playlist is the news. Woooo. A fun little compilation reflecting (and deflecting) the feelings of undistilled rage and melancholy that have so kindly accompanied this shitstorm of a year. Attempts at peace, laughter, and comfort are also documented here, mostly because they say a diverse diet is a healthy one. There’s a song all about hummus, for f–k’s sake. Existential dread is best served with snacks. Cheers. VOTE AND STUFF

NEW PLAYLIST: Songs for reeling

by Carol Holan

Like a lot of college students, I decided to take the year off of college before actually deciding what to do with it. This is a playlist for feeling overwhelmed with plans and possibilities while simultaneously worrying that you’ll be sitting in your childhood bedroom for the next six months.

NEW PLAYLIST: Cardiac Passages

Last weekend I took a road trip to Nebraska through Colorado and Kansas. All the states blended together with white rolling hills and the occasional windmill cluster, perfect for a naturally-induced ego death. My mind cleared into nothingness as the song “Sensitive” by Mr. Twin Sister came through my headphones. The ambient instrumentals and Andrea Estella’s eerie voice washed over me as I drifted into a trance. The chorus repeats the lines “Is this romantic dreaming?/ Is this just an illusion?” and then concludes the song with “A memory?” 

The theme for this playlist is romantic dreaming, where you feel out of touch with reality because you are entranced by a memory or by a creation of a future memory. The lucid instrumental passages in the songs take you out of time; through romantic dreamings, illusions, and memories that leave you with all the fuzzy side effects of brooding for for an hour. Enjoy.

Playlist cover art courtesy of Kate Planting.

 

What’s Poppin’ with Jack Harlow? It’s Time to Get to Know the Kentucky Rapper

Jack Harlow in the music video for his latest song, “WHATS POPPIN,” Dir. Cole Bennett of Lyrical Lemonade.

If you listen to rap and haven’t heard the name Jack Harlow yet, get ready. With the success of the rapper’s most recent single, “WHATS POPPIN,” we’re bound to be hearing more from him than just his name. 2020 is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Louisville, Kentucky native—he’s not yet done riding the high of his most recent album, Confetti, the project that’s best showcased his range, flow, confidence, and charm. In March he embarks on The Roaring 20’s Tour with Guapdad 400, touring throughout the United States through May. After streaming Harlow’s new single—and watching the accompanying, energetic music video directed by Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennet—the best way to get to know the “Hometown Hero” is to jump right in: whether you start with his recent work or his older tracks, you’re guaranteed a good time.

Harlow at Louisville, KY’s Forecastle Festival in 2017. Image courtesy of Urban Wyatt.

Harlow rapped throughout adolescence, selling CDs of he and his friends’ tracks at their middle school before posting his work on YouTube and Soundcloud in his early high school years. In 2015 he released The Handsome Harlow EP, followed by an album in 2016 entitled 18. It became the album of the summer for countless Louisvillian teenagers, especially my sister and I, who hailed from the same neighborhood as Harlow. That summer the air was humid and the music was hot. The bubbly track “Ice Cream” was blasted in my house, in my car, and with my friends constantly. Harlow’s music felt, to me, like a simultaneous celebration of living in and experiencing Louisville while optimistically looking and working forward to getting out. Harlow’s work, his older and newer stuff alike, perfectly captures the angst, energy, and ambition of living in a world somewhere between suburbia and the city. Though the sentiment I gather from his music—specifically the songs “Eastern Parkway” and “RIVER ROAD”—is one tied both physically and emotionally to my experiences in my hometown, overall his work is appealing and fresh. There’s something there for everyone.

Jack Harlow. Image courtesy of Urban Wyatt.

Harlow’s music ranges from bouncy bops perfect for pre-games to slower, poignant reflections on struggles and successes—in his work you’re bound to find something to fit every mood. Harlow has a pretty impressive catalogue—every year since The Handsome Harlow EP and 18 Harlow has consistently released new music, singles and full projects alike. Around 2016 he co-created an independent record label and music collective called Private Garden. He constantly surrounds himself with other creatives—notably his longtime friends—including photographer Urban Wyatt whose work on film is featured in nearly every Jack Harlow project. He’s also influenced and mentored by well-known Louisvillian rapper Bryson Tiller, who joined Harlow for some bars on the 2019 single “THRU THE NIGHT.” The appreciation for culture, music, and art within Harlow’s collective is clear. It’s both strong in his music and energizing in his performances.

Most recently, Harlow and his friends can be seen in the music video for his latest single, “WHATS POPPIN,” hanging around at a diner—and for lack of a better phrase—basically just vibing. The energy in the video is as hot as Harlow’s lyrics. Most to all of the comments littered under the video on YouTube are positive—one person writes “Won’t lie, I came to judge, I left impressed,” another, “How tf did I never hear this guy? Fire,” while an older fan notes (in all-caps for emphasis) “My boy Jack Harlow on the map now.” The new single is currently featured on Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist and is steadily climbing the streaming platform’s charts, recently cracking the United States Top 50 at number 49. From here Harlow only intends to go up. It’s safe to say one can expect some fresh Harlow on the horizon in 2020 with his expressed plans for another full-length album and some more, new collaborations. Harlow won’t be stopping any time soon, making now the best time to get to know the Handsome, New-Balance-clad Harlow before everyone else does.


This article was written for and originally appeared in the Feb. 7th, 2020 Vol. 50, No. 15 issue of The Catalyst: The Independent Student Newspaper of Colorado College.

Devendra Banhart Plays at Boulder Theater

Devendra Banhart at the Boulder Theater. Image courtesy of Lauren Hough.

Clad in the sleekest of all black getups down to the polished Prada oxfords, cleanly-pressed Devendra Banhart sashayed on stage and silently announced to that he indeed was a fancy man. The stage was set with a giant tapestry that displayed Devendra’s hand painted ginormous flowers that mirrored the floral design on the cover of Ma, his newest album.

Ma is multilingual and multicolored, splattered with primary colors and songs that salute Carole King and John Lennon. He released three singles as a prelude to the complete album, each one wildly fun and widely different- “Kantori Ongaku.” “Abre Las Manos,” and “Taking a Page.” With each coveted single release though, my understanding of Devendra’s vision grew- this wasn’t about a cohesive musical aesthetic but rather, a cohesive concept. This album is about those who teach us, who impart wisdom, who guide us the world, and it’s about those who bring us into this world. The album is Devendra’s journey into him becoming a Ma. It is his statement of paternity and maternity. Yet, I was hesitant to like Ma. I couldn’t understand this new role Devendra had chosen to play.

I saw Devendra and his band perform in Boulder with my friend Mimi- we stood front and center. The best way I can describe the experience for me was the feeling of being a preschooler. I imagined huge bugs crawling across the stage, and felt as if every audience member was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a semi circle, googly-eyed. Devendra talked cryptically almost, telling us long, extended, made-up stories about socks and concerts he performed fifty years ago. The kick drum was adorned with a huge smiley face, with the Om symbol for its eyes. The flowers on the tapestry seemed to grow- or I seemed to shrink- becoming more like a child.

He began the concert by performing “Is This Nice?”, a soft song loaded with lessons on how to love and cry and create. Give this song a listen for references to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” if nothing else. Devendra sang maybe 5 or 6 songs off of Ma before dragging a wooden stool and his acoustic guitar on stage and asking the audience what they’d like to hear. Some people ecstatically shouted their fave songs’ title, others widened their eyes and raised their hands waiting for teacher to call on them. I was in the second boat of people, and when called on, I requested Devendra play “Shame,” an old, silly song about boobs and playing in the sun. “Shame” is a song that encapsulated my former image of Devendra Banhart as an artist. It’s a song that makes you want to giggle and dance and let yourself be like your childhood self (the song does come off an EP called “I Feel Just Like a Child” after all). Devendra looked almost shocked at my request, it’s one of his oldest songs. He thanked me for asking to hear it, but said the band didn’t know how to play it. Admittedly I was sad. Unable to hear that song live! A minor heartbreak.

But thinking about it now, “Shame” didn’t fit into that concert. While I always thought of Devendra Banhart as having the fervent feel of a child, I had missed that he had changed. His music contained more teachings than before. It was less spastic. It felt put together and organized, in the way some parental figures do. Caterpillar has become a butterfly! Sprout has become a bean! Devendra has become a Ma!


You can read about Devendra Banhart, look at his tour dates, and access his music on his website, linked here.

Interview with Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro

Julia Shapiro. Image courtesy of Hardly Art.

I reached out to Julia Shapiro, indie rock singer and songwriter, as she prepares for Chastity Belt’s American Tour for their self titled album released in September. Shapiro is most known for her solo album she recently released as well as her lead vocals and guitar for all-girl garage bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who is She?

After Chastity Belt cancelled their tour last April due to “health concerns,” Shapiro ventured into introspective songwriting and mixing that resulted in her first solo album titled Perfect Version that captures Shapiro’s discontent with personal imaging and searching for self growth through musings of change and stagnation simultaneously. She then continued working with Chastity Belt and the band later released their self titled album on September 20. Capturing similar sentiments and instrumentals as Shapiro’s Perfect Version, Chastity Belt wanders through foggy terrain of a mental landscape of dissatisfaction while combating it with surreal optimism. I asked Julia some questions about her experiences with creating Perfect Version mostly alone and being back with Chastity Belt after a much needed break.


What have you been up to since the release of Chastity Belt’s album and getting ready for the anticipated U.S. tour in February?

We tour quite a bit over the fall. In October we did a European tour and then in November we played the East Coast. We’re also working on writing some new stuff.

How are you feeling about touring with Chastity Belt again?

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with touring. It can be really fun, but also super exhausting. It’s all about getting the right balance. I’m excited about this upcoming tour because we’re taking our Australian buddies Loose Tooth with us. It’s also our last tour for a while, so that makes it feel a bit more manageable.

What are the things you do to stay centered when you’re struggling on tour or dealing with the frustrations of the recording industry?

Take a walk, call a friend, try to remember to take some alone time. It can be hard to find the time to take care of yourself on tour.

Did your solo album and emotions you unpacked in Perfect Version influence Chastity Belt’s self titled album?

All the lyrics are coming from me, so yeah I suppose so. Some of my solo songs probably could’ve been Chastity Belt songs if the timing had been different — there’s not a huge distinction between my songwriting process when I do solo stuff and when I do stuff with my band, except I was maybe a little bit looser with the way I wrote lyrics for my solo album. It was a little bit more stream of conscious.

How does mixing and composing music alone compare to the process with Chastity Belt?

It’s a lot quicker cause there’s only one person to consult. It’s also hard cause you sort of have to trust yourself more, since you’re the only one making decisions. It’s harder for me to get as excited about songs when I’m by myself — it helps to have my bandmates around to encourage me.

How did you all start Chastity Belt and overcome gender barriers in garage rock? Any advice for college students (specifically, girls) trying to start a band?

Trust yourself, and don’t just blindly follow others advice, especially men who are out of touch haha. Check in with yourself and your bandmates every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing feels good, and ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Do you think Chastity Belt has evolved since you all started making music in college?

Oh definitely. We started out just joking around, we never thought the band would become this serious. We’ve learned a lot along the way. There’s no way to really learn how to make music other than just doing it and learning from your mistakes.

What kinds of music inspired the conception of Chastity Belt? What are you listening to right now? 

Growing up I was really into Elliott Smith, and I still think he was an amazing songwriter. I also listened to Fiona Apple and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in high school. Recently I’ve been really into the new DIIV record. Those guitars sound so good.


Chastity Belt is touring the United States starting early February and will be performing in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on February 23.

Our Favorite Albums of 2019

Check out what some of our DJs consider their favorite albums of 2019.

 

You Deserve LoveWhite Reaper

Review by Jane Harris

No one did it quite like White Reaper this year. 2019 was a bountiful year for the Louisville, Kentucky natives. With the release of their third studio album, You Deserve Love, White Reaper signed with Elektra Records, joining the ranks of rock n’ roll greats. However, the group isn’t too daunted by sharing a label with The Doors or The Cars, they are quite content blazing their own path and ‘reaping’ its benefits. One of their singles, “Might Be Right,” off You Deserve Love, has racked up over 3 million streams (and counting) since its release at the end of May, dethroning their staple “Judy French” as the band’s most-streamed single. White Reaper’s new album provides a perfect soundtrack for the turn of the year into a new decade— featuring  impressive battling guitar solos reminiscent of classic rock with contrasting high-energy synth sections that deepen the record’s sound. Though the new album isn’t quite as party-next-door sounding as their last two records, the natural progression of their sound as more sleek and tuned can’t be denied or ignored. This album shows that progress is valuable and important. You Deserve Love proves White Reaper succeeds in making intentional music for constantly evolving times and listeners. And that music fucking rocks.

Along with the success of their newest album, 2019 brought White Reaper their debut on national television— they rounded out the year with an electrifying performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Make no mistake, White Reaper is a force to be reckoned with. So sit back and kick off 2020 with some good tunes and some good love— you deserve it!

 

Come In, Weatherday

Review by August Caldwell

If you listen to any album I ever try to peddle into your earholes, please let it be the emo-punk masterpiece, Come In by Swedish artist Weatherday. I hesitated to suggest this album out of fear that every hip CC student would start listening to it and it would cease to be my own, personal album. But, in light of the season of giving, I decided to do a selfless act and give you, reader, the gift of this perfect album. You can thank me by listening to it.

Come In, Weatherday’s debut album, is a mystical grunge piece, both light and dark, soft and heavy all at the same time. Perhaps what I love most about this album is the lack of production on it. The album is self produced and according to the artist, Sputnik, was recorded mostly in their bedroom. The album possesses the simplicity of a Bandcamp gem and the elevation of raw musical talent. Listening to Come In is like being submerged in a complex dream, it is mysterious, but it resonates. It has a fantastic flow; the music moves you from unabashedly head-banging in public to weeping on your dorm room floor in one fluid motion. The album is absolutely delectable in its entirety, each song blends beautifully into the next, coming together to build a story whose contents seem to evolve with every listen. Come In is balanced; each track transitions seamlessly, and yet the album does not let the listener tune out, like many other albums of its genre. Weatherday injects chaotic and explosive energy throughout, but they make it sympathetic. There is not a dull moment in the entire album. The punk coarseness on tracks like Older Than Before and Cut Lips do not dominate and are balanced with softer, melodramatic tracks like Embarrassing Paintings and the opening moments of Mio, Min, Mio. The fifth track, My Sputnik Sweetheart, is especially noteworthy. The thirteen minute song is both long and crafted enough to subsist as an album in itself. My Sputnik Sweetheart is an emotional rollercoaster, carrying the listener from sunken ballad through a hardcore rage into a goose bump-raising gothic chord progression.

Come In is an important addition to the lo-fi emo-punk genre as one of the most creative albums to emerge from 2019. The album gives magic and a certain child-like thought process back to the genre. Weatherday has proved themselves to be an inspired lo-fi artist in their debut album and I look forward to their future productions in 2020.

 

Over It, Summer Walker

Review by August Caldwell

Atlanta native Summer Walker’s studio debut album, Over It, immediately stood out to me as one of the best albums of 2019. I am not the only one who holds this opinion, its debut week marked the largest streaming week for an R&B album by a female artist. Walker’s second album reveals a large professional leap from her first. She paired up with producer and boyfriend London on Da Track to create a well produced and star studded album sporting hit singles featuring other R&B stars, such as Come Thru with Usher and Playing Games with Bryson Tiller. In between these catchy, breakout tracks, there are gems tucked away that are as soulful as they are sexual, making the entire album an absolute pleasure to listen to, and a personal favorite of mine.

Over It has a slow, sultry flow filled with emotional complexity. Walker’s soft, crooning and at times, mumbly voice gives the album a very sexual feel. I often catch myself gently humping the air when I listen, no matter where I am. I have been trying to control myself, but the melodies are powerful. At the same time, the lyrics invite the listener to share Walker’s most inner thoughts of frustration, anger, desire and heartbreak. It is naughty at some points, Walker tenderly describes scenes of lovemaking on tracks like Stretch You Out and Body that unabashedly draw the listener into the bedroom and let them watch. No matter the content, Walker’s style never fails to be deeply introspective and moody. Walker, the introverted queen of R&B, presents herself as a sexually empowered and dominant woman across her songs, like Just Might with lyrics “I just might be a hoe.” The shy girl-sex kitten combination that Walker introduces is not only inviting but incredibly powerful.

Over It masterfully accentuates Walker’s talent and unique voice. Listening to the album is a deliciously spiritual experience; the sound is so soft and intimate it feels as if the album is wrapped in silk. The album is a great contribution the R&B genre and I am eager to follow Walker’s success in the upcoming decade.

 

Diaspora,Goldlink

Review by Emily Faulks

After listening to Goldlink’s second album At What Cost, I had been anticipating his new album for almost two years. When it finally came out, I was not disappointed. Although the album, entitled “Diaspora,” does not have the same 90’s inspired beats as songs like “Summatime” and “Crew” in his last album, Goldink beautifully creates a time capsule of the present that is scattered across a spatial plane. The songs in Diaspora feel like a musical representation of youth and vitality, the beats pulsating to Goldlink’s relaxed voice and airy choruses. The album opens with the brief introduction of a man sprinting outside on a summer night; then abruptly jumps to a mellow beat and buoyant hook from Ari PenSmith in “Joke Ting.” The album reflects the diaspora of black music through reggae inspired beats and D.C. slang that expose inequality beyond the D.C. area to other gentrifying cities in America and colonized countries in Latin America and Africa. This is my favorite rap album of the year because of Goldlink’s effortless flow paired with hip-swaying beats. It makes me feel like I’m right there with him: running alongside him on a summer night.

Patience, Mannequin Pussy

Review by Mimi Norton

I first heard of Mannequin Pussy when I saw them open for Japanese Breakfast on tour in 2017. I was captivated by their show because they performed at a breakneck pace, flying through a series of loud, high-energy songs; each of the band members’ bodies tensing and releasing according to the pulse of the drums. This punk record is driven by tight guitars and explosive drumming, but it’s exceptional because the album really features lead singer, Marisa Dabice, and lets her voice cut through the noise to share hard truths about trauma, toxic relationships, and self-love. This album is so fun to listen to, and will give anyone listening a new appreciation for patience in this crazy life we all live.