Metal to the Masses: Baroness Lives On

Audrey Avril ’19

Late into last year, Baroness released Purple and reminded us that we should give metal a shot some time.

The 4th full-length album from the sludge metal band from Savannah, Georgia, Purple continues the band’s journey through the color spectrum, from the electric energy of breakout Red and the unrelenting harshness it sustained into Blue, to a maturation of the experimentation (borderline indie rock vibe) found on the double album Yellow & Green. In the end, Baroness pulls from the best of their discography to craft a powerful, thrilling, and diverse sound that is well worth a listen from any fan of metal, hard rock, or heck, music in general.

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Mellow out, man: A playlist

By Stephanie Holstein ’18

It’s happening. After a blissful month of total relaxation we have been pulled from our dream-like states and our attentions have returned to those cold, hard books that smell like education and homework and sacrificing a night out, or not having time to watch your shows, or getting less than five hours of sleep, what have you. As we get deeper into this wonderful yet busy semester, you may need to take a little breather to keep cool and remind yourself that me-time is the most important time of the day (quickly seconded by any sleep time, then breakfast time, and so on and so forth). Enjoy these quiet tracks, which rather than rule your mind, serve as a nice soundtrack to any zen thoughts you may have as you space out.

“Speed of Sound” by Chris Bell

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Playlist: Elliott Smith -Deep Cuts, Deeper Cuts, Deepest Cuts

By Tom Loughney ’16

When Elliott Smith passed away back in 2003, he left behind a gargantuan catalog of unreleased material that has since come to swim around in the ether of the internet. It’s an exciting time to be an Elliott Smith fan, in a way. Elliott may be gone, but his musical legacy has only expanded, thanks to the people who’ve uncovered and released nearly every recorded sound he ever produced. That being said, large amounts of content are a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand, there’s more media to consume. On the other, it can be kind of daunting to try and parse through hundreds of studio recordings and bootlegged live performances.

Don’t worry though. I gotchu.

My high school interest in Elliott Smith could have been described as religious. I spent hundreds of hours searching out every video, every recording, every little nugget of information about the God of singer-songwriters. I’ve since branched out, but – don’t worry – I’ve held on to all that good, good Smith-centric knowledge – and now I get to use it. This is the playlist I was born to write:  a guide to the best of Elliott Smith’s deep cuts – one that will ideally mitigate the difficulty of parsing his massive posthumous catalog, and further your interest and appreciation for one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I genuinely hope this playlist helps you discover and learn – I’m always looking for new people to talk about obscure Elliott Smith with.[1]

I’m getting way too sincere. Sorry, this happens when I talk about Elliott Smith. Old habits, I suppose. Leave a comment if you have any questions for me about the songs. As has – I’m sure – become clear, I can’t resist a good chat about some Elliott Smith.

Enjoy the playlist.

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QUIZ! Which Late-2015 Justin Bieber Single Are You?

By Charlotte Freccia ’19

This must have been Justin Bieber’s agenda all along: capture our vulnerable middle-school hearts with his soft hair, soft smile, and gentle vocals, lose his shit, insult notable historical figures from Anne Frank to Bill Clinton, piss in a mop bucket, become a collective cultural effigy doll, become Grown-Man Hot and star in a Calvin Klein underwear campaign, and then redeem himself by dropping three unquestionable bangers in rapid succession in the latter months of the Year of Our Lord 2015. His new LP, Purpose, is the Big Bad Biebs at his slickest, sexiest, and most adult, and the three leading singles (“What Do You Mean?” “Sorry” and “Love Yourself,” the aforementioned “unquestionable bangers”) feature three distinct styles and personalities. Everyone knows which girl they most identify with from the “Sorry” video (I’m the one in the yin-yang tracksuit, in case anyone was wondering), but beyond that I wonder, as one does, which track most poignantly speaks to my spiritual status in these early days of 2016––which just might be remembered, as 2015 was The Year of The Weeknd, as The Year of JB.  

At any rate, here’s a handy quiz that’ll let you know if you’re more “Love Yourself” than “What Do You Mean?” or “Sorry.” (And if you are, woof. You’re in my prayers).

Things with your hometown honey were left on a rather sour note upon your return to Kenyon. Now that you’re back, though, you’re being exposed to late-night Snapchats and drunken Missed Calls. Your former bae needs to know you’ve moved on, and you deliver the message as follows:

  1. You don’t. Continue to respond to the desperate Snaps (promptly, no less) while also flirting with the homies on your hall. Nothing wrong with keeping your options open, much less feeling up, down, and in between.
  2. Produce a glossy video featuring flexible dancers in fluorescent costumes in order to acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and clear the air in the new year.
  3. Remember all the reasons your mama didn’t like your chosen partner and compose a subtly devastating kiss-off to remind yourself that you’re better sleeping on your own.

Pick your democratic-party candidate:

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Martin O’Malley
  3. Bernie Sanders

Second semester is hitting you harder than those eggs hit JB’s neighbor’s house. Papers, exams, presentations––it’s only the third week of classes, and you feel like you’re going to collapse at any moment. How are you coping?

  1. Spend an inordinate amount of time at Office Hours, asking questions about the reading material and getting specialized attention from your professors. As for that tough, complicated assignment that lacks a concrete description on the syllabus: make sure to ask your teacher: “Oh, oh, oh, what do you mean?”
  2. Try your best. Be earnest and energetic. And if it all falls apart, remember that it’s never too late to say “Sorry.”
  3. Remember the importance of self-love and take frequent study breaks to exercise, sleep, and recharge. Beware the dangers of getting caught up in your job!

Footwear of choice:

  1. Vans
  2. Timberlands
  3. TOMS

If you got…

mostly 1’s Congratulations! Your fluid attitude and curious nature make “What Do You Mean?” your spirit-song. Now, whether you’re the pleading, confused asker or the indecisive askee is entirely up to you.

mostly 2’s Your February mood is best expressed in bright colors, super-fly dance moves, and synth-wails reminiscent of elephant sounds: that’s right––it just might be time to embrace the ubiquity of the Biebs and get a little “Sorry” into your life.

mostly 3’s Aw, man. Are you okay? Seems like “Love Yourself” is the song you’re most connecting with these days. You’ve been burned; that much is clear. Remember that it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong and appreciate yourself a little.

Pusha T – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude

DBDby Tom Loughney ’16

Pusha T — former half of the now-defunct rap duo, Clipse — started his solo career strong with 2013’s critically acclaimed My Name is My Name, and recently released a prelude album to his upcoming King Push, called King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude. Long title aside, I’m a pretty big fan of what this record did, and what it’s leading to. The intro asks Push, “Who you wanna be? Drug dealer? Demon? Rap nigga? You tryna save the culture?” and, really, that’s what this album is about: Pusha T, his dealing, his power, his rap career, and his culture, all presented through Push’s amped up, eloquent style.

While Pusha T is definitely trying to stir up some hype, he’s not being overly bombastic about it. Production is pretty minimal — a little bit haunted, a little bit menacing. This isn’t a dense album, sonically or structurally, but really, that’s not the point. Pusha T wants you to listen to him, much more so than what’s going on around him. Push spends most of this album talking his persona up, talking his career up, talking his technical abilities up. Most tracks on this album — with a few exceptions — fall deep into hype track territory. To be clear, I don’t think this is a bad thing. This would wear out its welcome were Push a lesser rapper, but he’s got more than enough chops to make a thematically singular album stand out.

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Track Review: “Not the One” by Chumped

by Teddy Farkas ’16

 

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Chumped, 2014. Photo courtesy of Erik Erikson, Stereogum

After a whirlwind few years, the four-piece pop-punk outfit Chumped have decided to call it quits. After a fairly successful self-titled EP, the Brooklyn-based band was picked up by Anchorless Records, who helped the band put out a three-song second EP in September 2014, That’s The Thing Is Like​.​.​., and their only full-length LP, Teenage Retirement, the following November.

I’ve seen Chumped several times and was excited to see what they would do next, but this past Halloween, the band decided to break up for unknown reasons. Although, it seems doubtful any of the members will give up music for good. In fact, Chumped’s lead singer, Anika Pyle, and drummer, Dan Frelly, have reformed as a duo named Katie Ellen. The band Chumped just needed to come an end. Chumped will play two sold-out farewell shows this Friday and Saturday at Suburbia in Brooklyn and, in anticipation of the event, have released one final single.

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Best of the West: Western Soundtrack Playlist

By Audrey Avril ‘19

A vast open vista. A rattlesnake gives you the serpent equivalent of the middle finger. A bandit has his own fingers a little too close to his gun for your liking. The screeching hawk sound effect cries overhead, looking for a bone to pick too. The sun’s beating bullets down onto what is apparently the only street in town, and you’re trying to keep your cool, but it’s really tricky when all you’ve been doing for the past ten darn minutes of screen time is getting a camera shot all up in your face. You wonder when you can stop making eyes at this guy and just get to shootin’ already. You draw and-! Oops he’s dead it literally took .2 seconds.

Back in the day, Westerns were very popular by way of fantastic wish fulfillment. Now, we’ve sort of fallen into disillusionment about the genre. Maybe, once we finally got to watching all of those old films, we realized that being a cowboy consisted of a lot of sun exposure, a disappointing amount of actual gun exposure, wandering around the desert for an eternity of screen time (think Lord of the Rings, except only scenes of hobbits walking across New Zealand. So, essentially, Lord of the Rings), and having a grumpy-stoic persona so on point that no one will actually have a decent conversation the entire movie. Thank god, then, that these movies had some pretty kick-butt soundtracks. These songs are so suspenseful, so epic, so nostalgic, and so wonderfully invigorating, it can make even a boring weekday too intense. Here are just a few of my favorites.

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Playlist: Tales from Second Floor McBride

By Jacqueleen Eng ’19

Long side second floor McBride is many things. Purgatory? A frat house? A dysfunctional grow operation? Certainly, but no matter how chaotic it may get, there’s something oddly endearing about living here.

My room happens to be nestled in the corner between another double and the infamous gender neutral bathroom. Originally a men’s bathroom, only the guys regularly use it—not only because some protested its gender neutrality, but because it’s gross. There’s a maintenance worker here at least once a week fixing a toilet or the sink, and there’s routinely sad cans of Natty Ice forlorn in the shower and suspicious half-eaten jars of salsa on the shelf. In typical teenage fashion, most of second floor plays music in the shower (and everywhere else), and I happen to have the advantage of not only hearing each song, but I’m so close I can Shazam it! Here are some typical tunes:

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Kanye: The Mad Tracks Behind the Mad Stacks

By Tom Loughney ’16

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FACTS:

Sometimes, our favorite musicians will put a line in a song–a line that has absolutely nothing to do with the ideas or narrative of the song–because they think it sounds really, really cool, and because they think they will sound really, really cool saying it. This can pay off in rare situations, but, usually, these make for some pretty cringe-worthy bars. Kanye, as much as I love the guy, is sort of the reigning king of these lyrical blemishes,[1] and boy howdy is he earning his crown on the New Year’s Eve release, “FACTS.”

Watch the throne, everybody.

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A Conversation with Free Cake For Every Creature

Interview by Stephanie Holstein ’18

Free Cake For Every Creature is the project of Katie Bennett, who has been releasing amazing music for the past few years on Bandcamp, both as a solo artist — most recently with her new album, moving songs — as well as with a full-band, as in “pretty good”. Bennett’s music is wide-ranging yet relatable; as she sings quietly and sweetly of love, changes, and memories, she turns her own introspective moments into short and beautiful stories to be shared with us. As Bennett says below, she most enjoys artists she can relate to, and find a friend in. After listening to her music for the past year — not to mention that amazing show Free Cake played at The Horn with Addie Pray — I can confidently say she is just the kind of artist she talks about! That being said, I was so happy to sit down with Bennett and her bandmates and talk about inspiration, Bowie, an eclectic mix of movies, and of course, sweet sweet music. Enjoy!

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Free Cake For Every Creature is Katie Bennett (third from the left) pictured here with bandmates Ian Stewart, Francis Lyons, and Colin Manjoney.

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