Pics by Hasanti Kelly ‘22
M for Empathy (2019) — Lomelda; released on Double Double Whammy Records
As Lomelda, Hannah Read makes emotional music with the recognition that words often fail to convey the most important emotions in our lives. The title of her latest record, M for Empathy, highlights this interest in “empathy” and how we discuss our feelings, focusing especially on how the mundane can blend together every minute with the meaningful. Accompanying this exploration is a small range of mostly acoustic instruments — guitars, upright piano, the ineffable vox of Hannah Read — that are often mic’d up as close as possible, giving the listener a heightened sense of nearness. On tracks like “Bunk,” this nearness provides you with a front-row seat to the intensely private events and emotions that Hannah depicts.
The criticism I often hear made about the latest record, compared to Lomelda’s previous releases, is that the songs seem underdeveloped, often ending prematurely. On the contrary, the tracks on M for Empathy excel at gripping the listener tightly, opening a window into Hannah Read’s emotional domain, then shutting it soon after, as a sort of reminder that true empathy is impossible. The tracks on 2017’s Thx strive for a lush sense of atmosphere in which the listener can luxuriate, at times reaching cathartic heights like on the stunning “Bam Sha Klam.” This latest record digs much deeper into the realm of everyday emotions, employing the kind of wonderfully makeshift phrases that pass in and out of consciousness with a flicker — must make myself a mold; salty for her tongue; how many more rememberings....
On “Slide,” Hannah gives a heart-rending account of a near-suicide that was prevented by the buzz of a cell-phone, a friend reaching out. Yet, the storytelling on this track isn’t at all ballad-like. It doesn’t focus on events, but rather on the volatile feelings that Hannah experiences as she drives to a hotel and rethinks everything leading up to this point, the mistakes of the past constantly encroaching on her psyche in the present. As she narrates this sudden end to the episode, the instrumental swells, her voice doubles the eerie synth line, and the song ends in a decidedly major-key fashion. As the listener, we’ll never know how Hannah felt in that moment, but listening and understanding is the closest we can come to empathizing with her.
On the album’s closing track, its briefest, Hannah Read croons about the wistful, emotionally-charged, even prurient thoughts that overtake you while going about your daily tasks. Her tender plucks of the guitar mirror the album’s opening moments, and you almost forget the stirring intensity of earlier tracks like the album’s centerpiece “M for Magic,” with its sweeping strums and warbling harmonies. The last thing we hear is an airy three-note chord in stereo that quickly evaporates into nothing, capping the album’s 16-minute runtime and ending fittingly on a track that conveys such an ordinary feeling: the feeling of being lost in your thoughts, at once in your own past, present, and future, but free to feel however you want to feel.
Grace Ives @ Art House — Friday 10PM
Grace Ives is a synth-pop— you might even say bedroom-pop— musician who’s just trying to “keep it minimal” as her Spotify bio says. Her instrumentals have a certain ferocity to them that, when coupled with her silvery vocals, make for a distinct lo-fi pop sound. Come early for some great campy, electro-pop from Jack Whitescarver!!
umru @ 200 High — Friday 10PM
umru is a New York-based artist and producer known for his experimental sound design and hard hitting beats. At 20 years old he’s become a rising star in the electronic/PC music scene, with a production credit on Charli XCX’s latest mixtape Pop 2. His debut EP, search result, released last year and features artists Banoffee, osno1, Ravenna Golden, Lewis Grant, and Laura Les.
Lomelda // Goo // Walla @ Earth House — Saturday 9PM
ahhhhhhh!! this show is gonna be so good!! Lomelda is one of the most incredible forces in music right now, putting to shame all other indie singer-songwriters in the game rn. Her music is just as powerful in its close, intimate moments as it is in its triumphant, cathartic moments. you do NOT want to miss this one.
Also the return of Goo??? On a weekend that already had the return of Overcoats, we’re gonna be treated to another alum band that deserves a comeback. They’ve been playing shows in NYC and their gentle tones will be floating through the halls of earth house this saturday. I’m getting so excited just thinking about it !!
POC Showcase @ X house — Saturday 10PM
Plenty of great acts playing at this, including Cicero Presley, Kevin Holliday, Langston Lynch, and Oakland’s very own CYW. Roll thru !!
Acoustic show @ Music House — Sunday 7pm
A cute lil’ acoustic show at Music House (202 Washington) featuring two Wesleyan students Emily Bloom and G. Flores, along with an off-campus artist named Shlomo Franklin. Check out Emily Bloom’s latest below, as well as Shlomo’s newest stuff!
When Sidney Gish came to Middletown in February, she was kind enough to sit down with Aural Wes’s very own Sam Kurlender ‘22 to chat about her music, her busy life as a college student, and how she manages to balance the two. Check out the interview b-low.
Aural Wes: Hey, thank you so much for doing this interview! So, how was your trip down here? Where were you coming from?
Sidney Gish : The trip down here was pretty good, me and Squirrel Flower played in East Hampton yesterday which was only like an hour away, so it was a peaceful, casual drive. I’m excited to be here, I’ve never been to this venue [MAC650 Gallery] before but it’s very cool.
AW: Your music career exists concurrently with you attending college in Boston. Do you ever find it hard to balance performing at shows and going to school?
SG : Well I’ve got a full course-load right now. I’m missing class today, tomorrow, and maybe the next day. It’s kind of just a big question mark right now, but somehow I think things will pull together. But yeah, it’s definitely a bit of guesswork and wondering if what I’m trying to do is going to work out or if I’m going to, like, fail.
AW: And I think I read somewhere that you’re majoring in music right?
SG : Yup! I’m doing a music industry major [at Northeastern University].
AW: How do you think being from New Jersey has influenced your songwriting and the way you approach music?
SG : I’m not entirely sure because I wasn’t really active in music that was physically in the world around me growing up, it was all based on the internet and me being on the computer. Growing up in New Jersey I was deep in the suburbs, so I was lucky to do a lot of choir and music theory, like academic kind of music stuff. But in terms of getting into recording and genres of music that were more specific/present-day active, it was really just the internet that helped me find those.
AW: Were there any artists that you found on the internet that really influenced you?
SG : I was really into indie-pop, like Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson, but I was also into a really internet kind of music when I was a young teenager, like people on YouTube singing over ukuleles and stuff and girls on Tumblr who were recording albums in their houses. Very John Green-vibes kind of music.
AW: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? What do you think about that song now?
SG : The first song I ever finished writing, which I wrote when I was twelve, was about me being mad at other girls who said they were weird because I thought I was weirder than them. So that’s a cringy mood nowadays, but it was just fun to write out melodies regardless of what it was about.
AW: Now this is unrelated, but I noticed your website has a super cool design to it, like a very early 2000s style, a throwback to the early internet days. Do you see a lot of influence from that time in your life now?
SG : Yeah, definitely. I spent a lot of time online as a kid before social media was really popular, so I was watching a lot of flash animations, playing a lot of Addicting Games, and getting lost in weird places that I don’t think were intended for children. But for kids who were looking at screens all day, we ended up finding all of that stuff. There was an interesting wild west kind of vibe to the Internet before social media got so big.
AW: Oh definitely, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Miniclip and Poptropica. Now I’ve seen this said online by other people, but do you consider your music a part of the emerging “Bedroom Pop” genre?
SG : Yes, but I feel like that’s a really vague thing, that bedroom pop is more of an aesthetic not a genre. I think that at the end of the day bedroom pop and bedroom producers are kind of the same thing. Anyone who really makes music on their laptop in their room is technically a bedroom pop artist. It’s a really vague genre, but I think it’s cool, so hell yeah!
AW: Do you have any recommendations for young songwriters who are trying to start writing music?
SG : I think if you’re interested in writing songs and you’re young, I’ve found what helps me is just recording music and uploading it, even if it’s under a different name and especially if you think it’s bad. Because it probably is, but you need to put it out there so you don’t feel like it’s scary to release things. There’s a mental thing where you think I’m not gonna put out music until I think it’s good, and in that case you’re not gonna put out music until you’re old and no one is going to be waiting for you to release it then. If you have some bad demos, just throw ‘em out there. What’s the worst that could happen? Just uploading something even if no one sees it in the end can be really fun and can help you a lot.
We know the anticipation for Spring Fling is HIGH but the shows this weekend should tide you over until then!!! Don’t miss ‘em!
Battle of the Bands @ 200 High
The annual competition to decide which student act will open for Spring Fling is upon us. The winner gets to tell people that they opened for Rico Nasty for the rest of their life. Stakes are high but we’ll see who comes out on top. Here are your contenders:
BABE — three frosh who play some great energetic, grunge-y rock’n’roll
Buk and the Boys and the Big Ass Bass — Vabuk and his pals promise to bring the bass in a BIG way.
Mother’s Friends — Don’t know much about this act but we hear there are some cool WestCo frosh in the band, including our very own Sammy Osmond! Check ‘em out!
Kevin Holliday — probably the favorite to win, Kevin Holliday ‘20 is an incredibly talented musician and producer whose music sounds like the kind of vibe you want on a sunny day in Spring. Check it out below and we promise you’ll be hooked.
Sweetburger — A group of fun frosh who make songs about Pastabillities Tom among other things. The talent in this band is undeniable across the board. We’ll see how well they fare under the pressure of the penultimate spot.
Lopii — The Lopez twins make music filled with emotion and a powerfully enchanting energy. In some ways, they’re the spiritual successor to Wesleyan alums Overcoats. They’ll definitely make a significant final impact on the judges with their set.
Zonker Harris day @ WestCo Courtyard
For those that don’t know, Zonker Harris Day is WestCo’s annual celebration of free-form student music, with some off-campus artists as well. The atmosphere is unlike any other show @ wes and if you’re in the right mindset, that music starts really hittin
We will proceed to assign a soup to each musical act playing at Zonker this year.
BABE: white bean chorizo
Laz: French onion
Chloe Malushaga: carrot ginger
Vivimos Juntos: lentil
Sweetburger: New England clam chowder
Mother’s Friends: chicken noodle
Toxic Holiday: tortellini soup
Sheer Meg @ 200 High
First you get MEG, then you get Sheer Mag. what more could you want from a show @ wes ???
Check out their tunes below. They make pop songs that pack a punch. Some great vocals and some even better rippin’ on guitar. You do NOTT want to miss this show. Even if you’re on the comedown, you gotta rally or you’ll regret it forever.
Possibly the last (???) MEG show ever. we’re not crying you’re crying. definitely gonna be a great set. the perfect opener for Sheer Mag
STAR & CRESCENT RESTAURANT
Located at the Alpha Delta Phi House
DINNER- Falafel Platter. House Made Falafel, Hummus, Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Salad, Lemon Tahini, Grilled Pita. VEGAN ENTREE
DES- Berry Crisp
LUNCH- Chimmi-Churri Grilled Chicken or Portobello Burrito. Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, Cheddar, Roasted Sweet Onion & Poblano, Chipotle Salsa
DES- Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, Walnut, Craisin Cookies
DINNER- Greens w/ Charred Tomato Vin. Paella w/ Grilled Chicken, Salmon & Shrimp or Tofu & Tempeh. Tomato, Garlic, White Wine & Saffron Rice, Roasted Sweet Onion & Pepper. VEGAN ENTREE
DES- Chocolate & Cayenne Cake w/ Raspberry Coulis & Whipped Cream
LUNCH- Grilled Chicken or Portobello, Bacon or Soy Bacon, Avocado, Tomato, Cheddar, Lemon & Garlic Aioli on Toasted Multigrain
DES- Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies
DINNER- Greens w/ Balsamic Vin. Broccoli & Rigatoni w/ Grilled Balsamic Chicken or Tofu. Oven Roasted Tomato, Lemon Zest, Garlic Oil, Parmesan
DES- Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake, Whipped Cream
LUNCH- Mulligatawny(Curried Lentil Soup) Curry Aromatics & Spices, Coconut Milk, Tomato, Lemon. Garnished w/ Smoked Paprika & Cilantro. Served w/ Garlic Naan. VEGAN SOUP
DINNER- Greens w/ Red Wine Vin. Puerto Rican Rice & Beans w/ Adobo & Sazon Rubbed, Roasted Chicken or Tofu. VEGAN ENTREE
DES- Banana Cake
collab b/w @westrology and @whinefromabox
Aries: Mar. 20 - April 20
aries have no chill
Taurus: April 20 - May 21
the ultimate earth sign….not in a hurry
Gemini: May 21 - June 21
2 faced 2 furious
Cancer: June 21 - July 23
too much love to give
Leo: July 23 - August 23
best sign maybe? they would like to think that
Virgo: August 23 - September 23
overthinkers...movers n shakers
Libra: September 23 - October 23
indecisive….caught in the middle
Scorpio: October 23 - November 22
reclusive but in an edgy way
Sagittarius: November 22 - December 22
restless….they crave the open road
Capricorn: December 22 - January 20
in their bag
Aquarius January 20 - February 18
Pisces February 18 - March 20
Eclectic Presents: Thwock Gothika @ 200 High Friday 9 PM
a cool lil event where student vendors will be selling some art, clothes, earrings, lots of dope stuff. be sure to stop by ! And remember to dress goth!!
Featuring music by:
Jahmir! Sounds by Goner
Spellling / Dreamboat / Joann Fabrix @ La Casa (240 Wash)
After listening to the second track on her newest release, “Haunted Water,” you will understand the eerie appeal of Spellling. She commands a range of odd electronic tones to create an orchestra of haunting, ghostly sound that will envelope you in its cold embrace. There are poignant moments on her latest relase, Mazy Fly, as well. But something is always afoot in Spellling’s universe. In the track “Under the Sun,” Spellling crafts a dance-y tune that evokes images of a distant, cosmic future, but far from a utopian one. There is certainly an eerie aspect to all of Spellling’s music but it is rarely discomfiting; rather, it brings you into a world of her own creation and asks you to stick around for a bit. So why not?
May Klug with a Casio synth is a deadly combination. you bettter be there!
sound-snipping experimental pop duo!
Sen Morimoto // Moollz // Ian Etc. // Toxic Holiday @ Music House (202 Wash)
Sen Morimoto is a multi-instrumentalist producer, composer, and songwriter from Kyoto, Japan. He moved to Massachusetts at a young age and began a life-long study of jazz saxophone. Horn in hand, Morimoto cut his teeth as a songwriter in the DIY hip-hop community of Western Massachusetts. He eventually moved to Chicago where he refined his sound while maintaining a consistent presence in the music culture by producing and collaborating with artists including Saba and Joseph Chilliams (Pivot Gang), KAINA, Qari, and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Morimoto’s powerful grasp of jazz composition, pop songwriting, and hip-hop styling are fully articulated as the extraordinary sound of an unrivaled talent on Cannonball!, an LP that he wrote, recorded, and mixed by himself.
Moollz is an NYC-based artist and producer originally from California. Drawing from influences such as Sufjan Stevens, James Blake, David Bowie, and Bjork. Moollz’s work fuses experimental, sound-collage-inspired production, and emotional, confessional lyricism in an effort to explore a relationship with body, queerness and hyperawareness.
Alternative rock music with influences from soul, reggae and r&b based in New Haven. Wes up and comer!
MIKE (+ Roach Girl) @ Psi U
MIKE is a Bronx-based MC that wears his vulnerability on his sleeve. Throughout his records, MIKE candidly raps about his depression, family life, and experiences growing up in London and New York. His wizened, confessional lyrics are reminiscent of the avant-garde self-care ethics of Solange, and his pithy poetic style rivals that of hip-hop greats, from Earl Sweatshirt to Scarface. His debut album, May God Bless Your Hustle, received acclaim from critics, earning a spot on Pitchfork's Best New Music category.
Roach Girl derives inspiration from insects. WAZZAM.
Some Music Senior Theses/Recitals you should DEFINITELY Check Out
IN TEL: A Senior Music Recital in Three Installations - Harrison Nir
we did it! we saved the wesleyan music scene!
Nick Hakim & Honey Oat @ Memorial Chapel
Born in Washington, D.C., singer/songwriter and producer Nick Hakim grew up in a household overflowing with musical diversity and cites influences ranging from Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, to Madlib and MF Doom, to South American folk and DC punk. His debut project, 2014's Where Will We Go, Pt. 1 (EP) and Where Will We Go, Pt. 2 (EP), released through his own imprint (Earseed Records) went on to earn critical praise from NPR and The New York Times.
Admiring traditions of jazz, funk, and Shona music while pulsing with post-genre nuance, the duo of old friends known as Honey Oat is drawing silk diagrams of oblique time through sound.
blooper is a flirty pop band with flair (NOT a meme)
The Garden / The Draculas @ 200 High
Since 2011, twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have been playing as The Garden. They come from Orange, CA, and create their music with the philosophy of “vada vada”: free expression without boundaries. Their latest release, Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, features warped guitars, punky drums, and campy effects to boot.
Declan Moy-Bishow ’19 and Marcus Kener ’19 take stage presence to an 11 with forceful vocals, chaotic instrumentation and guerrilla-style performance.
Bitches Brew is a podcast in which Lulu Largent ‘21 chats with a woman or non-binary person at Wesleyan who makes music. On the first episode, she talks to Jamee Lockard (Michelle, Badabing) about her music, Wesleyan grub, and so much more..
2018 was full of weird music moments. From Drake’s “In My Feelings” challenge to Kanye’s SNL performance/subsequent White House rant, to whatever went down between Azealia Banks and Grimes (we’re still not really sure), this year brought more questions than answers.
In the world of hip-hop, we saw hip-hop legends wearing themselves out — Drake doesn’t have the lyrical skills to respond to disses anymore, Kanye’s actions continue to exasperate us, and Beyonce and Jay-Z put out an album in the same way that a tree falls in a person-less forest.
We witnessed the further evolution of the music industry: a certain Compton rapper who adorned our year-end wrap-up last year won a goddamn Pulitzer (!!), another musical power-couple in Offset and Cardi B called it quits, Stormzy took the stage at the Brit awards to rebuke PM Theresa May, and artists released shorter full-lengths than ever before, creating uncertainty over the future of the album. We’re also in this incredible moment where women are making some of the boldest and most inspired independent music out there, and are finally being recognized for it.
All in all, this has been an exciting year for music (despite what h8ers like Bob Boilen say), and we’re finally sharing our favorite albums of 2018:
With the endless stream of single releases and album drops, it’s easier than ever to find new music but harder to keep up with it all. Amidst the insurmountable influx of new music, I found myself going back to these albums, listening to them over and over:
When Lucy Dacus released Historian, I listened to the singles and then sadly forgot about the rest of the album until boygenius released their self-titled EP (which would have been at the top of this list if it were a full-length album) and I couldn’t get enough of her voice. There is so much raw, emotionally vulnerable storytelling in Dacus’ music that can only be conveyed in an album format. I listened to Teyana Taylor’s KTSE every day this summer, and I don’t want to rehash what I’ve already written about that album, so here. Another debut album that had me shook was Tierra Whack’s 15-minute long audiovisual album Whack World, which consists of 15 different genre-bending tracks set to surreal and imaginative minute-long Instagram videos. The brevity of each track and the album as a whole satisfies our need for instant gratification but keeps us wishing there was more. Mitski’s Puberty 2 was #1 on my 2016 list, and while Be the Cowboy didn’t deliver the same audacity, it still holds a very special place in my heart. I saw Mitski play a small solo show a few weeks before Be the Cowboy was released, and it was by far one of the best live performances I’ve seen. Ariana Grande’s new album was a last-minute addition to this list because I’m still slightly in denial over my newfound love for pop music, but this album is everything. There are so many iconic moments throughout this album, I don’t even know where to start. DM @auralwes on Twitter if you wanna talk about it.
Also, I want to say that I will be forever indebted to Manny Unger and his family for letting me be on their Spotify plan for the past three years.
Honorable Mentions: Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer, Blood Orange - Negro Swan, Adrianne Lenker - abysskiss, Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour, Dear Nora - Skulls Example, Caroline Rose - LONER, Tirzah - Devotion, Lala Lala - The Lamb, Jeff Rosenstock - POST-, MICHELLE - HEATWAVE
Looking back at 2018, I was confused. I loved a lot of the music that came out, but I feel like by the end of the year I’d forgotten about it. I initially groused when making the lists, thinking there was nothing good that had been released. But after having consulted my Spotify from the past year, I realized there were tons of releases that had left a big impact on me.
I was terrified after Melody Prochet had a brain aneurysm two years ago. Circumstances were looking grim and I thought she may never be able to make music again. Somehow, she miraculously recovered and, with the help of Swedish friends Dungen, put out an absolutely unhinged album. Bon Voyage is so forward-moving - it’s psych rock littered with weird samples, 808s, beatboxing and microtones. And the song structures are intricate and mind-boggling. It might draw as much influence from King Crimson as it does 808’s & Heartbreak. As enriching as the listening experience is, at no point does the glitz of the production obscure the careful songwriting. Some people have told me they think it’s all “too much” - yes, it is weird, surely not quite as accessible as her debut, and might require a few listens - but this is only because it’s such a dense and thoughtful record. However, the indisputable track of the year was, no question, “Shallow” - Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Honorable Mentions: Renata Zeiguer - Old Ghost; Cut Worms - Hollow Ground; Matty - Dejavu; Palm - Rock Island; Post Animal - When I Think Of You In A Castle; Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
This has been the longest year ever. It was much too long, you might say, but at least we got to hear a lot of great new music. This year I listened to a lot of moping music and dancing music and therefore was doing a lot of moping and a lot of dancing - or maybe it’s the other way around? Kind of a chicken or the egg thing, I guess.
Honorable Mentions: Mitski - Be The Cowboy, Kero Kero Bonito - Time ‘n’ Place, Jorja Smith - Lost & Found, Lucy Dacus - Historian, Miya Folick - Premonitions
“If you don’t know jack about house, then you’ll love this!” These are the words emblazoned upon the back of the vinyl sleeve for Nicolas Jaar’s latest and greatest album, 2012-2017 (released stealthily under the pseudonym Against All Logic). As someone who has been irrevocably in love with this album, but also someone who considers himself a house fan, I like to think that the converse of this statement is false, i.e., even if someone loves this album, they can still know a thing or two about house music. Regardless, this is an absolutely killer deep house record. It’s an immensely fulfilling listening experience replete with a range of fantastic soul and R&B samples, along with some vibrant drum and piano loops that would make even Frankie Knuckles say “damn this shit slaps!!” Funnily enough, Jaar is the only one on my top 5 who I didn’t get the chance to see this year.
U.S. Girls: I love every song on this record, each for very different reasons. There are some great lyrical themes discussing romantic and social issues and on top of that, they’re delivered by one of the most unique and penetrating voices in indie music right now. Also, best live act I’ve seen this year by far. As for JPEGMAFIA, he’s the most gifted and hilarious artist to come out of the hip-hop underground in recent memory. An incisive lyricist with an uncanny ability to make banging beats out of very little, I’m really excited for what he comes up with next. Parquet Courts: I wrote about them a lot here so all I’ll say is keep up the good work boys!! My #5 album is the gnarly comeback album from Connecticut fuzz-punk (?) outfit Ovlov. On its slower moments, it’s a tsunami of fuzzed-out goodness that envelopes you in its sweet, harmonious warmth. On its faster moments, it’s an impromptu escape from your parents doing 100 on the Merritt Parkway. On its mid-tempo tracks, you really get a sense of how angelic these PBR-stained vocals are, and how the layered production highlights each aspect of the music perfectly.
Best track of the year is a tie b/w “Azucar” by earl sweatshirt and “Shallow”
Honorable Mentions: Noname - Room 25, iceage - Beyondless, 03 Greedo - God Level :(, Armand Hammer - Paraffin, Tim Hecker - Konoyo, Daughters - YWGWYW, Beach House - 7
Patching together an AOTY list brings back familiar feelings: first, the panicked realization that I haven’t listened to anything that came out in the last calendar year; then, eventually, the realization that I listened to much more than I thought I had and liked a good chunk of it; finally it rounds out to the angst of writing and ranking. This year was particularly tough for all the right reasons, seeing as the contenders illustrate the changing tide of music production—toward a younger, queerer wave, with significant works by women + people of color. Some of these works, like Blood Orange’s Negro Swan, reflected an interest in well-considered art and overt sociopolitical commentary, while many others were standard releases without ulterior motive.
I found deep comfort in Mitski’s Be the Cowboy, Snail Mail’s Lush, and Beach House’s 7. As a woman with a fair bit of emotional turmoil, it felt really good to hear the voices of other women in emotional turmoil, and even better to see their work become part of the mainstream (other powerhouse women who were already massively popular allowed us to hear their vulnerability—thank you, Ariana Grande). Mitski masterfully fused the seemingly irreconcilable styles of Retired from Sad, New Career in Business and Puberty 2 to create Be the Cowboy, resulting in a record equally electronic and poppy as it is tough and sad. Meanwhile, after a slew of singles and EPs, Lindsey Jordan crashed onto the indie scene in full force. Brockhampton likewise broke into new territory, riding the high and still pushing boundaries following their Saturation trilogy. In spite of speculation that they wouldn’t be a legitimate rap group after Ameer’s departure, iridescence is just as cutting while adding layers of vulnerability and versatility. My last two picks, 7 by Beach House and Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) by Car Seat Headrest, featured tracks that only heightened the distinct styles of their artists, without reaching or even approaching monotony (if you want that, see Pinegrove’s newest release). The sheer volume of content released this year made for a far more crowded pool, but standout innovation to forms and ability to refine established styles will always win in my book.
Honorable mentions: Kids See Ghosts - S/T, Noname - Room 25, MGMT - Little Dark Age, Parquet Courts - Wide Awaaaaaake!, Kali Uchis - Isolation, Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer, MICHELLE - HEATWAVE, Palm - Rock Island
Alright. I’m not going to say too much. I limited myself to 10 honorable mentions this year. In the end, the albums that made it to my top five were the albums from this year that I know I’m going to be listening to for a long time. If I go into detail about Devotion, it’s going to be really hard to stop. So, I’ll just say, that it is an entirely unique album and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. K.T.S.E. is infinitely enjoyable and slaps every goddamn time. It’s not flawless (not a big fan of “3Way”), but honestly who cares because you can’t not be like “oh shit yes” every time the album plays. Nicolas Jaar’s house album 2012-2017 is bonkers good. Party to it, study to it, eat lunch alone in Usdan to it. If you ever came up to me like, “What’d you think of Negro Swan?” in the kinda way where it’s clear you want me to say I didn’t love it: you’re fake, and I see through you. Last, but not least, everyone slept on I Need to Start a Garden. It’s an absolutely wonderful indie-folk album in a post-Fleet Foxes world where everyone thinks indie-folk is lame.
Honorable Mentions: serpentwithfeet - soil, Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs, Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V, Adrianne Lenker - abysskiss, The Spirit of the Beehive - Hypnic Jerks, Noname - Room 25, No Age - Snares Like a Haircut, Tierra Whack - Whack World, Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!, Kali Uchis - Isolation
What a year! So much music to talk about, but only five spots, insanity. This year, I picked my top five mostly based on what I listened to the most, and some consideration for “album quality” and “artistry” whatever that means. I had a really tough time rounding out my top five, but Rosalía’s album El Mal Querer easily took the number one spot. I have never heard music like this. Her mix of flamenco with pop and hip hop floored me. Her stunning vocals, the sparse and haunting production, and her fun use of samples from Arthur Russell to Justin Timberlake blew me away. After that, Father John Misty wrote a bunch of beautiful songs that highlighted his amazing voice. Against All Logic appealed to the crate digging side of me with his hypnotic and groovy sample-based house beats. Blood Orange did what Blood Orange always does and Saba surprised me with his blend of storytelling and banging beats on Care For Me. What a year and so many great albums and songs to talk about and sing along to!
Honorable Mentions: Pusha T - Daytona, Teyana Taylor - KTSE, U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited, SOPHIE - OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES
2018 was one for the books. Our dark political climate, in conjunction with the stress of trying to figure out what to do with my life, is certainly reflected in my music choices this year. Some of these albums are gloomy, while some are an upbeat form of escapism. Through the fall, I spent a great deal of time replaying Foxwarren and Wax Man, both melancholy records with beautiful instrumentation and vocal arrangement. Foxwarren is the collaborative work of Andy Shauf (whose solo stuff is amazing) and his childhood friends, who all grew up together in a tiny town in Canada. Also from Canada, Harry Permezel’s Wax Man is introspective, gentle, and a little fuzzy.
I took my first FGSS class this fall which focused on the gendering of music, and I began to recognize the dominance of the male voice in a majority of music I listen to. Luckily, so many incredible women have brought the female perspective to the forefront of indie this year. U.S. Girls’ In a Poem Unlimited is electric and at times disco-inspired, described by Pitchfork as a “rare political pop record.” Lush by Snail Mail is riddled with heartache and a matured teen angst (definitely an album I wish I had in high school). Finally, Lucy Dacus’ Historian tackles loss, relationships, and the human experience. Each of these artists are angry yet strong, are embracing their vulnerabilities, and have gotten me through 2018.
Honorable Mentions: Joey Dosik - Inside Voice, Blood Orange - Negro Swan, Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food, Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage, MGMT - Little Dark Age, Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
Honorable Mentions: MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent even though it was 2017, it still got me through 2018!!! iridescence by BROCKHAMPTON, and Kim Petras’ Halloween EP.
Honorable Mention: Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
Woah, 2018 is over! Looking back on the year, I feel like my favorite albums were all ones that I wasn’t really anticipating, but ended up loving. JPEGMAFIA’s album Veteran took me by complete surprise when it was released. I’d never actually heard of him before this album but after seeing a ton of good stuff written about it, I checked it out and immediately loved everything about it. The songs are angry condemnations of gentrifiers, fake liberals, and Morrissey (side note, the title “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” is incredible). Over weird, glitchy, sometimes-melodic and experimental beats, he calls out the hypocrisy in our own society. Beach House’s 7 holds a special place in my heart. I first heard the album on a school trip to The Met. As I wandered, the music completely lifted me from the outside-world; I was so infatuated, it felt like it was just the art, the music, and me. The music is dreamy and ethereal but with dark undertones. The duo took their dream-pop style and expanded on it to make their best album in years. Post- by Jeff Rosenstock, released on January 1, started 2018 off with a bang. The album focuses a lot on feelings following the 2016 election, and really helped me deal with disappointment and anger related to the election. The songs are punky, rocky, punk-rocky, anthemic, and really hit home.
Mitski’s Be The Cowboy is filled with beautiful instrumentation and even more incredible lyricism from one of indie’s biggest rising (who has now risen) talents. The emotion she puts into this makes it range from touching to devastating, and always gripping. At just 32 minutes, the record begs for re-listens, something I did many times. At number one, I put the album that I have not been able to stop listening to since it came out, Blood Orange’s Negro Swan. It is an album that is equal parts beautiful, funky, and poignant. Over hip-hop, R&B, soul, and jazz backgrounds, he discusses identity, not fitting in, and learning to love yourself. Through beautiful melodies, he explores hope and light in darkness in a way that no other artist did this year.
Honorable Mentions: BROCKHAMPTON - iridescence; Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog; Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs; Tierra Whack - Whack World
Alex Richwine and Sam Kurlender, with some help from Nick Byers, sat down with hip-hop duo Armand Hammer the night of their Dec. 1 show at La Casa. We cover topics such as gentrification, new Earl Sweatshirt, and Armie Hammer. This is a one-in-a-kind video, seeing as no other video interview of the group exists online.
Lunch Cult played Earth House earlier this year on September 28 as part of a fall tour announcing the release of their new album, Let’s Hear It For Lunch Cult. The band consists of Angus Macdonald on guitar, Luke Macdonald on drums, and Jake Lichter on keyboard, percussion, and vocals. Let’s Hear It For Lunch Cult also features Lucy Hollier on viola and Will Salwen on bass and percussion.
Lunch Cult spoke with Aural Wes’ Allison Hsu (‘19) about touring and their new record:
AW: Tell us about your new record/your fall tour.
Luke Macdonald: Tour was a blast. Unknown sleeping arrangements every night, the gig economy, books on tape… Everyone should tour. You don’t even have to play music to tour, you could do comedy or “performance art”…People will book anything. We played music though, obviously. My favorite part of tour is going around and seeing friends we normally don’t get to see.
The record is out! on Spotify and all that so go listen. It’s short and sweet. We smoothened up our sound as well since the last album, so now your parents can listen too. It’s more pop oriented, melodic, lyrical. Some call it “young-adult contemporary”. We’ve been playing some of these songs for a few years now and have been aching to lay them down.
AW: Anything new in the works?
LM: A LOT!!!!! We’ve started planning an ambient electronic album, probably to be titled Piece Of Us. Half improv half composed. Ideally it will be good study music. It won’t be out in time for finals, but hopefully next semester’s midterms. I’m learning clarinet for another project called “Knights and Knaves” that we’re gonna start writing for soon. ALSO - this is very recent and its still in the works - but a minor label (can’t disclose whom yet) has expressed interest in putting out a compilation album. It’s gonna be called SIX COLD CUTS and it’ll be six of our old songs remastered, repackaged, and maybe with some bonus commentary stuff.
AW: How was your experience of playing at Wesleyan? Any other memorable tour experiences?
Jake Lichter: Playing at Wesleyan is always so fun. We played our first show outside of our hometown at Wesleyan in the Westco Cafe when Angus was a freshman, years before he joined the band. When he eventually joined on guitar, we spent two weeks writing and rehearsing material at Wesleyan partly during Angus’s senior week. Me and Luke both turned 21 a few days before graduation - I remember shotgunning a beer for the first time at midnight on my birthday on somebody’s front lawn. I think this past time playing was our fifth show at Wes. We thought it would feel different now that all three of us are long out of college, but everyone was so welcoming and the audience had so much energy that we felt very at home.
This was probably our most fun tour yet. It’s hard to explain exactly why. I felt like people were giving back the energy we were putting out on stage more than usual. After our show at Marlboro College (with Space Camp and Lahnah), someone unlocked a secret rock-climbing gym in the basement of the building we played in. There were about ten of us all having a good time, swinging and climbing, etc. when someone who nobody knew found their way into the space and was acting like a 7-year-old who ate too much candy. Nobody knew how to interact with them and they were revealing really weird shit about their life to anyone who would listen. Then a bunch of other people who were in charge of the space came in and were passive-aggressively trying to ask us to leave but nobody wanted to leave so we didn’t.
AW: Which songs are your favorite to play live?
Angus Macdonald: I like all the songs where I don’t have to play guitar and the guys let me play drums or keyboards or another instrument like that. I’m so bad at doing it so it is a very fun challenge for me.
There’s also a song on the album called Trachtatus that Jake wrote - it's new and it has fun chords and he lets me shred on it so that’s cool too.
AW: Describe your music-making process. What makes you want to make music?
JL: The majority of the songs on the new record came from seeds planted several years ago. I tend to have a lot of trouble with second-guessing material I write for Lunch Cult so in the past few years I have begun outsourcing the songwriting process to my slightly-younger self. I record melodies, chord progressions, funny lyrics, or song ideas as they come to me and then intentionally forget about them for several months. When I come back to them, I’m usually in a very different place in my life and they don’t feel like something I would write in the present moment. This is perfect for me because it’s essentially legal plagiarism. The songwriting process always happens so much more naturally for me when I’m not dealing with emotions I’m feeling in the present moment.
AW: Who are your major influences? And who do you aspire to be?
AM: I would like this opportunity to say I aspire to STOP getting emails from Wesleyan students looking for Wesleyan Sound Co Op equipment I am not the manager of the Sound Co Op. I hope that I use the phrase “Wesleyan Sound Co Op” enough in this interview to make this the first Google hit for “Wesleyan Sound Co Op” so anyone who searches for the Wesleyan Sound Co Op will know that they should NOT email me, Angus Macdonald, with their Wesleyan Sound Co Op queries.
For making this record, we listened to a lot of influences in the studio, primarily Steely Dan and Godsmack (or some other band like that i can’t remember). Jake's favorite album is Plantasia but I hate it so it cancels out. When Luke and I hang out now we always listen to Nina Simone, especially her covers of Yes and the Bee Gees.
AW: What are you listening to (currently)?
JL: Right at this very moment I’m listening to Switched on Bach by Wendy Carlos but it’s being drowned out by the sound of construction next door :(
Update: We met with the two people in charge of the construction next door. Though they have no legal obligation to compensate us for the past months of horribly loud jackhammering sounds that permeate our walls, they are considering our informal invoice for two full months’ rent (which would total $6000 (a measly sum for many property owners in New York City)).
wow I see a lot of music this weekend. If you’ve been feeling the melancholy of no live music lately, get your sad ass over to Music House, Psi U, La Casa and enjoy the music while it lasts.
MuHo Megashow @ 202 Washington
Sitcom // Baby Jeremy // Corporate Lingo // Robolu // Hanzo
Friday 9:30 PM
Wacky-ass lineup here. In the headlining spot, Sitcom is an occasional Clairo collaborator who makes some groovy, chill tunes that will get you moving and swaying. Baby Jeremy require no introduction at this point. Seasoned veterans of the Warped Tour circuit, they are the future of both pop-rock & pop-punk. Catch Alex Richwine in the audience singing and drumming along to the whole set. Filling out the lineup we’ve got Corporate Lingo, Robolu, and Hanzo, three Soundcloud emcees coming all the way from the ATL to bring you your friday night vibes. don’t miss it!
Bearcat x UNiiQU3 @ Psi U
2 incredibly dope DJs that will be bringing some of the more exciting trends in NYC club music to little ol’ Middletown. Bearcat has worked with artists like Cupcakke and 21 Savage and has brought her bass-heavy, energetic sets to such faraway lands as Berlin, Barcelona, and Bushwick. UNiiQU3 brings an even more intense and intoxicating sound, being one of the forebears of the exciting, burgeoning Jersey Club scene. Listen: both of these sets are gonna be dumb lit so you’re a dummy if you’re not going to this. If you don’t believe us: check out these links below…..
Armand Hammer @ La Casa
Armand Hammer make radical hip-hop music, best described, in their own words, as "an unsparing indictment of everything." Armand Hammer frequently contextualizes displacement within historic forms of colonialism and racism, and draws inspiration from Black revolutionary thought. With beats both chaotic and sleek, and lyrics ominous and comic, their music has been rightly characterized as some of the most important experimental rap of the last decade.
Be on the lookout for an EXCLUSIVEE aural wes interview with Armand Hammer some time in the future
Armand Hammer will host a seminar discussing their music at The Resource Center (167 High St) at 6pm, and perform a show at La Casa de Albizu Campos (240 Washington St.) starting at 10pm.
Badabing first popped onto Wesleyan’s music scene during Halloweekend 2017 with a brand new batch of what they called “chuggy, surfy tunes baked fresh daily.” Their upbeat, ebullient collection of originals and covers grew over the course of the year, as they played more and more house shows across campus (all natives of New York City, the members of Badabing also played a private show in Manhattan over the summer and all contributed to the project Michelle). Back in March of last semester, I sat down with then-freshmen Jamee Lockard, Nick Catrambone, and Charlie Kilgore (Columbia Univ. ‘21) for a wholesome Usdan brunch. We discussed the upcoming release of their self-titled album, which, at long last (like this article) comes out on all platforms.
Aural Wes: You have a new EP coming out…
Nick Catrambone: We do! It’s like -- I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s like, seven songs.
AW: EP! Album? So how would you describe the vibe of the EP?
NC: Well, I think one thing that’s pretty cool about it is there are fast, intense, crazy songs and there are also kinda quieter songs -- a lot of the guitar chords are very jazzy, but it doesn’t really feel jazzy. There’s definitely a chugginess to it. It’s a sweet little album. Honestly, I think because we’re freshmen, there’s that naivete that goes into it.
AW: You’re a sweet little band.
NC: Yeah. Don’t quote me saying “naivete.” (laughs) But, yeah. Especially Jamee and Charlie, they’re just like sweet people. It definitely comes through in the music.
AW: At what point did you decide to make an album?
Charlie Kilgore: None of us [started] out with the intention of “yeah, this is what we’re gonna do.” (to Nick) You had recorded a couple things…
NC: Yeah, I think me, Charlie, and Jamee have all recorded like demo-y stuff, but it’s so different making something with two other people versus making something alone. I had no idea how to write drum parts or bass parts, so… (laughs) it’s helpful when there’s other people.
Jamee Lockard: I feel like we definitely wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t so convenient, having Red Feather on campus.
CK: Yeah, we recorded two songs in my room. One of the first times we all hung out, there was this very twee little song that me and Nick had been screwing around with, and we all decided to just throw together a demo in my room. And it sounded really good -- we were like, oh!
NC: (overlapping) This could be fun and sound really good.
CK: And it was also really nice outside. So we were recording, and there was a beautiful sunset… It was lush.
JL: It was one of those sunsets.
CK: That was the key. But yeah, it’s been really fun. And apart from playing drums and bass and guitar and all singing, we’ve also found other things in the [recording] process that we all enjoy doing.
NC: Yeah, I was never really into engineering or producing at all, and that’s totally something where I’m like, “this is so cool.”
CK: We’ll all hear different things, sometimes Jamee will do some one-off thing and I’ll be like, that’s the whole song. That’s what happened with “Bass Song.”
JL: It’s nice seeing the song grow. Since we’re a three piece set, there’s only so much you can do. But when we layer stuff on, like we can in a recording session, it’s nice hearing the take where you’re like, “that’s the one, that’s the one we’re keeping.”
AW: What’s it like putting together a band after just meeting each other?
JL: I met Nick, and then through Nick I met Charlie.
CK: Yeah, Nick was sorta the arbitrator.
JL: Social butterfly. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, really. In the first three days of school I kept seeing Nick everywhere. I could not seem to avoid him.
NC: I was following Charlie.
CK: I’d be in Usdan, he’d be right there. I’d be wandering around the Butts and he’d be there with a bunch of people. And then… I think one time he just he just heard me playing guitar in my room or something --
NC: Well you hit me up on Facebook, and then I saw your Bandcamp, and I was like, “oh my god, this kid makes really good music,” and then when I heard that Charlie plays drums, I was like, oh my god, like this kid is perfect! He has everything.
AW: You were like looking to recruit?
JL: (laughs) “I found the one.”
NC: And I had never heard Jamee play bass when I asked her to come jam with us, but I was like… well, one thing that Charlie said in the beginning which was smart was just that it’s all about the vibe. The vibe is everything, honestly.
NC: And… I like Jamee’s vibe.
JL: Thanks, Nick.
CK: Really glad we have your approval.
JL: Thanks. We were just chilling during the first week of school in the hallway in Westco. We were talking -- I don’t even remember what we were talking about. (gesturing to Nick) But he mentioned he played guitar, I mentioned I play bass, and you invited me to come jam with you guys, and I remember I was nervous because Katie Prael’s dad hyped [Charlie] up so much to me --
CK: He’s very… he exaggerates a lot.
JL: But then I ended up liking you guys, and like we said it’s all about the vibe, and I was like, yeah, I have the same philosophy about music. And at the end we were like, “Tropicalia?”
CK: No, that’s a fuckin’ terrible band name!
JL: And we were like, okay, but this is a band now. We’ll pick the name later.
NC: And then we picked Badabing.
CK: We didn’t really pick Badabing. We just couldn’t think of anything --
NC: It picked us.
JL: It picked us.
CK: Yeah, it came to us in a dream. No, it was just something -- you know, in your first couple weeks at college, you’re terrified and you don’t really know how to interact with people, and that was something I’d said a couple of times [in conversation]. Like, I had started saying it as a joke before I came to college and then when I came to college it kinda became a catchphrase accidentally.
AW: Like “bazinga”?
CK: Yeah, except less making me hate myself. So we’d been playing for a while and then we had a Red Feather session, and they were like, “okay, what are you guys called?” And we were like, “uhhhhh, yeah, let’s go with Badabing for now, that’s gonna be our placeholder name until we can think of something better.” And we’re still trying to think of something better.
JL: It kinda grew on us. I thought it was “buh-dabbing” at first. For a while. I was like “what’s a buh-dabbing?” (laughs)
AW: What’s it like being a freshman band? You’re kinda the only [all] freshmen band that performs at house shows on campus.
NC: It’s really awesome. One thing is the upperclassmen are so inclusive, and I feel like we’ve been taken under so many wings of various people. There’s all these people I really look up to and are inspirational to look at [and see] what I hope to achieve at Wesleyan in the music community. People who do Red Feather [Studio], WESU, who are in bands, who write the newspaper; [there are] all these people who do everything, and it’s like, ‘whoa. I need to do everything.’ And then -- the bands totally feed off each other in terms of style. There’s influence you can see from Barbara Shop and Flaccid Ashbacks. [They] make us want to rock out at more of our shows. Going into it, I didn’t really see us as a band [that would be] loud and fuckin, just, try to rock, and get people dancing and moving. I think that’s a thing [at Wes] -- you don’t see a lot of bands play quiet songs at shows. I don’t know, recently, it was super cool for us to see Goo open, because they’re a three-piece, and we’re a three-piece, and seeing what this group of seniors -- who are so much more talented -- seeing what they’re doing to make their three-piece more dynamic. We picked up so much from that. And finally, like, we’re competitive! All the bands are a little bit competitive, and when you go to a show and see these other bands fuckin kill it, you’re like, ‘fuck!’ Like fuck, we gotta go practice. I want to be as good as them. Everyone’s taking it so seriously.
JL: Yeah, it’s kinda fun! Our audience is mostly freshmen, so since we’re the only freshman band, people know who we are. It’s nice seeing so many people come. It’s nice having all that hype, I guess.
CK: It’s also nice to -- yeah, I don’t know! I’ve talked to friends of mine from high school who came to Wesleyan last year and none of them ever really mentioned, like, going to shows. So I feel like it’s nice to have the freshman contingent actually going to concerts. That’s really fun. But I don’t know, it’s also nice to feel like -- there have been a couple of bands who’ve referred to us as their baby brother band.
JL: Yeah. It’s really nice having older bands to look up to and being the only freshman band that gets their attention I guess. (all laugh) But I’m also excited to see what other freshmen do.
AW: What do you think is the future of the music scene in the freshman class?
JL: Ooh, I don’t know. There are so many talented musicians, but I honestly wouldn’t be able to guess who would collaborate with each other.
CK: I know there are -- I’ve just heard of like, a couple of people collaborating. I know there were sorta whispers of the whole Westco gang, like Franny [Flackett-Levin ‘21], Keizo [Fish ‘21], Jack [Kraus ‘21] doing stuff together. I don’t know, I’ve been playing a little with Keizo and Charlie Schine [‘20] which has been fun. I dunno.
JL: Are you doing bass on that or guitar?
CK: Bass. But… I don’t know if that’s the thing for me…
CK: I don’t know.
JL: You might not know this about Charlie, but he’s a very talented bassist. And piano player, and guitarist, and I’m probably forgetting an instrument. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, kazoo. I played jazz kazoo for eleven years.
JL: Music prodigy, a virtuoso. (all laugh)
CK: Good Morning Connecticut all had kazoos at their show, that was fucking crazy!
JL: Yeah, because at the program housing fair, Music House was passing out kazoos. So I think because Cal [Mirowitz ‘20] and Will [Jacobson ‘20] live there. Will had them, so they used them.
CK: I just want to be Cal Mirowitz when I grow up. That’d be so fuckin’ cool. He’s really hot as well. Definitely put that in the interview.
JL: Wait, what was the question? (laughs) Oh, freshman bands. It’s fun, yeah!
CK: It is fun. It also feels like… I don’t know.
JL: It’s fun having done so much in such a short period of time, because you can really look back and be like, wow, we just formed a few months ago and we’ve done--
CK: A lot.
JL: A bunch of shows, made an EP…
CK: (overlapping) We’ve recorded like, five songs out of seven and played, like, five shows.
JL: We have a bunch of songs that are written, we just haven’t gotten to recording or even performing. Like “Open A.”
CK: Yeah. We haven’t named any of our songs.
JL: Oh, we don’t name our songs! It’s really a problem. We have “New Original,” “Open A”...
CK: “Bass Song,” “Beach Song”...
JL: I think that might be the name. Or “Drive to the Beach.” “Jamee’s Song,” like, none of our songs have names!
CK: There was “F Song” which we played for a while, but we kinda retired “F Song.”
AW: And F is based on a chord?
CK: Yeah. It was the song that was in F.
JL: Usually we just do the key that it’s in.
AW: (laughs) “Open A”...
CK: Yeah, because that’s the only song that’s in a different tuning for guitar… As well as being a freshman band, I feel like we’re also the -- not in, like, how serious we are about the music, but just in terms of our vibe, I feel like we’re the most lighthearted band.
JL: Yeah, I feel like we’re very loosey-goosey, like chillax, have a good time, mosh if you want to…
CK: Yeah… since we’re also all freshmen it feels like, I dunno -- like, at the Goo show I was like, in awe, but I was like, here are all these cool upperclassmen dancing and I don’t want to get in the way of their shit.
JL: I think our name also reflects our vibe -- “Badabing.”
AW: Rolls off the tongue.
CK: We just make silly, fun music.
JL: Yeah. We’re also collectively silly people, just doing silly things.
If you want more from Badabing, their debut album is out now on all streaming platforms.
Cousin Luke; the project of Meg West (’19), with contributions by Jake Rogers (’19), Sam Dewees (’19), Jack Kraus (’21), Alice Goldberg (’19), and Adam Manson (’19); released a self-titled 4-track EP earlier this month to satisfy the appetite of students hungry for New Wes Sounds. Each track on the EP, which clocks in at a little over 12 minutes total, combines laid-back strumming with memorable hooks and lo-fi charm reminiscent of indie songwriters like (Sandy) Alex G, Snail Mail, and Soccer Mommy.
The first track, “Snooze,” is a melancholy ode to sleeping in that blends an upbeat yet dreamy melody with catchy lyrics like “Wake me so I don’t sleep away / My whole damn life” that are anything but lethargic. Throughout “Snooze,” there is a yearning for change - “Think I’ll pivot now / To diversify” - that is never necessarily acted upon, but the track ends on an uplifting note with a breezy guitar solo.
“Split” continues with the same mid-tempo guitar and the lyrics are vague but evocative, posing questions like “Am I asking for too much?” and “Am I getting greedy?” that contrast the EP’s general quietude. The pleasant melody is strikingly similar to Yo La Tengo’s “My Heart’s Not In It” with its gentle guitar strumming and subtle twang.
Like “Snooze,” “Sick” captures a relatable feeling of grogginess and disillusioned emptiness that becomes increasingly harder to shake off no matter what you do. Cousin Luke really draw on their 90s alt-rock sensibilities in this track, and the song closes with an echoing sound-effect that brings to mind the sound of wind you hear through the window on a cold day when all you want to do is stay inside.
The closing track, “A.D.D.”, copes with these feelings of apathy by instilling a sense of hope. There is an emotional weight and assuredness embedded in the vocals, reflected in firm assertions like “Forget it / I’m off it” and “Shut up / You’re drunk” that add variety to the EP’s hazy vocals. “A.D.D” reminds us that amidst these feelings of malaise, it’s possible to ground yourself and look ahead: “Wherever you go, I won’t follow / Do it on my terms, so why bother?”
The arrangements on Cousin Luke’s self-titled EP are relatively simple, yet each track showcases emotionally eloquent songwriting and a clean tone that is impressive and endearing; the EP is long enough to keep us full, but short enough to keep us wanting more.
Aural Wes —> Astral Wes
the planets are moving
things are in retrograde
changes are upon us
time to open up and reflect, review, reorganize
The Radio Dept. - “Peace of Mind“
I don’t really know shit about astrology. All I know is I’m a goddamn Libra and I feel this song on a personal level. It’s romantic, but in a very detached and aloof kind of way. The song’s lyrics long for peace and harmony, for both the singer and his former boo. A desire for balance in a situation fraught with difficulty. So I represent the Libras in claiming this song for us.
Frank Ocean - “Pink Matter”
In “Pink Matter” prized scorpio Frank Ocean explores quintessential scorpio themes like the nature of consciousness, the cosmos, isolation, life, death, sex, and pleasure. A truly metaphysical anthem, Pink Matter dives deep, reminding scorpios everywhere that they are not alone in their existential dread.
Songs: Ohia - “Hold on Magnolia”
my sign: pisces (pisces moon, cancer rising)
i’m a pisces, and i’m a mess. big surprise. sue me. i really had a huge phase in high school when i worshipped jason molina, and this song always fucked me up best. just for reference, i have seriously considered naming one of my kids magnolia because of this song, which is messed up. it’s as beautiful as it is sad, and it’s So Sad.
-Manny Unger (pisces sun, pisces moon, cancer rising)
King Princess - “Pussy Is God”
"I think star signs mean nothing / But I know you feel right so I'm coming"
When you add your crush on Co - Star and find out you're not astrologically compatible, does that stop you from making a fool of yourself every time you see them in Usdan? Nope.
-Allison Hsu (taurus sun, gemini moon, aries rising)
Girlpool - “Plants and Worms”
yea i'm a taurus yea i'm grounded and stubborn and whateva
-Amy Geiger (taurus sun, aquarius moon, capricorn rising)
New Order - “True Faith”
"A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much"
The complexities of being a Gemini...
I've faced slander, mind games, and much more from my years of being a Gemini; this song represents the confusion and pain this experience has brought me.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Dragon Queen”
I was born in year of the dragon so I wear a dragon medallion at all times. I am the Dragon Queen.
Soccer Mommy - “Scorpio Rising”
I listened to this song a lot when I was driving this summer. As someone who just recently got into astrology, I only thought about my star sign in terms of Libra bingo memes, so I was I was pretty psyched to find out that Scorpio is my rising sign, too.
-Aurora McGuckin (libra sun, taurus moon, scorpio rising)
Solange - “Cranes in the Sky”
My track for being a Virgo is Cranes in the Sky by Solange. This is a gut instinct, I am a Virgo. When I am blissful, this song is how I feel inside.
DJ LUCAS “THE YOUNG MR. CLEAN” - “The Goat ft GODS WISDOM prod ESKAY”
I’m a Capricorn so I’m the GOAT.
-Nathan Baron Silvern
Marina and the Diamonds - “Primadonna”
Marina and the Diamonds is a formative artist for many adolescent Tumblr girls. Electra Heart details the rise and fall of youth, dripping in sex, pain, and crystalline artifice. Naturally, Primadonna is the perfect anthem for the Leo in your life. With lyrics like “I know I’ve got a big ego / I really don’t know why it’s such a big deal though,” this track is an ode to self-obsession and shameless vanity. As every Leo knows, others may love you (and they should), but not as much as you love yourself.
-Brooke Kushwaha (leo sun, gemini moon, sagittarius rising)
who doesn’t love babies? we sure dooo! try to guess which of these babes are AW writers—it’s tougher than it looks.
Sir Mix-A-Lot - “Baby Got Back”
I knew all the words to “Baby Got Back” by the time I was five years old. By that logic, the lyrics to the well-loved, oft-screamed rap opus should be the single most formative experience of my early childhood development. I would not be the person I am today without lyrics like “begging for a piece of that bubble.” Nicki Minaj later sampled the piece in her hit single “Anaconda,” flipping its sexist narrative into an anthem for curvy women’s empowerment and coinciding with my own burgeoning adolescence. Wherever life takes me, “Baby Got Back” is always matching my stride. I would not be the person I am today without it. And I still know all of the lyrics so don’t even try me.
Black Moth Super Rainbow - “Baby’s In the Void”
This is the song that played in my head when I was in the womb, even though it didn't exist it yet.
Tobi Lou - “Buff Baby”
it’s a baby that’s bufff
Ariel Pink - “Baby”
Ariel Pink: you’re so baby
Me: i’m baby
P.S. don’t sleep on the original
LCD Soundsystem - “Oh Baby”
I think James Murphy and a 3-year-old Amy would get along just great. We're equally pouty.
Michael Jackson - “Baby Be Mine”
My fav off Thriller and underrated in general. So fucking smooth. Those drums at the beginning are iconic.
Weezer - “Pig”
To be honest, I probably haven't listened to this song once since middle school. A pretty fine song off a pretty bad Weezer album (sometimes that’s just all we can get from Weezer) - albeit a little dismal in the framework of a "baby" song (it's actually about a pig who's coming to terms with being slaughtered).
Blood Orange - “Charcoal Baby”
“Charcoal Baby,” one of the standout songs from Blood Orange’s (aka Dev Hynes) new album Negro Swan, is beautiful, funky, and poignant. In the alternating guitar-led verses and synth-led choruses, Hynes uses the metaphor of the black swan to confront issues of race, fitting in, and loving oneself. The outro of the song ties together the different moving parts of the song, the harmonies, saxophone, guitar, into a cohesive and remarkable finish. Make sure to watch the music video for this song, as it’s both creatively impressive and visually stunning.
Gabriella Cohen - “Baby”
To me, this song is about being weighed down by lingering feelings. Sometimes having a crush is just tiring! In the best way possible, it sounds like being sad on a beautiful summer afternoon and feeling like the sun is shining to spite you.
It also has a false ending which is so much fun because you think the song is over, but no, there's more!
honorable mention - it seems like a list of "Baby" songs would be incomplete without mentioning The Ronettes, the queens songs about a "Baby". With bops like "Be My Baby," "Baby I Love You," "You Baby," - I could go on and on. In the forthcoming rom-com of my life, Ronnie Spector's voice sings in my head during some big revelation about true love. That is all.
Dr. Dog - “Bring My Baby back”
This song is the mullet you hide under your Palace beanie.
-Sanidhya Sharma (Sani)
Forth Wanderers - “Be my baby”
a pretty sad (and pretty pretty) little song from some folks pretty much the same age as us. oof, such a nice slidey guitar sound. stay hydrated, babies.
Stevie Wonder feat. jacob collier - “Isn’t She lovely”
It’s so sweet to be let in on stevie’s lullaby and love song to his daughter Aisha. i wish stevie wonder was my dad ...
i wish jacob collier was my dad - adam manson