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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Like a season of High Maintenance or that one episode of Master of None, MICHELLE’s debut album HEATWAVE is a love letter to NYC; “more like a collection of stories than one overarching narrative.” MICHELLE is the project of Charlie Kilgore and Julian Kaufman, with vocals and songwriting courtesy of Jamee Lockard, Layla Kuriloff, Isa Reyes, Sofia D’Angelo, Emma Lee, Rix Chan, and Aidan Ludlam. Claiming to be more than just another bedroom pop project, MICHELLE spent two summer weeks crafting the songs on HEATWAVE in Julian’s bedroom, just after finishing their first year at college. Within each track, MICHELLE captures “snapshots of youth in a New York summer, all immediately recognizable to those who’ve lived them.”
The opening track “GET OFF UR PHONE” is a criticism of our generation’s obsession with phones that doesn’t come off as stodgy or distant. The track embodies the frustration of someone whose date won’t get off Snapchat, or the oddness of organizing your social life around group chats. The song addresses our age’s uneasiness with social media, like its creepiness—“don’t show your location, keep it to yourself”—and rejects its artificiality: “tryin’ to get connected, I don’t need no Wi-Fi.” The track’s subtle orchestration fits the song perfectly - a melody like a dial tone repeats throughout the piece; “hello, hello” echoes quietly in the background.
Romance courses through HEATWAVE in songs like “LOVE UR NAME” and “STUCK ON U”, albeit in different forms. “LOVE UR NAME” is sweet and ballad-y, about that moment you admit you like someone and hope they feel the same. “STUCK ON U”, the catchiest song on the album, is a clever ode to summertime in the city, smoothly drawing comparisons between a summer fling and New York: “Wish I could say goodbye but no, I’m stuck on you.” It’s not strictly a love song - more like a love/hate song, with complaints like having “only satellites to wish upon”. The track combines electronic beats with jazzy piano riffs that sound deceptively simple. It could have gone on a minute longer. Be sure to check out the music video for “STUCK ON U”, which was filmed, directed, edited, and animated by Aural Wes’ Manny Unger.
HEATWAVE embodies feelings wrapped up in a time and place, instead of a clear storyline. “IDEAL” feels like a fever dream, opening as wishful thinking about the ‘ideal’ summer fling: “Kissin’ by the fountain in the moonlight”. Sweet, right? Abruptly it shifts to a weirder version of an escapist fantasy, featuring a sound bite of someone rejecting the rat race to join the rats. It’s bizarre and just odd enough to jolt you out of the smooth dreamlike quality of the rest of the album.
Overall, HEATWAVE tracks span a wide stylistic area without losing the overarching feel of the record. “MANGO” has a sexy, bossa nova vibe, while “THE BOTTOM” would fit in as dance pop, and you could find “KIP” playing at a jazz club. In other words, the album defies strict genre categorization, surprising you in each track with an attractive mix of electronic and acoustic instrumentation.
-Irene Westfall and Allison Hsu
Summer is officially over, but before we break out the corduroy and pumpkin-flavored beverages, Aural Wes looks back at our favorite albums from summer 2018: Yes, the pics ARE hyperlinked :)
Mitski - Be the Cowboy
Mitski’s 5th album Be the Cowboy creates a cutting sense of heartbreak embedded with raw musical power. Could we expect anything less? The first single off the album, “Geyser” reminded us immediately of Mitski’s ability to develop a deeply emotional musical experience in just 2 and a half minutes of her haunting voice backed by garage-rocky instrumentals. “Nobody,” showed an unexpectedly poppy side to Mitski with 70’s disco vibes and a hypnotic yet catchy chorus. My favorite song on the album, “Old Friend” was nostalgic and heart-wrenching, a beautiful homage to the solace of diners. Overall, Be the Cowboy was a wonderfully listenable album, perfectly combining her indie-rock sensibilities with her powerful ballad-ready voice.
Parquet Courts - Wide Awaaaaake!
Parquet Courts weren’t always the extra-political, eccentric punk band with soft-rock sensibilities that they are now. Their first record was filled with abrasive Ramones-inspired tunes that made up for a lack of melody with a ferocious intensity and a jangly guitar sound that managed to evoke the arid landscapes of their Texas beginnings. Fast forward 5 years and they’re working with legendary producer Danger Mouse on an album that sounds like the first compelling statement of the contemporary state of punk since…..Jay Reatard?? The tunes sound great, due in large part to the nimble bass-work—at times reminiscent of the glorious dance-punk DFA Records was putting out in the ‘00s—as well as the versatility the band showcases throughout the record. But in interviews leading up to the record’s release, singer Andrew Savage said that the songwriting was informed to a large extent by the harsh and unidealized themes on the album, which I think really sets this apart from the pack this year. Even on tracks like “Before the Water Gets Too High”, the lyrics are portraying a grave state of affairs—namely, the rapid onset of climate change—and chiding the political elite for their complicity. It may sound more like a dub-inspired haze than a punk song, but it carries the torch of punk music far better than most do [Bad Brains would be proud, i think]. The new “punk” is drawing attention to the manifold oppressions in society, while at the same time mocking those who think themselves high-minded for being aware of these social injustices, which the band does hilariously on the album’s title track.
Wide Awake! is truly a contemporary punk album too, an album filled with the existential dread of late capitalism and consequently, a mix of anger and restlessness. The boys of Parquet Courts have read the stats, watched the news, and seen the people around them succumb to the cruel forces of urban life; they know how absolutely screwed we are as a society. The reaction to this somber revelation often amounts to anger (“Almost Had to Start a Fight”), or sometimes a forceful call to action (“Total Football”), but it always leads to songs with something to say, which is why the melodies and riffs are on-point throughout the duration of the record. You certainly can’t write a song like “Total Football” without a subject matter as grandiose as the need for a massive, liberatory revolution against the powers that be (as well as a staunch anti-Tom Brady stance that we can all surely get on board with). Parquet Courts are not singling themselves out when they say “we are conductors of sound, heat, and energy”; this is a characterization of the working class, the everyday person, the power of collective action, and it’s clear that these crucial themes awaken a level of songwriting prowess not seen before from PC.
KIDS SEE GHOSTS - S/t
June saw the release of a seven track self-titled album by Kids See Ghosts, a project from the minds of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. KSG is as easy to listen to as it is deeply emotional. This intensity comes as no surprise to longtime listeners of both Kanye and Cudi—and neither does the clear distinction of stylistic differences. Nonetheless, the product synthesizes their best elements damn near perfectly. It’s impressive how this album balances the artists’ talents. Cudi’s signature sounds and delivery do more than hold up to Kanye’s raw power and sampling; they make it better.
Kids See Ghosts debuted a mere week after the release of ye. This was just the beginning of a Kanye-heavy summer, packed with heavy production and passion running high. KSG is, by design, in conversation with ye—in fact, “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” is a direct parallel of “Ghost Town,” off of ye. The two share not only a title, but several production patterns. No surprise, as Cudi is actually featured on “Ghost Town.” A standout track for me is “Reborn,” a brief respite from the general ominous tone of the album. Speaking of movin’ forward, I can’t wait to see what the duo churns out next—I expect to see it sooner than later.
Blood Orange - Negro Swan
On Negro Swan, Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) delves into his own self in a redefined manner. The record ranks as the #1 “riding the bus home in August” set of tracks, perfect for a late night in the summer. Hynes takes an introspective take on this newest album, stressing his own insecurities, hinting towards his depression and childhood turmoil. In its completeness, Hynes’s album is genuine like no other; it makes a statement in veering from the stereotype of how black male musicians are so often portrayed in hip-hop and R&B. Instead, Blood Orange’s newest work is exposed, cohesive, and heartfelt. In addition, Negro Swan marks Hynes’s first use of features on his albums. Hynes’s guests are not exactly “underground”; he impressively features Diddy and A$AP Rocky on “Hope” and “Chewing Gum,” respectively.
Negro Swan does many things right--it can be praised for its rhythmic mastery, variety of instruments and sounds, contemplative thought, and its soft nature (among other things). Most of all, Blood Orange’s lyrical prowess stands out; he traces his album with beautifully-thoughtful verses: “Sixteen-year old boy/To feel so numb it’s deafening,” Hynes sings on “Orlando”. On “Charcoal Baby,” he writes “No one wants to be the odd one out at times/No one wants to be the negro swan/Can you break sometimes,” diving into personal issues with his outward persona. His album is interwoven with the words of Janet Mock, a transgender writer and activist. The track “Family” features Mock responding to the question of ‘what family is,’ responding that she “think[s] of family as community”...“I think of the spaces where you don't have to shrink yourself/Where you don't have to pretend or to perform/You can fully show up and be vulnerable.” Timely, political, and contemplative, Negro Swan tells the story of Blood Orange’s own hardships and the vulnerability inherent to his musical and personal identity.
Snail Mail - Lush
Snail Mail’s debut album Lush was a summer album appropriate for multiple occasions, whether you felt a little somber or were looking for contagious guitar instrumentals appropriate for bopping around with friends. Lindsey Jordan takes her listeners through a painful romance with “green eyes.” In “Pristine,” she expresses anger over parties, weekend after weekend, with her significant other, feeling looked over and asking in her chorus, “Don’t you like me for me?” In “Heat Wave” and “Stick” she continues to express frustration. “Green eyes” cannot commit to Jordan like Jordan commits to her. In “Full Control,” she realizes that love should never be this frustrating. She chooses to love herself instead of waiting for someone to love her back.
On the surface, Lush may sound like another album about teenage love and angst, but Jordan clearly demonstrates that she is a strong-willed, passionate, nineteen year old female indie rocker who can convey profound emotion and supply strong instrumentals. Keep it coming, Lindsey!
Teyana Taylor - K.T.S.E.
“I want my name to be a household product.”
Prior to the release of K.T.S.E. (short for Keep That Same Energy), I had not heard of Teyana Taylor despite her being featured on one of my all-time favorite albums, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. K.T.S.E. sets itself apart from the other albums in Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. summer series with its soulful R&B sounds (reminiscent of Old Kanye).
In many of her songs, Taylor sings about love, sexuality, and vulnerability, and her airy vocals are interspersed with signature Kanye samples. The combination of laser pew pew pew noises and samples from GQ’s “I Do Love You” in “Issues/Hold On” especially stand out, as well as the strings that accompany Taylor’s powerful verses in “Rose in Harlem”. The highlight of K.T.S.E., however, is the closing track “WTP” which hearkens back to the 1980s Harlem ballroom scene, sampling dialogue from the documentary Paris is Burning and Ellis D.’s classic “Work This Pussy”.
While there are some more disappointing moments in the album (“3Way” is easily skippable and Kanye’s verse in “Hurry” is cringeworthy to say the least), Taylor describing her partner’s premature ejaculation in “Hurry” as “rocket-rocket-rocket-rocket ship blast like it’s Jimmy Neutron” makes it all worth it.
Father John Misty - God’s Favorite Customer
Father John Misty’s newest album, God’s Favorite Customer, features the haunting melodies, folky accompaniment, and smooth crooning we’ve come to expect from him. This album, inspired by Tillman’s struggles with depression, often strikes a self-deprecating, brutally honest tone about the tolls that mental illness takes on him and his relationships. A good example of this, “Please Don’t Die” alternates between Tillman’s and his wife’s perspective narrating the lyrics. As he realizes the effect his depression and suicidal ideation has on her, she begs him, “please don’t die.” She doesn’t go easy on him, either (or he doesn’t go easy on himself, considering that he’s really writing this): “Oh my god, you’re so naive / You’ll leave this world in a drunken heave / Who’ll make the arrangements, baby, them or me?” This subtle lyric, referring to Tillman’s own funeral arrangements, is Father John Misty at his most morbid and clever.
If you’re in a lighter mood, try listening to “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All” for some comically unorthodox metaphors about love (“like a pervert on a crowded bus / this glare of love bears down on me”); or “Mr. Tillman”, which was inspired by the two months Tillman spent in a hotel writing this album and losing his mind. (This one’s pretty dark, too, come to think of it.)
Despite the overall quality of God’s Favorite Customer, it has a few shortcomings. Father John Misty remains stuck in his own head - gone is the political commentary prevalent in Fear Fun (2012), his best album to date (in my humble opinion). In that same vein, the album lacks contrast - each song has, at most, a soft-rock feel, but nothing you could swing your hips to. So if you want to chill out and commiserate about life’s struggles, let Father John Misty’s gorgeous melodies sweep you away.
The Internet - Hive Mind
Hive Mind is like the irresistible, suavé individual you see on the other side of the room at a party. The piece steals the show for the #1 “on the way to the party” album of Summer 2018. The Internet’s fourth studio record marks a progression for the band’s discography towards a new type of sound, one that will serve as a guide for the group’s predecessors. This album is undeniably sexy; it has beats that will make you want to dance in an elevator, lyrics from Syd and Steve Lacy that will make you want sing to a mirror, and guitar solos from Patrick Paige II that will make you want to do nothing else but pick up an air guitar with your friends.
In 2017 and 2018, members of The Internet took some time off to work on their own projects. Syd introduced us to her world with Fin, Steve Lacy made love to our headphones with Steve Lacy’s Demo, Matt Martians got funky on The Drum Chord Theory, Patrick Paige II explored his soulful voice on Letters of Irrelevance, and Christopher Smith did ...something... on LOUD. After the release of these masterful, soul-finding projects, The Internet’s comeback is syncopated and smoother than any record the band had produced prior.
Hive Mind gets rolling with the gentle chords of bass and Syd’s breathtaking voice on “Come Together.” The band displays itself with a newfound confidence from the get-go: the members construct a jazzy beat on “Roll (Burbank Funk),” followed by the seducing pleas of Syd on “Come Over,” and a classic groovy hit on “La Di Da” where Steve Lacy confesses that he “just came to dance/I’m on the move.” The album takes a moody turn with “Stay the Night,” where Syd dips into her gentle self, continuing into the feel of a softly-lit bedroom scene. “Bravo,” “Mood,” and “Next Time/Humble Pie” continue in a melodramatic, post-breakup trend, revealing the more vulnerable side of Hive Mind. “It Gets Better (With Time)” escapes from the mid-album funk and takes on a stronger, powerful persona that segues into the memorable beats on “Look What U Started.” “Wanna Be” acts as a stabilizing interlude before the album finishes on a loud, self-assured note with “Beat Goes On” and “Hold On”. The final songs of the album reiterate the ultimate cohesive and multi-faceted boldness that has become inherent to the sound of The Internet. Hive Mind marks the successful collaboration of five wildly talented individuals reuniting after some time alone. Most importantly, it will make your pregame.
Real Friends - Composure
Composure, the third album from Chicago-based pop-punk band Real Friends, is arguably the band’s most progressive and most musically evolved release. The album comes about a year after lead singer Dan Lambton suddenly took time off from the band to focus on himself as his struggles with bipolar disorder continued to worsen. Composure highlights many of the trials Dan faced, ranging from anxiety, loneliness, and losing loved ones, as well as how his bandmates reacted to Dan’s mental illness. Overall, the lyrics on this album are more mature than previous albums and EPs, and the songs demonstrate the healing process for those struggling with mental illness. Composure also differs from other Real Friends releases as there are no slow songs on the 32 minute album.
For me, the song that sticks out the most is “Get By”. This song in particular highlights the high times of Dan’s life and how he truly felt that writing and getting back into music helped him work through his conflicts. The song is the happiest on the album and a good contrast to many of the other songs. I had the privilege of seeing Real Friends live on the day the album was released. I bought a signed copy of the CD from the guys in the band, and heard many of the new songs performed for the first time. The album is amazing live, and when mixed with songs from older albums, makes for an incredible live performance. Give this album a listen!
Joey Dosik - Inside Voice
You really can’t beat Joey Dosik and a piano. Dosik’s first album Inside Voice is a perfect contemporary take on the full spectrum of soul, with notes of gospel, R&B, and everything in-between. Best known for his collaborations as songwriter and instrumentalist with neo-funk group Vulfpeck (and for being a nice guy), Dosik’s smooth vocals and groovy melodies shine through in his solo work. His music exemplifies the art of minimalist funk arrangements with big nods to the traditional soul of Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, but still presents a modern twist, all of which will draw in fans old and new.
Title track “Inside Voice” is undoubtedly sultry and dreamy, driven by snapping fingers and a fantastic string section. Dosik draws from more aspects of pop with duet “Don’t Want It to Be Over,” which completely makes you want to get in a cheesy dance battle with your ex in a mid-century modern apartment. The piano riff in “In Heaven” is irresistibly bright and bouncy, whereas ballads “Grandma Song” and “Emergency Landing” slow things down with beautifully stripped down arrangements. No one’s complaining with the album’s conclusion, the fifth version of “Game Winner,” one of Dosik and Vulfpeck’s most popular tracks. Joey Dosik brings innovative and suave musicianship to the field with Inside Voice for a great debut album.
Playboi Carti - Die Lit
On the surface, Playboi Carti may seem to be your run-of-the-mill, mindless trapper. He exudes the same sort of bottomless braggadocio with which his contemporaries have stumbled through the doors of pop culture. Coming up through A$AP Rocky and various other connections following his move to New York City, Jordan Carter made his breakthrough with the hypnotic “Magnolia”, a swerving, trance-inducing ballad of drug-running and self-pronouncements akin to everything else we have heard from the rap world throughout the past 25 years. However, if we abandon judgement just long enough to listen to “Long Time - Intro,” the first track on Die Lit, then we see why Playboi Carti is the enigmatic genius that he is. His flows, his interplay with the woozy beats of Pierre Bourne, the sheer bravery to utter a line like “I fuck yo bitch like a tick”, everything about him, all make for a wildly enjoyable album filled with one-liners, and beats made for jumping off a building, just like the album cover. “Choppa Don’t Miss” with Young Thug is rapid and wistful, “RIP” makes me want to through my self through a burning building, and “Fell in Luv” makes me want to marry myself and then divorce myself. In sum, Die Lit is an album not made to be experienced through an album review.
Aminé - ONEPOINTFIVE
REVIEWFORYOU: Aminé is a GENIUS when it comes to his career, hear me out. He turned his one hit wonder “Caroline” into a legitimate career with savvy song drops culminating in GOODFORYOU, an album filled with equal parts artistry and songs that slap. Despite clearly trending towards songs with meaning, Aminé is very aware that bangers hold an audience. ONEPOINTFIVE, the EPLPMixtapeAlbum, is meant to fulfill that desire. It is a halfway point between GOODFORYOU and whatever well-crafted project comes next (it’s right there in the name). The album is playful, narrated by comedian Rickey Thompson, and relies heavily on sharp trap beats. The introductory track, “DR. WHOEVER,” bares his soul while also spinning a ironic, bouncy hook. “These intros ain’t meant to be bangers,” Aminé says, but the song still bangs. The album continues on the same wave, not faltering, but also not going anywhere. “REEL IT IN,” the album’s high point (and is still charting), comes as the third track and causes all the tracks following to appear low-energy in comparison (they’re not).
None of this is to say that Aminé’s new album is bad. It is certainly not. Full of playlist-perfect songs, it does EXACTLY what it is supposed to do (slap). See it as something to hold you over for whatever Grammy-competitive body of work he is sure to put out. If you only like Aminé for music in the vein of “Caroline,” this is album is for you more than anybody else; savor it.
Aminé is a king. Know how to pronounce his name: AH-MEEN-AY
The National - Boxer Live in brussels
This spring, The National released a live performance of their classic album Boxer in celebration of its tenth anniversary. But while Live in Brussels was nothing new, a front-to-back recording of an album I've listened to dozens of times, it provoked in me a nostalgic, self-reflective joy, one categorically different from the kind of intensely current pleasure you might expect in a list like this. Boxer was one of the first albums I really listened to, and it defined its era in indie-rock. But in a culture of innovation and originality, when indie music has seemingly moved on to more experimental and subgenre-specific sounds, listening to Boxer in 2018 feels almost anachronistic. Like albums of the time by The Shins or Arcade Fire, it is a product of a bygone musical era. However, the value of Live in Brussels lies not in its newness but in its ability to evoke the individual and collective memories that listeners bring to it. The National was among the first bands I really loved, from my initial exploration beyond my dad's library, when I was discovering what music really meant to me. What live or studio re-releases do is resurrect both cultural and personal histories to be relived and reexamined, and for that Live in Brussels doesn't have to be new or different, it just has to be.
Tony Molina - Kill the Lights
“Kill The Lights” is simultaneously a very traditional and an unorthodox album. This is an album that draws influence from a time when melodies reigned supreme, from familiar sources like 60’s power pop and 90’s sad rock (think the Byrds or Elliott Smith) - with songs that already feel, on first listen, like classics you grew up on. Except the 10 track album clocks in at a bare 14 minutes. Tony Molina distinguishes himself through brevity - songs average just over 1 minute, but are so finely, and so delicately crafted that they whiz by in no time. And while some tracks may admittedly read as Byrds rip-offs (extremely faithful ones at that), others are actually quite progressive in their cute little 2 minute runtimes. Because the songs are so short, all parts of each feel essential—tracks somehow hit highs and lows within this mini timeframe, and manage to stay impactful and emotional throughout.
Pusha T - DAYTONA
Compact, succinct, vicious. That is Pusha T’s Daytona. A seven-track track, 21-minute project entirely produced by Kanye West, Daytona proves that Pusha T is one of the most underrated, clever and economical rappers in the game. Despite being his shortest album to date, Daytona is saturated with the most drug references of any album in Pusha T’s career and despite luxury drug rap being Pusha’s domain, songs like “The Games We Play” raise the bar considerably. On this song he raps,
Oven's full of cakes that he bakes, still spreadin' paste // The love just accentuates the hate // This is for my bodybuildin' clients movin' weight // Just add water, stir it like a shake
Not a single word is wasted on Daytona from Pusha’s part and Kanye’s production matches, with its hard and gritty simplicity; from the harsh guitars on “Games We Play,” to the ominous and cinematic piano on “Hard Piano,” to the spare 808 on “Come Back Baby,” Kanye’s production matches Pusha’s focus perfectly.
There are no bad songs on this project, but the highlights include “Games We Play,” “Come Back Baby,” and “Santeria”. Although much of the buzz surrounding this project might have been due to Pusha’s beef with Drake, this album stands by itself in launching Pusha T back into the spotlight as one of the best rappers in the game.
-Nathan Baron Silvern
Drake - Scorpion
It’ll be a while before I forget the night this summer when some NYU kid I barely knew announced to my apartment that Drake’s Scorpion dropped as he swiftly hijacked the aux for a rather forced impromptu listening party. Not that I minded too much at first. I’m done with hating Drake. There’s no point in fighting it. He’s like a force of nature. Accept it. Give into it. Maybe sometimes you’ll love it.
Things heated up when “God’s Plan” came around, a song that had already run its course through most people’s listening cycles at this point. I had almost forgotten about it—at least enough to not expect it on the album. When it came on, I suddenly felt like a kid whose parents took him for a surprise trip to Toys R Us.
In my moment of childlike joy, our nameless NYU Drake elitist decided to air his grievances with the song which he found to be overrated. I’m not one to say people’s music tastes are wrong. But he was definitely not correct. “God’s Plan” is a banger. It hits where it should. It doesn’t go on too long. And it’s got enough variation to keep the listener engaged.
The same cannot be said for the rest of the album. After realizing how long the album was (around when we got to the B-side and our focus began to drift and every song we thought was the last song somehow was not) we promptly gave up. It wasn’t until later that week that I finished it.
Scorpion is a haystack with more than a few needles. Jump in. Find the needles you can. Get out. Some of my favorite Drake songs are on this album, and they provide me with really fun listening even a couple months out. Maybe it’s not the best album, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s like a stupidly long diner menu. There’s something there for everyone, but some of it is definitely not safe to eat.
All that being said: Drake will never get better than Houstatlantavegas…
Declan Moy-Bishow’s (‘19) music is straight out of a late 1950s Florida nightclub. With shiny guitar licks, Buddy-Holly-Harmonies, and those funny little intermediary song sections where the singer speaks directly to the listener, this is classic surf-rock, but with a modern, grungey, East-Coast twist. This is Ace & The Gulls latest album, GET IT OUT.
Declan, who is an all-around crazily creative person (he’s an illustrator for Lucid Color, and created the album’s wild cover, and though he plays drums for A&G, can also get on the guitar, keyboard, and air organ,) formed the band in his Freshman year at Beacon High School, Queens.
Declan: Right before a high-school Battle of the Bands we decided to name ourselves Ace & The Gulls. It was between that and The French Guyana, and the Lonely Geisha. My mom wouldn’t let me do that one. We were called ‘The Gulls" for a long time. Over the years there have been 6 members, but now it’s boiled down to 3. Andy on guitar, Declan, me, on drums, and Matt on the bass. Andy and myself do vocals. And sometimes Matt, kinda like Y in the alphabet.
Aural Wes: where’d the Ace come from?
D: Matt had a bass strap with a bunch of playing cards on it, and I said, “you can’t wear that.” So we started calling him Ace. We used to be really strict about performing. We would only wear white button down shirts, jeans, and play fender guitars. I suppose we loosened up. Later on, we’d play with my dad’s old band. He plays the drums, like me, or I like him. They had this reunion in my senior year, and we played a couple shows. It was bizarre.
AW: What’s your dad’s band?
D: They’re called The Mosquitoes. Their sound definitely influenced us. They were into Early Beatles stuff.
You can clearly hear those early rock n’ roll influences in GET IT OUT, but on second listen, there’s also a clear nod to 90s and early-2000s grunge, and A&G’s lyricism strives for more than anything on albums like Twist & Shout. Take the fourth song on GET IT OUT, "Love a Girl". From the title to the jingly upbeat guitar and shaker, as well as the fun dancey lyrics (feels like I’m dancing/I wanna stand still/but I can’t ever with you,) this song could just be 50s esque cover. But halfway through the song (which are all around 2 minutes, in classic early vinyl LP fashion,) the minor power chords get a little heavier, the lead a little more ghostlike, and the lyrics much darker: "kill, me, now/right now/surfing on weeknights/I’m watching their lives/and I can’t figure it out at all." But then it jumps right back into a poppy rhyme: "when I’m in the clouds/you bring me down now." The incongruities between innocence and alienation are starkly juxtaposed, with just one line between “kill, me, now” and “surfing on weeknights,” perhaps in an effort to show how close the two feelings really are, like the inseparable mega-highs and torturous lows of an adolescent crush.
This isn’t to say that GET IT OUT is trying to be all commentary. Songs like Do the Gull and She’s So Cool are fun, bouncy, and consciously not serious. During She’s So Cool’s final repeated choruses, we hear, “she plays laser tag… she’s from Staten Island… she let me hold her pet snake.”
My favorite tune is definitely "Ten O’ Nine," with its folky, Simon & Garfunkel feel and rising harmonies. The lyrics aren’t complicated, and they don’t seem to be about anything in particular, but they excellently convey the feeling of a day idly passing out of your hands, some strange melancholy stuck in your head like a catchy song, just staring out the window. And I love its sad final lines: nice guy/he said goodbye/he messed me up, he messed me up, he messed me up.
AW: Why’s it called GET IT OUT?
D: Because we had to get an album out. Or it might be because of all that kooky stuff in your brain, and you gotta get it out. Isn’t that how it works?
AW: and the album artwork, what’s that all about?
D: It’s influenced by Yuichi Yokoyama. Yuichi taught me everything. The two guys wearing sunglasses are me and Andy, and then the chopstick walking clowns are maybe the ideal Ace & The Gulls. Are we looking over there, or to the future?
AW: does A&G have plans for the future?
D: I have no. Make some more songs. Tour, with our parents.
Declan is playing an acoustic set at Outhouse on Friday February 23rd, 7-8pm. He’ll be playing some songs from GET IT OUT, as well as some other cool tunes too.
- Ezra Kohn '19
Porch | pôrCH | (noun) a covered shelter projecting in front of the entrance of a building
Nat and Allison review the Wesleyan porches you know and love.
- Columns definitely compensating for something
- Still a great porch though (we are biased, we live here)
- There is a swing!
- Spacious and functional
- Might be a deck
- Jake Abraham said this was his favorite porch
- Somewhat questionable furniture
Center for the Americas
- Yellow. Good.
- "Only porch I've ever thrown up on." —Allison
- The best columns at Wesleyan University
- Our favorite porch!
M. Roth's house
- Nice but pretentious