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Classic Album Review

Soundtrack Highlight: BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was my favorite movie of 2018 by far. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a true story set in the early 1970s about the first Black cop at the Colorado Springs Police Department, a man named Ron Stallworth. The movie focuses on how he, with the help of his partner, infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan. It is a powerful, striking movie, with important references to today’s racial inequality. Commanding, telling, and surprisingly comedic, it’s a must-see.

Something I loved about this movie right from the beginning was the soundtrack. Terence Blanchard, who’s worked with Spike Lee on several other films, served as the composer for “BlacKkKlansman.” Though the film includes a variety of old-school funk and R&B tracks, Blanchard’s original composition is fantastic. He meshes the classical sounds of violin with a crooning electric guitar, mimicking a Hendrix-esc sound. According to Blanchard, he wanted to imbibe this sound because it reminded him of when Jimi Hendrix performed the national anthem at Woodstock:

I kept thinking that was one of the most patriotic things I’d ever heard. It seemed like me that he was screaming that we were all Americans.

Terence Blanchard (Source)

Most of the songs play off the same riff, which can be heard best in “Main Theme – Ron.” However, some stray into intense, sometimes frightening tones. For example, the last scenes in the movie tie the plot to real-life footage of modern events. Underlined with Blanchard’s “Photo Opps,” it creates a sinister tone that really drives home the film’s message.

It’s a dramatic and dynamic soundtrack, truly reflecting the intensity of the movie. As the scenes switch quickly from light-hearted to fierce, the music follows suit. One of my favorite moments is when Ron and his girlfriend, Patrice, are dancing to “Too Late To Turn Back Now” by The Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose at the club. The music is perfectly picked to match the mood of the scene.

“BlacKkKlansman’s” soundtrack is truly one of the best I’ve ever heard. It reflects the feeling of the movie perfectly. Now, go watch the movie and give it a listen!

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Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

The Making of Led Zeppelin’s Final Album – In Through the Out

Days Before “In Through the Out Door”

By 1979, Led Zeppelin seemed to be at the tail end of an 11-year reign over rock music. After the release of their seventh studio album, “Presence”, in 1976, the band decided not to tour due to a number of personal issues, beginning a long period of silence for Zeppelin. The cancellation of the tour was due in part to a serious car accident involving Robert Plant and in part to Jimmy Page’s alleged drug abuse. The band did end up touring very briefly in 1977, although the tour was cut short due to the death of Plant’s five-year-old son, Karac. Prior to the release of the band’s final LP, “In Through the Out Door”, the future of Led Zeppelin was all but determined and it was unclear whether any new music would be released again. It seemed as if the greatest rock band of the 1970’s was finally expiring. 

Inner-Zeppelin Turmoil

The making of “In Through the Out Door” defined a clear separation among the members of the band. The majority of the album was written by multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and vocalist Robert Plant; a surprising deviation from the usual Page and Plant songwriting dynamic. Prior to the release of “In Through the Out Door”, guitarist Jimmy Page had been credited with taking a hand in writing every Led Zeppelin song released, aside from covers. On the final album, Page was noticeably absent from writing credits on “All My Love” and “South Bound Suarez”. Both Jones and Plant have suggested to multiple sources that they took the primary hand in creating “In Through the Out Door” and that the separation among the band members was clear in its production. In discussing the absence of Page in a 1991 interview, John Paul Jones stated, “We were left alone quite a lot of the time, along with [drummer John Bonham], and so we tended to get on with it, I think. I suppose you could say that “In Through the Out Door” is my album, the way “Presence” was Jimmy’s album.” Although it seems that Jimmy Page had very little to do with the album, he was still given the producer’s credit. He has been recorded in several interviews stating that he actually had more involvement in the album than it seemed. In an interview with “Mojo”Page stated, “‘In Through the Out Door’ was done in a little over three weeks, so I couldn’t have been in that bad a shape,” alluding to his rumored drug abuse in the years following “Presence” and preceding “In Through the Out Door”No matter the exact details of the delegation of the album’s production, it was clear that there was definitely some separation among the band members that was not present in previous albums. 

The Release

“In Through the Out Door” was released in August of 1979 as Led Zeppelin’s eighth studio album. Overall, the album was well-regarded by the public and was most definitely comparable to earlier successful Zeppelin works. The album debuted at No. 1 on both American and European charts and it was clear that fans had been made to wait far too long for new music. The album is yet another example of Led Zeppelin’s incredible range and fearlessness towards musical experimentation. Songs such as “Fool in the Rain” show John Bonham’s impressive drum work, as well as an incredible solo and multiple creative run by Page on guitar. The integration of Latin music and samba beat influences in the song further exhibit the recurring creative risks present on every Zeppelin album. The most notable creative liberties taken on “In Through the Out Door” undoubtedly come from John Paul Jones, with his use of multiple instruments, such as a synthesizer. This was possibly John Paul Jones’ most significant work. Without the regular influence of Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin was in serious need of an instrumental frontman, and Jonesy stepped right in. His growing role in the band was apparent and he subsequently received much more praise and recognition than he previously had. Although the album is quite different from the more rock-heavy albums that Zeppelin had previously released, “In Through the Out Door” was an important addition to the band’s repertoire and lives on as an important album in rock history. 

“All My Love”

Possibly the most notable track on the LP is “All My Love”, one of only two Led Zeppelin songs that Jimmy Page did not have a hand in writing. Although it may be one of Led Zeppelin’s most widely known songs, the band considers it to be something entirely different from their usual releases. It is clear that Page’s absence took a bit of Zeppelin’s hard rock element out of the equation, as “All My Love” is often credited as being one of their ‘softest’ songs released. Both Jimmy Page and John Bonham can be found expressing their disapproval of “All My Love” to multiple sources. In an interview with “Light and Shade”, Page stated, “I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought ‘That is not us. That is not us’,” alluding to the  more soft and intimate feel that accompanied “All My Love”. Another quote by Page in the same interview states, “In its place it was fine, but I would not have wanted to pursue that direction in the future.” Of course, the song did end up on the final version of “In Through the Out Door”, even after the artistic disapproval of Page and Bonham. Despite their concern with the softness of the song, “All My Love” was ultimately included on the album because of Plant’s undeniably beautiful vocal performance and pure passion. “All My Love” is not a song of Plant’s declaration of romantic love, as many listeners may assume. Robert Plant wrote the lyrics of “All My Love” as a tribute to his late son, Karac, who passed away in 1977 at the age of 5. The death of Plant’s son was a devastating loss for him, as well as the band. “All My Love” is a timeless classic rock ballad that shows a more intimate side of Led Zeppelin, furthering proving their mastery of range. 

Sources: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/217029/light-and-shade-by-brad-tolinski/

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Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review Local Music Miscellaneous New Album Review

New Music Alert: Rehearsal

One of my long-time favorite bands, Skegss, has finally released another album. Skegss is a group of three guys from Byron Bay, Australia. The group formed in 2013 when childhood friends Johny Lani and Ben Reed started playing together as a duo around local venues. They soon paired up with Noa Deane and Tony Cregan and released their the singles “LSD” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio.” However Noa left the following year in pursuit of a surfing career, leaving Johny, Ben, and Tony to run the show. 

Since then they have released three EP’s and three albums. My personal favorite is their self-titled debut EP, however their two most recent albums are close contenders. Rehearsal is their most recent one to date and includes 13 surf-punk-garage styled rock songs on the album. It starts off with “Down to Ride” and “Valhalla,” which are both upbeat, fast paced songs that set a good tone for the album. However, my two favorites of the 13 are “Bush TV” and “Savor The Flavour.” They perfectly incorporate the iconic Skegss style and listening to them makes me feel like an angsty teenager again. Another honorable mention off the album is “Wake Up,” which is a bit of a slower song. That being said, I feel like this band doesn’t make slow, sentimental songs like this all that much, which makes it all the more meaningful. 

Fun fact about this band, they actually had their cover art for the EP “50 Push Ups for a Dollar” stolen by Lil Yachty and Reese for their single “Do It.” Go ahead and look it up, the comparison is laughably similar. 

That’s all for this week, hope you guys enjoy the music. 
-The DJ Formerly Known As Chippypants

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album Review: Elephant

ALBUM: “Elephant” by The White Stripes

RELEASE YEAR: 2003

LABEL: This Man Records

RATING: 9.5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Ball and Biscuit”, “The Hardest Button to Button” and “Seven Nation Army”

FCC: Clean

No album embodies the early 2000s garage rock revival better than “Elephant.” Meg and Jack White clearly put their all into it, as it’s often heralded as the White Stripes’ best release.

As the sounds from ’60s rock were coming back into style, the duo set out to record “Elephant” on retro equipment to achieve a more organic sound. Produced in Liam Watson’s Toe Rag Studio in London, none of the equipment was from later than 1963. You can find the words, “No computers were used during the writing, recording, mixing, or mastering of this record” on the inside of the LP cover.

The result was worth their tedious analog methods. Cutting blues, hard-hitting punk, and an incredible sense of rhythm make “Elephant” an unforgettable album. Jack White’s forceful voice slides across each song with impassioned intensity, complimenting his gutsy guitar playing. Songs like “Little Acorn” and “Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine” have a twinge of metal to them, showing off the White’s mastery of hard rock. “Ball and Biscuit” stands out as a bluesy epic as screeching riffs stretch across seven minutes of pure hysteria.

Meanwhile, “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket,” an acoustic, romantic song, exposes Jack’s softer side. “In the Cold, Cold Night” follows a similar trend, featuring a rare snippet of Meg’s singing. And, of course, who can forget “Seven Nation Army,” containing one of the most recognizable “basslines” ever made (it’s actually a semi-acoustic guitar hooked up to a pitch shift pedal).

“Elephant” is filled to the brim with goodness. It’s not only the quintessential White Stripes album, but it also defines an entire era of music perfectly.

– DJ Butter

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album Review: Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange

ALBUM: “Coastal Grooves” by Blood Orange

RELEASE YEAR: 2011

LABEL: Domino Recording Co.

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “Sutphin Avenue”, “Can We Go Inside Now” and “Champagne Coast”

FCC: Clean

Devonte Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange, is arguably one of the best composers of our generation. His experimentation with synths, falsettos, and dance music paired with compelling, emotional lyrics makes his music truly unforgettable. Through his songs, he tackles topics like sexuality, race, and gender identity.

The first time I heard Dev Hynes’ music I was a surly 14-year-old, rarely impressed by anything. However, I was obsessed with this indie movie called “Palo Alto,” which he produced the soundtrack for. Something about that score really stuck with me. It was so beautifully reflective of the nostalgic and free-spirited feeling of the movie.

“Coastal Grooves,” his first full-length album, is a masterpiece. Released in 2011, it has a distinct ’80s energy. Combining all of Dev’s strengths, it’s a powerful fusion of pop, indie, R&B, electronica, and post-punk. Dynamic, hard-hitting drums echo behind synth keyboards. His signature falsetto voice flows across each song in whispers rather than belts. Influenced by the New York night scene, Dev draws his inspiration for “Coastal Grooves” from drag clubs and gay bars. What I love about this album is his surfy plucking on the electric guitar; In songs like “Sutphin Boulevard” and “Are You Sure You’re Really Busy?,” the groove part of “Coastal Grooves” really stands out.

Above all else, this album is sultry, lush, and soulful. Though “Negro Swan” (2018) and “Freetown Sound” (2016) tend to get the most press out of all his discography, to me “Coastal Grooves” is a true gem. If you haven’t heard it already, give it a listen!

Stay tuned in!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album Review: Punisher – Phoebe Bridgers

ALBUM: “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: Dead Oceans

RATING /10: 10 – an emo-folk masterpiece

BEST TRACKS: “Moon Song”, “Halloween” and “ICU”

FCC: (none)

Phoebe Bridgers got nominated in March 2021 in the Spotify Awards as “Best New Artist of 2021”, and as someone who’s been a fan of her music ever since her first album came out, I thought I’d write something about her second album “Punisher”, which led her to slowly but surely rise to the success she’s always deserved. If I had one dollar for every time I’ve cried listening to Phoebe Bridgers, I’d be filthy rich by now. If you’re not familiar with her music, let me try to describe it metaphorically for you. While Phoebe’s first album “Stranger In The Alps” sounded like a quiet whisper coming from the French mountains, “Punisher” sounds like a mellow cry for help coming from the nocturnal abyss of the desert. That’s the closest I can get to describing her style, which fits into the folk, indie and emo genres all at the same time. Each song off the album perfectly renders her emo-folk apocalyptic universe: low reverbed notes, a slow strumming of the guitar and Phoebe’s soft voice as an echo — that’s how “Punisher” sounds like as a whole. The only songs that are not quite like the others are surprisingly “Kyoto”, which has been her most famous single off the album, and “Graceland Too”. While every other song makes me want to curl up under a blanket and stare endlessly at the ceiling, “Kyoto” is more on the upbeat and fast-paced side, and the banjo in “Graceland Too” makes for a really great country-folk ballad.

That being said, if you really want to appreciate Phoebe’s music, pay attention to the lyrics. As far as I’m concerned, I could spend hours reading about “Punisher”’s lyrics on Genius. If you look into it, you’ll quickly realize that what sounds like your regular sad folk song actually depicts obscure stories about drugs, death, dead relationships and Phoebe’s existential crisis – all at the same time. The album cover matches perfectly what she writes about: Phoebe is standing alone in the desert in a skeleton suit, bathing in bright red light, while the world around her is engulfed in dark blue.  In an interview with “Our Culture Mag”, Olof Grind, the Swedish photographer behind the cover, describes Phoebe as “standing completely still, waiting to be beamed up by aliens” and it reminded me instantly of “Chinese Satellite” where she mentions wanting to believe in extraterrestrial life: “I look at the sky and I feel nothing / You know I hate to be alone / I want to be wrong”. Phoebe is desperately looking for “a new place to be from” (“I Know The End”) by staring at the stars in the sky, but can hardly bring herself to believe in anything supernatural.

What fascinates me most about Phoebe is her ability to incorporate contemporary poetry techniques into her songwriting, by bringing together completely unrelated themes in a way that feels oddly normal. “Always surprised by what I do for love / Some things I never expect / They killed a fan down by the stadium / Was only visiting and they beat him to death”. These lines from “Halloween” correlates codependent tendencies with the literal murder of a hooligan after a game, and while it doesn’t really make sense, it somehow does. Passion and death always seem to find their way back to each other in Phoebe’s universe.

I firmly believe you have to listen to “Punisher” as one long poem to truly get its essence. If this is your first time listening to this album, I would recommend playing the songs in order and listen to each one of them until the very end. It’s the only way you’ll be able to fully indulge in their melancholy. However, if you’re looking for a specific song to drown your sadness in, “Moon Song” struck me as one of the most heartbreaking song on the album. “You couldn’t have / Stuck your tongue down the throat of somebody / Who loves you more / So I will wait for the next time you want me / Like a dog with a bird at your door” – these lines crushed me instantly when I heard them for the first time, and they still do even after my 100000th time listening.

 Saying that “Punisher” is one of my favorite albums of all time would be an understatement. Listening to Phoebe strumming the guitar and singing about dead relationships, supernatural entities and the end of the world strangely makes me feel safe, like I’ve found a home in her peaceful yet dark post-apocalyptic universe. If you haven’t listened to “Punisher” yet but plan to, let this be your final content warning: you can let Phoebe sing you to sleep, but you must expect her to come haunting your dreams afterwards.

  • Lise Nox

Categories
Classic Album Review

Classic Album Review: Sixtape

ALBUM: “Sixtape” by Bino Rideaux and Blxst

RELEASE YEAR: 2019

LABEL: Evgle/Out The Blue Records

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “Bacc Home,” “Selfish” and “Savage”

FCC: Explicit Album

Imagine this scenario. You are driving down the street with your windows rolled down. The sun is out but a cool breeze creates the perfect temperature for outside. You cut the radio on and you are looking for an album that fits this feeling. Sixtape is the album that does just that.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Bino Rideaux and Blxst are two quickly emerging artists that are gaining a buzz for their alluring sound. Sixtape was an opportunity for these two seemingly different artists to come together and show how well their styles mix with ease. With all six songs from the project produced by Blxst himself, each song offers smooth rhodes chords coupled with hard hitting drums that create a euphoria similar to the first day of Summer. Stacked on top of this includes witty bars from Blxst and Bino’s butter smooth vocals and hooks. The album tempo even provides high energy and relaxing sonics that make it easy for someone in any mood to begin bobbing their head the moment the radio gets turned up.

This project can easily be considered a classic and is a great starting point for a listener who is trying to get more into either artists’ music. It certainly grows on you the more you listen and has definitely found its way into my daily soundtrack. A potential sequel has also been teased for fans who are watching these two artists grow to stardom. What is in store? We’ll have to stay tuned.

-Nate

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album Review: 3.15.20 by Childish Gambino

ALBUM: “3.15.20” by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover)

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: Sony Entertainment

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “Algorythm,” “12.38” and “42.26”

FCC: Not Clean

This album was gifted to Childish Gambino fans when we needed it most. Released right at the start of quarantine, this album was largely forgotten because of the unfortunate timing. But as I mentioned before, it was a real treat for those of us craving some much-needed musical escapism.

“3.15.20” is largely comprised of a mish-mash of unofficially released singles, the most notable being “42.26,” otherwise known as “Feels Like Summer.” However, there are a handful of songs that were made specifically for “3.15.20.” “Algorhythm,” a terrifying electro-funk ballad, is my personal favorite. It really shows Glover’s tendency to manipulate sound in unique ways. On the more poppy side of things, “12.38” featuring 21 Savage and Kadhja Bonet is an absolute masterpiece. I am in love with 21’s part, with its hitting lyrics and striking snares. Kadhja’s interjecting vocals add an element of depth to the upbeat track too.

The sound that Childish Gambino creates in this album transcends anything he’s done before. His use of autotune and layering makes each song feel so atmospheric. Sometimes when artists rely on autotune it can feel forced and unoriginal, but the way Donald uses it only adds to the vocal talent he naturally has. For example, in “24.19,” his ability to switch seamlessly between his pure voice and a more synthesized sound is impeccable.

“3.15.20” has all of the soul that “Awaken, My Love!” does, but with a darker twist. It’s clear that Donald’s experimentation reached new levels in this album. If you haven’t heard it already, give it a listen!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album of the Week: Metallica – Metallica (1991)

Metallica (aka “The Black Album”) was released by the metal giants, Metallica, on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records. It was the band’s fifth studio album – Kill ‘Em All (’83), Ride the Lightning (’84), Master of Puppets (’86), and …And Justice for All (’88) – and the second in the series for Elektra Records (Justice). Of course James Hetfield mans the helm as singer and guitarist, Kirk Hammett plays lead guitar, Lars Ulrich is on drums, and the wildman Jason Newsted plays bass (he started with the band after the death of Cliff Burton, during the Master of Puppets tours). 

Metallica is fundamentally far removed from everything that came before it. The band, known for its speed and mastery of the Thrash Metal genre, began to separate from that era on Justice; but they came totally apart from it for this record. The incredible riff writings of Hetfield are definitely still here, and thrash has been replaced by bone crushing heavy metal of the highest order. The epics of the previous albums, with the multiple, twisting, layered riffs and extended length songs are replaced by quickly-to-the-point power chords and hooks. I think the most interesting development is (comparatively speaking) how slow the songs are on this record! I mean, they are certainly heavy, but far slower than the thrash of old. Though the band says it was never a goal for this album, the new direction was a HUGE commercial success. In my opinion, this record serves as a clear dividing line, that stands on its own, between the “old” Metallica and the “new.” 

Metallica is the band’s best-selling record. It debuted at #1 in ten countries, and spent four consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboards Top 200. The record is one of the best-selling albums worldwide, and one of the best selling in the United States. In December 2019, Metallica is the fourth album in American history to spend longer than 550 weeks on the Billboard Top 200. It is certified 16× Platinum by RIAA as of 2012, and has sold over 16 million copies in the US to date. 

Favorite songs: Sad But True (will bash your brains in) ; Don’t Tread on Me (is a bop) ; Enter Sandman ; My Friend of Misery

Rating: 10/10!! 

Stay Metal,

THE SAW

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review Miscellaneous Music Education New Album Review

New Music Alert: 666

Warning: listening to this music may cause a significant increase in heat. Your body may feel hot and you will feel an overwhelming sensation of “fire.” The Sugar Candy Album “666” is a unique style of music that was perfected by the cross-section of the passing of early 2010’s Psychedelic Rock and the popularization of more mellow Indie Pop. All pretentiousness aside, 666 is a really good album. It is probably Sugar Candy Mountain’s best music that they’ve put out since they emerged back in 2014 with their first full album “Mystic Hits.” 

While “Mystic Hits” was undoubtedly a hit, “666” showcased the band coming into their own unique sound. Most of their songs tend to follow a similar pattern. The beginning starts out with a lackadaisical, relaxed beat that goes on throughout the entirety of the song while multiple layers slowly get added on as the song goes on. Moreover, the songs steadily flow into each other, making it easy to listen to all the way through. 

However, if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to listen to the whole album, I would suggest starting with the first three songs and ending with the eighth and ninth. “Windows” and “Change” make a good impression of the album and “666” is definitely going to be one of my most played songs of the year. With it’s echoed guitar and dreamy lyrics, the song can change around my mood on even the most stressful of days. 

Well that’s about all I have to say for this album, would definitely recommend with a score of 9/10. 
Hope you guys enjoy the music, 
-The DJ Formerly Known as Chippypants