The darling of 90s of alternative rock, Liz Phair, is releasing her first album in almost a decade this May, and the singles so far are… interesting. Phair didn’t leave things on a great note in 2010. After widespread accusations of “selling out” on her self-titled major-label debut (which is an awesome album by the way), she decided to buck the system, defy her managers, and release the music she wanted to make. This would have gone down as one of the all-time biggest power moves in indie rock, the only problem being that the music she wanted to make was rap music so unintentionally horrifying that it put Death Grips to shame a full year before the band even debuted.
That was the last anyone heard of Liz Phair for almost a decade until she resurfaced with a new recording contract, and a suspiciously positive outlook on the record industry early last year. A pandemic delay later, and we got the first single, a tribute song to Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson titled “Hey Lou.” This seems pretty safe, right? A tribute to the favorite power couple of music nerds everywhere. Well, I guess so, but I still have my reservations. The music video and song paired together have a certain… fanfiction-y (?) effect that feels a little odd coming from an adult woman in her fifties. The effect is made even stranger considering that Lou Reed is dead, and Laurie Anderson is still alive, but it’s nothing inappropriate or creepy, just an odd choice for a comeback single.
Then, a few days ago, Phair uploaded her second single, “Spanish Doors” to her Youtube Music account, before, and I swear to you this is true, deleting it so quickly that there is zero press coverage of the song and I’m unsure of whether I dreamt it. The song wasn’t bad, in fact, I remember liking it, but it did have an uncharacteristic electronic production that gives me twitchy flashbacks to her 2010 album. I’m going to move on from this half-baked prophecy because I can’t even verify that this was a real thing that happened, but just know that I’m very alarmed.
I’m awaiting this new album in rapt horror. I love basically everything Liz Phair has released, including the nightmare of an album from 2010. There’s something of a loose cannon nature to her public image that has only intensified with age. I don’t know if she can match the artistic grandeur of her fellow chick rocker Fiona Apple, who just released her surprise return to music last year. Here’s hoping that Phair has been saving up a decade’s worth of good ideas, or at the very least, she will give us an album full of her very worst.
Canadian Noise Pop duo Black Dresses released the album Peaceful As Hell early last year, their most bold and entrancing album yet, and almost immediately thereafter broke up the band. Citing a wave of harassment and privacy violations occurring after one of their songs became a TikTok hit, they announced an end to the band for the sake of their mental health. It was sad, but not surprising. Fan’s demands upon creator’s personal lives are at a fever pitch, and it’s understandable that some artists wouldn’t want in. Two albums, that’s all we get and it’s more than we deserve.
Last Tuesday, the band put out the following statement on Twitter, “We’re no longer a band, unfortunately. Regardless we’ve decided to keep releasing music.” The surprise announcement was accompanied by a new album, titled Forever In Your Heart. They gave no follow-up explanation, but have spent the last couple of days aggressively retweeting fan art.
Well, that all seems clear enough, and I don’t think anyone is complaining about more Black Dresses. The album was also likely created in their post-breakup period, meaning there’s possibly more to come. There are multiple quasi-references to the invasive pressure of fan culture, and some songs that feel tailor-made to this, the eleventh month of quarantine, including one about living in a concrete bubble that feels especially prescient. The album is possibly their best yet, I’ll spare you a full review and just recommend you check it out for yourself on Bandcamp. It’s full of hyper-pop meets thrash ragers that are as infectious as they are miserable. Black Dresses are infectious misery, and I mean that in the best way possible.
2021 has already been blessed with some great new music content by prominent artists, and we all have plenty to look forward to in music this year. January 2021 notably saw the release of Madlib’s “Dirtknock,” Jazmine Sullivan’s “Heaux Tales” (which you can read my review), and Lo Village’s “Lost In America” so far. We’re all looking forward to more content from our favorite artists. These are the most anticipated albums likely to be released this year.
Noname’s “Factory Baby”
Noname teased the release of this album in 2020 but ended up pushing the release date back and will instead likely be released during this year. As fans, we’re all hopeful to see her next project after “Room 25.”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly four years since the release of Lorde’s last project, “Melodrama.” The pop singer has been discussing the release of new music since 2019 and is likely to release her newest album this year.
slowthai’s singles from his new album have left fans excited for what’s to come. The album “TYRON” is coming February 12th. The album is sure to be interesting, with features from rappers including Skepta and A$AP Rocky.
It’s been three years since Lamar’s last release with the film Black Panther and his Pulitzer-winning “DAMN.” He has appeared on a few features but fans are anxious to hear the next project, hopefully coming in 2021.
Frank Ocean, TBA
Fans of Frank Ocean have been waiting for new content from the visionary, who hasn’t released an album since 2016. Initially, Frank Ocean planned to release a new 7” but scrapped the idea, so we’re hoping to see this content make its way onto a release this year.
Ani Defranco, “Revolutionary Love”
Feminist icon Ani Defranco’s newest project, “Revolutionary Love,” will be released this Friday, January 29th. Defranco says the album will vocalize the world’s deepest frustrations and tensions through an alchemy of folk and soul.
Fans of Adele have waited nearly five years for a new project from the beloved pop singer. In 2020 the singer stated she was still working on her newest album and teased its possible release for 2021.
Which albums are you most excited to see release this year? Let us know on social media! Sources: I, II
Around a week ago, I was scrolling through the endless void that is TikTok, and came across a video where a girl said she recorded a Hanukkah song with a random guy who direct-messaged her on Instagram. She pleaded “Please blow it up so my mom doesn’t get mad at me for hanging out with strangers I meet on the internet.” The song playing was “8NIGHTS” by Dafna and Cameron Desnoes. I promptly opened my Spotify and streamed it and immediately fell in love. This Hanukkah love song had stolen my heart, and I wanted to interview the creators. I messaged Dafna on Instagram and 24 hours later, Cameron, Dafna, and I were on a Zoom call.
Where are you guys from?
Dafna: I’m from Boulder, Colorado.
Cameron: I’m from Indian Wells, California.
How did you guys meet?
Cameron: Um, so basically I heard one of Dafna’s songs on TikTok and I was like “Oh my god, this is so good. This is amazing.” So I immediately looked for her Instagram in the TikTok bio and I DMed her and I was like “Dude, your music’s so good like blah blah blah,” and she was like giving generic responses and I was like “Hey you know, like if you’re ever… if you ever want to collab sometime here’s my SoundCloud, give it a listen.” And then she listened and then we just started talking about funny things and then long story short found out that she vacations in Palm Desert and she was going to be there when I was there, and that’s like five minutes from me and then it all worked out.
Oh that’s so cool, it’s like the circle of life because I found out about this song from TikTok.
Dafna: TikTok is just bringing us all together, y’know?
What was the inspiration/ where did you get the idea for 8NIGHTS?
Dafna: So, I have always kind of wanted to write a Hanukkah song that wasn’t about like dreidels or something stupid. Because I feel like most Hanukkah songs that I know are always just like… no one really listens to it unless it’s as a joke. So I wanted to make one that was actually something that more people would want to listen to because it’s a song, not just because it’s a funny Hanukkah song. And I think holiday songs are always better as duets which is why I asked Cameron to sing it with me.
What are you guys’ favorite holiday traditions?
Dafna: I guess just like being with family. Hanukkah is eight nights, it’s always hard to have all of us there, I have a pretty big family, there’s seven of us, so it’s hard to have all of us there every single night. But having at least one night where we’re all there eating dinner, lighting candles, and then like, that’s pretty much it.
Cameron: Um, kind of similarly, I really love my family, I love being back. I’m the youngest of four and everyone was gone to college and stuff, so especially when I was little it was great to just see everyone all together. And we do stupid events like family olympics where we make up little games or we’d play game nights after dinner and that along with just the idea of the holidays. We’re not the most religious family ever but I love the traditions we have and the presents we give, and getting matching pajamas and stuff like that, that’s what I love.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations/role models?
Cameron: That’s pretty tough, but I would say I definitely find inspiration from a lot of different types of music. I’d say my favorite artist, and just one that I’ve always loved because of his passion is Bradley Nowell who was the lead singer of Sublime. I really like him, but I don’t know, I… come back to me for my second one, give me a second.
Dafna: I’d have to say Vulfpeck, they’re just my favorite band and I always listen to their music. Their music is fun and it always puts me in a good mood, so probably them. Or Phony Ppl, I just started listening to them too, and they’re more R&B-ish, and I really like them too.
Cameron: Yeah, I’m gonna stick with my first answer.
Do you have any party tricks or weird talents?
Dafna: I can like, creepily close one eye at a time.
Cameron: My go-to nowadays is a mean stanky leg. I always pretend like I’m cooking up the pot, and I’m like “What’s that smell? What’s that smell? Oh, it’s stank.” Throw out the stanky leg on them every time.
How did you each get into making music?
Dafna: My parents put me in piano lessons when I was like four, so that kind of like forced the whole music thing on me, but then I really liked it so I just kept doing it.
Cameron: I also was forced to do piano when I was younger but everyone in my family quit. Then I got into a little bit of musical theater and then a capella. And I just loved music so much, I was like “I have to do it,” and my senior project my senior year, was creating a band. Since then I’ve always wanted to be better at making music, which I’m not, which is why it was awesome to collaborate with Dafna because she is a great producer.
Cameron, from looking at your Spotify this appears to be your first song, is this your first time working on a song, or just the first one you’ve released?
Cameron: So like I was saying, my senior project was a band and I was the head producer and I was definitely not qualified but, I tried to do some stuff and it sounded okay but I wasn’t confident enough to go through the effort of putting it on Spotify so I threw it on SoundCloud. I’ve always tried, the entire summer this summer, I really worked hard on trying to do my own stuff, but I wasn’t yet proficient enough in Logic that I could express what I wanted to sound like. So I guess the only reason why I was able to release this one was because Dafna is very comfortable with that and so I knew that if I was collaborating with someone who was very comfortable with producing, it would be awesome.
What’s your favorite song right now?
Dafna: The Taylor Swift album that just came out, I’ve been bumping that, and listening to it like every day, it’s so good.
Cameron: “Hell N Back” by Bakar, if you know who that is.
Dafna: There’s also that one song from TikTok, that Cameron, you were talking about yesterday.
Dafna: Yeah, that one.
Cameron: *Plays “Sensitive” by Serena Isioma*
Is there anything else you’re working on/ want to promote?
Dafna: I have an EP that’s coming out in late February or early March, the release is not decided yet.
Cameron: Y’know… I’m a loose cannon so get ready.
If you don’t want to wait until February or March to stream Dafna’s other music, you can check out her Spotify. She has two albums out titled “Submerge” and “I LOVE YOU.” Don’t forget to stream “8NIGHTS” which you can find on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and iTunes. Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for Cameron, he’s a loose cannon after all.
Dropping Plates is one of the newest local bands on the scene in Boone, NC. I had the opportunity to have a delightful interview with them this week! Made up of bassist Aaron Huntley, drummer Forest Britt, lead singer/guitarist Jake Fain, and guitarist Ben Burrows, they bring a unique funk-rock sound to the table. Here’s what they have to say:
Q: Tell me about how Dropping Plates started.
Aaron: Me and Forest were roommates last year at App State. I was on Facebook, and I saw that Ben had posted this ad for a drummer and bass player to create a band. I’ve known Ben because I met him through a mutual friend, and we’d jammed in the past before. I recognized him and so I just hit him up and then we jammed. It was perfect.
Q: How would you describe the music you make?
Jake: A mix between Grateful Dead and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Aaron: I know that we like to vibe, we like to jam.
Forest: We like to jam a lot. There’s a lot of instrumental influence, especially guitar solos in all of our music. A lot of our music is from different fields. We’ll have a more rock-like niche feel that’s heavier, but then we’ll also have a lighter poppy feel. We also have songs that are slow and like, just chill. So it kind of depends, but I think ultimately each song does have our individual instrumental influences which ultimately make the band Dropping Plates.
Q: What’s the story behind the name “Dropping Plates?”
Jake: So basically we were all in a group chat and we were just throwing out names, like we probably had 150 names. I was going through and I picked my top three out or whatever and I sent them to my mom. She’s like a very good outside judge of those things to see, you know, what would draw other people’s attention the most. One of them was Dropping Plates and she picked that one.
Forest: And with the name Dropping Plates, when you hear the sound of a plate dropping and crashing you know what that sound is, right? We feel like that compares to our music. We’re hoping that when you hear our band you know it’s Dropping Plates.
Ben: We were also going to be Dino Trip at first, Dino Trip or Dinosaur Party. And then we were like…”No, Dropping Plates.”
Q: Tell me a little bit about your creative process. How do you guys make music? Where do you draw inspiration from?
Forest: Really, it’s different for every song. They write music on their instruments, and then bring it to the band. Then, when we come together after we work on the songs. Everyone kind of puts their own touch into that song. It just builds until it’s a complete piece. But there’s a lot of times when it’s already a complete thing, but we’re just adding our influences into it and our sounds. For the song “Spun”, I felt like Jake kind of had that song already finished for his guitar part. We all came together and Jake started playing the song, Aaron starts coming up with a baseline, and I’m listening to Aaron play his baseline and I’ll do my drum part. Then we’ll come up with melodic lines over Jake’s guitar part. Jake will just sing, and then we’ll be like, f*** yeah. Maybe we’ll tweak it a little bit for a few songs. There’s a song on our upcoming album called “Wave” and it used to be actually a really fast song that Ben wrote but then we decided to just pull it back and play it slow. Now it’s this really beautiful, slow piece that’s closing the album.
Ben: Yeah, I think all of us have different influences for music, which I think is really cool because then it adds to a melting pot of sorts. Aaron is a lot more into jazz and methodical playing and I’m a lot more feel and rustic type of deal. Jake is like the nice mixture of the two and more Grateful Dead oriented on that point as well. And then Forest, he’s just the feel master of it all. The idea that he has what he has just in his mind I think is very cool. We’re all able to bring our own identities to our music, which is so sick.
Q: Who are your biggest musical role models?
Ben: John Mayer and the Grateful Dead for me are my top two most influential artists.
Forest: For me Hiatus Kaiyote, and specifically the drummer. His drum stuff really influences what I’m doing.
Jake: I’d definitely say just a combination of Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio. So, Dead and Phish, just the combination of the two is my biggest inspiration for sure.
Aaron: I listen to a lot of jazz. This guy, Christian Scott, he just has this, like blaring music and it’s really cool. And Flea, obviously, from Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Q: What’s the most useless talent you have?
Forest: I do parkour. Throughout middle school I was really into it and throughout high school I taught parkour classes at a gym. I would say it taught me a lot about working with kids working on yourself physically, but like, ultimately, I can do a backflip. I don’t know how useful that is.
Ben: I work for a conservation group. That’s pretty useful though. I have a really fancy tool that helps me measure water quality and dissolved oxygen and all this stuff. So I basically just put it in the water and I take the data. I can also do a really mean Scooby-Doo impression.
Jake: Oh yeah, we’re also really good at Catan.
Aaron: Super Smash Brothers too, we’re also really good at that. I know a lot of random stuff about animals too. I can play bass and drums at the same time. I use my feet on the drums and I use my hands on the bass.
Jake: I know a dumb amount of random Grateful Dead and Phish facts that I can just impose upon people.
Ben: It’s the most useless skill ever. He’ll just say some s*** that’ll blow your mind and you’re just like, why do you even know that?
Q: Have you guys played any live shows?
Jake: We’ve played four actual shows and then we played a bunch of times for an open mic.
Ben: Our favorite gig was a State though. I actually went to State my first two years. I was in a band, they’re called Friendly Reminder, they’re pretty sick. Check them out. My friends asked me if we wanted to come down and play at some philanthropy thing for their fraternity. We got to do it and it was really, really, really sick. We just played really well. It was a big crowd, but that wasn’t even what made it great. We all felt just felt connected and it was really cool. Which is why we’re sad. We had 15 shows lined up for the last month and a half before COVID, like one to three a week.
Jake: Ultimately, I’d say that we’re like gearing towards trying to become a live band. We still want to do studio stuff, because I actually really enjoyed that more than I thought I would.
Ben: We want to play. This is what we want to do with our lives. We’ll go to any means necessary to do that and get a really cool following. The goal would be to have a cult following that’s super religious to us. I’d like to see the same 50 people at our shows every time.
Q: What are you working on right now? What does the future look like for the band?
Aaron: We got a single coming out soon. We also just dropped our second music video today, “Padlock.”
Forest: And then our album, which has these singles we’ve dropped like “Spun,’ “Padlock,” and this next single, they’re all going to be a part of an album, which I think we’re gonna drop in February. We’re actually also in the process of recording another album too that’ll be released in the summer.
Q: Anything else you want to world to know about Dropping Plates?
Ben: Follow us on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Check out our Spotify. And just come hang. Whenever all the social distancing stuff is over, we’re happy to hang out. We want to meet people and do cool things with music. We already have a community. We’re talking to a lot of other bands right now about playing shows together, and these are bands that are way better than us. It’s cool to recognize that people see our music as a promising thing and that they like our sound. It’s cool to finally realize that all of our hard work is being noticed.
Below is a link to their new music video to “Padlock,” along with their Spotify, Instagram, and Youtube channel. Check ’em out!
The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a huge statue, measuring 108 feet tall, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes in 280 BC. The actual location of the original statue is disputed today, but one of the opinions on the matter is that the statue straddled the opening to the harbor of Rhodes, a foot on each side.
I grew up listening to Van Halen with my parents. I have told the story, many times, of riding to kindergarten with my dad, and asking him to play “Little Dreamer,” my favorite at the time. Hearing Eddie play at that young age, helped bring a familiarity to all music that I would hear from then on. The sound of screaming solos and chugging riffs has always been an inviting and welcoming sound to me. In the era in which Eddie played, there were great guitarists. But he turned it up! And turned Rock on its head!
Eddie was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His family moved to California and in 1972, he and his brother Alex, founded Van Halen with original bassist Mark Stone and singer David Lee Roth. He may not have invented the “tap style” technique of guitar playing, but he sure did perfect it! More than that, though, he was the perfect expression of one’s instrument becoming an extension of one’s self. With a perpetual grin, Eddie did amazing things, both in the studio and on the stage.
1974 – 1985: Eddie, Alex, David, and Michael Anthony (bass) delivered raw emotion and talent on Van Halen’s first 5 records, all of which have since been certified multi-platinum – Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. The sixth record, 1984, was far more commercial than the previous records, but Eddie kept on with the kick ass riffs.
In 1985 Roth went solo and The Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar, stepped in to vocals and as a second guitarist. The band became even more successful, producing four U.S. number-one, multi-platinum records – 5150 in 1986, OU812 in 1988, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge in 1991, and Balance in 1995. Eddie introduced keyboards on the 1984 album, and carried that through this era as well. These records had a more pop-rock sound, but Eddie kept dealing out the killer guitars.
1996, Hager leaves the band and Gary Cherone (Extreme) takes vocals for Van Halen III in 1998. He leaves the band in 1999.
2003, Hagar rejoins for a worldwide tour in 2004, and leaves again in 2005.
2006, Roth rejoins and Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddies son) takes over on bass.
2012 sees the release of A Different Kind of Truth and, you guessed it, Eddie kept delivering the guitar mastery.
The Colossus of Rhodes is the perfect imagery to me, when imagining Eddie within the larger guitar community. He stood like a Colossus with one foot in Rock-n-roll and the other in what would come to be known as Metal. He stood in welcome of travelers journeying to this new form of energy. He was the bridge between the old and the new. There are giants in the land of guitarists. There are metal-gods and titans that traverse here, too. But Eddie was a Colossus that changed the art of shredding forever. With a grin and a swagger, this Colossus stands forever. Rest In Rock, sir.
Tierra Whack’s 2018 album Whack World is something of a sample platter: that is, it gives you a taste of everything but leaves you hungry for more. The project is composed of 15 one-minute tracks, each with their own distinct flavor. Of course, the enjoyment of any dish relies on its visual presentation as well, which is why Whack World is best enjoyed while viewing the video that goes with it.
In just 15 minutes Tierra Whack invites the viewer into a bizarre world of cable repairmen (“Cable Guy”), puppet cemeteries (“Pet Cemetery”), 80s fitness trends (“Fruit Salad”) and so much more. Tierra Whack’s visual storytelling is on par with her lyrical storytelling: vibrant colors and set designs are paired with eccentric tales about relationships, loss, and self love. Songs like “Hungry Hippo”, and “Pretty Ugly” showcase her knack for catchy, off-the-wall vocal inflections, while “Sore Loser” reminds us that she is a capable emcee in her own right. My favorite song has got to be “F*ck Off”, which finds Miss Whack singing with a cartoonish affectation: “I hope your a– breaks out in a rash/You remind me of my deadbeat dad.”
I think Tierra Whack’s decision to make each song one minute was very clever – just as you are drawn into the world of one track, it abruptly ends and you are thrust into the next. This is what keeps me coming back to this project time and time again, and why you should check it out for yourself!
Recently my friends and I had a conversation about what layers of the earth we thought we would be. So, I thought it would be fun to pass on the idea, but with music. So here are five albums that I feel truly represent the layers of the earth.
Kids by Mac Miller: Crust First up we have K.I.D.S. by Mac Miller. This album is totally the crust. It’s light, upbeat and like the mountainous terrain of the crust has a wide range of melodies throughout the album. It’s god-tier Mac Miller music, of course, but it also talks a good deal about growing up and changing all while keep a light and upbeat tone throughout the album.
Play With Fire by L.A. Witch: Asthenosphere The asthenosphere is the layer that rests right below the crust and is made basically of magma. It’s hot, but because the magma needs to reach the crust it flows a lot. Just like magma, Play With Fire is hot (I mean they even titled the first song Fire Starter) but it also has some great flow to the songs on the album. What I’m trying to say is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw L.A. Witch standing on a piece of cooled magma playing Play With Fire as they rode down the side of a volcano in a river of lava. It’d just be fitting.
By and By by Caamp: Mantle The mantle is the largest layer of the earth. It’s incredibly wide and I imagine travelling through it would be comparable to a mid-July day in North Carolina. Hot, humid, and nowhere to go. That’s why I think it’s so fitting that By and By by Caamp would be perfect for this layer. When I think of this album, it reminds me of hot summer nights with friends, sitting outside around a fire with nothing in particular to do but let the time pass by.
Goosebumps by Boyscott: Outer Core Honestly this might be my favorite album of all time. Every song on this album is a Certified Bop, and with its dreamlike guitar and echoey lyrics it’s able to have a deeper tone while somehow still staying rather upbeat. In fact, the whole album makes you feel like you’ve astrally projected right into the center up the outer core.
French Exit by TV Girl: Inner Core This is another great album. There is hardly a bad song on here and it’s actually quite similar-sounding to Goosebumps by Boyscott. However, French Exit brings in an older feel for its musical style, with 80s-style synths and movie dialogue throughout the album. In my mind, it is undoubtedly the inner core.
With the proliferation of cameras, satellites and other technologies that collect biometric data, it is easier than ever to track the location and behavioral patterns of individuals. The internet has made it possible for millions of people to spy on each other at will through social media and applications like Google Earth. This is the premise for the music video by rapper Vince Staples.
This video was produced as though we are watching through Google Street view, with some shots being stills and others containing movement. It takes place in “Norfy”, California, which is Vince’s nickname for his hometown of northern Long Beach. The camera follows Vince as he passes by other residents who are seen doing a variety of activities. In the end of the video, it is revealed that a teenager identified as “Lucas” has been watching these events unfold from his computer screen – when his name is called, he quickly closes his laptop and leaves the frame.
There are some details about Lucas that shed some light on the intersection of race, class, and the vicarious life of the hip-hop fan. Lucas is portrayed as a teenage white male; based on his room we might assume he is somewhere in the upper-middle class, and based on the “Free Kodak” poster on his wall we can deduce he is a hip-hop fan. Vince Staples knows his audience quite well – though hip-hop is one of the most diverse genres of music, people like Lucas make up a considerable chunk of its demographic. When a genre of music that is rooted in the struggle of an oppressed people is consumed by those who have not experienced that struggle, it becomes commodified as entertainment.
There is an irony in us watching someone watch someone else. To this end, I think “FUN!” serves as a criticism of not only Lucas, but the viewers themselves. After all, are we not spying on Vince as well?