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Concert Review: Danny Brown

By Chris Mench 

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The crowd at Greensboro’s Greene Street Club certainly looked like they were there to see Danny Brown—it was a sea of gauged ears and ripped jeans—and yet the opening moments of the concert came with a girlish giggle and twinkling beats.  Internet sensation Kitty (formerly Kitty Pryde) floated onstage and wowed them anyway.  Her cherubic stage presence stood in contrast to her spitfire flow and sassy demeanor.  Despite some initial skepticism, Kitty won the crowd over with songs like “Okay Cupid” and “Dead Island,” showing a cross-appeal that was impressive considering the audience for which she performed.

Of course, the audience was in fact there to see Danny Brown, and his emergence took them to another level.  He launched into hard-hitting cuts like “Die Like a Rockstar” and “Radio Song” from his breakout album XXX, rapping in the squawking, demented tone for which he is so famous.  Turning things up with his crew anthem “Bruiser Brigade,” Danny fervently commanded the crowd.

The stage was flooded with female fans for the performance of “I Will,” his raunchy ode to cunnilingus.   Kitty joined in the fun, dancing onstage with the girls.  Despite appearing increasingly inebriated, Danny’s intensity never left.  He ripped his way through “Monopoly” with his trademark swagger, while fans climbed onstage to bro-hug him before diving back into the crowd or getting shoved off by security.  At the end of the song, someone threw him a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, referencing the song’s (not suitable for print) final line.

After fan-favorite “Blunt After Blunt,” Danny stopped to thank the crowd for coming out.  “And what happens after you’ve been smoking blunt after blunt after blunt? You’re gonna be in a Kush Coma” he laughed, and launched into the song of the same name off his upcoming album Old.  As the final notes rang out, Danny left the stage amid a flurry of shoving girls and flailing limbs.  The crowd shuffled out, looking spent.  Overall, Danny commanded the crowd with his primal energy and bonkers delivery, making for one unhinged, entertaining evening that showcased he and Kitty at their best.

One of the Greatest Come-back Albums Ever: Fall Out Boy a Band Review

By Jennifer Taylor

 

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Ring a bell? While this four-piece, pop punk ensemble may have been missing from the scene for the last 3 years, in case you haven’t heard, they’re making the comeback of the century. For some, Fall Out Boy was never a household name but for each of these people, there are at least ten teenage girls who’s middle school years revolved around the sassy, angst driven lyrics from records like From Under the Cork Tree and Infinity on High. Whether you liked them back in 2006 or not, they’re bringing something entirely new to the table this time around with their new album, Save Rock and Roll.

When Fall Out Boy first started playing basements in the Chicago suburbs in the early 2000’s, they didn’t impress anybody. Then, four long years and one quick album later, they were suddenly topping Billboard charts and going multi-platinum. It is absolutely crazy how this group went from being no one to every “emo” teenager’s punk soundtrack with only a few songs. Looking back, this quick success could definitely be the reason why the band struggled so hard the following years of their career leading up to their hiatus in 2009. After the honeymoon phase, there was a frighteningly obvious change in group dynamic, even from the perspective of a simple fan. Suddenly, this group of dudes that just wanted to make good music became “The Pete Wentz Show”; everything was about Pete’s looks, Pete’s girlfriend etc. As the tension visibly rose, the band’s music quality seemed to waver. And then, appropriately, the hiatus was announced.

Once I heard that Fall Out Boy had broken up, to an extent, my first reaction was to be heartbroken, even though I had never been a huge fan to begin with. I’m pretty sure that everyone thought they were never going to get back together. Then, the world watched sadly as all of the individual members made pitiful attempts to do branch out and “do their own thing”, making the situation even more depressing. I think that for a while after that, Fall Out Boy stopped crossing people’s minds altogether. Whenever any of the individual members was mentioned, everyone’s first reaction was “I’m so sad that I never got to see them in concert! Oh well…” but aside from that, their time had come and gone.

February 4th, 2013, FOB shocked their entire world when their hiatus went from indefinite to very definite. I haven’t been around long enough to witness very many music comebacks but this was certainly a big one in my book. I started looking up single release dates, album release dates and most importantly, concert dates. Honestly, I really hadn’t been a big fan back in the day but the hype around their new album was contagious! With its epic title suggesting a resurrection of rock and roll, there was no way to NOT be excited about it. The day that the first single, My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, was released, a ripple went through the entire pop punk community. Similar to their following single, The Phoenix, this song was not just a fun jam, it was a battle cry. From the first listen, it was obvious that Fall Out Boy wasn’t messing around.

Rumors went around that there would be a whole slew of celebrity appearances on the record, including the infamous Elton John and Courtney Love. This only amped the rock community even more. Finally, April 16th rolled around and there it was. An incredible collection of pop melodies, lyrics laced with the punk attitude we’d all been missing, a string orchestra, and even a rap verse. There isn’t much that’s NOT on this album. I will admit, I was hesitant at first because as I semi-expected, Save Rock and Roll was extremely different than anything Fall Out Boy had ever created. After a few listens I realized that as different as it is, it’s worth every penny.

I could write an entire song-by-song review of the album to try and convince you that this record literally mind-blowing, but I’d much rather let you experience it without knowing what’s coming at you, just like I did. Brace yourself, and go buy Save Rock and Roll.

The Dirty Heads: An Interview

By Valerie Reich 

The venue is empty with the exception of the band, their crew, and us. From the stage, a melody echoes purposed for sound check. Jared, the lead singer of The Dirty Heads, is bouncing around the stage- hair long, tangled, with a hat on top and barefoot. The band decides they are done rehearsing and beckon me back stage. This is The Dirty Heads. They are cool, collected, filled with a California casual style. Raised in the laid-back nature of Huntington Beach, CA their music reflects the serene beach and skate scene of the SoCal community of their youth.

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The Dirty Heads got their start in high school with lead singer Jared Watson, Dirty J, and guitarist Dustin Bushnell, Duddy B.  The name they anointed their band, The Dirty Heads, was rumored to stem from a beer smuggling operation the boys were apart of with employed by older brothers. This rumor is dashed by the omission by the band that the term “The Dirty Heads” was a name that people just started calling the band based on a song lyric. That is Dirty Head’s style- going with the flow so much that their band just acquires a name from the fans.

 

Influenced by bands such as Sublime, the Beastie Boys and Tribe Called Quest these bands, “opened our eyes to mix a bunch of genres in [our music],” Jared Watson.  Inspiration comes from all different areas from one cool word, to other music, to in the words of Duddy B, “one word that someone says and you’re like oh that’s a cool word…different things, every day life, and different things.” Their music ranges from reggae styled jams to rap with slamming guitar rifts. It’s an indefinable genre because of the intermingled influences that has inspired their songs. When Dirty J and Duddy B discuss their music their faces become tight and serious as if the notion of people understanding their music is the sole purpose of their existence. You can see the value and love they have for their art form written across their faces.

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Off stage life brings out a more vivid emotional reaction from the musicians. They both express a deep longing for the normal world when they are on the road- how being away from home intensifies the meaning and value to their brief time off from touring. “ “ Taking a tangent away from the serious longing of home life, the men of The Dirty Heads joke about taking over the tailgating circuit and their desire for tailgating to lead them to become “the next Jimmy Buffet”. Continuing the side tracked interview, a crew friend of theirs comes out from a back room shower and sits down in his towel next to the band and I. Without missing a beat in his playful nature, Dirty J immediately tries and succeeds to rip this man’s towel off inspiring the man to naked through the room and out the back door.

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I ask them about life off stage, and both Duddy B and Dirty J express a longing for the normal world. Dirty J tells me of the different sides of life on the road from excessive amounts of sleeping to creating a slide in the center of the bus to push people down. Why? Just because The Dirty Heads can. The “because they can” attitude is immediately displayed when a crew friend of theirs comes out from a back room shower and sits down in his towel between Dirty J and I. Without missing a beat, Dirty J immediately tries and succeeds to rip this man’s towel off resulting in this friend to run naked through the room and out the back door.

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The freedom The Dirty Heads exemplify in their lives, from their crazy off stage antics to the passion for a life unregulated by rules that they put into their music, is a wonder to watch on stage. Between a combination of lights, crowd enthusiasm, and of course the music, The Dirty Heads is a force to be reckoned with.

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Revolver by The Beatles: A Review of Covers

By Declan Clearly

The Beatles are commonly regarded as one of the most influential bands in musical history. Their albums are critically acclaimed and many of their songs are widely known. Revolver, their seventh studio album, was released in August of 1966 and marks, along with Rubber Soul, the development of the Beatles into a studio band. It placed 3rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 greatest albums of all time and 1st in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums. The album is considered if not one of the great achievements in musical history, then certainly a great achievement of the Beatles as a studio band.

The Beatles, due to their popularity, are also one of the most covered bands in history. A variety of different artists have tried their hand at contributing their own sound to the iconic songs of the Beatles.

Below is a list of covers for every track on side one of Revolver:
In Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of Taxman the American guitarist trades the sharp, upbeat sound of George Harrison’s vocals and McCartney’s memorable bass line for a smooth, bluesy rock feel.

 

The Beatles usually aren’t associated with the harsh and challenging style of industrial music. Eleanor Rigby was originally appreciated for being a departure from the Beatles traditional pop act towards deeper, more experimental studio music. This cover by industrial rock band Godhead takes that departure a bit further, trading the string quartet for electric guitar and Paul’s smoother vocals for a much heavier, almost metal sound.

 

 

 

Love You To was the first Beatles song to seriously incorporate Indian classical music, and more than evidences the influence on George Harrison with a stellar sitar performance. This cover, however, done by indie rock band Solid Gold trades the sitar for a synth and creates a unique piece that retains the non-western song composition with distinct electronic tones.

 

 

 

One of the best examples on this list of an artist trying to pay tribute to the Beatles as opposed to creating a new feel for the song. Belarus captures the subdued yet upbeat tune while expressing clear Indie and Alternative influences.

 

 

 

This cover is fittingly one of the oddest and most disarmingly endearing renditions of one of the Beatles oddest and most disarmingly endearing songs. Sesame Street does Yellow Submarine.

 

 

 

Though The Black Keys have certainly gained their own fame in recent years, their debut album contained this much bluesier lo-fi version of the last song recorded for the Revolver album. It rocks hard and is definitely worth a listen.

 

 

That Handsome Devil

By Bridget Hurley

 

That Handsome Devil is an enigma in this current scene in which most bands have very established genres. Described as everything from gypsy jazz to gonzo rock to “bizarre hip-hop”, THD is that type of band that will never fail to surprise their listeners. Recently, THD came out with an album titled “The Jungle Book”, which exclusively covers songs from the Disney movie. That Handsome Devil juxtaposes the seemingly benign lyrics with a deeper, darker meaning, comparing the jungle to their native Brooklyn, the animals to the people in the city, and the plot of the movie to the constant search for drugs, liquor, and some semblance of satisfaction that they see their peers struggling with. The Jungle Book is available for free on That Handsome Devil’s website, and if an entire download is too much of a commitment, don’t miss their cover of “The Bare Necessities”, or if The Jungle Book isn’t your style, be sure to listen to “Yada Yada”. Happy listening.

Album Review: Skating Polly – Lost Wonderfuls

By Mack White

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You’ve heard the story before: A girl group with heavy riffs, powerful vocals, and lots of angst. Here’s the part of the story you’ve never heard – the only members of the group are 17 and 13 years old. That’s right, and Skating Polly are one of the best new artists that I’ve had the enjoyment of listening to.

Oklahoma natives Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse bring various sounds to their new album, Lost Wonderfuls. Songs like “Carrots” bring back the sounds established by riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, while songs like Blue Obvious are so beautiful and sloppy at the same time that it’s reminiscent of something Stephen Malkmus would have done with Pavement.

The song “Mr. Proper Englishman” was instantly one of my favorites. The simplicity of the lyrics, especially the chorus, are irresistible to sing along with. The vocals sound somewhat shrill, but the rawness of that track are what makes it so enjoyable.

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The standout track to me was the conclusion, “Oh Well, We’ll Win”. Stepping away from their punkish edge, the girls used simply their voices and a ukelele to look back on the steps they’ve made in their lives as musicians and as teenagers.

The girls have already gained compliments from established artists like X and Dollyrots, and what’s even cooler is that they’re opening up for The Flaming Lips this year. I can’t imagine how surreal it would be to perform before musical legends and you’re not even old enough to vote, truly amazing.

It’s incredibly inspiring to me to see so much talent out of young people that it makes me kinda angry. I wish I could have had the musical ability these two young talents did when I played saxophones throughout middle and high school. Regardless of my self-esteem, Lost Wonderfuls is an excellent release from open to close. I’m looking forward to see what the future holds for Skating Polly, so far it looks like nothing but sunshine.

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Album Review: Atoms for Peace – Amok

By Mack White

It’s difficult for Thom Yorke to do wrong. His made some of the biggest musical strides in history as lead singer of Radiohead, he’s made a solo album that showed that he doesn’t necessarily need the same gang to make great music, and he’s producing other artists to spread his musical knowledge to others. So how will Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace fare against previous projects?

Hearing the song “Judge Jury and Executioner” last week when it was mysteriously uploaded to numerous file sharing websites by the band only added to my excitement of Amok. The song showed similarities between songs like “The Eraser” from Yorke’s solo album The Eraser. An atmospheric sound meshed with Yorke’s vocals is customary and backed up by an incessant drum pad is customary of “Judge”, giving us our first look of Yorke’s next endeavor.

Here’s where the album falls off. Songs like “Ingenue” and “Default” provide us with a landscape of somewhat depressing lyrics, enshrouded by the brief guitar tones distorted to give a surreal sound. Effects and filters like those are customary for Yorke’s project. While this always entertaining and a good listen, it makes me wonder, is what Yorke is doing new?

 

The answer is no. We experienced this with the last Radiohead album. While The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s latest release, was definitely appreciated the more we listened, it wasn’t distinguishable enough from a Thom Yorke solo album. It’s difficult to complain about something Thom Yorke put his hand in, but after listening to Amok it feels like I’ve been playing the same album over and over. Nothing really bring new life to Amok, which is saddening considering most Radiohead albums require multiple listens to fully enjoy.

The album definitely has some standout tracks. “Before Your Very Eyes…” sets the scene of man pining for a woman by studying her mannerisms and is hoping she can study him. Despite how kinda creepy it sounds, the vivid imagery that Yorke provides in his songs always complements their unique sound very well. Where Amok missteps is at the beginning, it takes too long to reach the high points of the album and having to filter through the songs at the beginning of a listen is not entertaining.

Overall, I can’t say that Amok was a bad release, because it wasn’t. There were multiple songs that I think should have been left off the record, but also some songs that challenged the band and redeemed their stumbles. It makes me wonder about what’s next in Yorke’s future and if Atoms for Peace’s only contribution to the world will be Amok. In the end, any from of a Thom Yorke release will get a listen from me.

Album Review: The Knife – Shaking the Habitual

By Michael Papich 

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The Knife. That is one of the most blunt, brutal, evocative band names that exist. A
single silver stab from behind the curtains, from just around the corner, from the
dark of the stage. And more importantly, it’s a band name that fits. The Knife comes
at you relentlessly with each song they put out while remaining as mysterious as the
shadow hands from The Shining.

Now, overlooking their entire discography, this is not always super blatant. The
closest thing they had to a big hit, “Heartbeats” is a very poppy track, but it still
sloops and sweeps bizarrely and the infectious nature pierces the mind of the
listener. Then, you of course have the even knifier Knife songs like “Manhood” and
“Wanting to Kill,” all of which culminated with the overwhelming “Silent Shout” back
in 2006. That album is the closest anyone has ever come to turning the sensation of
being lost in the icy wilderness into music.

But now The Knife have come back with this masterpiece, “Shaking the Habitual.”
And it is a masterpiece. After “Silent Shout,” it’s hard to know where a band would
go next if they wanted to progress their sound. “Shaking the Habitual” is absolutely
that next step. Where “Silent Shout” had complex beats, “Shaking the Habitual” has
chaotic synths. Where “Silent Shout” had fear, “Shaking the Habitual” has defiance.
Where “Silent Shout” has the cold, “Shaking the Habitual” has, um, steel drums.

Let’s talk about steel drums. Steel drums sound amazing and weird and would
not be expected in an album about feminism by Scandinavians. But “Shaking the
Habitual” has a consistent calypso influence in it, probably most prominent in
“A Tooth for an Eye.” It makes for a much more interesting rhythm section than
just drum machines, which The Knife and most other electronica bands rely on.
But don’t worry, MPC fans, because there is still plenty of electro beat patterns,
like on “Networking” and dark, icy synths, like on “Wrap Your Arms Around Me,”
throughout the album. If you are familiar with the other band fronted by The Knife’s
Karin Dreijer Andersson, Fever Ray, then you will be happy about the same creepy
sounds that fill “Shaking the Habitual.”

So by this point you have probably gathered that I enjoyed “Shaking the Habitual” a
great deal and I would recommend it to music fans. Ttttthat’s true, BUT, I would not
say this is an easy listen by any stretch. More than half of the album’s songs are over
eight minutes long and many of them contain long stretches of drone or dissonant
instrumentation. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the 20 minute drone track
in the middle of the album, “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized,”; a song that
honestly interrupts the enjoyment of the listener and really sucks.

But that is not to say that it is an impossible listen. This is no Swans album. Even
in the drone segments of the album, there is “A Cherry On Top,” which is the best
drone song I have ever heard. It creates compelling and pleasantly weird noise and
the airy vocals that come in send shivers down the spine and you ache for Karin’s
throaty voice.

There are also semi-poppy songs, like “A Tooth for an Eye,” “Without You My Life
Would Be Boring,” and even the first single “Full of Fire” is pretty engaging for a
nine-minute song. The entire album is also buoyed by an overwhelmingly positive
message of overthrowing the patriarchy and being free as humans. The Knife have
always had that kind of political slant to their music, but it is crystalized in the best
way on “Shaking the Habitual” and the album serves as the greatest message of
destroying the shackles of the past and moving forward with music, with art, with
politics, with belief that I have heard in my many millennia on this wet planet.