Ethan Duran’s Pick: “The Lonesome Crowded West – Modest Mouse”
Listening to first two Modest Mouse albums is like taking a road trip. Because The Lonesome Crowded West is the ultimate road trip album. The songs are about driving from state to state and the danceable grooves and brilliant instrumentation give you the perfect chance to rock out in your own car. The songs switch between an energetic rock sound to a melodic and soothing sound. I picked up the CD at Exclusive Company and didn’t regret the purchase. If you like indie rock, and if you’re spending long hours driving, this is what you should be jamming out to. Favorite track: Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
Hailey McLaughlin’s Pick: “Back to Black – Amy Winehouse”
Currently, I’m back on my blues kick, and Amy Winehouse is taking the stage on this round. Back to Black has been on repeat on my phone for the past week and a half. Tears Dry on Their Own has become my anthem and favorite song on the album. Her mix of blues, rock and reggae are exactly what I need to be feeling in the moment.
Andrew Boldt’s Pick: “Harmony of Difference – Kamasi Washington”
A saxophonist virtuoso, Washington, who has collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus and Run the Jewels, has followed up 2015’s The Epic, which lived up to its billing, with an EP that has twisting and captivating streaks of him styling over some paired drumming and twittering, driving pianos. Though the Los Angeles-based jazzman may be playing it safe, Harmony of Difference has transcendental moments – like in the opening of “Perspective” – that plate a spiritual feel not unlike that of legend Pharoah Sanders. Washington will only keep climbing into the public eye.
Madison Goldbeck’s Pick: “Sacred Hearts Club – Foster The People”
Foster The People is making waves with their third studio album “Sacred Hearts Club”. The notorious “Pumped Up Kicks” band brings indie, psychedelic vibes this time around and I can’t seem to stop playing it on repeat. I can honestly say there is not one song on the album I don’t enjoy. The first song I heard off the album was “Sit Next To Me” and it stuck out immediately. It is still my favorite song on the album, right alongside with “Static Space Lover”. SSL reminds me of “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, which is a compliment. The album features trap beats infused with groove. Not only is the sound tantalizing, but the lyrics are deep, bold, and dripping in poetry. This is an album fantastically done by a band who just gets music. I perpetually recommend this album, as I endlessly come back to it.
Alyssa Joseph’s Pick: “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell – PVRIS”
[Released: Aug. 25, 2017] Hailing from Lowell, Massachusetts, alt-rockers PVRIS just released their sophomore album on Rise Records. They combine electro pop and rock to create a record that is compelling and cohesive, yet allows each track is distinctively individual. The trio recorded the album in a haunted church turned recording studio; dark/eerie elements are prevalent through the entire record, are contrasted by the powerful pop influenced choruses. This album has been in a constant rotation since its release, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. Recommended Tracks: What’s Wrong, Nola 1
Royce Podeszwa’s Pick: “Changes – Charles Bradley”
Before his death on September 23rd, I didn’t really know who this giant in soul music was. I had heard his single “Ain’t it a Sin” before on 88.9, and its grooviness had me dancing in the car anytime I heard it. I never bothered to Shazam it however, and the fickleness of FM radio quickly moved on to promote newer albums.
Fast forward to 2017 and I hear the DJ mention the tragic loss of Charles Bradley, and the extraordinary life he had lived. The man was a James Brown Impersonator for most his life, until he finally débuted his first album at the age of 62! He was living proof that it’s never too late to do great things. I was so impressed by his life that I felt compelled to buy an album as a form of honoring the dead. Little did I know that this album would be so captivating.
The record itself starts out with a rendition of “God Bless America” and Bradley’s voice speaking before the classic tune. He said that his life as a black man in America had been a challenge, but he still loved his country and every hardship only made him stronger. Having been released well into the 2016 election cycle, the album steers right into talks about race in politics and how divided we can be as a nation. There are also plenty of beats that will take you back to a funkier time in history when soul was king, all while mainlining the crispness of a modern production.
You can let the personal lyrics of “Change the World” inspire you to fight for a better tomorrow, or you can put “Ain’t it a Sin” on repeat and dance the night away. Either way, this musical mastermind’s final album is well worth the $10.99 on iTunes. It might even open your eyes, as it did mine, to an influential genre still very much alive and well today.
Adam Montana’s Pick: “Don’t Smile At Me – Billie Elish”
Billie Eilish, recently named Apple’s UpNext artist, is the artist pop had always needed and never realized. At only 15 years old, she perfectly embodies emotions of heartbreak, betrayal, and everything in between in her first EP, don’t smile at me. Through captivating beats, relatable lyrics, and incredibly gorgeous vocals, she invites the listener to delve into her psyche and experience life as she sees it.
Billie’s EP compliments her aesthetic: the beauty of the bittersweet. In the song bellyache, she takes on the persona of a psychopath, casually singing about murdering her backstabbing accomplices. And despite the initially worrisome topic, by the end of the song the listener is singing along with Eilish as she flawlessly travels through the deeper, raspy parts of her voice to the angelic falsetto she has mastered.
With an almost “too-cool-for-it” attitude, many of her songs, including COPYCAT and my boy, are packed full of heavy bass and compelling choruses. Billie doesn’t shy away from taking a stance of revenge and attitude in her songs, giving the listeners a chance to be a badass alongside her. It is this vulgar, hardened character she displays that provides catchy lyrics and dance-worthy beats.
And while the EP is full of powerful moments of music and lyrics, it also contains some beautifully gentle ballads. One of the most remarkable aspects of the EP, in fact, is how effortlessly Eilish can transition from a place of malice and force to one of passion and innocence.
In some of my personal favorites, hostage and idontwanttobeyouanymore, she allows this softer side to take over. And through beautiful harmonies, simple chords, and heart wrenchingly relatable lyrics, she succeeds in creating songs worthy of spots among the best.
At only 15 years old (!!) Billie Eilish proves without a doubt that she is a force to be reckoned with.
Her breakout single, ocean eyes, is also featured on the EP. And although it remains pretty much unchanged from its previous version released a year ago, it is most likely for the best as the original was a masterpiece: composed of simple harmonies paired with a chill, lightweight background beat. The song is overflowing with poetic metaphor that helps create the nuance of mystery and vulnerability she displays in the song.
Overall, the EP caters to every listener: the strong, the subtle, the broken. It has moments of redemption as well as some of weakness. The melodies are universally enjoyable and the lyrics tell stories only Billie Eilish could tell; tragic but inspirational, numb yet dynamic, innocent and mature. Don’t Smile At Me by Billie Eilish is an EP worth listening to. And I, for one, am eagerly awaiting more.