The Mountain Goats - “Going to Alaska”

The first Mountain Goats song came about when John Darnielle was attending poetry readings when he was younger, and he decided to try to transform one of his favorite poems into folk music. But at the time, folk music had a negative stigma; as he explained at his recent show at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, folk music was seen as an equivalent to an annoying dude with an acoustic guitar at a party, whining about the troubles of the world. Luckily, by sharing poetic adventures like this motivation to travel to Alaska, John Darnielle has changed the face of indie folk, providing a more pensive, articulate alternative along the same lines as Destroyer (Dan Bejar), who injects a throwback 80s vibe into his own brand of folk.

John Darnielle may have previously been embarrassed by the low-fi, quirky quality of this track, it has allowed him to carve out a unique space in a self-conscious musical landscape.

Long live the Mountain Goats.

April 23, 2014

HAIM - “Forever (Giorgio Moroder remix)”

The HAIM sisters caught the ears of famous electronic producer Giorgio Moroder, who recently got a second life thanks to his Daft Punk collaboration, and got the royal remix treatment on their debut single, “Forever.” I picked this up at Record Store Day yesterday and it makes an already fun song a lot more dance-y.

April 20, 2014

Last night, I attended my first concert of the spring season. Who, you ask? Betty Who.

Don’t be fooled by her height and towering stage presence and the fact that she is the shit. Betty aka Jessica Newham is the girl next door. She’s 22, had her first kiss at Lake Michigan at a high school summer camp at Northwestern, and bops around the stage like her mike is her hair brush and her stage her bed. (I seriously want to know if that stage had springs under it.) Its quite clear that she is doing what she loves, and her music makes you feel that love. Nothing is more rewarding at a concert than seeing that the person behind the songs is exactly how you imagined.

From the new EP “Slow Dancing,” this song is what she explains as the love child of Phil Collins, Ashanti, and Ja Rule.

April 13, 2014

Slow Club - “Complete Surrender”

This sounds nothing like Slow Club’s debut album, which I loved, and it’s absolutely, mind-blowingly fantastic.

April 7, 2014

Cloud Nothings - “I’m Not Part of Me”

Now this is what I’m talking about. Even though Steve Albini’s production and dark proto-punk influence is noticeably missing, the new Cloud Nothings album listens like a good ol’ fashioned pop punk record. The final song really brings together the vibe of the band and continues to build upon their acclaimed previous release, Attack on Memory.

Rock on.

(Source: Spotify)

April 3, 2014


Derek King ft. Kirko Bangz & Sage the Gemini - “Jump”

I found this today while trying to look up Adrian Marcel’s excellent "2 AM." featuring Sage the Gemini and spent the rest of the day bopping along to it before hearing it on the radio on the drive to the airport. God bless rap radio in the South.

"Jump" is fantastic all the way through* with each one of these dudes turning in strong work that plays to their strengths. Turns out Sage is pairing up with quite a few R&B singers, with his latest single featuring August Alsina. There are so many aspects reminiscent of different trendy California styles: background "ay ay"s sounding like DJ Mustard, the wobble of the bass in the pre-chorus similar to the bass in hyphy’s "Gas Pedal", and a slinky wiggle similar to yiken.

And yet, the horns and sirens speak to something else. It’s thrilled and jubilant and not at all sinister. This is a song that could be a hit elsewhere in the country, too.

(*The major exception here being Kirko Bangz’ terrible R. Kelly joke which is gross.)

March 21, 2014

(Source: Spotify)

March 19, 2014

Future Islands - “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

I’ve had this song stuck in my head since the band’s powerful performance on The Late Show with David Letterman a week or so ago.

Lead singer Samuel Herring steals the song with his intense mannerisms and earthy voice, which, with the emotions embedded in the song’s lyrics, turn from pleading to demonic. While the studio cut of this song is understandably a little more subdued, it has the same raw emotion and unique vocals in front of synthpop instrumentals. In my opinion, music needed this renewed urgency and kick in the rear.

Even better: these guys are signed to Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label!

March 13, 2014

Marian Hill is a great go to if you’re looking for something mellow and organic, but still not lacking in rhythm. Her entire EP is free on bandcamp, so definitely check it out for more tunes.

March 6, 2014

If Schoolboy Q’s long-awaited Oxymoron can be summed up in one word, it’d be collaboration. Q brought in tons of talent from all over the American hip hop scene to craft this eccentric studio debut. Throughout the album one can hear the consistency of Q’s vision cutting through the variety of his collaborators, which includes West-Siders (Black Hippy’s Rock and Kendrick, Kurupt, Tyler, TDE’s Digi+Phonics & THC, The Alchemist), Chicagoans (BJ), New Yorkers (Rae), and Southerners (2 Chainz, Mike Will). He wanted to bring all of these people into something special, and it shows.

A lot of the Q tropes are still here: his asymmetrical vocal rhythms, his YAWK YAWK bravado guarding his hidden pains (this time addiction) like a trojan horse, and his insanely good ear for beats and samples. It might be too early to tell, but for now I won’t say I love it more than I loved Habits. It definitely doesn’t feel unwelcome after all of its infamous delays.

February 26, 2014