Kevin Abstract makes it well known that he has a lot of heroes. In attempt to emulate his heroes while also discovering his own sound, his producer Romil and he turned in the 12-track MTV1987 LP that I consider the year’s best album. So during this live interview (that you may be viewing after the fact when it’s not live), I will be talking to Kevin about his heroes, his album, and his quest of becoming the most popular artist alive, and I will be discussing in depth the making of MTV1987 with the suddenly iconic duo.
This is the last Tape Tuesday before school starts back up again for me. Every summer I try to make that one mix that the few of you who religiously follow my mixes will look back and say, “That music defined my summer.” I think Rare Occasions is that mix. Looking at it from a strictly musical point-of-view, you can clearly see that R&B ruled summer 2014. It’s not even a question. From my personal point-of-view, I am hoping this mix will remind me of the rowdy nights in my new apartment that I only partially remember now. I hope it will remind me of the moments I shared with the people in my life. I hope in the future I will know which moments were significant and which were insignificant because in the moment, the view can be blurred. Maybe I will listen to this assortment of songs in ten years and regret something–or feel some type of way. That’s the beauty of songs. They are like vials for your bottled up emotions that can spill over at any given time. For example, when you are at the perfect level of drunkenness and “0 to 100″ comes on at your own party or when you are driving in the rain and a song comes on and you suddenly feel like you are the main character in a TV drama. In the moments when the rhythm of the music syncs up perfectly with the pace of your life, you get flooded with lost emotion and develop a true connection with a song. Those are the moments that will stay with you forever and give you perspective on the rest of stuff going on in your life. Those are the rare occasions.
For realla, baby
*Missing track 1 (“Her” by Majid Jordan) and track 3 (“On The Way” by Kilo Kish), not available on SoundCloud.
There are ebbs and flow in the vortex of music on the Internet: times where you spend hours searching for new music and get nothing but the same vapid raps and overly cheery indie rock jingles. Right when you are about to give up, fate throws you an artist like Allan Kingdom, and suddenly, your sleep deprived mind feels revived again. The artist that matters makes you pay attention, and St. Paul native Allan Kingdom matters. I had the privilege of talking to Kingdom last week. In our interview, we discuss the making of his new Future Memoirs EP, the booming St. Paul music scene, and his team made up of the legendary Plain Pat, DJ Kaslow, and Ben Hughes.
Hit the jump to listen to and/or read the interview… Continue reading “[IRL Interview] Allan Kingdom” »
Man, oh man was July a hot month for music! I’ve talked with several of our writers and we all agree: this was one hard month to pick songs for! Fortunately for you and me, we did it. 23 songs put together in a convenient playlist, ranging from a bunch of different genres. Happy August everyone!
According to Escapists‘s lead singer Simon Glancy, “Bones” is basically about this girl who had the same name as his mom, which kind of made him think he was like in love with this girl when he definitely was not (I’m extrapolating a little here). It all sounds like a weird and Oedipal and hilarious premise for a rock song. But “Bones” is not a funny song. It is one of those tracks that will make your heart muscles shift in uncomfortable directions while it carries you to the tip of your seat and grabs your ball sack and smashes your manhood while also being frighteningly beautiful and poignant. You know… one of those tracks.
You can preview the band’s debut album Only Bodies, out July 28, with the sampler below.
Remember that episode of The Fairly OddParents where Timmy goes inside the Internet to retrieve an embarrassing email? This album is nothing like that; although, the ingenious art direction by HK might actually mislead you a bit. Kevin Abstract‘s MTV1987 is less about technology as it is the result of technology. If you look only at the musical references on this project, you will hear the usual suspects in modern hip-hop–Outkast, Cudi, Kanye, Drake, Pharrell–but you will also hear Nirvana, Cassie, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson. If you look at the words, the story is one of acute loneliness and desolation brought upon as a result of the Information Age. It’s about the millions of young people who fantasize about a different life online and struggle to maintain any semblance of a relationship IRL. And it’s not our fault; the Internet has fucked up the wiring of our brain. This album is a reflection on the youth and the struggle to feel something real in a robotic world.
It is also one of the best albums of the year. Kevin Abstract and his producer Romil beyond delivered on this project. It literally sounds like FutureSex/LoveSounds meets Man on the Moon II. Romil has to be the most improved producer in a single year since the beginning of time, and Kevin’s songwriting jumped to one of the best in all of music. Gone are the days where we are talking loosely about the “endless potential of Kevin Abstract.” He has found his sound and team of producers and engineers and can only keep improving from here. Like, I can’t stress enough: this is a real album. In the perfect world, this would win Grammys. Unfortunately, right now that world only exists online, but I have a feeling that’s going to change for Kevin very soon.
I can’t have many more summers like this. Silver Car Crash is the result of that realization and the looming issue I refuse to face that is my future. I know what I am about to say about ideas is ironic considering this cover, title, and paragraph are a direct result of my ideas, but I don’t feel like I do enough with my ideas. Here’s why. In the perfect world, everyone shares their best ideas, and from that grand mixing pot of people’s best ideas, the absolute best idea is selected as the concept for a product. But in the world we live in, the best idea doesn’t always win, so we learn to conform. We learn to adjust our ideas to fit with old ideas. In essence, we are constantly updating the second or third best idea, and no matter how much we update that idea it will never match the potential of the absolute best idea. iPhone 5s are a good reference for this process. It is backwards and terrible, so that’s why a frustrated, young thinker invented art (probably) because there is no “best” art; there are many “best” art(s). I don’t really know the point of this. I just know that I enjoy using art as the medium for sharing my ideas because the real world is horrifying, and there’s no reason why the best idea shouldn’t always win. But the fact that I enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s right, and as I type this I am realizing that I need to start sharing more ideas outside of a safe, cushioned context and face this shit head on in a silver car crash. Okay, that was corny. But hey, I said the title, so it had to feel at least a little validating after reading all the crap I wrote above. Sorry. Don’t conform, and be brave.
Continue reading “[Download Mixtape] Tape Tuesday: Silver Car Crash” »
The U.S. might’ve lost against The Waffles yesterday, but that won’t stop us from celebrating our independence day this Friday! To those who have plans to get drunk and run wild, or to those who prefer to have a glass of wine and enjoy fireworks with your loved one (or do both at the same damn time), enjoy your weekend and freedom. Why? Because this is America and it is our duty as writers to serve you with an awesome playlist filled with June’s best music for your holiday weekend. God, I’m so emotional right now.
It’s already been six months into 2014, and that’s just weird. So weird that we had to tell you our top 100 songs from the last six months. All of them are compiled into one giant SoundCloud playlist with over 5 hours of tunes to fill your ears with. No particular order. Special shoutout to our writers for helping me put this together, and to our readers that are on this page checking out our picks. Y’all are awesome!
From an outsider’s perspective (no pun intended), it could be easy to discredit G-Eazy‘s success, saying that his brand is “manufactured.” It could be easy to say that this faux-retro brand he has built from nothing is just a shtick to set him apart in an over-saturated hip-hop market. Once you witness his “shtick” firsthand, you realize that maybe his brand is manufactured to set him apart in this crazy game. It doesn’t matter. G-Eazy is a smart guy–a graduate of Loyola University’s Music Industry Studies program. He knows what he’s doing, and maybe his image is a calculated attempt at monetizing nostalgia.
But image only gets you so far.
These Things Happen will be G’s first commercial album. The man is treading into the deep waters of actually asking his fans to purchase his music! But what I saw when I interviewed young Gerald was an experienced yet still hungry rapper with a smart style, a loyal fan base, and an unending supply of good music and ideas–not to mention, he is one of the most genuine artists I have ever met. Like, he lives exactly what he raps. In our interview, the Bay Area rapper talked candidly about the challenges of tour life, the details of his come up, rap disses, his favorite brands of whiskey, and of course, the making of These Things Happen. Pre-order the album on iTunes now or buy a physical copy on June 23rd. Continue reading “[Interview] G-Eazy: “This Is Where It All Starts”” »
Summer usually means one crucial thing for music fans….music festivals galore. Although quite a few have already taken place, there’s a good handful of them that have yet to occur. This time around we’re bringing you a taste of a big festival taking place in Scheessel, Germany on June 20-22, Hurricane Festival. As a current resident of Germany, I’ll be attending this festival for the first time but as preparation I’ll be giving a taste of what to expect. Whether you’ve never heard of Hurricane, are attending, or simply interested in what other festivals around the world have to offer, here’s a list of my top acts to see (including a taste of some actual German artist).
Bombay Bicycle Club
Bombay Bicycle Club have definitely been around long enough at this point to be seen as a solid band that has everyone’s respect. However, in many parts of the world there are still people that haven’t experienced the pure rawness and talent these guys possess. Their latest album came out merely a few months ago and the newer tracks will only add to their already flawlessly energetic live show. Whether you’ve seen them ten times or zero, they’re always worth experiencing live.
Duke Dumont has been bringing some serious jams in the last year. He’s currently making the world explode with his incredibly addictive track “I Got U” and that’s probably not the only track that he’ll be getting us stoked for. He’s bound to bring the party at his set and what’s better than a dance party at a festival?
George Ezra is another artist that’s been slowly but surely making himself known to the world. His soulful pipes and incredibly likable tunes can make anyone turn their head. His set is worth checking out before he completely blows up.
Casper is the first on our list that is an actual German artist. His music is a fusion of dark hip-hop and indie alternative. He doesn’t stray far from other American artists, having already done a tour with Portugal. the Man. He’s greatly known and appreciated in Germany and is worth giving a listen to.
With vocals filled of honey and soul, it’s almost a given that Selah Sue is a must-see. She’s got some serious girl power going and how can one not appreciate that? She rocks out on the guitar, belts out notes that we wish we could, and simply has it all. Full package, she sure is.
Circa Waves are exactly what you’d expect and want from a band’s live set. They’ve got the simple indie rock vibe that everyone appreciates in a festival setting. Plus they just know how to rock, can’t go wrong there.
Lily Allen may not be the most unique pick considering she’s a huge pop star that everyone knows. However, after her hiatus of far too long, it’s only right we appreciate her comeback. A bit of sass mixed with sing along worthy pop tracks, it’s definitely not a bad way to end your Saturday night after some intense sun.
Kraftklub is yet another German artist on the list. Their music can be described as indie rock with an occasional taste of hip hop. Their live act is bound to get the crowd going with energy therefore they’re a must-see if you want to have a good time.
Polica is absurdly beautiful which means their live show is bound to be just as mesmerizing. These Minnesota darlings are probably the most unique of the Hurricane must-see acts, so they’re definitely going to give a different flavor from anything else. That in itself is enough to appreciate.
Metronomy bring the indie-electro catchiness we all need at a summer festival. It’s worth bringing your dancing shoes, yet you won’t be totally drained watching them either. It’s the light fun you’ll be looking for when you want to enjoy yourself yet not melt from lack of energy.
London Grammar have stolen our hearts within the last year, so it would be criminal to not have them on this list. They may not be the most energetic, or particularly crazy as far as live acts go but what they have to offer is far beyond that. With vocals to sooth our minds and songs to melt our souls, there’s definitely nothing to complain about when seeing them live. They’re simply beauty in a band and missing them would be simply silly.
Last but not least is the final German artist on our list. Seeed is a well known band in Germany. Their music is a mixture between hip hop and reggae. As a headliner and closing act they are bound to attract a big crowd.
All in all, Hurricane Festival is bound to please it’s thousands of guests. With acts from around the world, it’ll give everyone a taste of something they enjoy.
The best songs are annoying pests–like the kindergardener who just learned about pressure points and will use his new knowledge to torture a much smaller, brown-skinned classmate. “Symmetry” by Glasgow-based duo Nieves is a big, unrelenting pest. It is a track that seems simple on the surface but is actually, according to the band, “a bleak but hopeful narrative about teenage pregnancy and Scotland’s underclass.” It is a track that will get under your skin and irritate the hell out of you when you can’t seem to let go of the uplifting piano backdrop, courtesy of Herre de Leur and the aching passion in lead singer Brendan Dafters’s voice. Below also is “Winter,” the band’s debut single, where they sound a lot like a Scottish version of the Avett Brothers, which is honestly probably a backwards comparison since the Avett Brothers most likely borrowed their sound from Scottish folk music.