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Best New Songs of June 2017

VdXUBoo

Celebrate your 4th of July with SITR’s Best of June playlist! Throw this playlist on as your soundtrack on your boat, at your bbq, in your backyard, wherever, whenever! Your friends and family will be impressed by how in tune you are with current music.

Young Thug, Calvin Harris, and SZA all dropped albums to round out June. Summer music is officially in full force.

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[Live Review] Jessie Reyez: A young artist achieving her dreams

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A lot of people who read Sunset have asked me where I’ve been; it’s been a long time since I’ve published an article. To start, I’ve been working at my day job. I’m not sure if people know that Sunset was never my full-time job. Earlier in my career, I just used to have more time to spend on it. For years, I would go to work, go home, and sit down to work on Sunset for several hours. Every day. Weekends were mostly full of listening and writing.

But after moving to San Francisco from North Carolina, this evening time started slipping away from me. The culture out here in San Francisco is very different. Work hours are longer, social calendars are more demanding, and weekends spent inside typing away on a computer are much more guilt inducing. There were a few years when I really resented that fact about my life in San Francisco. But I’ve grown into it. Two years ago, I found a job that I really care about (if you care to know, I work on the media partnerships team at Pinterest…a fancy way of saying I sell ads. And yes, somehow I care about that…), and I am devoted to advancing my career.

So what brings me back today, over two years later? Well, to begin with, I’ve still been here behind the scenes. I still contribute to the monthly playlists that Jordan puts together, help find new writers for the site, and, well, I still pay the bills. Yes, I do see the tweets and Facebook message from folks asking if I still accept submissions. I apologize for not responding to all of them; it’s just a shortage of time. But I still choose my own path of music discovery (often through my writers’ picks, honestly) and I often happen across a gem. I’ll almost always post them here. That happened for me recently, and that’s why I’m back here writing today.

I first heard of Jessie Reyez a few months ago as I was watching Pigeons & Planes coverage from SXSW. I’m pretty sure I was watching their Instagram story; funny to think that’s one of my ways of discovering music today. When I started this thing, I was using MySpace to discover most of the artists I wrote about. That’s a great reminder of how long this site has been around for (almost a decade!).

As I was watching the footage of Jessie for the first time, I saw this uniquely beautiful young artist with a stunning voice, a natural gentle strum of her guitar, and beneath those things, a distinct sense of anger, authenticity and emotion in her delivery that I couldn’t forget. I was hooked almost immediately.

I got the opportunity to see Jessie live in San Francisco this past Thursday night at Rickshaw Stop. For context, Rickshaw Stop is one of the smaller venues in San Francisco, but it packed a pretty good punch on Thursday night for the sold out show. First, let me just say that I was again reminded of my age when I saw the crowd lined up at the door. This happens at most concerts I go to, but as I stood there in the line to get into the venue in my work clothes with my laptop and all, I felt myself longing for my younger days when I could devote more of my time to my passion for music. This feeling crept into my thoughts again as I realized it was after 10pm and still no sign of Jessie. When is a girl to sleep?? Alas, I digress.

When she did come out on stage, I saw just what I hoped to see. A young artist with a hell of a lot of swagger who truly seemed excited to be up on that stage. She started the show with a hat covering most of her face while she sang “Fuck It,” and as the show went on, we saw a few different variations of her look. Hat went away, hair went up, hair came back down, sweatshirt came off – all matched the mood of the music. But through it all, we heard and saw Jessie telling her story of where she came from. She brought the attitude — and then some — that hooked me that day I stumbled across her as I was perusing Instagram. The common “fucks” she throws into her lyrics were delivered like a threat; Jessie was here to tell her story with a vengeance.

Continue reading “[Live Review] Jessie Reyez: A young artist achieving her dreams” »

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Best New Songs of May 2017

VdXUBoo

NBA Finals game starts in five minutes. As a result, I don’t have much to say other than here’s this months playlist! #GoCavs

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Best New Songs of April 2017

VdXUBoo

Can we all take a second to realize that Frank Ocean has been dropping singles left, and right? We went years without new music before Blond became a reality. Does this mean more Frank in the near future? Who knows. Kendrick also took over the Billboard 100 with every track off of DAMN. April was good to us. We shared what was so good about it below.

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[Sunset Mixtape] GODSPEED

New Sunset Mixtape!

A few things happened in the making of this mix: 1.) I got lost down a SoundCloud wormhole in which I randomly discovered a lot of British talent, and 2.) I started actively studying the so-called “classics” of modern music. The first point is just to explain all of the British accents you are about to hear on this tape. The second point has sparked a much more profound change in my music listening habits. Hearing the standards of a Joni Mitchell or a Stevie Wonder has made me consider the ingredients that go into “timeless” music, and it has forced me to reevaluate and recalibrate my thinking on current trends as I compare them with those of yesteryear. Of course, through all of this pondering, I got no real answers. I have yet to crack the full formula for timelessness, but I know a key ingredient is brutal and pure honesty that is representative of the time in which you live. GODSPEED is focused on delivering in that regard, and hopefully, the resulting mix captures the angst and unease you would expect from music in these uncertain times.

I was alright ’til they took me off my medication, started slagging off my generation, and I don’t know why
And now all night, sitting talking ’bout a revolution, c-c-coughing up the p-pollution, and I can’t breathe right

NOTE: Original image of Gustav Metzger. Edit and design by Arjun Grover.

DOWNLOAD ‘GODSPEED’ HERE

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Best of: Sturla Atlas

New Sturla Atlas!

Sturla Atlas is an Icelandic hip-hop/pop artist, who, with his 101 Boys crew*, has been making waves in the forward-looking corners of Western digital media. Well, he and the 101 Boys are some of my favorite artists, and simply put, they deserve more shine. Since 2015, Sturla has released 4 projects: Love Hurts (2015), These Days (2015), Season2 (2016), and 101 Nights (2017). Each of these projects contains hits, but understandably, that is a daunting collection for new fans to sift through.

To make things easier on the listener, I have created and sorted a compilation of Sturla’s best songs to date. Stream it on Spotify below, or by clicking here.

*The 101 Boys are Joey Christ, Logi Pedro, and Young Nazareth. I have seen Joey Christ listed as part of Sturla Atlas, but “Sturla Atlas” is literally the name of the lead vocalist, Sigurbjartur Sturla Atlason. I’m confused.

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[Sunset Mixtape] War Games

New Sunset Mixtape!

Many moons ago, a wise prophet named Patricia Benatar proclaimed that love is a battlefield. Jumping off that sage conceit, I named this mix, War Games, after the tactical exercises the military conducts to test strategy without real combat (read about them here). So, if love is an actual battlefield/the real shit/total war, then what I’m saying is that everything prior to love is war games, and that’s what this mix is about: the infatuation, lust, and general stickiness that happens prior to love. Does that make sense? Should I have not used the word “stickiness”? Well, I hope it makes sense, and there’s nothing I can do now about the use of that word. Forget I said it! And listen to this playlist of immensely talented, largely undiscovered artists below.

P.S. Lydia, I am so sorry about the butt that is now on the homepage of this website you created. I feel like it’s probably unfair to you that there is a butt on your site’s main screen, but I like butts and this one looks particularly cool. Maybe we agree on this; maybe we don’t. Nevertheless, I’m sorry.

Wherever you are, no matter how far, no matter who you’re hanging out with, I hope you’re having fun

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[Premiere] Prelow – I Don’t Wanna End The Night

New Prelow!

You might remember Prelow from their 2014 hit, “Mistakes Like This,” and their subsequent EP, Why Does Everything Happen So Much. Since then, the NYC duo has taken time to experience new things as they develop their follow-up project, and today, we are excited to premiere Prelow’s latest single, “I Don’t Wanna End The Night” — out for the first time in its final form after the demo circulated a few years back.

This is one of those songs that is so specific and rooted in detail that it speaks a universal truth, as it elucidates the empty feeling one is left with after the fun is over. Its intimate portrayal of carefree debauchery and 4 a.m. companionship will likely restore your own incomplete memories from similar nights out. With their fingers so steadily on the pulse of the city dwelling, twenty-something experience, Prelow is probably the closest thing we have to a modern-day version of The Strokes.

Listen to “I Don’t Wanna End The Night” below, and while you’re at it, also check out “Guitar Beat” which was released last month.

So I say, “Let’s get a drink at the bar downstairs”/ She said, “Hey, I’ll get a drink almost anywhere”

Bonus!

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Best New Songs of February 2017

VdXUBoo

The only important thing to mention here is that Chance The Rapper won three Grammy’s in February. I remember the days when I was bumping #10Day, which was five years ago, and thinking this guy just gets it. Five years later, he’s won three Grammy’s, has yet to sell any music (never will), and has become a public figure on social issues for Chicago by recently donating 1 million to public schools. You want to talk about a Best of February? New releases aside, that award goes to Chano. Incredible what this guy has done over the course of five years.

We also have a playlist of 30 songs for you, so check that out below.

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Best New Songs of January 2017

VdXUBoo

A new year doesn’t always mean “new me.” It’s hard for people to change, however, a new year does mean new music! If you haven’t, check out our favorites from 2016. While you’re at it, listen to some of the tunes that has the SITR impressed in 2017 thus far. SoundCloud playlist below:

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[Sunset Mixtape] We Lost Faith

New Sunset Mixtape!

January is the first month of the year. It, quite reliably, presents the opportunity for change — a new year and a new you. Only, this year is a bit different, because, at the tail end of what was a particularly bleak year, we, collectively, lost faith. We lost faith in the system, in each other, and in the ability of new ideas to propagate change. I named the mix We Lost Faith (following the lead of ATL guru Nessly) to elucidate this fact. After all, we can’t combat a problem unless we know what it is. Our generation is one deeply affected by 9/11 and other random acts of terror, the Great Recession, and the most contentious presidential election in the past hundred years. A fundamental lack of faith in institutions is built into our DNA, yet this is clearly a losing point-of-view. We have to regain control of our collective destiny. Thankfully, we live in an era where it is easier than ever to communicate with one another and activate the fellow disenfranchised. So, yes, we lost faith. For a blip on the timeline, we fucked around and elected a megalomaniac into the most powerful office in the world. That… was not the answer, but I am confident we can contain the damage and begin rebuilding our faith.

I’m tryna tell you how it all restarted ’cause of Reagan / You walk out and the cops tryna shoot you like Cary Fagan

NOTE: Original image by Alessandro Ruggieri. Edit and design by Arjun Grover.

DOWNLOAD ‘WE LOST FAITH’ HERE

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Best Songs of 2016

Best Songs of 2016

You could say that 2016 was a weird year, or a year of change. It was a year where 3-1 leads were no longer safe, Kermit The Frog ran the internet, Snapchat took over the world, dabbing continued to exist, an inebriated Bill Murray took you out to the ballgame, and much, much more. In music, it was the year of the “surprise” release. Long gone are the days where we’re told an album is due ahead of time. You wake up, brew your coffee, check Twitter, and there you find a live video feed of Frank Ocean taking on a DIY project, while simultaneously setting the world on fire to burn in speculation about what is happening.

Welcome to our best songs of 2016.  A list of 149 songs spanning the course of a completely reasonable 9.5 hours. We picked songs from 113 different artists, but there were a handful* of artists who seemed to win the year, landing the highest number of songs in our list. Most of these artists had songs chosen as a top song of 2016 by multiple members of our team.

Here are those winners, ranked with their number of song nominations in parenthesis:

  1. Frank Ocean (14)
  2. Francis and the Lights (7)
  3. Chance The Rapper (7)
  4. Drake (7)
  5. Kanye West (6)
  6. Bon Iver (6)
  7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (5)
  8. Allan Kingdom (4)

*We listed the top 8 because there were many artists who tied for #9.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: life will throw you curve balls any chance it can. How you take that curve ball is one thing, but the music in your life will always be your constant among infinite variables. It will be there when you’re at your best and at your worst. Find your vibe, and spread the love. That’s the best part about blogging; being able to share and open other people’s eyes to different artists and genres. That is the point of this list. We are sharing what we loved about 2016. Despite all the weirdness that happened, whether for good or bad, 2016 was an incredible year for music, and it will only get better in 2017.

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NOTE: Original cover image by Samantha Friend.

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