State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

New Music Alert: Stuart Little

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Article Written By: Sydney Sweeney

 

With countless artists releasing new material and making waves, this year has undoubtedly been impressive for the quickly growing State College music scene. However, not many can parallel the success of Stuart Little, the hip-hop trio that just released their third single, “Let’s See.”

The story begins last year in Stuart Hall, where then freshmen floormates Joe Woodson and Mike Druhot met. They quickly began to record music together under the name Didier & SMG. With influences from Childish Gambino and Chance the Rapper,heir music began to attract attention  This past October they were invited to audition for the newly formed Happy Valley Music Label (HVML), the latest addition to an ever-growing roster of music-centered student organizations in Penn State’s DIY scene. Performing with only two microphones and prerecorded music on an iPhone, Stuart Little’s sound left a lasting impression on the HVML and the duo was signed to the label.

As the year progressed, the duo continued to evolve by changing their name and developing their sound. The most notable change came in the form of singer and fellow sophomore Leah Anderson, who was added to the mix this year. Her clean and powerful vocals provide balance and contrast to Woodson and Druhot and take their sound to a new level.

Despite it being their first official show with all three current members, Stuart Little was definitely a crowd pleaser at Movin’ On’s Battle of the Bands this year. As the audience surged forward to get as close as possible to the front of the stage, any doubts regarding their future in Penn State’s music scene were quickly resolved. Since then, the trio has appeared on PSNTV and played a multitude of shows, including an event for Penn State’s Homecoming Legacy Celebration.

“Let’s See” is a step in a different direction for Stuart Little as they continue to evolve as a group. The instrumental backing has become more minimalist than in their previous work, but “Let’s See” doesn’t feel empty as the trio’s vocals take center stage. While the track is closer in style to popular radio artists than their original influences, don’t assume that Stuart Little is “selling out” by any means. “Let’s See” is proof of their versatility as artists and their potential to continue growing. The rest is up to you, but one thing is certain: Stuart Little is quickly becoming one of State College’s most promising up-and-comers.

Your Summer Playlist

Summer break is officially upon us, and that means summer music. I’ve compiled a playlist of what I believe to be a fantastic combination of old, new, rock, hip-hop, electronic – all the necessities. Enjoy these 50 songs.

(As an avid Spotify user more songs may be added later, stay tuned.)

 

STUDENT RUN LABEL SEARCHING FOR NEW BANDS TO REPRESENT

 

HVML

Are you an up-and-coming band in the State College music scene? Well if you are, you’re in luck. Happy Valley Music Label, Penn State’s first student run music label, is looking for bands/artists to represent for the upcoming year. HVML was founded in 2014 in order to give local bands and artists the chance to get exposure both on campus and in the local community. After a successful first year, the label is looking for new bands/artists to represent. HVML is comprised of four committees: booking, promotions, A&R and a business team. These committees, whose members are all students, work to book artists in local venues, gain publicity in the campus and local community as well as oversee and help artists record their original music.

HVML currently represents some of State College’s most popular local artists. Their roster includes Keegan Tawa, Lenina Crowne, Mute Cities, Port Vue and more.

If you are interested in being represented by HVML, please visit their website!

Album Review: Suffer in Peace by Tyler Farr

1035x1035-UnknownTyler Farr debuted his new album, “Suffer in Peace,” this past week and it sits for anyone who’s had a broken heart. The title track, “Suffer and Peace” and “Withdrawals” are two other standout tracks.

Four of the eleven tracks on the album cover heartbreak. “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” is often just one of the heartbreak songs that appears frequently on the radio.

I’ve been told by many that I am one to choose sad, slow songs, but with summer approaching I’m not completely sure how an album like this will stick out.

Farr is a classically trained singer that shows off a high rock end most fans are not aware of. With country-pop songs often climbing the charts, Farr sticks out with his rough sound. He is often compared to other artists like Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert.

Not too surprisingly, “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” stumbles and staggers around in anguish and depression. It even makes reference to getting drunk on a Tuesday… “Here I am getting tore up on a Tuesday.” But in all, the song features lyrics that definitely hit a cord for any guy who’s ever screwed up.

“I wonder if she’s alone tonight
Thinkin’ ’bout all I didn’t do right
Or is she out on the town in my favorite dress
With some ol’ boy tryin’ his best
To get her buzzin’ just enough she might say yes”

However, he does take a break from the heartbreak tunes to a more playful sound with two of his tracks, “Better in Boots” and “Poor Boy.” The album definitely needed to take this shift to what would have been an emotional roller coaster of an album. “Poor Boy” tended to be my pick of songs to continue to listen too overall.

Two hard rock country anthems sit on each end of the album. “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y” is a rough tune and is set to a pace that is not seen again on the album. “Why We Live Here” pays tribute to the military, but not in outright blaring way that many country listeners are used to. Farr makes it clear that he is a strong supporter of the U.S. military, but many of the tracks also steer toward the edges of what people consider country these days. Overall all the songs, even the more upbeat ones, swing low and sharp.

Album Review: Untethered Moon by Built to Spill

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Oddly enough, 2015 is a very appropriate year for a new album from the 90’s indie lo-fi group, Built to Spill. Modest Mouse, their northwestern indie contemporaries, recently released Strangers to Ourselves after an eight-year drought, while Death Cab for Cutie, the heavily Built to Spill influenced indie pop group, released Kintsugi last month. Unfortunately, both of those albums were extremely average, and further proved that these artist were past their prime.

So, it’s perfectly natural to be skeptical about Built to Spill’s Untethered Moon. But if there’s one thing Built to Spill should be commended for, it’s their consistency. While many remaining 90’s and early 00’s group have drastically changed their sound in an attempt to stay relevant, Built to Spill have only made minor tweaks, retaining the lo-fi characteristics that helped establish them as an indie staple.

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Their consistency, however, acts as both their greatest asset and their greatest weakness. Untethered Moon is a fairly safe album, and while there are a few interesting tracks, Built to Spill rarely steps out of their comfort zone. Busy drums, cosmic vocals, and reverb soaked riffs are just as prominent on Untethered Moon as they were on previous albums like Perfect from Now On. Because of this, the album becomes too comparable with the band’s earlier albums, and enters into a contest it’s bound to lose. That being said, tracks like “Never Be the Same” and “So” are definitely worth a listen, and prove that Built to Spill can still do what they’ve been doing best for years.
Keeping all of this in mind, Untethered Moon is still an entertaining listen. Existing fans of Built to Spill should enjoy it, but newcomers are better off starting with the earlier albums. Untethered Moon does, however, prove that Built to Spill belongs on a short list of dated indie rock bands that are capable making interesting music today, at that alone is something to applaud them for.