The more that I listen to this song, the better it gets. Mane Zatsko knows how to make a great tune. Mane Zatsko is a singer-songwriter at Penn State and with his new single, “Blizzard Under Blue Skies”, Zatsko once again displays his superb songwriting prowess. I really enjoy Zatsko’s catchy lyrics and subtle wordplay. His tranquil guitar chords set the perfect foundation for the melodious guitar leads that are laid out during the instrumental bits of his song. At the finale of this track, Zatsko showcases his stunning falsetto. This and other vocal arrangements in the piece display Zatsko’s amazing ear for harmonies. If this song is a good representation of how his new album will sound, I cannot wait to hear it. You can find Mane Zatsko’s first album, Lifeboats & Anchors, on his Bandcamp or you can purchase it on iTunes at the following link.
I haven’t had the time to listen to Big Boi’s entire new album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, but I did get the chance to listen to the three songs whose features I recognized. I am in love with all three songs that I listened to: “In the a” (feat. T.I. & Ludacris), “She Hates Me” (feat. Kid Cudi), and “Shoes For Running” (feat. B.o.B & Wavves).
1. “In the a” (feat. T.I. & Ludacris)
I really enjoy “In the a” because the hook is slowed down sample of “Shutterbug”, my favorite song from Big Boi’s first album. The organization of the features in this song doesn’t use the predictable pattern some rap songs follow. Big Boi and T.I. both spit fire with flows so fast it’s hard to keep up.
2. “She Hates Me” (feat. Kid Cudi)
In “She Hates Me”, Big Boi uses a unique, dragging flow throughout the majority of the song. At first I didn’t really like his flow on this track, but it really grew on me as I continued to listen to it. Big Boi raps about relationship problems with his wife, brought on by his demanding lifestyle, and Kid Cudi comes in with a booming hook only Mr. Rager can provide.
3. “Shoes For Running” (feat. B.o.B & Wavves)
“Shoes For Running” is my favorite song out of the three. Wavves provides an awesome surf rock hook, and I really enjoyed the traditional rock instrumentation throughout the song. If these three songs provide a good enough representation for the rest of the album, then Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is definitely worth listening to.
(Bonus Review: Listen to the song “She Said OK”. It has the best hook I’ve ever heard. Ever.)
So we all know that Asher Roth and White Panda will be performing at Alumni Hall, on December 7th at 10 PM, courtesy of SPA. I’m sure that all of you have listened to the White Panda discography to prepare for the show. However! Have you listened to your suggested dosage of Asher Roth? If you haven’t, then maybe you should check out my Asher Roth playlist! I’m kind of an Asher Roth expert! (see playlist below for details)
1. “The Lounge” from Asleep In The Bread Aisle
2. “I Love College” from Asleep In The Bread Aisle
“I Love College” is a Roth classic from his first album in 2009. This is a perfect jam for anyone that’s a fan of college. I know I am!
3. “Hard Times” from Pabst & Jazz
4. “Muddy Swim Trunks” from Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry
“Muddy Swim Trunks” is the opening track to Roth’s second mixtape and it’s one of my favorite songs by him. This chill, minimalistic beat complements Roth’s intricate wordplay perfectly.
5. “Toni Braxton” from Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry
6. “Pubic Garden” from Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry
7. “Vagitables” from Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry
8. “Blunt Cruisin’” from Asleep In The Bread Aisle
9. “CANNON!!!” from The GreenHouse Effect Vol. 1
10. “In The Kitchen” from Pabst and Jazz
11. “Bastermating” from Pabst and Jazz
12. “A Millie” from The GreenHouse Effect Vol. 1
This is Roth’s take on the Lil Wayne standard. Asher takes a more social/political stance on this rap but he pulls it off well.
13. “Sour Path Kids Remix” from Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry
14. “Insurance” from Pabst and Jazz
“Insurance” includes some cool features, and Roth opens with some Slick Rick-like storytelling.
15. “Lark on My Go-Kart” from Asleep In The Bread Aisle
16. “Fallin’” from Asleep in the Bread Aisle
“Fallin” is a lighthearted track with a cool Ben Kweller sample in the hook.
See you at the show! (at Alumni Hall on December 7th at 10 PM)
I’ve never been a huge fan of Bruno Mars. No matter how many pianos he’s carried for me or how many lighters his fans have raised in the sky for him, I haven’t been able to get into the musical styling of Bruno Mars. This is, until I heard “Locked Out of Heaven.”
A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of Saturday Night Live where Bruno Mars was the musical guest and I was absolutely blown away by his performance of the song “Locked Out of Heaven.” He and his band are fantastic live musicians, and the song itself is incredible. After I finished watching the show, I downloaded “Locked Out of Heaven” and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. It’s always the first song I listen to when I turn on my iPod.
“Locked Out of Heaven” is a really catchy tune and the verse reminds me a lot of The Police. The whole song is a cool throw back to the 80s with a dash of Bruno Mars sprinkled on top. The harmonies during the chorus are beautiful and I find that Mars’ vocal talent is showcased quite well. So please, if you have any prejudice against Bruno Mars’ music, get rid of it and listen to this song.
On October 22nd, one of the best rap albums that I have ever heard was released. Kendrick Lamar is one of my favorite rappers and the release of his first studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (which stands for both My Angry Adolescence Divided and My Angel’s on Angel Dust), has only solidified his greatness.
For starters, this album has some of the coolest production that I’ve ever heard. Every beat on Good Kid stands out to me and as varied as the beats sound, they flow together perfectly. I was really amazed by the string sections in some of the songs. For instance, the violin solo at the conclusion of the song, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” sounds really cool. Also, Anna Wise provides amazing backup vocals for many tracks.
Good Kid is a concept album that follows the story of Kendrick growing up in Compton and experiencing gang life with his friends.The album incorporates a series of skits during and in between songs to tie the story line together. Some of the skits include his mother’s phone calls to him and conversations that he has with his friends. The story told in Good Kid has an interesting, weaving structure with flash blacks and flash forwards that keep listeners on their toes.
Kendrick Lamar has once again proved himself as both a rapper and a singer and I would definitely suggest listening to this album in its entirety.
On October 2nd, folk rock band The Mountain Goats released their new album, Transcendental Youth, and I am deeply in love with it. It’s been over a year since The Mountain Goats have released new music, but they have not lost their touch. Similar to his past work, lead singer and songwriter John Darnielle creates a new, colorful cast of characters to explore for this album. Transcendental Youth explores the lives of outcasts in society, including drug addicts, recluses, the mentally ill, and others struggling to fit in with the world. Darnielle’s impressive characterization and descriptive storytelling really suck you into every song.
My favorite aspect of this LP is the brass accompaniment featured on several tracks. Matthew E. White, leader of avant-jazz group Fighting the Big Bull, arranged the horn sections for the album and he did a fantastic job filling out the songs he worked on. Although subtle, the backup vocals provided by Peter Hughes, the bassist for the band, provide a lovely balance to the nasally vocal styling’s of Darnielle. For a Mountain Goats release, the music production is at an all-time high.
This album covers a diverse range of sounds. While the song “Until I am Whole” is a soft and thoughtful track, “The Diaz Brothers” is a high tempo rock ballad about the drug-dealing siblings mentioned in the movie Scarface. Every song is brief and to the point, with only two songs that are longer than four minutes. The second to last song on the album, “Spent Gladiator 2”, does a great job in tying the album together, repeating some of the lyrics and themes from the first song on the album, “Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1”. My two favorite songs on this CD are “Cry for Judas” and “In Memory of Satan”.
If you like folk music, singer/songwriters, and alternative music, you will love this album.