Office Chart 5/1/16: Yes, We’re Still Here Edition

I started this blog as an assignment for a class, but I will still be doing it, even if no one is reading it. Maybe I’ll pick up some readers along the way! If you do follow my blog as of this moment, I am still writing it. I just have finals! College is rather time consuming. Anyway, here’s a list of what I’ve been listening to in the past month to keep you occupied until I have more time to work on this blog in the summer.

  1. “Golden Chords” by  Deakin (from Sleep Cycle)
  2. “Rubber Traits” by WHY? (from Elephant Eyelash)
  3. “Rotterdam” by The Wedding Present (from Seamonsters)
  4. “Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter” by Kendrick Lamar (from good kid, m.A.A.d city)
  5. “Y Control” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (from Fever to Tell)
  6. “One Dance” by Drake (from Views)
  7. “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse (from Back to Black)
  8. “The Biggest Lie” by Elliott Smith (from Elliott Smith)
  9. “Drones Over Brooklyn” by El-P (from Cancer 4 Cure)
  10. “March Madness” by Future (from 56 Nights)
  11. “Sound and Vision” by David Bowie (from Low)
  12. “Until It Goes” by John Congleton & The Nighty Nite (from Until The Horror Goes)

John Congleton & the Nighty Night is the new band from Grammy winning and prolific producer John Congleton, who in the past fronted the incredible and provocative band The Paper Chase. His new album maintains the same horrific intensity that The Paper Chase had while being poppier, more direct, and through entirely different instrumentation. It’s fantastic! On top of that, he’s a really nice guy who I’ve had the pleasure to interview twice. Here’s the most recent interview we did where we talk mostly about his new record, but I thoroughly recommend checking out our first interview with him where we talk about working as a producer, which you can watch here.


Moving on, I’d like to take the time to talk about WHY? again. “Rubber Traits” is one of the most sparkly, fun, upbeat, danceable tracks about wanting to not kill yourself (despite past preoccupations) ever made. Yoni has talked about suicide many times throughout his career, but this is perhaps the most interesting perspective he’s ever offered on it. I strongly recommend the whole album as well, some of the most fascinating and unique instrumentals on any album that I have ever heard. This record goes through musical ideas like pieces of paper.

Seamonsters is a fascinating post-punk album with moments of furious, soul-shattering shoegaze that was produced and engineered by Steve Albini. I’m not too familiar with the record yet but it’s incredible so far and I strongly recommend it.

Cancer 4 Cure is my favorite El-P album, and El-P is a really really good dude with a lot of good things to say about our political climate. As a solo artist, he raps from the perspective of made up characters from unwritten sci-fi dystopian novels. However, I’m sure you’re familiar with his work as 1/2 of Run The Jewels, where he makes incredible, almost shocking beats put behind hilarious braggadocio and political lyrics. Listen to him.

“The Biggest Lie” is one of my favorite songs (though, admittedly, every song on this album fits into that category) from one of my favorite albums ever made. Elliott Smith was a once in a lifetime artist whose writing turned his brand of deep depression and angst from a trite cliche to something heartbreaking and new.

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Office Chart 4/1/15

Happy very strange and kind of dumb holiday, everyone! I didn’t do an Office Chart last week because I had fallen head over heels with Car Seat Headrest and mostly just listened to that, and felt like there wasn’t anything to share because of that.

Anyway, here’s a summary of what I’ve been listening to in the past two weeks:

  1. “Beach Life In Death” and “Cute Thing” by Car Seat Headres(from Twin Fantasy)–had to hit this album up with two songs because it was too perfect to have just one
  2. “Souls” by Car Seat Headrest (from Monomania)
  3. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” by Car Seat Headrest (from the upcoming Teens of Denial)
  4. “Keep Some Hope” by Wildbirds and Peacedrums (from Rhythm)
  5. “Everlasting Sigh” by Moeses Sumney (single)
  6. “How Does it Feel” by Kamaiyah (from A Good Night In The Ghetto)
  7. “Go Home” by Julien Baker (from Sprained Ankle)
  8. HAELOS’ performance at KEXP
  9. “Sierra Leone” by Frank Ocean (from channel ORANGE)
  10. “untitled 5” by Kendrick Lamar (from untitled unmastered.)

Aside from artists I’ve already touched on and the more obvious ones, my favorite song this week was “Everlasting Sigh”. I’ve only heard it once, but it’s one of the most blissfully sad, cathartic songs I have heard in some time, with a climax that could shatter diamonds to boot. Listen to it. Now.

I also spent time revisiting Wildbirds and Peacedrums’ Rhythm this week, which was one of my favorite (and also one of the most fascinating) albums of 2014. The band is comprised of two members, a husband and a wife, and generally features only percussion and vocals. This isn’t exactly the hippie drum circle music its name and my own description would seem to make it out to be; the album has this laser focus on adult, long term love and relationships and maintains this energy of panic and anxiety throughout. I cannot recommend the album enough.

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Mellon Collie and the Infinite Podcast

I was on the Indieheads podcast last week to talk about Consequence of Sound’s ranking of every single Alt radio #1 hit, and while it was a long one, it’s a good one. We cover their top ten while touching on a few other artists like System of a Down, Incubus, and Lifehouse, among others. We also discussed Jai Paul, LCD Soundsystem, and Car Seat Headrest, all of which were in the news lately.


The writeups in my drafts have been taking a bit more time than expected due to college throwing just as much as it can at me, but they’re coming! Right now I’m working on a discussion of Dreamend’s So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite, and the Tears Washed Me, Wave After Cowardly Wave, Radiohead’s Kid A, and Coldplay’s X&Y, but I’ve got other ideas kicking around too.

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Is Trap music “bad”?

I was talking to some old friends of mine the other night, and one of them let slip that they thought that all (yes, all) Trap is–in their words–shit. Being a high priest of the #FutureHive (behold: our Lord and savior’s beautiful face), I was discouraged. I obviously didn’t suddenly dislike something I do like because of one comment, nor did I adapt his opinion in any way (saying that any art is objectively bad is inherently wrong, but that’s an entirely different discussion), but it made me sad to see an entire genre dismissed with the wave of a hand.

The short answer to the question I asked in the title is “no, of course not.” But, unfortunately for you, reader, I have a bit more to say than just that. One of the criticisms I’ve seen levied against Trap is that it has nothing of value to say. While yes, I suppose value of lyrics is determined by the listener, I do think that that Trap has a whole lot of interesting and original things to say that you wouldn’t hear in the same way from any other genre. Perhaps it’s the artist expressing a certain enjoyment they get from selling drugs that maybe they shouldn’t, or maybe it’s Future and The Weeknd talking about how, despite their success, they still have their “low life” habits and wear them proudly.

Either way, it’s undeniable that Trap music has subject matter (hell, even “Hard In Da Paint” can be boiled down to Waka Flocka Flame being proud of his accomplishments and appreciating his friend Gucci Mane). You may just not be receptive to the subject matter, and that’s on you, not the entire genre. The fact of the matter is that there are just some things that don’t appeal to certain people, and to put something down as objectively bad just because it doesn’t subjectively appeal to you is very, very silly.

sufjanstevens1
Pictured: Sad Indie Folk singer Sufjan Stevens

The other criticism I usually hear is that all the instrumentals “sound the same.” Well, here’s the thing: every genre has numerous artists which all sound quite a bit like each other. Yes, that’s right: not every artist can be completely original. Obviously on a technical level every artist has their own spin on things, but to say there’s REALLY that much of a stylistic difference between The Kinks’ pop hits and The Beatles’ pop hits is splitting hairs.

Beyond that though, there really is plenty of variety in the Trap genre. There’s a huge difference between Future’s syrupy, almost psychedelic “Xanny Family” and Gucci Mane’s seminal “Lemonade”, or even those two songs and Lil B’s “Ellen Degeneres,” if you can really consider that to be trap. If you think all trap sounds the same, you just aren’t listening. It’s okay if it’s not for you, but don’t make sweeping statements about the genre unless you really know what you’re talking about.

Stray Thoughts:

  • EVOL is such a fantastic album.The record is just relentlessly banger after banger after banger after banger, but at the same time I don’t need to be in an upbeat or excited mood to listen to and enjoy the album. It effortlessly manages this duality between being totally gloomy and perfect for any sort of hype occasion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Office Chart 3/18/2016

I didn’t really want to put two office charts in a row, but I decided I should still put one up this week just to indicate that this blog is still happening. I wasn’t able to get much up in the past couple of weeks since the Incubus post because of school. However, I have 5 or so different drafts floating around so I should be able to return to a more steady stream of content for a little bit. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been listening to this past week (ie Arcade Fire):

  1. “Keep The Car Running” by Arcade Fire (from Neon Bible)
  2. “Mercy” by G.O.O.D. Music (from Cruel Summer)
  3. Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” slowed down 800%, which is immensely beautiful
  4. “Ready to Start” by Arcade Fire (from The Suburbs)
  5. “Something” by Julien Baker (from Sprained Ankle)
  6. “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire (from Funeral)
  7. “untitled 5” by Kendrick Lamar (from untitled unmastered.)
  8. My Springtime Playlist

It’s been a weird week in music for me–because I’ve been doing a lot of cramming for exams, I’ve only listened to stuff sporadically. Of what I mentioned (though I obviously love all of those albums), I really recommend listening to the Julien Baker album if you’re looking for some mellowed out, nicely toned electric guitars played in a singer-songwriter style.

EDIT: I also spent time listening to Lemon Demon’s new album, Spirit Phone, with my favorite track probably being “Lifetime Achievement Award.” There are times when I really wish Neil Cicierega would just sit down and write a completely serious album, but I doubt we’ll ever see that happen. His talent and ear for songwriting is so immense and there are times when I feel like his wackiness can obscure just how incredible the songs themselves are. Oh well.

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Office Chart 3/11/16

Here’s a summary of what I’ve been listening to in this past week:

  1. “Untitled 8” by Kendrick Lamar (from untitled unmastered.)
  2. “Clementine” by Elliott Smith (from Elliott Smith)
  3. “Modern Guilt” by Beck (from Modern Guilt)
  4. “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” by Arcade Fire (from Funeral)
  5. “Dollar Days” by David Bowie (from Blackstar)
  6. “Fatalist Palmistry” by WHY? (from Alopecia)
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Spring is coming, so here’s a sampler of some songs to listen to in this breezy time.

Ah, the return of spring. Spring is my favorite season–from the nice, moderate temperatures to the beautiful return of vegetation, I’ve always found it to be a uniquely happy (or at least enjoyable time). There’s just something carefree and easygoing about this season that can’t be found in the dead heat of summer, the gloom of fall, or the dry cold of winter. Spring music, to me, is music that fits this feeling–not necessarily carefree (Nick Drake’s Pink Moon is a depressive spring opus), but I guess “breezy.” Something about all this music feels light in the same way a nice spring breeze would on a bike ride, in a hammock, or even waiting for the bus. Here are my picks:

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