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Jaden Smith’s “The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story” Mixtape Review

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Following his 2017 debut album, SYRE, and its synth-filled electric counterpart, SYRE: The Electric Album, released this past summer, the inexplicably-cool 20-year old Jaden Smith delivers another wonderful album marked by profound lyricism over heavy synths and basslines. Continue reading »

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Badflower in NYC-11.29-Review & Recap

The California band left it all on stage…

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The Beatles: The Rare and the Remixed   

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On November 22, 1968 the Beatles released their ninth studio album, and despite the fact that it’s self-titled, it’s often referred to as “the White Album.” This double album manages to fool you with the simplicity of the cover: white and blank, only embossed with the band’s name, off-centered. Nonetheless, the music within speaks louder than any picture could describe. 

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Matt Farley (Motern Media) Interview with WRSU

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WRSU’s Bennett Rosner chatted it up with Matt Farley of Motern Media on December 2nd, 2018. On Spotify, Matt is known by over 70 different aliases and has released over 20,000 songs as of this year. How does Matt do it? Find out by listening to the full interview below!

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Earl Sweatshirt – “Nowhere2go” Track Review

 

The first track from Earl Sweatshirt in three years paints a new, ever changing picture of the poetic Odd Future alum.

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“Shadows on the Sun” Retrospective Review

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Brother Ali is an American rapper based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and has been active since 1998.  Signed to the indie label Rhymesayers Entertainment, Ali has published six albums in his time and is currently on tour for the fifteenth anniversary of one of his first albums Shadows on the Sun. With the anniversary of this album and coincidentally, the first full work I ever listened to by Ali, the logical thing to do would be to write  a full scale, in depth review of the album.

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Mick Jenkins’ “Pieces of a Man” Album Review

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The Chicago based rapper, Mick Jenkins, came out with a new album that’ll give any listener peace of mind.  The album titled “Pieces of a Man” mixes raw spoken word poetry with strong, flowing, jazz production from KAYTRANADA and BADBADNOTGOOD, a new school jazz band who adds a modern, dark twist on the classic genre. For me, this album was a glass of fresh water in a sea of salty, cookie cutter rap.

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Brockhampton Shines at Terminal 5

WRSU Brockhampton Concert Live

The self proclaimed “boyband” hip-hop collective Brockhampton performed their third night at Terminal 5 on Wednesday, October 24. The crowd was filled with devoted fans of all ages. The anticipation for the group to perform was obvious; fans around me were expressing how eager they were to finally see them live and about their performance on The Tonight Show the night before.

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Bryce Vine Interview with WRSU

WRSU sat down with the genre-bending Bryce Vine to chat about his upcoming album, influences, and traveling. You can check out the interview and more on Bryce below.
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Phony Ppl’s “Mozaik” Album Review

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Phony Ppl is a Brooklyn-based musical group comprised of Elbee Thrie (vocals), Elijah Rawk (lead guitar), Matt “Maffyuu” Byas (drums), Aja Grant (Keyboard), and Bari Bass (bass guitar).  Their music is stylistically funky with heavy basslines and Dilla-like boom-bap snares and kicks overlayed by a unique mix of singing and rapping. Their closest comparison is probably The Internet, a Grammy-nominated soulful-funk band from southern California.  I first heard of Phony Ppl through their 2015 track, “Why iii Love the Moon”, a little love ballad off their album Yesterday’s Tomorrow.  With that song in mind, I had high expectations for mō’zā-ik, their most recent album released on September 28th, 2018.

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Kali Uchis Live at Terminal 5 Review

WRSU Kali Uchis Concert Review

On October 13, I got the opportunity to see Kali Uchis perform at Terminal 5 in NYC for her In Your Dreams Tour, amongst midterm season and despite my sinus infection. Tragic I know, but definitely worth it.

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Greta Van Fleet’s “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” Reuses Led Zeppelin’s Sound without the Rawness

WRSU Greta Van Fleet Album Review

The long awaited full-length debut album by Greta Van Fleet has finally arrived. Released on October 19th, 2018, Anthem of the Peaceful Army received negative reviews from rock critics. As a fan of their second EP From the Fires, I tried to ignore the noise, and I tried to listen to the album with open ears. Unfortunately, with a heavy heart, I want to say that all of the reviews are correct: Anthem of the Peaceful Army is a lackluster, overproduced 70’s throwback that lacks grit and creativity.

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Just Keep Swimming: A Review of Mac Miller’s Final Album

WRSU Mac Miller Swimming Review

I was watching a live-stream of the Mac Miller Celebration of Life concert being thrown by his closest friends in the industry, and I found myself disconnected. I can safely say it wasn’t the performances. From Travis Scott to Earl Sweatshirt to Schoolboy Q, the billing was a hip-hop heads wet-dream, and you can get a sense of the scale at which the music industry is mourning. Some will look to this concert for closure. A final farewell to a music juggernaut. But there was something about seeing Mac Miller’s face blown up on a screen as his lyrics rang back, referencing how he was “trying not to join the 27 club” from someone mixing his drugs with “the bullshit”.

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Quavos’ Debut Album “Quavo Huncho” is a Test of Wills to Endure

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I’m going to be blunt with this album. Listening to “QUAVO HUNCHO” is a form of sonic and cognitive self-harm.  In fact, listening to the album should be listed as “cruel and unusual” punishment and used to torture prisoners held on treason charges.  

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The “Proper Dose” of The Story So Far

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One of the most loved bands in the pop-punk music scene and the ultimate “sad boy” group has finally made their much-anticipated return with their new album Proper Dose. In the three years since the band released their self-titled album The Story So Far, the pop-punk music scene has been patiently waiting for their next project, since its announcement in April of 2017.

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Twenty One Pilots’ “Trench” Stays True to their Brand

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Through cryptic messages and obscure letters, Twenty One Pilots have finally released their highly anticipated fifth studio album Trench. The Ohio duo consisting of singer-songwriter Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun (with the help of Mutemath’s Paul Meany), introduce a new dystopian world that revisits dark themes found in their previous works.

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Matangi/Maya/MIA Film Review

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Matangi/Maya/MIA doesn’t follow the typical music documentary formula, but Maya Arulpragasam (MIA) is not your typical popstar. The daughter of a Tamil rebel leader in the Sri Lankan Civil War, Maya moved to England when she was nine years old as a refugee. Growing up in the UK, she struggled balancing her identities as a Sri Lankan and as a British citizen.

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Logic’s “YSIV” Mixtape Review

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Logic’s fourth and final Young Sinatra mixtape is a 75-minute exploration into the mind of Sir Robert Bryson Hall. It delves into topics such as his absent crack-addicted father, the legacy he wants to leave behind and the cash he has made from rapping (a whopping $30 million!).  This tape follows Logic’s incredibly successful 2017 album Everybody which debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and the 2018 mixtape Bobby Tarantino II.

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Weezer LIVE at PNC Center

Green Day is slowly fading into obscurity, Oasis suffered an explosive breakup, and Nirvana was pre-maturely disbanded in tragedy. Of all the 90’s alternative innovators, only one remains. Ironically, it’s the same band that was considered critically “dead on arrival” by the 21st century and commercially unviable by 2008. Weezer.

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“Weird Al” Concert Review

If someone in 1988 had been asked the question “which of the following things would be thriving in the year 2018: newspapers, the recording industry, the Soviet Union—or “Weird Al” Yankovic”, which seems the least likely? Comedian and opener Emo Phillips posed the following question to the packed room of the Apollo Theatre on March 23rd to thunderous applause and laughter. The irony was not lost on the audience. Indeed, searching through the faces on what was the second night of “Weird Al’s” two night stint at the Apollo, no clear demographic seemed to be defined. Children as young as five sat next to fifty year old men and thirty two year old women alike. Similarly, a 19 year old college student thunderously hollered and screamed, despite a sore throat, as “Weird Al” finally graced the stage at 9:00 that night.  

“Weird Al” Yankovic is an anomaly of pop culture. A fluke comedy single for him in 1984, bloomed into platinum album after platinum album, grammys galore, a feature length film, an illustrious voice acting career, and ubiquity as the parody king of America. Indeed, while all other 80s juggernauts have fizzled with age or struggled to maintain a footing in the minds of a new generation, “Weird Al” has only been on the rise since his burst into the mainstream 34 years ago. A lesser artist would use this unprecedented longevity to push new material down the throats of their audience or to bask in the success of their previously established hits. “Weird Al” is not one of these artists however.

Spanning 21 songs, “Weird Al’s” set at the Apollo contained 1, count it, 1, singular parody. This is no mistake. After all, Al is weird, not crazy. From the get go, “Weird Al” had gleefully announced that the tour would be a no frills occasion for die hard fans. A “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour”, if you will. As such, the concert was as much a celebration of every fans youthful penchant for Al’s brand of comedy, as it was a grand recognition of “Weird Al’s” B side songwriting craft. This is fitting, as Al’s abilities as a “proper musician” are often overlooked. In addition to being a witty and wholesome jester of pop culture, “Weird Al” is also a blisteringly funny and stylistic entertainer.

Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in the first song of the evening, “Dare to be Stupid.” Originally written about, what else, acting like an idiot despite conventional wisdom, Al somehow made his song fresher and funnier 22 years later via one tweak. Rather than performing the song in its original DEVO-esque style, “Weird Al” wholly changed the tone by singing it as a Grateful Dead tribute. For fans who had heard the song thousands of times as an 80s drenched synth pop tune, the change was hilarious, while those who had never heard the song before were still treated to a musically complex and melodious comedic experience. This balance of in-joke based, yet serious musicianship continued without interruption throughout the night.

From “Dare to Be Stupid”, “Weird Al” delved into virtually unknown deeper cuts such as “Mr. Popeil” and “Nature Trail to Hell”, as well as breaking for the occasional “drum solo.” These 30 second diversions set up expectations of grand displays of skill, yet always came down to a singular hit of a cymbal or the tap of a drum head. The bit never got old. This is not to say that “Weird Al’s” band was devoid of talent. In fact, Al’s instrumental partners in crime proved to be some of the most versatile musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It comes at no surprise then, that I would later learn that the men playing drums, bass, guitar, and piano that night were the same people that had played drums, bass, guitar, and piano with Al for decades. The result was a symbiotic musical partnership. Al would riff and improvise, and the band would seamlessly adapt with him.

One of my favorite “Weird Al” songs, “Albuquerque” proved this point without a doubt. A sprawling 12 minute epic, “Albuquerque”, details the story of a man who wins a competition to stay at “the world famous, Albuquerque Holiday Inn (where the towels are oh so fluffy)” and the various mishaps and misfortunes that occur along the way. At one famous diversion, the central character asks a doughnut shop worker if his shop has blueberry doughnuts, raspberry doughnuts, etc.. to which the clerk responds “no, were all out of X.” In the studio recording, 6 pastries are asked for and denied. In concert, 14 were. Despite these new lyrics and impromptu responses, the band still managed to complement Al’s increasing absurdity with background solos, amusing embellishments, and a steady beat throughout.

 

Albuquerque” ala 14 pastries

 

It is a true testament to Al’s love for his audience and music that he performs, without a stutter or a hint of exhaustion, such songs. “Weird Al” is is as much invested in every part of his setlist as his fans are. No song is for artist or consumer alone. This dual sided passion energized my entire concert experience and made me feel as if I was a part of an inter-generational community. Although I may not have the excitement that pairs with the discovery of “Weird Al” that an 8 year old has, or the decades informed nostalgia of a 42 year old, I believe that I, as well as every person in the audience on March 23rd, shared an unforgettable night of the universal language… laughter.

Rating: 10/10

 

By Bennett Rosner

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