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April’s music scene

, , , and | Wednesday, April 8, 2015

AprilMusic_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer

It’s spring — sorta — and there is a lot of great new music out. What’s that? You wish you had a great new playlist to strut to class with, relax to in your hammock or just increase your music creds? Well, thankfully Scene’s staff of music connoisseurs are here with an exclusive look — listen — at what is on repeat on their phones, iPods, laptops, iWatches, HitClips, etc.

Central Park (In The Rain) — “Don’t Stop or We’ll Die”

Just under two months ago, on Feb. 19, comedian and writer Harris Wittels passed away after a long up-and-down struggle with drug use. He was part of one of the finest writing teams in modern television history who wrote ”Parks and Recreation,” coined the term “Humblebrag” and was revered by seemingly every top comedic presence (he was handpicked to open for Louis C.K. and wrote and opened for Sarah Silverman). Less well-known projects of Wittels’ include his one-of-a-kind appearances on comedy podcasts such as “Comedy Bang Bang” and “You Made It Weird,” as well as a drumming appearance in the comedy bang “Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die,” with peers Paul Rust and Michael Cassidy. Wittels’ death at age 30 with a new TV project on the way was particularly devastating, as his shining personality and funniest-person-in-the-room touch was apparent in every project on which he worked.  Besides revisiting all of his “Parks and Recreation” and “Comedy Bang Bang” episodes and his inventive Twitter handles, I’ve been playing Central Park a lot to remember his bright influence and to keep his memory strong. – Matt McMahon

WebsterX — Doomsday”

As spring finally rears its skittish, hesitant head to usher in a vibrant, lively campus overzealous in the imminent wake of the season, a number of songs crop up and beckon to be blasted alongside the crowded quad happenings. “Doomsday,” released earlier this year by Milwaukee rapper WebsterX, will now finally have its day — or, if predicted correctly, its season. The summery track, lavishly produced by Wisconsin post-dubstep and downtempo producer Chants, amps up a chime lead, bombastic toms and campfire vocals crescendoing into strong, catchy turns by WebsterX and featured partner Siren over a bass beat and click clack percussion. The song resides in between Busdriver’s heady, experimental hip hop and Animal Collective-influenced post-chillwave, and it is heard best loudly and outside. – Matt McMahon

Sonnymoon — “Blue”

Amongst the past few weeks’ myriad of great album releases, from Courtney Barnett to Kendrick Lamar, and Earl Sweatshirt to Sufjan Stevens, Brooklyn via Boston two-piece band Sonnymoon quietly continued their bafflingly understated success on new album “The Courage of Present Times.” A crossbreed between bedroom pop and experimental jazz, Sonnymoon sounds like Dirty Projectors, Sylvan Esso, Thundercat and Flying Lotus, while not sounding like any project making music right now. As their song “Blue” bends through its slinky, effortless four minutes, you get a sense of all the directions and soundscapes in which the band can travel. – Matt McMahon

Courtney Barnett — “Elevator Operator”

This track off “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit,” released March 23, embodies Barnett’s eccentric narrative lyricism. Accompanied by a repetitive guitar and drum riff, the annunciation in her conversational delivery (highlighting her Australian accent) plays on the storytelling aspect of her songs. In this track a man with “a thick head of hair who worries he’s going bald” decides to skip work, gifts his tie to a homeless man and heads to a tall building for an escape from the day-to-day, tripping in a pothole on the way. In the elevator he reaches for the rooftop button at the same time as an overly Botox-ed woman. The lyrics transition into dialogue: the woman urges him not to commit suicide, and he says that he just likes to look at people from the roof to “imagine he’s playing Sim City.” This humorous, nostalgic response is contrasted with another: the idea that the woman is projecting her feelings onto him. The man goes on to admit that, while not suicidal, he is “idling insignificantly.” The three-minute and-15 second song combines vivid description with circuitous, hoppy rhythms to create an enjoyable snapshot that evokes further rumination and listening. – Erin McAuliffe 

Action Bronson — “Actin’ Crazy”

Warning: This song’s title is no joke. This track, a single off of Bronson’s “Mr. Wonderful,” released March 23, has a catchy flow that will influence you into — you guessed it — actin’ crazy. The loopy beat will make you want to ride really fast on your bike. It will take over your mind and influence your better judgment until you find yourself lying on the ground in front of DeBart with a sprained wrist after running into an innocent bystander who probably has never even had the privilege of listening to this song.

(Sidenote: When I came home from break my family was watching Action Bronson music videos on REVOLT, a channel my dad called “The New MTV.” My mom said his beard “makes her feel good about herself.” Get on the Action Bronson train before it’s too late) – Erin McAuliffe

Kendrick Lamar — “King Kunta”

Although “To Pimp A Butterfly” is, in essence, a sit down, shut up, listen all the way through and avoid human interaction for hours while you process and reprocess what you just listened to kind of album, this single is the one stand alone track that you can blast and jam to (just avoid eye contact with friends and dance partners during the spoken word parts). This song has a heavy funk influence and a strong message. Kunta Kinte was a slave who had his foot cut off after he refused to assimilate into slave society and ran away from his plantation multiple times; his life was the basis of the novel and miniseries “Roots” and inspired this song. The title, “King Kunta,” plays on the basis and message of the album: empowering those who have been deprived of power and the means to obtain it. – Erin McAuliffe

Gucci Mane — “Cold Day”

BURR. Even in prison, Gucci Mane is still the trap god. It’s been a very long two weeks since Gucci Mane (or Guwop, as he is affectionately known by his fans) released music, so with a proliferation that is only rivaled by Viper, Gucci knew it was obviously time to show that he’s still the dominant force of Atlanta rap. Guwop just dropped “Trap House 5: The Final Chapter” on Tuesday, and it is everything you could have hoped for in the conclusion to this awesome series. Every song from this mixtape is straight fire, but “Cold Day” particularly stands out with its hard hitting verses, beats and overall attitude. I love you Guwop.  – Jimmy Kemper

Tame Impala — “Cause I’m A Man”

The latest release from Tame Impala’s upcoming album “Currents” is a wonderfully spun ballad that is smooth as can be and filled with all the little details that make a Tame Impala song beautiful. Writer, producer, recorder and performer Kevin Parker combines elements of prog-psych, arena rock, synth pop and R&B ballads into this amazing, airy daydream of a song to perfectly emit feelings of regret, forgiveness, angst and love. “‘Cause I’m A Man” stands in sharp contrast to the epic eight-minute lead single “Let It Happen” and gives plenty of reason to get excited about “Currents.” – Jimmy Kemper

Carly “Slay” Jepsen — “All That”

My apologies to Taylor Swift, but Carly Rae Jepsen is the reigning queen of 80s throwback pop. Her new single, which was produced by pop masterminds Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid, is a dreamy John Hughes-core ballad that could soundtrack a teen movie prom montage. Jepsen’s best singles aren’t about love, but the giddy infatuation of a new crush. “All That” captures the experience of pining after someone and begging them to just show you that they care, even as part of you realizes they never will. – Matt Munhall

Jamie xx – “Loud Places” [ft. Romy]

On their first two albums, the xx created a minimalist soundscape anchored by whispered vocals, isolated guitar riffs, muted synth lines and simple drum machine beats. Their music often feels like a house of cards that would collapse under the weight of even one more element. “Loud Places,” from xx producer Jamie Smith’s forthcoming solo debut “In Colour,” follows that template for the first minute or so. Over sparse piano chords and a deep bass line, xx frontwoman Romy Madley-Croft finds herself reflecting on a relationship late at night. “Didn’t I take you to higher places you can’t reach without me?” she asks her ex tenderly. Then, the idle chatter of a crowd bubbles up underneath Madley-Croft’s voice, and suddenly she’s backed by an ebullient gospel choir, courtesy of a sample of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This.” The chorus, buoyed by that sample and massive percussion, builds toward transcendence, before the track retreats again into the shadows. No other track this year moves so effortlessly between extremes — maximalist and minimalist, shouts and whispers, communion and isolation, highs and lows. – Matt Munhall

The Go! Team — “Reason Left to Destroy”

The musical equivalent of your twenty-something friend’s Instagram shot of herself holding the classic melted-crayon rainbow on canvas, hashtag throwback Thursday, filter: lo-fi. It’s fuzzy, colorful, laced with sea-salt, dripping with watermelon juice. It’s your classic indie-rock jam pumped to maximum sun content. It preaches the female-vocal and guitar-distortion way to summer heaven. You’ll never understand the lyrics even after you’ve sung them for days, waiting for the calendar to catch up with your ambitions of doing nothing, nothing at all for weeks on end. – John Darr

Death Grips — “Guantanamo”

“You don’t want to hurt anyone?” “But I do.” It’s a death dance in one direction — down, down, down, down into darkness, elegant terror, flashing black and white lights, fluorescent and relentless. Horror film samples, shuttering snares that explode the space only for it to refocus claustrophobically into a collapsing hallway that you can’t fit through yet are somehow dragged through regardless. It’s absolutely the most thrilling piece of music, a refinement of the sound that Death Grips attempted on the first half of their latest record. Essential. – John Darr

Honorable Mentions:
Zenith- Ben Khan — “Zenith”
Speedy Ortiz — “Puffer”
Ava Luna —”Coast of Shellac”
Mitski — “Texas Reznikoff”
Goldlink — “When I Die”
St. Vincent — “Teenage Talk”

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About Erin McAuliffe

I'm Scene's editor and a senior Marketing & Journalism student. To quote the exquisite Sadie Dupuis, "I'm not bossy — I'm the boss."

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About Jimmy Kemper

Scene writer, Economics major, and Seinfeld enthusiast

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About Matthew Munhall

Matthew earned his BA from Notre Dame in 2016, and he is currently pursuing an MA in English and American Literature. He thinks everyone should listen to Charly Bliss.

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About Matt McMahon

Notre Dame Class of 2016 student studying Finance and English. From Mercer County, New Jersey. Interests include music, television, film, and writing. Also food.My Mom didn't like what else I had to say here so I took it down.

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About John Darr

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