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Scene’s Selections

, , , , and | Monday, September 18, 2017

scenes_selection_09.2017WEBJOSEPH HAN | The Observer

Everyday, a seemingly endless amount of music is written, recorded and released. With this non-stop stream of new music, sometimes it can seem daunting to find the right song for you. Allow the music nerds of Scene to curate a list of some of our favorite new tracks, check out the songs below and pick your favorite.

“Dum Surfer” – King Krule

By Adam Ramos, Scene Editor

After contributing vocals to “Blue Train Lines,” a single off of the English electronic duo Mount Kimbie’s latest and excellent album “Love What Survives,” London vocalist/rapper Archie Marshall, better known by his moniker King Krule, made his return official with the release of two confounding singles and details regarding his upcoming sophomore record “The Ooz” — due out Oct. 13. The album, just in time for Halloween, will likely portray Marshall at his most ghastly — that is, if his latest single, “Dum Surfer” says anything about the upcoming project.  

On the track a menacingly, grunge-inspired bassline provides a sinister ambiance, as Marshall’s vocal cadence plays nicely with the mellow kick-drum beat in the background. The lyrics too reflect the grim environment — Marshall’s signature harsh voice evokes viscerally creepy imagery throughout. Bright guitar licks, climaxing into a solo, and jazzy saxophone fills give the track the only signs of life.

Marshall released “Dum Surfer” along with a macabre music video, featuring the vocalist awaking from a stretcher to lead his band of fellow undead zombies in an eerily bright bingo-hall style concert venue. Despite the tangible uncanniness emanating from the track and video, the presentation is curiously endearing, a testament to niche aesthetic Marshall is able to carve around him.

“Michael” – QTY

By Mike Donovan, Scene Writer

New York City, with its swaths of people, relentless noise and volatile soul, has always been a haven for rock music. A study of the city’s preeminent band’s from the late ’60s to the present reveals a highly mutable narrative arc — constantly turning, climbing and diving into distinct artistic territories.

It all started in the late ’60s with Lou Reed and John Cale’s avant-garde behemoth, the Velvet Underground, whose unhinged vision of rock ’n’ roll tracked the city’s burgeoning, drug-addled contemporary art scene. Jonathan Richman and his Modern Lovers followed close on the Velvet’s heels with their own provocative take on art rock.

But as the ’70s wore on, New York rock started to shed its pretension. The New York Dolls, Television and others funneled the Velvet’s rebellion into a boisterous everyman sound. The Ramones streamlined the NYC rock sound even more and ushered in the era of American punk rock — a sound that was, like the city at the time, both riotous and seedy.

After a brief hiatus during ’80s and early ’90s (during which time artistic New York was busy inventing modern Hip Hop), New York rock returned in full with bands like The Strokes, Interpol, and the White Stripes. Unfortunately, this revival fizzled out almost as quickly as it began.

This brings us to QTY’s latest single, “Michael,” the sonic lovechild of NYC rock’s mid-70s heyday and its more pop oriented ’90s – early ’2000s resurgence. The song, like its influences delivers its compact and traditional pop structure with laid back arrangements that toe the line between apathy and attitude. “Michael’s” middling path reflects today’s New York – a clean, livable city still haunted by the ghosts of an edgier past.

But QTY, as students of New York music history, predict a paradigm shift, perhaps because of their efforts. “And that’s how it goes,” they sing, “You’re alright until you’re sweating.”

“Homemade Dynamite” — Lorde ft. Khalid, SZA, and Post Malone

By Grace Weissend, Scene Writer

Lorde’s friends have shown up to the house party she’s throwing on her sophomore album, and you’re lucky to have received an invitation. The remix to “Homemade Dynamite,” released this past Thursday, is three and a half minutes of some of the most innovative names in pop music jamming out together. 

After Lorde delivers the first verse and chorus essentially as they appear on her latest album, “Melodrama,” Khalid croons an invitation to listeners – “We’re way too high to drive / So let’s take on the night.” His voice sounds as youthful and inviting as the lyrics he brings to the table.  

After Khalid and Lorde deliver a gorgeous vocal blend on the chorus, SZA takes the reins and moves things to a quieter spot in the house party. “It’s only me and you, finally us two / And I don’t regret drinkin’ this liquor, makin’ you listen.” It’s a very quintessentially SZA verse, and it’s impressive how seamlessly it fits into the overall song.

For the grand finale, Post Malone comes through with an incredible feature. You want to be on the dance floor scream-singing along with him as he mixes in a few lines of “blowing s— up” over the final chorus. All in all, you’re going to regret staying in if you don’t show up to this party of a remix.

“Rodent” – Burial

By Brian Boylen, Scene Writer

Despite not being much of a fan of electronic music, something about the music of Burial, the recording name of William Bevan, has always struck a chord with me. In his songs, Bevan is able create dark yet soothing atmospheres that straddle the line between melancholy and comforting. When listening, I invariably picture a dark, rainy city street lit only by the dim streetlights. Bevan is a native of London, so it’s not hard to imagine that his environment has heavily influenced his sound. His classic gloomy atmosphere has certainly not been lost on his latest track “Rodent.”

The beat itself is relaxing and simple, but it is what Burial adds on top of it that truly makes the song. Throughout the song there is a vocal sample of a woman singing “What would I do without you? Don’t know what I would do without you.” It persists throughout most of the song, which seems like it could be annoying, but it really works well with the accompanying music. There are many subtleties that Burial uses to achieve the atmosphere I so love — a light sound of rain, chimes softly blowing in the wind, and a woman’s sigh. It is a nice, subtle track that rewards close listening and those with an imagination.

“Los Ageless” —  St. Vincent

By Carlos De Loera, Scene Writer

Over the past few years I have read a bunch of articles that claim that the electric guitar is dying and that there are no current guitar heroes. This is a bogus argument. I look around and see plenty of talented guitar players with a lot flare putting out great music weekly. One of my personal favorite contemporary guitar heroes is Annie Clark, more famously known as St. Vincent. Her riffs are technical (she is a former student of Berklee College), catchy, and hard-hitting.

When St. Vincent released her single “New York” in June I was looking forward to hearing a song filled with her intricate guitar work. This was not what I got. Instead “New York” was a ballad with no guitar part. None. Not one plucked string. The track still felt like a St. Vincent song, but it left me wanting something (guitar). So when I saw that she released another single earlier this month, I was excited, albeit a little nervous.

The song’s title “Los Ageless” is a direct shout out to Los Angeles, a city as glamorous as it is destructive. “Los Ageless” is able to capture these elements of the city with lyrics that express pain and music that feels enraged, while still maintaining the glamour of a pop song. The song features music that is reminiscent of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails, a very pop sounding chorus, and a fuzzed-out guitar. I am glad to hear that St. Vincent has preserved her guitar playing as a crucial part of her music, in spite of her shift toward a more pop sound. “Los Ageless” is a hard hitting track that makes me excited for St. Vincent’s upcoming album “MASSEDUCTION” — due out Oct. 13

“rockstar” – Post Malone ft. 21 Savage

By Alvaro del Campo

“rockstar” brings Post Malone’s heavily melodic flows and 21 Savage’s raw lyricism under one roof to address the changes in lifestyle brought on by both artists’ recent meteoric rises to fame. The instrumental, produced by Tank God and Louis Bell, takes atmospheric synths and throws some standard trap drums on top to create a hazy banger that anyone familiar with the last few years of hip-hop can appreciate. At some points in the track the instrumental cuts out completely and Post Malone breaks the tension created by the silence with the hook. These moments keep the track’s momentum going, and are testaments to the musicality inherent in Post Malone’s music.

Lyrically, “rockstar” is standard fare for both artists, with Post Malone describing wild nights and the opulence of a hip-hop lifestyle while 21 Savage boasts about his 12 car garage (for which he only has six cars). The parallel that Post Malone draws between his lifestyle and a rockstar’s is an apt one, considering that today’s hip-hop stars are very much like modern rockstars. Overall, “rockstar” is a solid single from Post Malone and worth a listen for anyone that enjoys his fresh melodic style.

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

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Mike enjoys good words.

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