Picks of the Week: Party Songs for Pre-Green Key

Each week, Dartbeat asks a group of musically inclined students to recommend their favorite songs of the week according to a particular theme. It’s now May! The month of pre-Green Key, with Pigstick and Derby, as well as the famed weekend itself. With all of these exciting events on the horizon, we had our music enthusiasts find their favorite party songs of the moment to get you excited and ready to spend the day in the sunshine. Put on your Derby hat and give it a listen! 
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Bleachers’ “Rollercoaster” Music Video Review

The best kind of music video complements the song, providing a visual that goes along with the feel of the song. It doesn’t have to be crazy elaborate, and in fact that often takes away from the song itself (case in point: any of OK Go’s videos).

But Bleachers’ new music video released Tuesday, “Rollercoaster,” is one of the perfect videos that adds to the song without overpowering it and stays consistent with the vibe of the song, much like “By Your Hand” by Los Campesinos!, “Dog Problems” by The Format and “Bullet” by Steel Train.

The song “Rollercoaster” is an ’80s-inspired anthem, detailing a fast-paced, thrilling love affair. Sonically, Bleachers’ lead singer and songwriter Jack Antonoff told Pitchfork, the song always felt to him like “driving on a highway.” So he went to the video director, Richard Shepard, with the idea of the band playing on top of a moving car.

The video begins with the band driving down the highway in an old ice cream truck with “Bleachers” painted on the side. The members sleep in the back until a honk from a passing car wakes them up. With this Antonoff looks out the window to see a blonde girl driving by, the “killer queen” the lyrics describe. Of course the only thing to do when your band sees a pretty girl driving is climb up through the sunroof and start playing on top of the car, so the band does just that.

The lyrics (“it was summer when I saw your face”), lens flare and sunny highway all make this part of the video feel like summer, a metaphor for the good parts of the up-and-down rollercoaster relationship the song describes.

But as the song draws to a close and night falls, Antonoff and the girl are both outside of their cars, walking toward each other on the side of the highway. “Why don’t you come a little closer,” he sings, and she obliges, leaning in about to kiss him, when she pulls away, shoves him over and starts kicking him furiously. The video ends with Antonoff curled up on the ground while she walks back to her car, the low part of the rollercoaster affair. But as Antonoff sings earlier, “a rollercoaster, I don’t say no”: the tumultuous relationship is thrilling and addictive and not something you can say no to, even when it leaves you beaten on the side of the highway.​

Sonic Space: Young Summer

Even though “Siren” came out in August, its dark synth core and layered, gauzy sound makes it perfect for the drizzly October days that lead up to Halloween.

The debut album for D.C. artist Young Summer, aka Bobbie Allen, surpasses the promises of her first EP “Fever Dream.”  A collection of 12 tracks that flow seamlessly, “Siren” is a mixture of Young Summer’s previously released work and new material. Fans of Allen will be happy to see both “Fever Dream” and “Waves That Rolled You Under” on the album.  Even if you’ve been listening to Young Summer’s singles on repeat for the last year (which, yes, I have totally been doing), it’s worth listening to the album as a whole. The context of the new tracks makes the old ones feel more grounded, like putting the last pieces into a puzzle.

As near and dear as the older tracks on the album are, the new stuff is addictive. “Striking Distance,” the album’s first track, is a wistful ballad replete with shimmery, dream-like keyboards. It sets the bar for the rest of the album, and not a single track fails to match it.  The intro to “Sons of Lightening” is weirdly twangy — like dark wave synth country — but the twanginess gives way to a mesmerizing beat that carries the song to its full potential. The lyrics would be a little ridiculous if Allen didn’t pull them off with such earnest aplomb. “Cage” is one of the darker songs on the album, with morose lyrics and dense percussion. The end of the song sinks beautifully into “Classless Kids,” the final and potentially strongest track on the album. The slow, string-based start almost veers into Lana Del Rey territory, but this is truly a different beast.  The changing drums and xylophonic flourishes set it apart from the work of every other electro-pop, synth-based female vocalist.

Every track on “Siren” is distinct, which keeps the album from getting repetitive. Allen’s voice is the true thread that keeps this album together.  The depth and emotion of her voice shines through on every track and provides that signature Younger Summer flow. This is the kind of voice that no amount of post-production tinkering can match. The warmth and body of Allen’s vocals contrast with the cool, layered music to make this album feel like a forgotten ’80s synth piece was melted into contemporary musical aestheticism.

“Siren” is a triumph of the self-assured. Young Summer knows what she’s about, and this fearless debut is a testament to her unwavering confidence. Go listen to it.

Sonic Space: Beach Day

The number of adjective phrases I could use to describe Beach Day and their sophomore album “Native Echoes” is a little ridiculous. They’re sweetened punk-infused ’60s garage surf rock for a start, and their infectious sound is perfect for anyone who likes their beach days to end in huge, salty hair and late night burger runs. On the flipside, the album, while easy listening, can tend toward being a little too easy to forget.

Hailing from Hollywood, Florida, the trio consists of Kimmy Drake (guitars and vocals), Natalie Smallish (bass and vocals) and Skyler Black (drums). The group met at a show and bonded over their mutual love for ’60s girl groups (this is how every band should start). After the band released their debut album “Trip Trap Attack” last year, the great Jim Diamond – who worked with the Sonics, the White Stripes and the Dirtbombs – produced “Native Echoes,” giving it a more cohesive feel than the band’s first foray.

First the good stuff: “Native Echoes” is perfect for when you want to feel cooler and more romantically melancholy than you are. The first track “All My Friends Were Punks” invokes nostalgia for a phase that I never actually went through. It makes me wish I had an old denim jacket covered in patches hanging up in the closet that I could occasionally reminisce about (note: I was never cool enough to put patches on jackets, or anything else really).

“Don’t Call Me On The Phone” has a fun, snarky, girl-group edge and fun, if somewhat repetitive, lyrics. It’s an A+ choice for a post-break up karaoke session.

“Gnarly Waves,” a short instrumental interlude, might be my favorite track on the album. The use of wave sounds layered underneath a twang-y melody is at once soothing and haunting, perfect for late night walks around Occom Pond.

Now for the not-super-great part: the album, on the whole, is a little trite. It doo-wops between various fuzzed-out iterations of ’60s staples and modern lady-led alt rockers. The album has definite potential but can easily get lost among other similar (and earlier) works. While Drake has an interesting and beautiful voice, as exemplified in the melancholy “Lost Girl,” she doesn’t utilize it in particularly innovative ways.

A large chunk of the songs fit into the mold currently preferred by advertising executives all over the country. If albums had taglines (which they totally should), “Natives Echoes” would be “coming soon to a commercial near you.”

Ultimately, “Native Echoes” is fun but forgettable. Some tracks are definitely worth keeping around and if you ever need to put on an album and not think about it for a while, “Native Echoes” has got your back. But if you want super deep lyrics and an unforgettable album experience, look elsewhere.

So put it on while you study or as background noise for the pre-party outfit scramble, and it’ll all be fine.

A Night With Ill Fayze

If you haven’t heard of Ill Fayze yet, you must live under a rock. His social relevancy within the Dartmouth Bubble is about equivalent to Scotland’s independence in the real world. Marcus Reid ’18, otherwise known by his stage name Ill Fayze, became a campus celebrity after releasing his song “McLaughlin Anthem.”

This past Wednesday Sigma Phi Epsilon hosted an Ill Fayze Show open to all of campus, including ’18s.  The line to enter Sig Ep stretched 100 people-long as early as an hour before the show, with everyone anxious to see Ill Fayze live.  The crowd was so excited that Sig Ep brothers began letting people in 30 minutes early.

I quietly sat in the back as 100 ’18s all chanted “Ill Fayze, Ill Fayze!”  The whole scene probably became approximately 50 Snapchat stories that night.  He began with a few lesser-known original songs, pulling people up to dance with him on stage and even taking a #Selfie, before finally giving the people what they wanted: “McLaughlin Anthem.”  It was so nice that he sang it twice.  At first I thought the song was longer than I remembered, but then I realized he had actually started over and repeated the song for his awestruck fans.

The whole experience was incredibly overwhelming, but before the chaos of the show I got to sit down and talk to Marcus about his rapping career. Here are some highlights from the interview; you can also watch the whole thing below.

Where did you get the name Ill Fayze?

Me and my friend were working on a song that was early off in my rap career, and I didn’t have a name and he said, “You have to think of a name.” So I was trying to think of something unique and then suddenly I came down with an illness and that’s when we got the idea of “ill.” Then we thought I was in an “ill phase” and then we thought, “Okay, you can’t spell phase right because then it won’t catch on.” So we thought of 15 different ways to misspell phase. So we ended up with f-a-y-z-e.

What inspired you to put up “McLaughlin Anthem”?

I was recording the mixtape “Rookie Season,” which dropped September 17 and I found out which dorm I was in. I thought that I had to show some Dartmouth pride since I was so excited to go here, so I wrote and recorded this in about 15, 20 minutes and I did not expect it to get the reception it did.  I posted it in the Dartmouth ’18 Facebook page and suddenly the next morning it has 2,000 views and people from other classes are shouting me out on Twitter.  I couldn’t believe it was happening because we didn’t spend any time on it at all, but I guess it’s a little bit of luck and shows how supportive the community of Dartmouth is. I really appreciate it.

How did you decide to pronounce the dorm names?

I went to third grade speech classes for a reason – pronunciation is not one of my stronger suits. I thought the “h” was silent in Choates and thought pronouncing it fa-HEY worked better with the syllables. It looks better on paper. I think Dartmouth will catch on soon and change Choates to Coats. I am just a pioneer.

Has your song affected your relationships with people in other dorms?

Most people know that I’m messing around and have fun with it. There were a few kids that took it surprisingly personally, which I guess haters are gonna hate.  It adds on me – they keep my name in their mouth so I appreciate it!

Is there enough space in McLaughlin?

I can honestly say I am pleased with the space in McLaughlin; I forecasted that so I wasn’t wrong.  Of course there is no drank since that is illegal and that was just to add some pizazz to the song.

 To hear more from the interview, watch the video below. You can download Ill Fayze’s new mixtape “Rookie Season” here.

 

Songs of the Summer: 14X

Every Dartmouth term has certain songs that define the quarter and will always bring you back to a great afternoon by the river or a midnight snowball fight, and 14X is no exception. Here’s Dartbeat’s rundown, in no particular order, of iconic sophomore summer 2014 songs:

“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
This song is so catchy and upbeat that it makes all of us want to live in whatever pastel-colored kingdom Trainor is dancing in for the song’s enchanting music video. And with its message about positive body image, it was, of course, a prime choice for a performance at the Tabard’s “Lingerie.”

“Problem” by Ariana Grande, featuring Iggy Azalea
While the debate over an alleged copycat scenario between Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey rages on, Grande’s spot on this list is clear. From working out to dancing in a frat, this song is perfect for all pump-up situations.

“Riptide” by Vance Joy
Let’s just hope no one gets caught in a riptide while attempting the Ledyard Challenge. The song’s light acoustic windings are the best soundtrack for an afternoon of tanning at the swimming docks or your ride to the copper mines.

“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX
I may still be crying from “The Fault in Our Stars,” but I’ve still had this song playing on repeat all summer. The perfect burst of energy, it’s a great soundtrack for the start of your summer night.

“Chandelier” by Sia
I definitely can’t be the only one who was excited to see Maddie of “Dance Moms” make it big in a haunting performance in Sia’s music video. Despite the song’s darker message, it has still been a summer favorite and is just right for a studying-on-the-Green playlist.

“Wiggle” by Jason Derulo, featuring Snoop Dogg
Though essentially just an ode to the female derriere, the song, in Saussy’s summer repertoire, is perfect for a good dance party.

“Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” by Cole Swindell
At least one country song had to make it onto this list, and this one has the warmth of a Hanover night roasting s’mores by a bonfire.

“Summer” by Calvin Harris
What better way to create a summer hit than to name the song “Summer?” While perhaps less memorable than some of the other songs on this list, “Summer” provided the cool background music to 14X. It was there with you as you roadtripped to campus or settled into your flight — your prelude and now your outro to sophomore summer.

“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit, featuring Jess Glynne
We can all agree that there is no place we’d rather be than at the College on the Hill this summer. Long live 14X, may it never die.