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Dartmouth Soundoff: Ten for Ten

Another 10 (nine?) weeks, another term. In keeping with tradition, I will share 10 albums released this term for my last column of 14W. As if you needed one more thing to distract you from finals studying. “Mind Over Matter” – Young the Giant (Jan. 21)  The sophomore release from the California indie rock band comes four years after their debut album, which includes the well known “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.” Lead singer Sameer Gadhia describes the album’s concept-theme as “the obstacles one creates for themselves are the only things that can really destroy you.” Deep. Rolling Stone’s Christopher Weingarten labeled the record “explosive, inventive rock,” and described its lead single, “It’s About Time,” as a cross between “Foo Fighter fuzz, Justin Timberlake croon, EDM sputter and spiraling high-life guitars.” On the other side, Washington Post’s Catherine Lewis found the album bland, calling it “a tepid affair that doesn’t stand out.” “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” – Against Me! (Jan. 21) While punk has always been about defying—if not antagonizing—mainstream culture and its accompanying expectations, not all would argue that it’s the safest space for gender exploration, making the latest album from Against Me! almost paradoxical. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” the first album after lead… Read more »

Dartmouth Soundoff: New York Artists

Those who know me personally know that I’ve called New York home for the past six months, and I can’t believe that will come to an end in two short weeks, bringing me even closer to my return to Dartmouth. (From what I read online, I feel like now could be a weird time to come back, but I’ll save those thoughts for a place that isn’t my music column.) I realized that I was about to leave here without really using New York for column material, save for a few concert reviews this fall, so I guess here’s my chance. But where do I even begin? New York is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S., the financial capital of the world and arguably the cultural center of our nation, so its thriving music scene goes without saying. Do I touch on the classics of our parents’ generation like The Velvet Underground or the Ramones? Do I get into the foundations of East Coast hip-hop and discuss Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy? Do I even dare mention chart-toppers Lady Gaga and Jay-Z? Instead of going into a specific New York music community or even investigating some current city-specific niche – like… Read more »

PB&Jams: Carried Away

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but music videos pretty much suck these days. It’s not even worth the three clicks it takes to find the video for anything from Katy Perry’s  “Dark Horse,” which features a pyramid of Twinkies in a bedazzled Egyptian wonderland to Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty,” with its nearly naked girls pretending to play the trumpet (okay. you’re right, no one expected that video to be worth watching at all anyway). Needless to say, it’s pretty rare to find a video that is worth re-watching and even rarer to find one that you repeatedly pull up on YouTube to show your friends, saying “it’s SUCH a good song and the video is really clever!” In the essence of full disclosure though, most of my friends have been subject to my mix CDs that they didn’t necessarily ask for. Or have been roped into listening to music they may or may not like just because they’re stuck on a road trip with me. Or if they happen to be hanging out in a 30-foot radius of my iTunes library. Anyway, I digress. This week I’d like to direct your attention (this is assuming that I have someone’s… Read more »

Advocacy, Obstacles and Big Dreams: A Q&A with Upcoming Band Great Caesar

Great Caesar describes themselves as a “chamber rock band,” which may leave some people scratching their heads, but their talent as musicians makes categorizing feel unnecessary. The Brooklyn-based band has existed in a variety of forms since a few of the members met in high school 10 years or so ago. It took all of them graduating college and moving to New York to realize their dream as a group. Great Caesar is comprised of lead singer John-Michael Parker, bass guitarist Adam Glaser, saxophonist Stephen Chen, trumpet player Tom Sikes and guitarist Mike Farrell. Now, their music video and song “Don’t Ask Me Why” have swept away social media users and music gurus alike, with the video gaining just under 200,000 views in the weeks after its release on YouTube. While the song follows two young people who are in love and have to overcome a physical obstacle (a flood), the music video tells the story of an interracial couple in the 1960s and two same-sex couples in the present day. Dartbeat had the chance to talk with saxophonist Stephen Chen about Great Caesar’s success, the story behind “Don’t Ask Me Why” and what the future holds. Dartbeat: Can… Read more »

Dartmouth Soundoff: Winter Study Playlist

Week seven of term, and we’re all so deep into study mode that Winter Carnival seems like nothing more than a fleeting memory that is becoming increasingly buried under the carnage of midterms, readings, labs and papers. Everyone is over the cold weather and short days, and spring seems impossibly far away. While we may not have much time for anything outside of schoolwork or any desire for anything other than centrally heated buildings, we can always listen to music during this period when we see more of the library than our beds. Time for my termly study playlist, friends. Or you can read on if you’re just in need of some extra procrastinating material. Either way, you’re expanding your horizons. “The Ash & Clay” – The Milk Carton Kids I mentioned The Milk Carton Kids and this album a few terms ago, and their music is still worth a listen. I find in their sound something very Middle-America-esque, and “The Ash & Clay” is a prime example. “To Whom It May Concern” – The Civil Wars Four-time Grammy winners (including one for “Barton Hollow,” where this song appears), Joy Williams and John Paul White make up The Civil… Read more »

PB&Jams: The Maine

Sometimes, a band’s evolution just so happens to align with your own life.  You fall in love with them in 10th grade while they’re still singing sappy pop-punk, and then you find yourself blasting their latest album in your car on the way to the Copper Mines during 13X. When I started listening to The Maine in 2009, they had just released their first full-length album titled “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” a big step up from their earlier EP “The Way We Talk.” While totally charming, the EP included a cover of Akon’s “I Wanna Love You,” and lyrics like “She’s fresh to death, she’ll be the death of me.” Don’t get me wrong, at the time I was way into it but I have to say that the band has been on a steep upward trajectory since then. “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” saw the advent of a few songs the band will be stuck playing at every show for the rest of their lives. The songs are catchy crowd pleasers with lyrics that teenage girls love screaming from the pit like, “Girls do what they want, boys do what they can.” The album also has some adorable songs like… Read more »