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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Brandon Danial


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Talib Kweli continues excellent political awareness on "Indie 500"

Upon postponing his debut album, Talib Kweli stepped onto the hip-hop scene with rapper Mos Def, creating the duo known as Black Star. The pair quickly became the game’s warranted political justice gurus, lighting up two successful solo careers with social commentary and political strife fueling the release. Now 17 years later, Kweli’s will to shake the public conscience becomes a shared effort. This time he teams up with veteran producer 9th Wonder and a handful of guest spots on Indie 500.

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Record Routine: Neon Indian takes an intergalactic journey, legitimizes chillwave genre

The chillwave label has been tossed around quite loosely as of late–any band adopting those whirly synths and cheeky basslines immediately becoming arbiters for a movement to prove the 80’s never truly died. The sudden surge characterized 2009, with founding fathers Washed Out, Toro y Moi and Neon Indian pioneering the psychedelic dance fever. Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo debuted Psychic Chasms as a lackadaisical trod through soundscapes, mutually original and retro. A song like “Deadbeat Summer” established his purposefully apathetic sound, humorously trapped within the virtual space-age dreams of previous generations. Palomo would revisit the sound on Era Extraña, but decidedly less cheerful day-tripping, and more apprehensive voyager with a heavy case of sea-sickness. Neon Indian returns with electrifying confidence on VEGA INTL. Night School, Palomo’s most well-rounded work yet.

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Record Routine: Abandoning Americana, Kurt Vile’s stripped down vocals highlight 'b’lieve i’m going down...'

Kurt Vile is one of few artists that can still embody the American rocker moniker in the most laid-back, daydream-y sense of the word. Vile’s latest effort strips away the Americana feel he produced for 2013’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze, a nostalgic, reverb-heavy lead guitar that he’s been refining since his work with former band The War on Drugs. b’lieve i’m goin down… strips down to an acoustic tone, putting Vile’s abilities as a songwriter at center stage. While the psychedelic charm of those reverb-soaked melodies steps back from the main attraction, Vile’s embracing the “solitary man and his guitar” vibe lets the introspective musician shine in his own way.

Caracal
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Record Routine: Disclosure disappoints with new album compared to debut hit

Follow-up albums are difficult. They’re especially challenging when your debut attains critical success, as the Lawrence brothers received with Disclosure’s masterful premiere in 2013. Settle not only hit the top of the charts and critical reviews, it reinvigorated a genre in desperate need of a face-lift. House music was toiling away in uninspired dreariness, as dubstep took a prominent role in asserting the same builds and drops we all came to expect and detest. Settle was divisive in not only modernizing the UKG two-step sound of ’90s English house, but coating it with enough polish and features to move the genre forward, into a realm of pop R&B psychosis melded to impeccable hip-shaking production. One might come to expect a lot from the duo’s latest release Caracal, but with the blazing trail left behind by Settle, it’s easy to see how Disclosure might trip up. Caracal is by no means a failure, but rarely do we see lightning strike twice in the same spot.

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Record Routine: Travis Scott hands the reins for his first Rodeo to guest features, falters on debut

Travis Scott has been a bit of a buzzword for the last few years in the hip-hop community. After signing with Grand Hustle records and landing production spots on both G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer and Kanye’s Yeezus, people became curious over Yeezy’s newest disciple. “Who is Travis Scott?” some asked. Following 2 EPs and several delays, Scott makes his grand entrance on the debut LP Rodeo. But, upon completion, both new listeners as well as adamant followers of the young rapper may still be asking, “Who is Travis Scott?”

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Record Routine: British rock band Foals holds spotlight status in album

Now having released their fourth album, Foals’ ability to stay afloat these past seven years is quite remarkable. The British rock scene has seen better days, but somehow this group out of Oxford has made a slow climb into the limelight, where they intend to stay. Does What Went Down give Foals the chutzpah they need to keep their heads above water? Maybe. If anything, it’s another fine-tuned entry, one that packs a punch when it needs to, and showcases that music is second nature to them.

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Until The Ribbon Breaks mixes rock with EDM-style remix for successful harmony

Perhaps the way of the future for creating music has less to do with music and more to do with visuals. At least that’s the way of the future for Pete Lawrie Winfield, frontman of Until The Ribbon Breaks. Originally a film student,  Lawrie Winfield’s path took a slight detour when he discovered his love of making music, but his career as a musician can’t move forward without acknowledgement of his original ambitions. When the band is recording at their studio, Lawrie Winfield has a tradition of bringing a movie projector and watching a movie silently as the group proceeds to produce new tracks.  Lawrie Winfield’s explanation is that the muted films allow him to meander through his creative think-space further than he could normally, and the images give meaning to the music they create. With the amount of range Until The Ribbon Breaks provides in sound, it’s clear that  Lawrie Winfield’s cinematic interests shine through.

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Chance The Rapper showcases versatility and collaborations throughout career

Chancelor Bennett, also known as Chance The Rapper, is an eccentric 21-year-old rapper from Chicago, though binding him to the title of ‘rapper’ does no justice to the young star’s capabilities. Chance’s style is unorthodox in every sense: rarely maintaining any consistency to his flow, his half-singing/half-rapping verses twist through elaborate song palates.

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