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Dog Years | Maggie Rogers

NYU student singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers has stolen all of our hearts. We fell in love with her first release, “Alaska” but by how good this new song is we cannot wait for anything and everything Maggie Rogers. Since her first release, she snagged a major-label deal and started working on her debut EP. And yeah, it’s been super sad couple of days (midterms, elections), and putting this song on repeat has been the best pick-me-up ever.

Like “Alaska,” it combines coffeehouse folk and dance music in ways that feel completely instinctive, and it radiates a certain sunniness that’s not even remotely difficult to like.

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Lauren (EP) | KeKe Palmer

A grown and sexy KeKe Palmer has emerged on the music scene with her newest EP entitled Lauren. This EP has a heavy R&B feel with trap elements. It is very different than the KeKe we see on our TV screens and in the movies, however I personally don’t mind it. It took me more than a few listens of the full EP, in order to see if I was feeling it or not. I am officially feeling it. I would give it 4/5 music notes on AJ’s scale of music worthiness. Recommended tracks: Got Me F****d Up, Jealous, and Hands Free.

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Sunburns | Low Hum

If you’re one of those who believes that the summer is simply a state of mind, then look no further than Low Hum. The solo project of Collin Desha, who was a member of notable local act Vanaprasta/Sun Drug, Low Hum adopts vintage-sounding synths to an otherwise low-slung groove that turns more and more anthemic as it rolls along. This feeling is captured perfectly on his first single “Sunburns”, a fitting ode to his love for the ocean that seems to exist in a perpetual reverie. – The Deli

Here’s his latest beach-inspired single, “Sunburns,” which was released via Hit City U.S.A.

“‘Sunburns’ for me, is about experiencing the vibrancy of the beach scene in Southern California — its allure and ultimately the thrill of taking a chance on love found there.”

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Dead Alive | The Shins

The Shins have completed work on their fifth studio album, according to frontman James Mercer. The album will arrive “early next year,” with Mercer hoping for a January 2017 release date. Produced by Mercer himself, he describes the new record to be closer in sound to the Shins’ first three albums than 2012’s Port of Morrow (which was co-produced with Greg Kurstin).

Dead Alive is the first song they’ve put out, and it is described as a “Halloween gift while you wait for the album.”

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Blonde | Frank Ocean

BLONDE IS THE BREATH OF FRESH AIR WE DIDN’T KNOW WE NEEDED

2016 has been an incredible year for music so far. Numerous releases have been anticipated, celebrated, reviewed, and done with. From Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” a stark portrayal of infidelity, to Kanye West’s insult-laden and mesmerizingly controversial “The Life of Pablo,” the year has not been short of talking points. Those are just the big ones. Just last week, there were new releases by Young the Giant, Tory Lanez and Of Montreal; not to mention Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking “Untitled Unmastered,” Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s return, “The Getaway.”

We may take it for granted, but we have been inundated and saturated with new music from many great artists. Yet somehow, none of these releases compare to the news that Frank Ocean — the notoriously reclusive and mysterious singer — had released not only two albums, “Timeless” and “Blonde,” but also a music video for a song titled “Nikes” and a mysterious and haunting movie titled “Endless.”

Endless is a word that could certainly be used for the wait and anticipation for a new project from Frank, originally titled “Boys Don’t Cry.” Let me tell you something, ladies and gentleman, boys do cry. At least, I certainly do. I downloaded, watched and listened to “Endless,” but I was admittedly unimpressed. There were a few songs I liked a lot, but it was just too out there and cryptic for the Frank Ocean I knew. Little did I know, “Endless” was just the beginning.

On August 20, Frank Ocean’s second official studio album “Blonde” dropped. As I watched the songs download into my iTunes folder, I immediately became emotional. I thought back to when “Channel Orange” came out. I was in my senior year of high school, and that summer was filled with riding around in mine and my friend’s cars singing along with the words and bobbing our heads to the music. I knew that Frank Ocean was something special, that there would never be another artist like him.

When track one, “Nikes,” began playing, immediately my head started swarming with memories. As Ocean’s distorted voice sang “Pour up for A$AP, RIP Pimp C, RIP Trayvon, he look just like me,” was the first pouring of tears. From there on out, the only meter I could gauge each song by was how wet it made my eyes. I tried to explain to my roommate why I was so emotional, but I was at a loss for words. The jazzy “Pink and White” had me swaying and the interlude “Be Yourself,” in which Frank’s mom warns him against trying to be like someone and also advocating against drug use, was funny and meaningful. “Solo,” “Skyline To” and “Nights” were all highlights. “Facebook Story,” in which French producer Sebastian recalls his encounter with a woman regarding social media is especially telling of Frank’s thoughts about the matter.

In “Godspeed,” as Frank sings the opening lines “I will always love you,” tears really started flooding. In “Futura Free,” Frank seems to end the album with a bit of braggadocio, some words to his mother, and then a few minutes of ambient noise, which seem to be someone conducting interviews. Some of the words in this song resonated with me very hard, and clicked some puzzle pieces in my head. Frank sings “they payin’ me Mama, I should payin’ them. I should be payin’ y’all, honest to God. I’m just a guy, I’m not a God.”

Many of my peers, and myself, were angry with Frank for the time he took to release this album. There was anticipation, anxiety and even hate towards Frank, his team, Apple Music, the New York Times and anyone else who seemed to know anything about what was happening, but here’s the thing: no news ever came from Frank Ocean himself. The expectations were an illusion, something that we as an audience created. How many other artists have taken longer than 4 years between albums, and didn’t receive the kind of feedback that Frank has?

Now, it’s out, and it’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s happy and sad, nostalgic, new and, most importantly, different. In an era where we know so much about every celebrity and artist, we are involved through Youtube, news and social media in the creation of their projects. We are an ever-present global audience to these artists and we demand so much of them. Yes, they may be over-paid, but too much light is often shined on the flaws and shortcomings of these people, who are meant to be creators, not our role models. Frank Ocean doesn’t owe us anything, and never did.

The reason for all of my tears had suddenly become clear. “Blonde” is a breath of fresh air. None of us knew what to expect, and somehow it still defied all expectations. On his debut mixtape, “nostalgia, ULTRA,” he sang a song called “Novacane,” a song about feeling numb. I think that is the zeitgeist for this era of music. There is so much, and it comes along with constant updates, drama, scandal and breaking news to go along with that. “Blonde” came into the world with none of that. As Frank Ocean says on Futura Free, “I’ll keep quiet and let you run your phone bill up. I know you love to talk. I ain’t on your schedule. I ain’t on no schedule.”

– Wright Franklin

 

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A Seat at the Table | Solange

SOLANGE’S ‘A SEAT AT THE TABLE’ SERENADES WITH EMOTION AND POWER

Solange is known for pushing the limits when it comes to music, so I knew I needed to prepare myself for her newest release, “A Seat at the Table.” I had to listen to the album three times before I even tried to formulate my emotions. Solange has such a pure attribute to her voice; her full sounding tone makes each song a musical meal. Just like with paintings and sculptures, there is no way to mask or cover the finished product with auto-tune or bells and whistles. This project has a raw sound and it is very fitting for this moment in time because it embodies the beauty in being true to one’s self.

“Cranes in the Sky” makes me emotional and if I am being completely honest, I cried when I first heard it. Solange originally wrote the song 8 years ago in a hotel room. Every once in a while, you will come across a song that tells your life story and this is that song for me. Lately, I have been trying to avoid the painful feeling of reality. However, no matter what you do to try to distract yourself, the loneliness and feeling of rejection still remains. This song embodies that element.

The track “Mad” is very fitting for our time. This song basically takes the approach of the opposing view when it comes to living in America with colored skin. “Why you always so mad?!” Two things made me gravitate to this song. Lil’ Wayne is featured on this track that made me want to do back flips. This track is asking and answering perhaps the biggest question of today’s political landscape. With everything going on with the racial indifference, police brutality and the presidential campaigns that are plastered all over the media, I can almost promise majority of us will be mad at something. This song speaks to those issues.

“Don’t Touch My Hair” is a sermon for all listeners. Self-love, self-confidence and self-worth are all messages you will find in this song. This song isn’t about hair but it is about one’s inner self: your style and your uniqueness is what makes you, you. This track is also a response to all the haters who love to sit down and analyze how everyone else is living, while being trapped in a jail cell full of opinions. When I listen to this song, I feel encouraged to keep living life carefree, keep evolving my style and keep challenging the barriers of society.

“A Seat at the Table” is a church service for the soul. This release wasn’t as anticipated as other albums this year. However, it has rightfully claimed the number one spot on the Billboard charts. “A Seat at the Table” left me feeling proud of my culture and aware of the daily struggles of pain and acceptance. Solange is known for her profound writing and experimental musical taste. Even if you can’t align with my personal take-a-ways from this album, I highly recommend that you give it a listen. This album has messages that everyone can relate to.

Solange – A Seat at the Table

5/5 cranes

Adrian Colding Ii

 

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Beautiful Strangers | Kevin Morby

Kevin Morby’s latest release, Beautiful Strangers, is a heart-felt tribute to those who were taken away during the Orlando tragedy.  All proceeds from the song go to support the Everytown for Gun Safety initiative. Ugh. Love you Kev.

“This release is dedicated to and written for all the people I have never met but have only read about. The innocent people who were out living their lives and one day, without warning, had them taken away from them. People who liked to laugh, dance, and love in the way that we all do, but cant anymore. All those names and faces, all those beautiful strangers…

So here are two songs, “Beautiful Strangers” as well as my cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place To Fall” that I have been closing my live show with over the past year. Any purchase of these two songs will go to support the work of Everytown For Gun Safety – an organization I have followed for quite some time. I believe in and support them in their efforts to make the world a safer place. So if you wish – you can donate as little or large as you’d like and I do hope you enjoy the songs. Do it for the kids.”

 

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Midnight Snack | Homeshake

Nearly every promotional album that KRUA receives comes with an insert or sticker extolling its virtues. I do my best to ignore these often-deceptive, always-flowery pseudo-descriptions and form a complete judgment of the album by myself before looking at it. I happened to glance down at a sticker this week and nearly choked on the water I was drinking. “Similar Artists: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Mac DeMarco, Ducktails.” Well, whoever wrote that must have been extremely confident in this album, and rightly so.

Homeshake’s new album “Midnight Snack” manages to blend each artist together and fashion a sensual experience out of simplistic R&B guitar melodies, light airy vocals, and minimalistic drum tracks. “Midnight Snack” is the type of album to play late at night, when the party dies down and it’s just a few friends hanging out on the porch looking at the stars.

Early in the album, Homeshake impresses with the song “He’s Heating Up”. If you’re not in the know, the phrases “he’s heating up” and “he’s on fire” come from a popular basketball video game “NBA Jam”. Alongside those phrases come “from downtown” and “jams it in”, more catch phrases from the game, and Homeshake weaves all these references together to form a heart-achingly beautiful song.

With song titles like “Under The Sheets”, “Move This Body”, and “Give It To Me”, listeners should know pretty much what to expect when it comes to the content of the lyrics. Not to say the lyrics grow stale as the album goes on; on the contrary, it is quite impressive how Homeshake’s lyrics remain fresh as the tone of the album remains relatively consistent. Finally, the album rounds out with “Goodnight”, an instrumental that matches the feel of the album. When you feel that the night is dying down and it’s time to chill out, throw this album on and sit next to your significant other, you will not regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Track List:

  1. What’d He Look Like
  2. Heat
  3. He’s Heating Up!
  4. I Don’t Wanna
  5. Faded
  6. Love Is Only A Feeling
  7. Under The Sheets
  8. Real Love
  9. Move This Body
  10. Give It To Me
  11. Midnight Snack
  12. Goodnight
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Our God is a Possum God | Silvertron Youth…

KRUA received a massive amount of Hip-Hop this week, which I am extremely excited about. It seems that traditionally, KRUA has treated Hip-Hop as more of a side show than a main attraction, but I hope to show the station and the listeners a new side of Hip-Hop.

The album up for today’s review is “Our God is a Possum God” by SIlvertron Youth Choir, a veritable mish mash of Rap, Hip-Hop, Electronic, Baroque (yes, fife and lute included), Southern Twang, and cerebral Synth Pop. Sure, “Our God is a Possum God” trades cohesiveness for shock value, but it brings the listener back to the late 90s where Jackass and Crank Yankers reigned supreme.

The songs “Pamplemoose” and “Justin Bieber on a Beaver” combine Hip-Hop with barbaric humor in a way that is reminiscent of Gnarkill or Das Racist, referencing drugs and mocking celebrities while convincing the listeners that this music is the spawn of several friends who just hang out in a studio.

The second half of the album, in stark contrast to the first, features southern swamp style music for a few songs, then back to Hip-Hop, then to 90s Pop, and finally ends on a tripped out instrumental that truly can’t be categorized. Listening to this album will make your head spin, and it comes highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Track List:

  1. Spaceship Sunlight
  2. Whiskey Pie
  3. Pet the Little Birds
  4. Pamplemoose
  5. Justin Bieber on a Beaver
  6. Ordiano
  7. Peanut Butter Train
  8. Sector 2
  9. Elijah
  10. Gary and the Foxes
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KONGOS: Bad Habits, Weird Fans, & More

On July 11th, news reporters Dylan Blankenship and Anna Lande visited Folk-rock, brother-band KONGOS during their tour in Anchorage. In this interview, the Kongo brothers discuss the most overrated aspect of being a rockstar, the smell of a tour bus, and espresso machines with the KRUA News Department.

Songs used in this piece: “Come with Me Now” “I’m Only Joking (Explicit)” “I Want to Know”  by KONGOS.

 

The full audio file of the interview can be found below the photo.