Rock Discovery for Hip-Hop Heads
Do you miss the heyday of Prince? Who doesn't, amiright? Fortunately for us, while we're yearning for Prince Rogers Nelson, NY-based Blood Orange (the moniker of London-born Dev Hynes) is doing his best to fill that void in our lives. 2013's eclectic Cupid Deluxe was one of the more well-rounded releases of the year and Hynes offers something for rockers, indie kids, hip-hoppers and soul searchers alike. One second he's joining his muse, Samantha Urbani on a hook and the next, he's stepping back and letting hot-shit Queens MC Despot take the lead or letting Grime rapper Skepta tell the story they share of North London nostalgia. The point here, is that this is a smooth transition from the world of "rock" to the aural palettes of hip-hop heads. This is the type of shit you can chill out and groove to with your boo, or flood the atmosphere of a kick-back at your apartment or dive bar. Peep "Always Let U Down" for the smoother side and "Clipped On" for one of the sickest flows of the year. The cast is impressive and in the end, you'll be enamored with the maestro Hynes and all that Blood Orange delivers and promises. -- Spinelli
Ivy League rockers Vampire Weekend topped numerous year-end lists in 2013 with their third album, Modern Vampires of the City, and even managed to snag the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Modern Vampires continues the VW tradition of lyrical density, classical melodies, and afro-inspired rhythms while incorporating new influences. The single “Step” typifies this, with its hook and chord progression lifted from a Souls of Mischief demo cut, “Step To My Girl.” The allusions don’t end there, though, as VW vocalist Ezra Koenig doles out several references to other groups such as Run D.M.C.Modest Mouse, and Talking Heads. Throw in a couple lines about exotic travel destinations, and finish it all off with a chopped-and-screwed rendition of the hook, and you’ve got one of the best tracks of 2013. --Seraphim
NY based Phantogram, is an electronic/psych pop duo formed by the gorgeous Sarah Barthel (vocals/keyboards) and cutting-edge Josh Carter (guitar/vocals). Their latest single, strangely titled "Bill Murray", is perfectly characteristic of the group's sound, featuring simple, steady percussion paired with hypnotic dueling synthesizers throughout. Barthel shows off her impressive vocal range -- everything from soft croons to powerful belts -- for the duration of the song, as she laments the distance separating her from her lover. The song is merely a glorious piece of the masterful puzzle that is their 2nd full length LP, Voices, now up entirely on Rock Genius. Close your eyes while listening and you may just envision an overly-emotional Bill Murray taking a forlorn stroll around Punxsutawney. -- Squanto
Deerhunter is a rock band hailing from Atlanta. Their music has always sounded like a throwback to psychedelic rock at its peak from the late 60's but “Desire Lines” is a prime example of a modern twist. Symbolic, huffed-out lyrics reminiscing about the freedom of childhood, rest on top of dreamy guitar and bass harmony. It incorporates some blues influence in its forlorn look at maturity. The chorus has an anthemic quality...
“Walking free. Come with me.
Far away. Everyday.”
...and makes a sincere attempt to pull you into a new world. Suddenly the lyrics end and the second half of the song kicks in. From this point forward, it’s a psychedelic ride. The drums and the bass set a foundation, but the swirl of guitars take you deep into a trance. Listen to this on a car ride down a freeway. Get lost in the subtle variations as the band continues to jam. The magic of rock music is when an enormous journey is created from just a few instruments. Enjoy the ride! -- JHGFD
The Dead Kennedys are widely regarded as the greatest American punk outfit and an inspiration for the hardcore scene. Barely any commercial success circulated the band, instead, millions of people were enthralled and nettled with their dogmatic lyrics. Equipped with sacrilege and a shuddering voice, singer Jello Biafra rampaged against his country’s suppression, imperialism, despotism and materialistic societies. Their debut LP Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, peaked at #33 and chained with the single “Too Drunk to Fuck”, persists as their towering commercial success, regardless of the radio’s epochal outlaw.
The record’s lyrics are cloaked with hilarity, must predominantly on “Kill the Poor”. “Holiday in Cambodia” lampooned students' disregard to America’s foreign policy, and “Viva Las Vegas” gives a frayed classic a reborn daub of paint. Despite the record’s comical aspect and administrative mockery, Fruit remains uncompromising. It has mania and assertion and in other words, is the unrivaled scold in the face. This is one of the delineating junctures in punk-music, and deserves the classic tag more than any other album from the era. The song titles themselves should fear away those who won’t savor this ensemble, as a monstrous load of black humor and senseless sobriety is required for it to be enjoyed. Crucial to any punk.
Key track: California über alles -- Palacelight
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