Album Reviews: Past, Present, and Future

Illustrated by: Minji Reem
Illustrated by: Minji Reem

Music takes up a large part of my day – I listen to music in the morning when I wake up, during my daily workouts, when I commute up to school, in between classes, and on the subway ride home.  When I read for class or for pleasure, there is usually an album on in the background.  I’m commonly asked: where do I find all this music?  Well, in all sorts of places!  Like anyone, I have a collection of my favorite albums that I have accumulated over the years.  To supplement those, I try to keep track of the current music scene by looking for new and upcoming artists in a wide variety of genres.  Also, I read about upcoming albums so that I’m ready when my favorite artists release something new.  I enjoy the classics of the past, keep track of the new artists and albums of the present, and look forward to the sounds of future.  Here’s a peak into my musical past, present, and future:

Past classic of the month: Majical Cloudz – “Impersonator”

impersonatorOkay, so it’s not that far back into the past (May 2013,) but it counts, right?  I just can’t shake Montreal duo Majical Cloudz’s latest album; it has been a staple of my listening diet since its original release.  The album is gorgeous and direct – the lyrics are powerful and handsomely sung, and the hypnotic sound perfectly matches the simplicity of the words.  But it’s the emotional honesty that makes “Impersonator” special.  “I don’t think about dying alone,” Devon Welsh wails on “Silver Rings.”  “I wanna feel like somebody’s darling,” he sings on “Impersonator.”  Though heavy at times, the album is beautiful and rewarding.  It deserves a place in your music library.


Favorite artist of right now: Sam Smith

sam smithIf you haven’t heard of Sam Smith, you’re about to.  An English singer-songwriter recently featured on Disclosure’s hit single “Latch,” Sam Smith is primed for a coming out party.  Smith just released his first E.P., “Nirvana,” an eight-track collection of Smith’s own material that showcases his ridiculous vocal abilities.  The E.P. includes catchy pop singles, an acoustic performance of “Latch,” a wonderful live performance of “I’ve Told You Now,” and “Together,” another of Smith’s collaborations with Disclosure.  And as if that isn’t enough, Smith has a full-length album scheduled to come out in May.  Not bad for a guy who was still working as a bartender a little more than a year ago.  Smith is one of the more memorable pop vocalists one can hope to encounter, yet every time you hear him sing it’s as if it’s for the first time.  I’ve told you now.  If you want to thank me in person, I’ll be at Smith’s next concert.


Most anticipated album: whatever Frank Ocean does next

frank oceanI am especially proud of having “found” Frank Ocean back in 2011, just after he released his first mixtape, “Nostalgia Ultra.”  This is a shallow pride, the same pride one feels for watching a hit TV show live from its original air date while everyone else catches up on Netflix.  It feels great to follow someone’s career from the beginning, especially when that person turns out to release one of the most impressive debut albums ever.  “Channel Orange” was a remarkable achievement, not only for its smooth sounds, but also for the impact it has had on music generally.  After Ocean’s hit “Pyramids,” it has suddenly become commonplace for songs to last upwards of six or seven minutes.  Just ask Drake, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Justin Timberlake, or The Weeknd, who all released lengthy singles last year.  So what will Frank Ocean come up with next?  Rumors suggest a possible beach-related theme, influenced by the 1960s pop of The Beatles and Beach Boys.  And when?  In February 2013, Ocean admitted to being eleven or twelve songs into his new project, and last October, Ocean responded to a Tumblr query about when to expect the project with a terse, “when the summer comes around again.”  Sounds good to me.

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