I’m re-blogging this thanks to Saraya, who posted it on her tumblr earlier today.
“6 Degrees of Black Sabbath” is basically a 6 degrees of separation generator for music. Go ahead, try to stump it. It even found a path (be it longer than average) between Hilary Duff and Death Cab for Cutie. Fun stuff.
:: Haley Rheinhart
On an unusually warm Saturday evening this April, I was packed into a crowded Gustavus Adolphus Hockey arena. Through the Ed Hardy and cubic zirconium studded crowd I was able to spy one Lupe Fiasco.
Every year Gustavus Adolphus College, or as it is affectionately known GAC, holds a concert for its students and opens it to the public. GAC’s past concerts have included performers such as Ben Folds, but this year they hosted the college radio favorite Lupe Fiasco. Lupe visited the small town of St. Peter as part of his Steppin’ Lasers tour.
Opening for Lupe was the Twin Cities’ own Unknown Prophets, a duo consisting of MaD SoN and Big Jess. The Prophets’ set was great and used their relatively unique sound of metal and rap to build up to Lupe’s opening. They also hyped Minnesota pride that acted as a good contrast with Lupe’s international acclaim. The only pitfall of the concert: the crowd.
Most concertgoers were present to hear Fiasco’s handful of uber-famous songs such as “Daydreamin”, “Superstar”, and “Kick, Push”. This dynamic between fans and infrequent followers, while not ideal, didn’t harm the overall experience. The energy that Lupe and his band gave off was infectious. New songs and old had everyone in the crowd getting down. Not only did Lupe set the bar but his band mates stepped it up with hard guitar riffs, intense drum beats, and scratchin’ on the turntables.
Lupe also debuted some of his new material. One song, “Beautiful Lasers”, was noticeably different from songs such as “Go Go Gadget Flow” and he cited the fact that he was “really f*#cked up” for a long period and the energy from that time went into this song. Although darker, the energy of the entire concert was phenomenal and included fan participation two audience members were invited onstage due to the fact that they had “We Are Lasers” tattooed on their biceps in homage to Lupe. The show culminated with some words of wisdom about the power of education from Lupe: quite the collegiate experience.
Photo by Autumn de Wilde
Austin based band, Spoon has run the marathon, starting the race in the golden year of 1993. Their progression of albums has been both dramatic and fantastic. Beginning with their debut album Telephono which features their customary guitar riffs and lead singer Britt Daniel’s key voice . The band’s evolution over the years has kept the same rhythm and soul found on their first album but has also developed so far as to create acclaimed album after album.
A little more than two years since their last LP release, Spoon’s new album Transference releases this coming January. To cross the gaping span of time, singles like “Got Nuffin” and “Written in Reverse” have been released to the open and willing ears of adoring fans.
One huge appeal Spoon holds is their ability to fuse a tight set and great energy. A live show sounds like it’s being recorded in a studio, and while this may be unappealing to those who love the mosh, the energy they put into their sound, whether live or recorded, definitely comes through. Spoon has been a long time favorite of many fans and seems to get bigger and bigger with every album they put out.
Weather seems to be a predominant topic in many of my posts and tradition calls for another. Contrary to this season, the Seattle-based band The Long Winters is anything but cold. It’s not hard to find praises to sing about a band found on the same independent label (Barsuk Records) as Death Cab for Cutie, Harvey Danger, Menomena, Nada Surf, Rilo Kiley, They Might Be Giants, and many other prominent groups. The fact that Chris Walla has added his expertise in production and instrumentation to two of The Long Winters’ albums only adds to the Barsuk legacy; with that I’m surprised more people aren’t aware of the awesomeness of this group. They’ve been a longtime favorite of mine but I’ll take a page from LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow and simply say “you don’t have to take my word for it”. Just give them a listen and if the lyrics to songs like “Hindsight” or “Teaspoon” don’t hook you I don’t know what will.
Canterbury Downs is synonymous with horse racing, Shakopee, and suburbia. Definitely not the place you would expect to find over 15,000 people intent on listening to independent hip-hop for 8 hours. That, my friends, is the beauty of Minnesota and Soundset.
Local label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, put on Soundset for the first time last year outside the Metrodome: urban Minneapolis being the perfect place to celebrate Twin Cities’ local artists. Thanks to a holiday weekend and America’s favorite pastime, the Twins took over the area and Soundset ’09 was relocated to Shakopee. Even with this switch, the crowds were massive and the acts were on it. If rhymes are candy and Soundset is a store, then thousands of fans were the proverbial kid. With over 30 artists, a B-Boy and B-Girl battle going on, tagging, and 3rd Lair skating it was easy to get lost in the music and the crowd. The Fifth Element Stage was home to friend of The Dustbowl, Kristoff Krane, as well as Heiruspecs, Cunninlynguists, Sims (from Doomtree fame), Blue Scholars, and many more. The Main Stage connected the coasts with Haiku D’Etat representing the West and Immortal Technique and Sage Francis reppin’ the East. Don’t fret, Midwest pride was strong with Brother Ali, P.O.S., Atmoshpere, and Eyedea & Abilities enchanting the crowd: all of it so very good. There’s a lot more to be said about Soundset but I’m personally very happy to have been introduced to Eyedea & Abilites and am looking forward to the drop of their new album, By The Throat, on July 21st. Rhymesayers and Soundset are definitely putting Minnesota, or as I like to call it Money$ota, on the hip-hop map.
While the sun shines and the summer grass beckons to be trampled by bare feet, the whimsical songs of Laura Veirs perfectly accompany bicycle rides and stargazing alike. Her latest album, Saltbreakers, highlights the poetics of nature, humanity and earth with mellow and pop-y melodies completely worth a listen. You may recognize Veirs from “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)” where she collaborated with The Decemberists on their 2006 release, The Crane Wife . It also doesn’t hurt that she happens to be a Carleton College grad. Represent.
It’s the time of year again; when an overcast day has you scrolling through your music library for that perfect band. For this there is Voxtrot. The four-man band from Austin, Texas, fronted by Ramesh Srivastava, could be a cousin of the Cure and younger brother to Okkervil River and The 88. The instrumentation is smooth and the vocals silky. So, when the rain begins a tattoo against your window, plug in your headphones and enjoy the tones of Voxtrot.