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Among fans of hip-hop, Pusha T’s reputation precedes him. Since the early 2000s when he and his brother No Malice formed the legendary hip-hop duo Clipse, Pusha T has enjoyed consistent acclaim from fans and critics alike. The most recent subject of this acclaim was his album “Daytona” — released as part of a series of five albums produced by Kanye West which were released on consecutive weeks during the Spring of 2018. For many fans — myself included — the soulful instrumentals and uncompromising lyrics of “Daytona” seemed like hip-hop heaven, and it was hailed as one of the best albums of 2018 and the 2010s. Naturally, I was elated when Pusha T announced “It’s Almost Dry,” his first solo release since “Daytona.”
The Dartmouth theater department’s MainStage production for the winter term, the rock musical “RENT,” opened on Feb. 18, marking the first time that the show has been produced at Dartmouth. The two-act musical, written and composed by Jonathan Larson, follows a group of impoverished Bohemian artists in their twenties living in the 1980s amid the AIDS epidemic in New York.
Since the release of her sophomore album, “Melodrama,” four years ago, Lorde has been off the grid, retreating to the New Zealand countryside and even as far as Antarctica. This time in solace is reflected clearly, both lyrically and sonically, in her third studio album, “Solar Power.” Lorde has created a poetic and astonishing album with a beautiful –– though occasionally repetitive –– folk-pop sound.
As of this past Sunday, Lindsey Buckingham is seventy-two years old; however, audience members at any of his recent concerts would agree that he seems to be doing better than ever. On Sept. 3, Buckingham took a moment to address the audience, including me, gathered in Prior Lake, Minnesota for the second concert of his 2021 tour. Buckingham had not provided commentary between songs for most of the concert, allowing his chosen tunes to speak for themselves. Yet, he paused to preface one of the last songs of the set, “Time,” a cover of Michael Merchant’s mournful ballad, by recalling that the song was the first he recorded for his new album, “Lindsey Buckingham,” nearly three years ago. Buckingham stated that the song has “taken on a more visceral meaning” after the “twists and turns” that delayed the album’s release.
United by a passion for live music, the students who comprise Friday Night Rock bring bands to campus to perform, offering a unique alternative space to Greek Life. Founded in 2004, the student-run organization hosts musicians three times per term, staging free concerts for Dartmouth students in Sarner Underground.
Connected by their fraternity and an appreciation for classic rock, Theta Delta Chi’s resident band, The Dandelions, celebrates the catharsis of musicality with their performances. Named after a friend’s infamous dandelion wine, the band comprises Keeks George ‘22 on guitar and vocals, guitarist Peter Chabot ‘22, Cam Guage ‘22 on saxophone and vocals, Nate Koidahl ‘22 on drums and percussion, Connor Morris ‘22 on piano and vocals and bassist TJ Bryan ‘23.
About a hundred and fifty students flocked to Webster Avenue and braved the rain on Saturday, July 17 to enjoy a delayed spring-term tradition: WoodstocKDE. The backyard concert captured the spirit of the original New York music festival — from which the event takes its name — held over five decades ago.
The closure of in-person events has made live performances almost impossible for student musicians wishing to promote their music. Despite this challenge, Claire Collins ’22, Henry Phipps ’21 and Matt Haughey ’21 are writing, recording and producing music remotely.
Machine Gun Kelly’s newest album transcends his former rap concentration and launches the artist into his newest exploration: pop-punk. Based heavily on popular music of the early 2000s, “Tickets to My Downfall” marks the genre’s return to popularity with a new edge that makes it stronger than before. With over 66 million streams, Kelly has seen more commercial success from this album than any of his previous work, proving his versatility by successfully making the difficult jump to a new genre.
Until recently, Annie Clark’s — who goes by the stage name St. Vincent — most personal album was “Marry Me,” her debut album, which came out in 2007. Since then, she’s leaned more and more into her St. Vincent persona. Even songs that explored her personal struggles, like “Marrow” or “Strange Mercy,” feel detached from the real Annie Clark, distorted through the filter of St. Vincent. For a long time, this strategy worked well, as much of her best work can be found on albums like “Actor,” “Strange Mercy'' and “St. Vincent.” However, the culmination of this style was 2017’s “Masseduction,” a deeply impersonal album that felt sanitized and cold, both lyrically and musically. However, St. Vincent reverses course with her most recent album “Daddy’s Home,” that features much more personal lyrics.
Earl Simmons, better known by his stage name DMX, clawed his way from the streets of Yonkers to hip-hop fame with his guttural voice and signature barking adlibs. He commanded an emotional rawness that few rappers in the early bling era of hip-hop could channel. However, Simmons struggled with his demons — battling drug addiction throughout his career. Following complications from a drug overdose, he died on April 9, at the age of 50.
Sophie Xeon, stylized as SOPHIE, was a Grammy-nominated avante garde singer and producer behind some of the biggest names in pop music. Before the artist’s unexpected death at 34 on Jan. 31, Sophie had pioneered the hyperpop subgenre — a radical blend of trance, electronic and hip hop music — and collaborated frequently with pop stars like Charli XCX. As a transgender artist, Sophie also inspired many LGBTQ+ listeners and queer musicians.
Katy Perry’s fifth studio album, “Smile,” arrives on August 28. To generate buzz, she hosted a Zoom question and answer press conference with college reporters. I clicked out feeling underwhelmed, and I’m trying to pinpoint why.
Dominic Fike’s debut album “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” is the antidote to a lackluster summer. Released on July 31, Fike’s album presents an eclectic collection of musical ideas well-packaged into 14 songs. This 34-minute listen is full of pleasant twists and turns that make for an engaging and kaleidoscopic record.
Over the last decade, Kevin Parker has used his solo project Tame Impala to create incredible anthems of loneliness and isolation. Ever since his 2010 single “Solitude is Bliss,” Parker has pushed himself further and further away from society, using his lyrics to present himself as an outsider looking in. Even the album cover of Tame Impala’s 2012 album “Lonerism” depicts people picnicking on the other side of a fence, just out of reach. During the production of his next album “Currents” in 2015, Parker withdrew even further, working meticulously on each track. And while these songs dealt more with interpersonal relationships than any of his previous works, the lyrics made it clear that Parker felt more alone than ever.
From start to finish, 2019 has been a whirlwind year for music. It has been a year of innovation and excitement in nearly every genre, whether it be hip-hop, folk, pop or any other. While there were dozens of albums that could be recognized for their brilliance this year, I’ve had to narrow it down to only 10 for this list. These 10 albums have all introduced new ideas into their respective genres while still being an enjoyable listen from start to finish. In a way, all of them manage to reflect the issues of the time while still sounding distinctly human.
On June 14, Iranian-Swedish singer-songwriter Snoh Aalegra released a new song, “Find Someone Like You,” in anticipation of her sophomore album coming in August, “-Ugh, those feels again.”
With the release of her new single “ME!” this past April 26, Taylor Swift has evolved once again. A bubbly and bright pop song, “ME!” marks Swift’s departure from the mood of her previous album, the inspired and aggressive “reputation,” and her persona’s transformation to the glaringly upbeat and pastel imagery of “ME!”
This past January, Toro y Moi (also known as Chaz Bear) released his sixth album, “Outer Peace.” Inspired by the electronic dance music of Daft Punk and Wally Badarou’s synthpop, “Outer Peace” is a breezy 10 tracks, spanning just over 30 minutes. As a whole, the album is very easy to listen to — the tracks are generally composed of low-fi, low energy, yet upbeat beats and melodies — and none of them are longer than four minutes. On the surface, Toro y Moi has produced a fun, and at times quirky, album full of hits that can be played at a wide range of events, whether it be at a party that’s about to hit its peak or at a study table that needs a pick-me-up. A deeper dive into the album with closer listening, though, reveals that Toro y Moi has also subtly inputted his own little touches of tongue-in-cheek ironic flair and his sense of pessimistic disillusionment to which millennials and Gen Zers can definitely relate.
We are so concerned with what is new and exciting in music that we often forget the artists we’ve lost, the artists that even from the grave figure prominently in our collective imagination. Big names have died in the last few years — Tom Petty, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin — and it feels like time is running out for the musicians who inspired popular music today. Leonard Cohen is one such artist. Cohen passed away in November 2016 at 83, but still inspires people with his not-quite-music-not-quite-spoken-word pieces years later.