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​​Review: Kendrick Lamar delivers a more inward focus with his new album

(07/01/22 5:05am)

On his last three albums, Kendrick Lamar has explored a range of lofty topics. On “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City” (2012), he used his experience as a teenager in Compton, CA., to make a general statement about growing up in impoverished urban areas. In “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015), Lamar wrote about the experience of black people in America more broadly. In “DAMN.” (2017), Lamar wrote about emotions in a more abstract way; he was still presenting himself as a larger-than-life figure, one who many listeners treat as a role model. But now, after a five year wait, Kendrick finally makes an attempt to present himself only as a human being with faults and vulnerabilities on his new album “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers.”


64th Annual Grammy Awards bore with uncreative nominations

(04/12/22 6:03am)

After being postponed from its usual time in January due to the omicron variant of COVID-19, the 64th Annual Grammy Awards took place on April 3. Held only a week prior, the Academy Awards overshadowed the Grammys this year, given Will Smith’s high-profile slapping incident that received vast media coverage. In contrast, the Grammys maintained a much lower profile, as the night’s most celebrated artist, jazz composer Jon Batiste, won big, while most categories offered few surprises. Combined with Trevor Noah’s lackluster hosting and a mixed bag of live performances from various artists, the Grammys emphasized safety from scandal rather than ingenuity.


Review: Charli XCX’s ‘Crash’ Lacks Usual Experimental Character

(03/31/22 6:00am)

After her first experiment with hyperpop in 2016 with the EP “Vroom Vroom,” Charli XCX has been on the cutting edge of new sounds in popular music. Albums like “Charli” (my favorite album of 2019) and 2020’s “How I’m Feeling Now” have been instrumental in bringing the bubblegum bass sound — pioneered by her late collaborator SOPHIE and British music label PC Music — to the mainstream. However, as she releases the final album of her record deal with Atlantic, Charli XCX is trying something new: By her own admission, she’s selling out.


2021 Music in Review: The 10 Best Albums of the Year

(11/16/21 7:05am)

After the strange, pandemic-dominated year of music that was 2020, 2021 felt like a return to normalcy for the music industry. Albums that had been postponed due to COVID were released, major artists like Kanye West and Drake dropped new albums and many albums devised during the lockdowns of the previous year saw artists exploring new directions. One notable musical event of the year that will not be included on this list was Taylor Swift’s re-releases of her older albums as “Taylor’s Version”; because none of that music was written in 2021, it will not be included on this list. Otherwise, here are the ten best albums released in 2021.



Review: Phoebe Bridgers Delivers an Energetic, Riveting Performance in Boston

(10/12/21 6:00am)

Since the release of her critically acclaimed second studio album, “Punisher,” in June 2020, Phoebe Bridgers has had a busy year. From her four Grammy nominations to her controversial Saturday Night Live performance, Bridgers has generated more commercial success than your average quiet, melancholic indie folk singer-songwriter. To top it all off, Bridgers is ending 2021 by going on her first tour since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sept. 27, I had the privilege of attending the second night of her performance at Boston’s Leader Bank Pavilion. While her low-key musical style may not seem particularly well-suited for a venue that seats a few thousand, she gave a generally fantastic performance that captivated the audience.


With a new sound, St. Vincent finds a stunning, personal voice in “Daddy’s Home”

(05/20/21 6:05am)

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.


93rd Academy Awards sees lowest viewership on record

(04/29/21 6:00am)

In the beginning of this year’s award season, many awards shows had trouble adapting to the virtual setting necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. After watching the trials and tribulations of the Grammys and the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards executed their show quite well in comparison: The part-in-person, part-virtual show progressed without any major technical difficulties. For the third straight year, there was no host; instead, the Academy rotated awards presenters. Even with the success of the format, though, the ceremony had only 10.4 million viewers, making it the least-watched Oscars since the Academy started recording views in 1974.


Recording Academy made smart, unsurprising decisions at 2021 Grammy Awards

(03/29/21 6:00am)

The 63rd annual Grammy Awards, which took place on March 14th, marked the continuation of this year’s socially distanced award season. Unlike the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, the Recording Academy chose to hold its ceremony outdoors where it could host nominees in person. The format worked well, making the ceremony feel more like a normal, pre-COVID event. 


78th Golden Globes kicks off awards season with socially distanced audience, technical difficulties

(03/04/21 7:09am)

On Sunday, the 78th Golden Globe Awards began the strangest awards season in recent memory. The ceremony was held mostly virtually, with half taking place in New York and half in Los Angeles. Instead of the usual array of celebrities, the in-person audience was made up entirely of socially distanced first responders and essential workers, while the nominees all teleconferenced in. 


Review: Weezer’s 'OK Human' a sincere, dynamic return to the band’s roots

(02/11/21 7:09am)

No other band has had as inconsistent a career as Weezer has. After achieving critical and commercial success with the power-pop of their 1994 self-titled first album, the darker direction of Weezer’s second album, “Pinkerton,” initially drew negative reviews, despite later achieving cult status. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s embarrassment over “Pinkerton” led to a long series of albums in the 2000s full of safe, boring pop music that lacked the magic of Weezer’s early work. While the band did produce a couple of albums I enjoyed during this period, particularly 2016’s “White Album,” they reached a low with 2019’s “Black Album.” 


Review: Chris Stapleton’s ‘Starting Over’ combines masterful lyricism with powerful vocals

(01/21/21 7:00am)

Since the release of his debut album in 2015, Chris Stapleton has made a name for himself in country music — opting for the grit and rough edges of the genre’s earlier days rather than the bikinis and pickup trucks of its pop iteration. Gifted with masterful songwriting and a powerful voice, Stapleton knows how to write an affecting song and drive home its emotions with his distinctive, raspy tone. With his fourth solo album, “Starting Over” — which debuted in November — Stapleton has truly mastered his craft, tugging at heartstrings with the lyrics of one song and excoriating your soul with his vocals on the next.


2020 Music in Review: The 10 best albums of the year

(11/16/20 7:05am)

From beginning to (almost) end, 2020 has been the most unconventional year in recent memory. And naturally, the music released this year has been strange. While those who released music at the beginning of the year largely finished recording before the pandemic began, many artists releasing albums at the tail-end have had to work around stay-at-home orders and general shutdowns. As always, art has found a way to overcome, and these 10 albums represent some of the best music released in this otherwise difficult year.


Review: Joji’s ‘Nectar’ feels forgettable save for a few standout tracks

(10/19/20 6:00am)

Over the past few years, former YouTube star George Miller — better known as Joji — has become one of the most popular internet artists in the mainstream world of music. Given his background, a career in serious music sounds unlikely; under his YouTube personality “Filthy Frank,” Joji was known for his dark, gross-out humor and his wild alter ego, Pink Guy. However, Joji’s transition from fringe YouTube comedian to mainstream R&B artist was more successful than anyone could have imagined.


Review: Fleet Foxes’ 'Shore' offers reflection on changing times

(09/28/20 6:00am)

With their self-titled 2008 debut, Fleet Foxes established themselves as an indie folk outfit with achingly sincere, pastoral lyrics and a penchant for vocal harmonies. And unlike many folk rock artists emerging out of the late 2000s, they have remained fresh, while managing not to make a major departure in style on any of the three albums they have released since their debut. After a six-year hiatus, their third album “Crack-Up” dove headfirst into progressive folk, with denser instrumentation, longer songs and unorthodox song structures. With “Crack-Up,” Fleet Foxes proved that they could work within their established style to create a challenging, dense album of music that defied accessibility. With their newest album “Shore,” released on Sept. 22, Fleet Foxes have proved the opposite: Their music can be equally powerful with simpler instrumentation and more accessible, catchy songs. 


Review: Laura Marling's 'Song for Our Daughter' boasts compelling storytelling, dynamic instrumentation

(05/14/20 6:10am)

In a genre as old as folk, it can be hard for anything to stand out against the large body of work comprising the genre’s canon. Artists like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon cultivated the sound that became associated with folk singer-songwriters in the middle of the 20th century. While the sounds they played were by definition based on earlier American musical styles, these artists sounded novel and each presented a unique brand of folk. In recent years, however, artists like Ed Sheeran have figured out how to soullessly manufacture the singer-songwriter formula by repeating the same tired sound again and again. Faced with a barrage of mediocre music, modern folk singer-songwriters have been forced to innovate in an attempt to stand out.


Review: 'Sawayama' is musically fascinating, but falls short of greatness

(04/27/20 7:00am)

Every 20 years, like clockwork, American culture repeats itself. This does not mean that the same exact trends are recycled in an endless loop. Rather, after about 20 years, outdated culture becomes “retro,” and nostalgia for past decades shapes new styles and artwork. The 1970s had “Happy Days,” and the 1990s had “That ’70s Show.” In a more abstract sense, the infatuation with the glamorous lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy in the 1980s inspired reality television and “Gossip Girl” in the 2000s. As we enter the 2020s, the music stylings of the early aughts are making a comeback. Artists like Charli XCX and Slayyyter evoke Britney Spears-style pop, while Poppy and Grimes both recently released music that is heavily reminiscent of nu metal.


Fiona Apple returns with complex lyrics and a minimalist style in 'Fetch the Bolt Cutters'

(04/20/20 7:00am)

After eight long years, 1990s teenage pop sensation turned reclusive savant Fiona Apple has released her fifth album, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” As longtime fans know, Apple’s album release schedule is erratic; she has only released five albums since her 1996 debut “Tidal,” which she released when she was 18 years old. Apple’s prodigious talents as a writer are apparent even on her first album, but her teenage immaturity and naivete are also obvious. While the 90-word title of her second album, often shortened to “When the Pawn …,” initially annoyed fans and critics when it debuted in 1999, the complex, jazzy instrumentals and tremendous lyrical improvement won over most listeners. A protracted dispute with her label created a six-year gap before the release of Apple’s third album, “Extraordinary Machine,” in 2005, which introduced full orchestration behind her music.


Review: Dua Lipa's "Future Nostalgia" is a cohesive and catchy second album

(04/02/20 6:10am)

On March 27, English pop artist Dua Lipa released her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” one week early, in the midst of the global pandemic. With millions around the world quarantined in their homes and looking for a way to pass the hours, the timing couldn’t be better. The album’s upbeat sound is exactly what the world needs in this time of uncertainty and confusion.


‘Citrus’ by Celeste Jennings ’18 debuts at Northern Stage

(03/05/20 7:00am)

Last Saturday, “Citrus” debuted at Northern Stage in White River Junction. Celeste Jennings ’18 wrote “Citrus” as her senior year fellowship project while at Dartmouth. JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, who directed the initial reading of “Citrus” at the College last May, is directing the production’s Northern Stage iteration as well. “Citrus” is not a play in the traditional sense; rather, it is a choreopoem, which combines dance, music, poetry, rap and acting. It tells the stories of black women throughout history and in the present day, with a focus on personal experiences.




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