DUCKWRTH: Into His Funky World

Artists You Should Know March 13, 2020

I first set my eyes on Jared Lee, known as DUCKWRTH at a Rich Brian show back in 2017, he was the opening act and I was immediately captivated by his set. His set started off with a DJ diving deep into his funky world by playing “Mirage” by Toro y Moi, although not his song, he carried through with an expressive entrance. DUCKWRTH wore a British flag muscle top, skinny trousers, boots, and a slick hairstyle. He was all over the place in terms of performance: He danced, took of his shirt, and crowd-surfed. His energy, presence, raps, sound, and style were so distinctive and unmatched that it made me an instant fan.

DUCKWRTH is a rapper and songwriter who hails from Los Angeles; however, most of his musical development began in the Bay Area. He started posting music online in 2012 with releases such as the  DUCKTAPE mixtape and the singles “THRILLA” and “Shaolinin’.” While it wasn’t enough to kick him off his feet right away, it gave him a framework for his sound that speaks to DUCKWRTH’s musicality, what he calls a “Jambalaya Concept.” The concept is marked by DUCKWRTH’s ability to deconstruct genres and transform them to create a unique sound. Lee’s style mostly covers funk and hip hop, but blends elements of R&B, rock, and house together. “LOWRIDR” from his debut album, I’M UUGLY, illustrates this: the song uses a boom-bap style beat and takes an R&B and funk groove topped by rap. His raps cover a variety of concepts, but mostly span around themes of coming-to-age, love, pride, and indifference– this being juxtaposed with the danceability of his groove, make serious messages all more accessible to the average listener.

Since the beginning of his musical career, DUCKWRTH has emphasized experimentation and integration in his music. From the laidback DUCKTAPE, to his 2015 collaborative effort with the Kickdrums titled Nowhere, to his debut album, and his dramatic and more intense 2018 releases, “FALL BACK” and “SOPRANO,” -all of which are a part of his “UUGLY” brand. The “UUGLY” brand represents is creativity and authenticity, which is at the heart of DUCKWRTH’s music.

Listen to his debut album I’M UUGLY and the mixtape an XTRA UUGLY mixtape featuring the songs here.

Matt Firenzé Teaches You How To Become a Type Beat Producer

Artists Confessions December 10, 2019

(Photo by Desmond Rodgers)

(Written by Miguel Anderson)

In a busy roadhouse restaurant in Walnut Creek, California, I sat down with Matt Firenzé over a plate of Chicken & Waffles. He’s the mastermind producer behind Matt Firenzé beats on YouTube. His producer specialty lies in creating type beats. We discussed the effect of type beats in his own career, his process of producing type beats, and professional advice. Firenzé’s world lies nestled within the beat making community, particularly the type beat community, on YouTube. It’s a small, underground community compared to the likes of other YouTubers. Firenzé states that “the biggest type beat producers are still dwarfed in comparison to other YouTubers. So the biggest type Beats producer might have a million subscribers. Whereas you look at Ninja who plays video games, he has 30 million or more.”

That’s probably why you’ve never heard of type beats before. And if you haven’t, type beats are the over-labeled instrumental tracks found on YouTube. They’re tagged by feeling, genre, and most notably, an artist’s style that the type beat’s sound is most similar to. For example, the rap trio Migos’ sound is defined by a long trap bass. In that case, Matt Firenzé would create a type beat that has a long trap bass and label it “Migos Type Beat,” and upload it to YouTube. The same goes for other artists such as Drake who is identifiable by their R&B/Pop-rap sound, and DJ Mustard who utilizes a slow-tempo and repetitive handclaps. To be clear, type beats are not copies of the artists beat, that would be in violation of copyright laws. Type beats are original compositions, labeled to the artist who would sound best on that particular track. Between an artist’s composition and a type beat instrumental, there are similarities, but never outright copying.

Type beats are feeding a community of amatuer & newcomer artists. Since making music has become more accessible, as all you need is your phone microphone to rap or sing, many new artists look to type beats to use for their own songs. It’s easy to see why as type beats have appeal. Their cheap, accessible, have pre-made song structure, and most importantly, they have the big-name-producer sound. If an artist needs a Pharrel beat all they have to do is type “Pharrell type beat” into YouTube’s search bar, and immediately buy it. This has removed a process that originally was expensive and exclusively professional. No longer do artists need money for a top producer or the skills to create the track for their song. Instead, all they need is $30 bucks for a .WAV file.

The nature of appeal for type beats have led to a surge in popularity, making type beats expand past their homes on YouTube and on the charts & in the tracklisting of the most successful and professional artists. In an interview, San Francisco Bay Area rapper P-Lo confessed that his song, “Type Beat,” off his then-brand-new EP “Something Light” was inspired by the type beats that replicated his sound on YouTube. He searched up “P-Lo type beat” and found a bunch. Fetty Wap’s 2014 hit, “Trap Queen,” was created off of the back of a type beat. In 2016, Desiigner, racked a #1 from Billboard’s Hot 100 for his song “Panda,” whose instrumental track was purchased on YouTube. As more artists use them, type beats prove that they are a force within the music industry.

For Matt Firenzé, creating type beats began unexpectedly. Before type beats, Matt Firenzé was simply a beat maker. He had been making beats for years in college, and he continues to make beats on the weekends and after work; whenever he can. After seeing his friend make beats, he decided to start a YouTube channel for himself. “I got into it from a buddy of mine who used to live in Livermore. He made beats and he was doing really well that he moved to L.A..” He tells me. YouTube is a platform for his beats. While seeing how profitable beat making was, he started to market his beats as type beats as a way to gain coverage. “So I had already been making beats before. Then, I just realized that the beats I already had could be uploaded and marketed as type beats.” Firenzé’s case is commonly the case for many other type beat producers. Producers need a way to market their material, and type beats give them the opportunity to do so. When a producer uses a big artist name on their material, YouTube’s algorithm picks it up and sends it into a “rotation,” as Firenzé calls it. Once it’s in the algorithm, it shows up as a recommendation, encouraging the user to click it. It’s a smart move. Imagine watching a music video from Ariana Grande, then being forwarded to an Ariana Grande type beat. 

For Matt, he begins making a beat by listening to music. The inspiration from music is how he got his start, and it continues to aid in his craft today. “I listen to music all the time. So whenever I’m going in between classes, I listen to music. If I’m grocery shopping, I have music. If I’m doing homework, I’m listening to music. That’s why when I go into making beats, it’s automatic.” That automatic process is what Firenzé calls the joy of making music. “The joy of making music is when I’m at work, and I hear a melody in my head. So I have to go to the bathroom to voice record that melody before I forget it. And when I get home, I make that beat. And usually when a beat comes to me in that way, then I usually have the entire beat in my head created before I even put it down.” And thats when the beat moves into it’s drafting phase. All Firenzé does is tweak the beat. “I’ll play with some synths and find a sound by listening to music.” Then he envions which artist works best for the beat. He asks “Who do I see on this beat? Who’s this beat in the style of?” and then he titles the video by tagging the artist’s name. He finishes it by uploading the video, putting together a cool picture, and then watch the video quickly pick up views. Currently, Firenzé is getting inspiration from Skepta right now since he dropped his album. His last two beats were Skepta type beats. “Just listen to way more music because you’ll eventually know what your ear wants to hear and you’re subconsciously training your ears just by listening to music.”

Listening to music can only get you so far. You can develop your sound as much as you want, but how do people listen to your beats? You simply can’t wait for your beat to gain traction on itself.  To make it as a successful type beat producer you have to pay close attention to the trends. Catering to trends in music and outside of music can bring in attention. Matt does exactly that, he studies and notices patterns, then incorporates those trends into his beats.This is important because if you’re posting a video surrounding a trend, you’ll generate more buzz that will push YouTube to send your video into rotation. This was the thinking behind Firenzé’s beat titled, “Bath Water”: “These females on Instagram bottled their bath water, as a joke, and they sold it online and people were buying it. So, bath water was trending. So, I dropped a Drake and J. Cole type beat called “bath water” and it’s a picture of a tub with a rubber ducky. The beat starts with water drops building up into a [base] drop. That beat did really well.”

What Matt Firenzé is practicing, is a skill called strategic planning and marketing. Every type beat producer should learn this skill because your beats will be listened to. Firenzé advises newcomers to “Look at the news. Title a beat, and build it around that crazy thing.” You have to capture beats when trends are happening around it to draw crowds. Firenzé calls this, the greatest skill. “The greatest skill isn’t even being the greatest at type beats. I’ll listen to them [type beat producers] and think their beats are not that good. But they’re getting way more plays than what I am.” Leads to his a wise piece of advice, “knowing trends, knowing how to do marketing, knowing hook people in is important because I can have the greatest beat in the world, but if I’m not hooking people in to hear it was like no one’s gonna listen.” It works both ways too: “If you’re not the best, but have really good marketing, you’ll be better than someone who’s actually better than you.”

Marketing your video using the title and release date is only one way to successfully break out. With making beats, you’re playing in a competitive field. Everybody with a computer can make a beat at this point. However, when working with beats, the best way to stand out is by utilizing promotion. Firenzé notes that promotion by tagging and reposting your work is a secure way to stay ahead and support yourself. Firenzé says everyone should “casts a fishing pole.” He sets up his dynamic like this: “The pond is like the music industry and your fishing pole is whatever you’re currently doing. You just can’t hope for your video to go viral. You can’t just cast one pole and hope that that’s one. You can’t rely on a video going viral. You can’t rely on the beat maker that you tweeted out to to repost you. You can’t rely on any of that. But what you can rely on is doing everything you can to get the highest chance of success.” He invites those to cast their fishing pole by promoting your songs for at least 2 weeks. Reposting and tagging your work on other channels help bring people to your channel. It also shows others that you’re serious about your work. “That’s kind of how I treat my beats. While not all my beats are going to do well, but some of them will do well.” Promotion operates as a tunnel, bringing people to your beat. 

When you’re dealing with people who make a beat from your song, promotion is probably the most important thing you can do surrounding your beat. Many will skip promotion simply because it isn’t their song; however, Firenzé emphasizes that you want to tag the person using your beat. “Yeah, so if this guy wants to buy beat from me, I want to tag them on my social media and promote the fuck out of him, because it’s only it’s only positive. If this dude looks up my channel, he’ll see that I’m always promoting everyone that’s buying my beat. So it’s free promotion for them. They want to be tagged to me so they follow me and promote me.” It creates a string of events that causes more people to come to your channel. So, the best thing you can do is promote!

With promotion and sound development under wraps, type beats can be profitable. In Matt Firenzé’s second year of beat making, he was making thousands of dollars just by selling  beats. When you’re at that scale, you’re making passive income. You want to hone your skills to secure the bag. As you build your catalog even more, your older beats are getting purchased and played, sending your other beats into the rotation. It’s a cycle that keeps on giving. 

While type beats seem like a tricky field to break into, it’s not. New software like Ableton, FL Studios, and even Reason, has made producing more accessible. And YouTube gives you the platform for your beats. At the end of the day, making money off of type beats depends on how ambitiously you market & promote your beats. Any aspiring beat maker can learn from Matt Firenzé. He teaches those that developing your sound is just as important as promotion. Don’t ignore one or the other. That way, you can turn those type beat dreams a reality. Making a grand doesn’t seem so hard, huh?

Check out Matt Firenzé here:

YouTube – Matt Firenzé Beats
SoundCloud – Matt Firenzé Beats
Instagram – @Matt.Firenze
Twitter – @mattfirenze
Matt Firenzé Beat Store

The Breakup: 4 Albums You Must Listen To Get Over Them

Music Catalogs November 12, 2019

Before you read the article, let’s set a premise: whatever you’re going through, I hope you get through it with flying colors. Whatever goal you want to achieve, I hope you achieve it and rid of all things that kept you from achieving prior. When writing this article, I was going through a break-up. I’d say I’m still healing from it, but I’m in a much better place than I was. The albums I listed are personal, and what helped me move-on. I’m definitely in a much happier place, and I want anybody reading this to know to trust the process of healing. These albums hold a place in my heart because they helped me face emotions in a way I’d never consider before. So, turn the speakers up, cover yourself in a fuzzy blanket, eats a lot of ice cream, and enjoy.

Kehlani – While We Wait

Label: TSNMI / Atlantic
Release date: February 22th, 2019

Although this album chronicles how Kehlani’s relationship went from love at first sight to the dumpster, there’s lessons to be learned in her songs. Her lyrics recounting her experience are the centerpiece of the album. And if you listen closely, you’ll learn a thing or two. The greatest lessons comes at the expense of the most heart wrenching, twisted moments of Kehlani’s relationship. It comes at the climax of fighting on “Too Deep,” where Kehlani questions if fighting is worth staying in the relationship, and it comes when Kehlani makes her final resolution with her lover, respectfully recognizing issues in the relationship and departing ways on “Footsteps.”

This album alleviates break-up pain because it acts as a mirror, putting the reality of the situation in the listener’s face so they can go through heartbreak. The album makes you reflect. Every song offers a deeply nuanced, well-reasoned reflection that leads the listener to come up with their own conclusions about their relationship. Her songs bring up conclusions such as, “If you are questioning your worth, then it was the right thing for you to leave.” This albums gives you firm thought to help your break-up process go by faster.

Kiana Ledé – Selfless

Label: Republic
Release date: July 12th, 2018

After a breakup, it’s hard to realize who you are and what makes you happy. You can become full of resentment, despair, and loneliness that those feelings can take over you. You don’t want to lose yourself in the process of recovery. Selfless is an alternative option so those feelings won’t take you over: the opportunity to resonate with those feelings. Kiana’s lets the listener know, her reactions may as well be yours too. No you’re not insane, no you’re not crazy, and no you’re not irrational. Crying over the breakup doesn’t make you weak. Selfless allows the listener to find strength in their emotional turmoil so they can find comfort and move on. 

The album pushes the feelings of resentment, envy, and despair. In “Shame,” Kiana condemns her ex for being a better person with another lover than with her. On “EX” Kiana contemplates staying friends with her EX because she still loves him dearly (you know, those relationship withdrawal symptoms). This album doesn’t help you by giving you advice, but letting you recognize your feelings. It’s okay to be sad.

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Label: Boys Don’t Cry
Release date: August 20th, 2016

There is nobody better with words than Frank Ocean. He’s a Scorpio for christ-sake, emotional storytelling is his specialty! No one can evoke such strong emotions. His vivid imagery, poetic lyrics, and nostalgic breakup recountals evokes strong emotions that no other artist can bring to mind. His stories are taken to another level with the production and execution of his songs– Blonde steps away from the R&B we’ve come to know from the radio. It’s even a departure from the sounds of Channel Orange. The listener hears lush synths, honey-like guitar riffs, and beautiful piano-keys instead of percussion-heavy numbers. That type of sonic landscape encourages the listener to be transported. You’ll focus on the intense emotions and triumph heard on his songs. On “White Ferrari,” The precise synth lifts you up and caresses you in Frank Ocean’s words. You almost feel as if this is the sound of warmth and clouds until the guitar strums finally find its way to give the song a slow rhythm with Frank Ocean singing above it: “I care for you still and I will forever / That was my part of the deal, honest.” His lyrics get you more emotionally entangled in his story of love, commitment, and the comfort of it. 

Moments like White Ferrari exist everywhere on Blonde. Songs like “Solo” and “Self Control” make you think deeply. Blonde takes you to an intimate place that brings to mind tender and sentimental emotions, moving you on to reminiscence on the good moments. That washes out all the resentment as you begin your new chapter.

Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby

Label: Dreamville / Interscope
Release date: May 7th, 2019

Ari Lennox’s Shea Butter Baby celebrates independence so that the newly-heartbroken can embody liberation. Ari Lennox wants her listeners to triumph in their new environment. However, Ari lets listeners know that it isn’t always easy being alone. This will always happen on your journey. Emotions spill on the tracks “Whipped Cream” which entail Ari’s insecurities that broke her relationship. She sings about how she wishes she wasn’t jealous and so old. Although sad songs exist on Shea Butter Baby, they only reinforce the triumph Ari Lennox reaches post-relationship. The flavor of Shea Butter Baby hides within Ari Lennox’s successes with new found independence. On “New Apartment,” Ari has a place all to herself. She’s reached peak independence. The New Apartment represents being set free from the chains of a partner’s expectations and judgement. No more is Ari Lennox tied down. The number “BMO” is the sexual liberation anthem– literally, BMO stands for Break Me Out. Ari’s sexual freedom only came due to the breakup, but she embraces her sensuality.

Moments like these only could happen at the cost of a breakup, but it’s worthwhile and that’s the lesson Ari teaches on her debut. So, next time Shea Butter Baby plays, pop a bottle of champagne and make a toast to embarking on a new chapter in your life!

The 50 Best Albums Of 2018

Favorites, Music Catalogs January 20, 2019

The year 2018 has granted us a lot of music. We’ve seen numerous albums, from newcomer debuts to veteran releases. However, with all that music released, there were some major disappointments in 2018 (especially from veterans). For example, Kanye West released “ye” to bad response. The response if anything, allowed 2018 to be the year of new artists. Take a look at Cardi B and SOPHIE, both relatively new artists released their debut album in 2018 to great success. Their albums made waves in the world of music. This was all taken up a notch with 2018 officially being the year that streaming numbers did make a difference. Streaming pulled Nicki Minaj’s Queen from the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 and let Travis Scott soar to new heights taking that slot. This year, we count down between the releases that made this year so special and pivotal in the age of streaming. Here are the 50 best albums of 2018:

50. Triathalon – Online

Release date: February 16th, 2018

49. Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E

Label: G.O.O.D. Music
Release date: June 22nd, 2018

48. Lotic – Power

Label: Tri Angle
Release date: July 13th, 2018

47. NAO – Saturn

Label: Little Tokyo
Release date: October 26th, 2018

46. Ryan Beatty – Boy In Jeans

Release date: July 20th, 2018

45. Jonghyun – Poet | Artist

Label: SM Entertainment
Release date: January 23rd, 2018

44. Rae Sremmurd – SR3MM

Label: Ear Drummer / Interscope
Release date: May 4th, 2018

43. Tommy Genesis – Tommy Genesis

Label: Downtown
Release date: November 9th, 2018

42. The Internet – Hive Mind

Label: Columbia
Release date: July 20th, 2018

41. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Label: Domino
Release date: August 24th, 2018

40. The Marías – Superclean, Vol II

Label: Partisan
Release date: September 28th, 2018

39. Playboi Carti – Die Lit!

Label: AWGE / Interscope
Release date: May 11th, 2018

38. Beach House – 7

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: May 11th, 2018

37. Sheck Wes – MUDBOY

Label: Cactus Jack / G.O.O.D. Music / Interscope
Release date: October 5th, 2018

36. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: March 9th, 2018

35. J.I.D. – DiCaprio 2

Label: Dreamville / Interscope
Release date: November 26th, 2018

34. Mariah Carey – Caution

Label: Epic / Butterfly MC
Release date: November 16th, 2018

33. Larry June – Very Peaceful

Label: The Freeminded
Release date: November 29th, 2018

32. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited

Label: 4AD
Release date: February 16th, 2018

31. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

Label: Atlantic
Release date: April 5th, 2018

30. IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Label: Partisan
Release date: August 31st, 2018

29. Smino – NOIR

Label: Downtown JV
Release date: November 8th, 2018

28. Kamasi Washington – Heaven & Earth

Label: Young Turks
Release date: June 22nd, 2018

27. CupcakKe – Ephorize

Release date: January 5th, 2018

26. Snail Mail – Lush

Label: Matador
Release date: June 8th, 2018

25. Travis Scott – Astroworld

Label: Epic / Cactus Jack
Release date: August 3rd, 2018

24. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Label: Polydor
Release date: November 30th, 2018

23. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

Label: G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam
Release date: June 8th, 2018

22. Against All Logic – 2012 – 2017

Label: Other People
Release date: February 17th, 2018

21. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want

Release date: October 26th, 2018

20. Noname – Room 25

Label: No/Name
Release date: September 14th, 2018

19. Tirzah – Devotion

Label: Domino
Release date: August 10th, 2018

18. Low – Double Negative

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: September 14th, 2018

17. Saba – Care For Me

Label: Saba Pivot
Release date: April 5th, 2018

16. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

Label: Tan Cressida / Columbia
Release date: November 30th, 2018

15. Kali Uchis – Isolation

Label: Virgin EMI
Release date: April 6th, 2018

Last March Kali Uchis announced her debut album was coming out in April after performing one of singles on the album, After The Storm, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. After that the anticipation for the album grew more and more. Then after what felt like ages, Uchis released Isolation. It’s an album full of emotion and no skips whatsoever. Uchis takes on the journey of heartbreak, growth, self-love, and so much more. This album was beautifully constructed and honestly excites me for the next album. – Louis Cano

14. Rico Nasty – Nasty

Label: Sugar Trap / Atlantic
Release date: June 15th, 2018

Rico Nasty has been the most authentic female rap personality to jump on the scene since Cardi B in Love & Hip-Hop. Nothing shows this more than her debut mixtape under Atlantic amply titled, Nasty. Full of rage, personality, and energy, Rico keeps everyone on their feet. Nasty highlights the best of Rico, her gritty and powerful flow, relentless style, and loud character. What makes Nasty a standout from her peers is how well done it is. It doesn’t get anymore nastier than that. – Miguel Anderson

13. Julia Holter – Aviary

Label: Domino
Release date: October 26th, 2018

Jolia Holter’s Aviary is a fantastic Art Pop record that is filled with emotive lyrics and beautiful instrumentation. Throughout the 90 minutes of music on this album, Holter presents the listener with brilliant fusions of Chamber Pop and Jazz, along with a very personal lyrics dealing with love and heartbreak. – Thejas Varma

12.  The Voidz – Virtue

Label: Cult / RCA
Release date: March 30th, 2018

If I were to reimagine The Strokes as a more bold and electronic band the result would be The Voidz. On Virtue, Julian Casablancas doesn’t settle for what The Strokes has become in recent years. He lets The Voidz becomes a more daring and encompassing project. Virtue dabbles in a broad range of alt-rock genres and experiments with effects not yet seen on a Strokes album. At this daring capacity, Virtue lives its life on the edge, and that’s what counts here. – Miguel Anderson

11. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Label: MCA Nashville
Release date: March 30th, 2018

Golden Hour is an album that will make you appreciate life to the fullest extent. It’s relatable and outright beautiful. Kacey’s words make this album shine bright, especially when it’s paired with the light, delicate, and meticulously crafted instrumentation. The instrumentation, along with the raw story and emotive lyrics drive this album. Golden Hour is purely empathetic, to where she sings “Grandma cried when I pierced my nose” on “Slow Burn” to the last message of hope on the heart-wrenching piano-assisted ballad, “Rainbow.”

Some may detest this album because of the country label this album has, however Golden Hour veers past the stereotypical truck driver and misogynistic commercialized country we see at the Country Music Awards. We see Kacey insert a piece of herself into this album. Golden Hour is a pure example of how country is suppose to be done. – Miguel Anderson

10. Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Label: Republic
Release date: August 17th, 2018

In 2017, Ariana Grande was plagued with the misfortune of a bombing at her show, known as the Manchester attack. Since then, she has taken the time to develop emotionally and Sweetener was born. Here, Ariana is in a state where she is emotionally mature, reflective, and personal. By working with Pharrell, she was able to turn devastation into newfound reassurance, and it’s paid off tremendously. Ariana Grande sounds realized and refined on her most serious record to date. – Miguel Anderson

9. Denzel Curry – TA13OO

Label: Loma Vista
Release date: July 27th, 2018

Denzel Curry became the face of the bottle flip challenge with his song “Ultimate” becoming the soundtrack to it. The song was captured in almost every single video, and as a result, his skill was overlooked. Even I’m guilty of doing this; I pinned him as a “meme” rapper. When TA13OO released, it was definitely a shocker. This album sticks out as a highlight of the year because of how solid it is. Denzel Curry dabbles with the boldest and smokiest production yet. His wordplay is top-notch, and his flow doesn’t flee. At the heart of this project, is the brave experimentation. He doesn’t flee, but goes all in. Even when it’s something seen as soft, like R&B on “CASH MANIAC” or . He is confident

8. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Label: Transgressive
Release date: June 29th, 2018

This year, critics praised I’m All Ears for being a step forward for synth-pop music, and while it is, they are embracing it for the wrong reason. The album embraces the fundamentals of life. Through the eyes of two teenagers, one can expect what they say to be so pure and resonant. Whether what they say be about fun or heartbreak, they keep the same message throughout: to live in the present moment. A message especially needed right now to keep us from the hectic hustle and bustle of life. – Miguel Anderson

7. Pusha T – Daytona

Label: G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam
Release date: May 25th, 2018

Fresh out his hiatus, Pusha T proves himself still a force to be reckoned with as a solo artist and no longer just the other half of Clipse with twenty years in the game. A controversial picture of the beloved Whitney Houston’s filthy, drug infested bathroom is plastered on the cover which serves as a glance at the album’s themes: addiction, fame, luxury and loss. With Kanye West’s sonically complex production layered full with synthesized sounds paired with Pusha T’s smooth flows and haunting lyrics we’re sent down a spiral of pure organized chaos in the best way possible attesting G.O.O.D. music to be a rap powerhouse once again. – David San Miguel

6. Rosalía – El mal querer

Label: Sony Music
Release date: November 2nd, 2018

If you aren’t yet familiar with the mega talented Rosalía then you need to wake up and get into her. This year she put out her second album, El Mal Querer which was highly praised by many. It all started with the first single, Malamente. Not only is the single stupid good but so is the visual for it. If there’s anyone who is doing real different stuff right now in music, it’s Rosalía. She puts her own twist on Flamenco and executes it so well. She tells us a story throughout the album about a person who goes through this toxic relationship. Each song has a set theme whether it’s jealousy, power, control, and much more. Definitely an album worth checking out. – Louis Cano

5. Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love

Label: Warp
Release date: September 5th, 2018

Straight static and distorted echos is what Yves Tumor represents in a way. He represents what is not fully seen, heard, or ever transpired, but still compellingly chaotic. However, somehow melody and musicality still appears in the untraceable mist that Yves prefers to surround himself in. He’d rather let his audience ponder and guess in the mystery. There are traces of broken jazz, groove, alternative rock, R&B, noise, electronica, and pure ambiance on Safe in the Hands of Love, but what forms from it is something utterly mesmerizing. The way Yves manipulates those genres as paints to create his own art is masterful. Safe in the Hands of Love is that masterpiece. – Miguel Anderson

4. Tierra Whack – Whack World

Release date: May 30th, 2018

The album is 15 minutes and each song is a minute. With that said, Tierra Whack didn’t have a lot of time to encapsulate every genre. However in that time frame, she did. She was able to bottle almost every sound from every genre and keep it under a minute without doing too much. No song sounds too short, overdone, overstuffed, or rushed. She keeps everything tight and simple. A feat other artists have yet to match on a smaller projects like EPs and mini-albums. – Miguel Anderson

3. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

Label: Atlantic
Release date: April 27th, 2018

Liberation for marginalized people comes in the form of not only a musical record but also an (E)motion picture with Janelle Monae’s masterpiece Dirty Computer. Monae celebrates the intersections of her identity through juxtaposing futuristic visuals of an oppressive dystopian society and dazzling pop beats – creating a world that serves as a macrocosm of what it means to be a queer, dark-skinned black femme. There is no mistake of Prince’s influence on Dirty Computer’s look and sound with the upbeat rhythms, synthesizer and bad ass attitude to every song. From start to finish, Janelle Monae keeps things stimulating, innovative and socially relevant with Dirty Computer. – David San Miguel

2. Mitski – Be The Cowboy

Label: Dead Oceans
Release date: August 17th, 2018

Sometimes we shut ourselves off from our emotions. We put ourselves in a vulnerable place and resent ourselves when we do. What Mitski does on Be The Cowboy is no different, but she lives on to tell her story of loneliness. That, itself is a challenge, and to make her despair accessible is even more challenging, but she does it. While at it, she brings her most emotive instrumentation and vulnerable lyrics yet to sing about the absence of love and the consequence of refusing to accept the void. She challenges her inner-thoughts while embracing her most troubling at the same time. Beauty is shown in those juxtaposes and what is developed is a record full of beautiful self-realization. – Miguel Anderson



Label: Transgressive / Future Classic
Release date: June 15th, 2018

SOPHIE is in the midst of recreating what an ordinary pop song should sound like. OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES executes itself to that changing landscape of sound. The album is pushing pop’s traditionally accessible sound to the extremes to the extent where sound is distorted and frayed. If anything, this innovation SOPHIE has captured on her debut, is bringing music and us, into the future. – Miguel Anderson

LMK (What’s Really Good Remix)

Singles October 13, 2018

(Written By Miguel Anderson)

As we watch two rap superstars, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, engage in a full fledged battle over who is a better rapper, they have left the arena empty for female empowerment. The fighting has forced the masses to pick sides, and as a result, crowds have pit the two artists against each other. Fans and non-fans alike have compared their bars, sales, and reputations and used this as a tool to tear them down.

Back in the 90s, there was a strong unity between female rappers. They coexisted with each other, often sharing the stage. In 1994, Lil’ Kim released “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix),” which was a testimate to it; the song featured Missy Elliott, Angie Martinez, Da Brat, and Lisa Lopes, all of who were amazing female rappers. Thinking back, this was a landmark moment in hip-hop history that celebrated females in a male dominated industry. It’s something that’s not apparent in today’s rap landscape despite the fact that we have a vast amount of female rappers who are in the spotlight, but not supportive of each other. This goes to show that now more than ever, rap is in a state where it needs more female empowerment, especially since the last big female rap reunion song was released more than twenty years ago.

“LMK (What’s Really Good Remix)” is the solution to our long awaited call for female empowerment: the song brings together some of the most polarizing and demanding figures in rap today who celebrate each other to deliver an anthem. The ladies call out the men who exploit them when picking them up, telling listeners how someone should pick them up. The song reads well in the club or on a tinder profile. With that said, it’s the girls night out we’ve all been waiting for. These ladies build up their attitudes and agenda, spitting slick raps and verses along a smooth and slick rework of the original “LMK.” They all show their best moments with Junglepussy leading the way with a killer verse: Junglepussy teases whoever might pursue her or not, taunting, “You could sleep on me but then you’ll see me in your dreams / You will never leave me, you my BRB / You’ll be back crawlin’ right back on your ashy knees like please.” Then it turns to the other girls, with Princess Nokia rapping “Will you let me know if you’re riding with?”, CupcakKe demanding that she’s not “looking for Cupid,” and Ms. Boogie stating, “I make the rules so they obey me.” These girls push the most powerful messages and call out the issues surrounding female empowerment across all platforms, not only that, but they push this message together. For a rap crisis, “LMK (What’s Really Good Remix)” saves the day.

The Future of Pop (Pt. 1)

Favorites, Music Catalogs September 15, 2018

(Written by Ashley Flamenco and Miguel Anderson)

Pop has been a dominating genre in the music industry for decades from the rise of stars like Madonna in the 80s to Dua Lipa now. The pop world is constantly and rapidly expanding with artists who are willing to go outside of the box and are unafraid to experiment, taking on new unique styles of the genre. It’s because of artists like Rina Sawayama that pop music is possibly better than it’s been in a long time. Charli XCX recently created a playlist on Spotify known as “The motherfucking future,” the inspiration for this article. Her playlist highlights artists from 16-year-old prodigy, Billie Eilish, to Indie star, Clairo, who she believes are all the future of pop music — and we definitely agree with her. We not only want to recognize some of the artists from her list but in addition discuss some that we feel are missing — here are the artists who we believe are revolutionizing pop music:



Charli XCX

Today’s pop music is defined by innovation and fueled by breakups and partying. Charli XCX, one of the best musicians representing pop in this age, comes to embrace all three things. Over the span of her career, she has always been keen to adapting her style to the ever-changing taste of audiences worldwide. She’s come to understand what people like through songwriting for herself and others starlets such as Icona Pop, Camila Cabello, Blondie, and Selena Gomez. Now, from her experience, she is making her own pop. Her style has developed effortlessly since she came into the game, between synth-pop, rock, and now a mixture where electronic crosses with experimental, she continues to develop her sound that is full of pop sensibility and risks. These risks and experimentations, will further pop’s sound and make it more accessible to the general public. By opening the genre up to more sounds, she ultimately brings a bigger palette to pop music. – Miguel Anderson



Rina Sawayama

Japanese-British musician, Rina Sawayama, brings an early 2000s nostalgia, maybe taking you back to the early days of Mariah Carey’s and Britney Spears’ careers, meanwhile transporting you to the future through her musical glitz. Her early 2000’s pop and R&B influenced music often touches on topics like (online) relationships, how the internet has changed our society, and the consequences that come with technology and social media in this age. “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome” off of Sawayama’s debut EP, RINA, particularly displays her fascination with these subjects, discussing how the line between falsehood and reality is often blurred due to apps like Instagram where people can easily paint untrue images of themselves (“Fiction/fact boundaries collide”). What’s so unique about Sawayama’s music is that not only does she implement styles that she loves from the past but she takes on a futuristic approach through both her electronic-pop sound and her insightful words about technology and its relation to social interaction in the modern world. – Ashley Flamenco


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As the general interest in Hallyu and hip-hop rises, 88Rising, who has connections in both scenes, couldn’t have come into the spotlight at a better time. The group is simply taking advantage of all the fanfare. The group prides itself on being bold and eccentric, while keeping a style and sound that is consistently theirs. Their members include rap posterboy, Rich Brian; YouTube personality turned rapper and singer, Joji; colorful hip-hop quartet, Higher Brothers; sultry R&B singer-songwriter, NIKI; conscious and introspective rhymer, August08; and more who come together to make a loud statement with their music. 88Rising is the future of pop because they are already carving their own lane, boasting an inclusive community that not only welcomes Asians but all ethnicities and races as well. They’re always outspoken and willing to show their audiences something surprisingly new. Whether it be from conscious man August08 spitting thought-heavy rhymes or to the club party bangers of Higher Brothers or even to the fun and youthful Rich Brian, 88Rising is always something to look at. – Miguel Anderson



Sky Ferreira

Sky Ferreira began gaining much attention in the music industry with the release of her EP, Ghost, in 2012, that includes her biggest hit to date, the drowsy, dream-like “Everything Is Embarrassing.” The following year, she released her debut, a 12-song pop-Rock gem titled Night Time, My Time. It’s been a lengthy five years since she’s last come out with original music however, with her small discography and fresh new sound, she still feels fairly new to the realm of pop and music in general. Ferreira has worked alongside producers like Dev Hynes AKA Blood Orange and Justin Raisen (who has worked with Charli XCX and Ariel Pink) to create her dreamy and almost grungy tracks. Electric guitar is the basis for most of her sound and it mainly provides the dark undertones in her music that result in her Rock style, something we don’t often hear being blended with pop. Early last month, Ferreira announced on Instagram that she will be dropping new singles soon and we are eager to see how her musical style has developed. – Ashley Flamenco




You can spot SOPHIE’s hyperpop industrial fingerprints everywhere in music. You’re bound to see her “hard-hitting” animated pop technique mimicked on every new pop, R&B, alternative, and electronic release. If you don’t see her style mimicked there, you’ll see her in the production credits of artists like Madonna, Vince Staples, Charli XCX, and Lets Eat Grandma. Her style of Pop is “high energy,” equipped with high-pitched vocals and punchy synths. Almost all of her songs sound like they came straight from a factory, giving them a very artificial and industrial feel. They play along the lines of enjoyable and utterly chaotic. One can argue that SOPHIE sounds like every other experimental pop artist today, however as SOPHIE does work closely with artists from A.G. Cook’s label, PC Music, SOPHIE doesn’t copy, she takes things up a notch instead, using thunderous bizarre sounds. She moves the style in an innovative way, fitting unconventionality to pop melodies and production that otherwise wouldn’t be there. As a result, her music is more lively and entertaining. Even hearing a single synth from her will send chills down your spine. – Miguel Anderson

All The Work

New Music, Singles August 5, 2018

(Written by Miguel Anderson)

The subject of loss is nothing new to Amber Mark. Her debut EP, 3:33AM was an ode to it. The EP focused on her sorrowful emotions and journey coping with her mother’s death. Just like 3:33AM focuses on loss, so does her latest EP, Conexão. Conexão centers around a relationship that started off with high hopes but eventually failed. However, rather than concentrate on the grief and sulk in the loss it brought, Conexão shifts focus to the victory Amber finds to embrace after fully coming to terms with her loss. The track “All The Work,” full of groove and spunk from her latest, exemplifies this victorious feeling.

“All The Work,” embedded in sophisticated loose cuts of house and bossa nova, is Amber pushing past personal boundaries that have kept her silent and instead, offers a different narrative to her music that is eager to be heard. She flaunts her pain created by her ex and turns it into courage that allows the listener to engage with her story. From the beginning of the song, Amber makes it clear that she has been hurt, cooing, “I have cried many miles worth of tears / Damn well tried, I gave up all these years.” Then, the house beat kicks in, letting her newfound bravery unfold. Amber sings, “Now that I, I put in all the work / Down in all the dirt / You want to try, to say that you and I / Should get back to how we were.”

Here, Amber is simply reminding him of all the work she has done to uphold the relationship, and now that the relationship is in danger, he wants her back, to which Amber replies, “I’ve moved on.” The punchy percussion aids her story and grants her to lay down her unpleasant experience in the relationship with authority and force. The beat adds emotion to the words where you can feel the intensity of her displeasure. She channels victory with these words, her realization, puts her on the opposite side where she is no longer being mistreated, instead now she is empowered by her words. This feeling of empowerment is the best aspect of the song, as it allows the listener to let go of all the bad that has happened and enjoy what they have achieved on their own. Amber does it too, In the final phase of the song, she lets the hammer fall down singing, “All of a sudden, I’m all you need.” This being the outro to Conexão, represents how things have changed since the start of her unhealthy one-sided relationship. She speaks with unforgiving confidence from now on, no longer miserable. Letting go of him, she allows herself and the listener to partake in her success and endurance.


Listen to Conexão here.



New Music, Singles July 12, 2018

(Photo by Roger Gallegos)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Sara King has been posting covers on YouTube for over 4 years now, covering music by artists like Lana Del Rey, Brockhmapton, and Gus Dapperton. But at last, at 18 years old, she has released original music, making quite an impressive single, “Dreamz,” on her very first go. And this is just one of the tunes from her upcoming EP, Heat, that is set to come out later this July.

The influence of some of her favorite musicians is definitely apparent on the track. The song is kind of like a mix of Clairo, who she’s covered on her channel before, and Katzu Oso with a touch of Kali Uchis and a bit of glitter thrown on top. Heavy synth and soft ethereal vocals give “Dreamz” a quite magical, (unsurprisingly) “dreamy,” and disco-ey pop sound and her sweet personality shines through, creating a joyful mood. As Sara hoped for, this is surely a bop, one that you’ll want to groove to and have on repeat all summer (I know I will). Keep your eyes (or ears) peeled for more of her summery bops coming your way.

Make sure to check out her covers here

The Marias: Where Psychedelic Soul Meets Dream Pop

Artists You Should Know, Favorites July 8, 2018

(Photo by Nicole Busch)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Frontwoman, Maria Zardoya and her partner, Josh Conway, are the couple behind the Los Angeles band The Marias. The two make psychedelic soul blended with dream pop and Maria’s voice is the cherry that tops everything off. Maria has a unique, lush, and alluring voice; it’s soft, enticing, rather soothing, and sounds especially beautiful in songs like “Basta Ya” where lyrics are sung in Spanish. Her voice along with Josh’s drums and backup vocals contribute to the dreamy vintage California feel that their music creates. Listening to songs like “Dejate Llevar” might remind you of cruising down palm tree filled streets or laying on a poolside, both things that can actually be seen in the music video for the track.

The band released their first project, Superclean Vol. 1, last November. It surrounds the classic concept of love, covering a struggling relationship in their most popular song, “I Don’t Know You,” and discussing one partner’s reliance and feelings of need toward the other in “Only in My Dreams,” a song reminiscent of Melody’s Echo Chamber. This project has quickly been gaining attention; about two months following its release, The Marias already had their name popping up on several festival lineups including Coachella’s, an accomplishment that takes most artists years to achieve. They will also be one of the headliners for local indie festival Viva Pomona this summer. The EP has a track list of six songs and isn’t any longer than 20 minutes but that’s exactly what leaves you craving more — a “Superclean Vol. 2” perhaps. It’s a small work of art but you’ll have it on repeat after a single listen. This is not a band that you want to sleep on.

Listen to Superclean Vol. 1 here

Music Videos You Should Watch (Pt. 1)

Favorites, Music Catalogs July 5, 2018

(Written By Ashley Flamenco)

Do you ever listen to a song and it causes you to daydream or create images in your head, almost creating a film in your mind? Music videos often bring those images to life in some of the most imaginative, strange, and creative ways. A really impressive video can sometimes even make a song sound better. They are the essential visuals behind everyone’s favorite songs and a true art form. These are just five of many more music videos to come of this series that deserve recognition.

Grimes – “Genesis”

Directed by Claire Boucher

Although not even having a clear story, plot, or meaning behind the video, “Genesis” comes off as one of Grimes’ more casually aesthetic music videos. Videos for “Oblivion” and “Kill V. Maim” have more of a clear distinct style but even those can’t beat an effortless film of Grimes and her badass crew wandering around palm tree filled LA. Everything about this music video is flat out strange but in the coolest way, something that is expected of Grimes; her daringness and willingness to constantly experiment with her forms of self expression is what makes her and her music so interesting. Whether it’s an armored stripper turned rapper, Brooke Candy, dancing in the desert or Grimes dressed like a Harajuku girl, wrapped up in a giant yellow snake, Grimes has proven that she can pull anything off and make it sound and look so pleasing.


Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis and Austin Feinstein – “PERFECT”

Directed by Tyler Okonma

Fluttering butterflies, singing sunflowers, and pastel pink and blue backdrops are all apart of Tyler, The Creator’s “PERFECT” world. Tyler has always been a genius when it comes to his creative direction in filming and he has a way of making color stand out and take the center stage in many of his videos. The “PERFECT” video is a great example of this. It uses captivating camera angles, showing a close-up of the two artists in separate shots of a split screen: Kali, surrounded by flowers, sings on one side and Tyler, covered in butterflies and glitter, poses on the other. Halfway through the song, Austin Feinstein of Slow Hollows comes into Tyler’s shot playing an ear-melting guitar riff that you don’t get to hear in the full version of “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT.” The “PERFECT” video is simple — it uses soft colors and just a few props yet, it’s one of Tyler, The Creator’s most beautiful and visionary films.


The Marias – “Only In My Dreams”

Directed By Ian Lipton

The natural scenery takes the limelight in the “Only in My Dreams” video. It’s free of props as it doesn’t need any since the scenic snowy mountains and gloomy beach are enough to make the video so aesthetically pleasing, serving as perfect backdrops for the dreamy psychedelic track. Different angles are used to capture several scenes of couple Maria and Josh of The Marias admiringly gazing at each other back and forth and comfortingly embracing each other to display a love story that’s out of one’s dream.


Rich Brian – “Glow Like Dat”

Directed by James Defina & Brian Imanuel

“Glow Like Dat” opens to Rich Brian lighting a cigar with a blow torch as he lays on a floor of glowing neon flowers; this sets the corny tone for the rest of the video. In different scenes, Brian dances in a field of sunflowers and roses, has hands caressing his face, and smokes a cigar and uses cliche literal references to lyrics, like when he says “…smoke a cig/ put some cloves in it” and cloves fall. The video is incredibly cheesy but those cheesy scenes and the floral aesthetic of it are what represent the youthfulness and the lovesick theme of “Glow Like Dat” well. The idea behind the song and style of the video allow teens and young adults to connect with it because it’s something that may remind them of their first love or heartbreak.


Kali Uchis ft. Tyler The Creator, Bootsy Collins – “After The Storm”

Directed by Nadia Lee Cohen

You can never go wrong with any Tyler, The Creator and Kali Uchis collaboration, especially when that’s in the form of a music video. From everything from a talking cereal box to Kali’s lover, Tyler, growing out of the ground, you can see that imagination runs rampant in the “After The Storm” video. It is full of cartoon-ish visuals and vibrant colors that make it almost reminiscent of the style of Dr. Seuss movies or better yet, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissor Hands. Just as in those movies, everything in this universe is so pretty, happy, and perfect that it’s unreal.

Cuco: The Chicano Musician Making Romantic Ballads and Inspiring Latinx Teens

Artists You Should Know, Favorites June 30, 2018

(Photo by Louis Cano)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Omar Banos, well known as Cuco, is a 20 year old Chicano musician from Hawthorne, California who is swiftly making an impact on the indie music scene. He got his start not much over a year ago, at around the age of 18, by posting music on SoundCloud and playing house parties and backyards but he quickly gained fame as songs such as “Lover Is A Day,” now reaching over 12 million streams on Spotify, from his Wannabewithu EP, went viral. Soon after, he began selling out local venues and appearing on music festival lineups. Last summer, he headlined his first festival, Viva Pomona, and just months later went on to play some of the biggest festivals in the country like Coachella and Governor’s Ball.

Cuco’s music uses lo-fi spacey sounds and electro-pop beats to tell stories of romantic relationships, unrequited love, and heartbreak. His work is something that any young hopeless romantic can relate to. He adds unique touches to his music by including lyrics in Spanish, a language he speaks at home, and trumpet solos — if you’ve ever been to one of his shows, you know that the crowd goes wild for those famed trumpet solos.

He’s credited artist like Tame Impala, Baby Bash, and Tyler, The Creator as influences and their impact on Cuco’s work is certainly noticeable, especially in recent track “Lucy”, featuring band-mate J-Kwest, where rap meets psychedelic pop. But his biggest hit yet, co-signed by Steve Lacy (of The Internet) and Kevin Abstract (of Brockhampton), has been “Lo Que Siento,” translating to “What I Feel.” It’s a groovy synth-based love ballad that fuses English and Spanish together and surprises you with a trumpet solo at the end. In the song, Cuco relays his feelings to his special someone singing: “Dreamin’ of you when I’m alone/ Baby don’t trip, I’m comin’ home…Promise you’re everything I want/ This is for you, baby listen, it’s your song.” Released in early June of last year, it was arguably “the” indie track of the summer of 2017.

There are many adolescents who can relate to themes of love and heartbreak but it’s not just the stories behind Cuco’s music that resonate with so many, it’s also his background. Cuco, raised by Mexican immigrant parents, didn’t grow up with many resources. Throughout his life, his family endured difficult financial situations however, though having been faced with several obstacles, Cuco has a long road of success ahead of him. His achievements as an artist have made him an important representative in the young Latinx community and a role model for other kids with dreams of making it who are in similar circumstances that he was once in, to look up to and be inspired by.

Listen to Cuco’s latest project, Chiquito, here



7 Albums To Kick Off Your Summer

Favorites, Music Catalogs June 25, 2018

(Photo by Louis Cano)

School has let out, responsibility has lessened, and it’s getting a lot hotter outside — summer is finally here!! To prepare you for the relaxation, love, euphoria and adventure that this season has to offer, we are sharing some albums to kick off your summer. For everything from barbecues to star gazing at night, we’ve got you covered. We hope you’re as excited for summer as we are!



Mac DeMarco – 2

Mac DeMarco’s 2 will forever be an indie classic and especially an amazing one to listen to during the summer. Honestly, what Mac DeMarco album isn’t perfect for the summer though?? As most of his music, 2 has a way of making you feel nostalgic about those warm nights spent outside, those sunny days at the beach, all those concerts and music festivals you went to, and your summer crush, strangely even if you didn’t actually experience any of those things. The feel-good album is famous for its ode to Mac’s favorite cigarette brand, its sappy acoustic love songs like “Still Together,” and dreamy california-esque guitar riffs in “Freaking Out the Neighbourhood.” – Ashley Flamenco



Wonder Girls – Why So Lonely

The Wonder Girls’ ability to channel summer so cast fully on Why So Lonely is an amazing feat itself, capturing the summer vibe with spot on friendly tunes. They draw from 60’s & 70’s psychedelic rock influences as well as reggae to deliver a fun colorful EP that boasts with charm as well as persona and presence. They leave us with their catchiest melodies to date that shine brightly on a perfect summer day. – Miguel Anderson


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Tame Impala – Lonerism

Lonerism takes you on a colorful psychedelic trip that you don’t want to end. Powerful drums, lush keyboard, and John Lennon-esque vocals drained out just enough by the sound are used in conjunction to transport you to a much brighter and happier world filled with imagination. With Kevin Parker’s outstanding production and through classic rock influences, each song is like a warm pop of color. Ideally you’re laying in the warm grass, watching the clouds while listening to this. – Ashley Flamenco



The Avalanches – Since I Left You

No album is as transportive to summertime as Since I Left You. The infamous Avalanches record could take you to any summer scenario, just picture it. Envision the beach, the shady tree you were laying under, the family barbecue, the street party, and the hangouts with friends; just utter nostalgia. The warm sentiment is emphasized throughout the use of sophisticated samples layered upon each other. You get an obtuse mix of songs that match each other so wonderfully. You can get a simple 808 loop, a violin number, some synths, tropical beats, and magic voice samples that all fit together like the puzzle pieces to beautiful summer memories. The elaborate scheme is what makes Since I Left You the perfect record to play when you’re craving summer.



Bane’s World – Drowsy

Now, this isn’t your typical upbeat summer album; like the title suggests, it’s Drowsy — slow, nice and, mellow. It’s the type of album you listen to when you’re finally feeling at ease or you can’t get that special someone out of your head. Drowsy has this great way of depicting the freedom and liberation that summer brings through taking the relaxed route. The basis for most of the record is lo-fi guitar riffs combined with vocals that sound as if they were recorded underwater. And the infatuation filled lyrics only add to the melodiousness of Drowsy. This is definitely something you want to play at late night picnics at the park with your friends or with a date. – Ashley Flamenco



The Growlers – Chinese Fountain

It should not be a surprise that the kings of Beach Goth made it onto this list. Any album by The Growlers will easily remind you of sunny days spent at the beach but Chinese Fountain does this best. The surf rock magic behind this album is great at portraying the dreamy and never-ending summer atmosphere that is often associated with California. If you’re ever driving down Sunset Blvd. on a hot day, this is the album you’ll want to play. – Ashley Flamenco



Kanye West – Graduation

What kicks off summer better than a graduation ceremony? Kanye West’s Graduation replicates summer matched by the feelings at a graduation. While listening to the album, the listener is able to feel like they’re walking across the stage again. The feelings of accomplishment, empowerment, and achievement come back to the listener as they are pushed a tenfold by dreamy and colorful production. Anthems like “Stronger,” “Good Life,” and Champion” exude this energy, showcasing a simple story of rags to riches that anyone can reconcile with. – Miguel Anderson



New Music, Singles June 6, 2018

(Written by Miguel Anderson)

As LOONA (stylized as LOOΠΔ) continues to solidify themselves as K-Pop’s most talented acts who have the presence and ability to compete in the fast-paced and saturated industry, they continue to distinguish themselves amid the competition.

It’s known that K-Pop is a fast-paced business. Companies spew out a catchy song along with a heavily choreographed dance to a group each month, so little time is taken out towards creating a quality song. However recently, LOONA has been breaking this routine, or at least moving past the ever so basic pop song. You can date this to the start of LOONA’s debut process, where each girl of the 12-member group has released an amazing song that veers past a catchy melody every month. Each song, true to the identity and character of each girl, shows its powerful abilities in singing and rapping. The songs come fully equipped with top notch vocals, amazing productions, and aesthetic visuals that go beyond what the K-Pop industry has been accepting for the past decade.

“love4eva” by their sub-unit LOONA yyxy is no different from this. The unit, consisting of Yves, Olivia Hye, Chuu, GoWon has made a joyful splash into the K-Pop world with the help of experimental pop artist Grimes. It’s fitting that Grimes and LOONA have collaborated together. Both artists have created their own distinctive musical worlds that elevate each of their sound and style and they seem to fit perfectly with each other through this collaboration. Grimes helps introduce the girls into their “sweet” feelings and set the tone for the bubbly track as they analyze love’s emotions with confusion and ambition. “Love4eva” explodes with colorful synths and carries an energetic bouncy beat which is finally aided by an EDM dance break definitely inspired by Grimes’ experimental style. Having E-Tribe hands in production, the duo has churned out a cute tune for the girls that sounds both lively and classic, completing the debut process for each of the girls and introducing LOONA yyxy to the world.



Albums/EPs, New Music April 25, 2018

(Photos by Nick Knight)

(Written by Louis Cano)

While many album reviews come out almost instantly, I decided to take my time with this one so I could dive into the universe Kali Uchis crafted with her debut album, Isolation. After taking my time with it, I’d be upset if Uchis doesn’t become a household name soon because Isolation isn’t your average debut album. It stands out amongst other debut albums with its poetic lyrics, ethereal melodies, and outstanding production. Alongside those factors, she has a great line up of features such as Steve Lacy, Jorja Smith, Tyler, The Creator, BIA, Reykon, and Bootsy Collins.

The moment you hit play, you’re uncaptured into Uchis’ world with a blissful intro, Body Language, it gives you a Bossa Nova vibe which isn’t something you hear in music often today. The song makes you feel like you’re on the beach in Miami with a cocktail in your hand and a blunt in the other. Which is ironic because the song fades into Miami which features the Perico Princess, BIA. It’s a mix between 80s and a trap beat. This is the type of song you play in the car (preferably a low rider) with your friends, “las cabrónsitas,” on your way to a party. The song has a similar concept to “Ridin’ Round,” making that bag and not needing anyone to reach the “land of opportunities and palm trees.” Just like RR, this is a bad bitch anthem.

Miami then transitions into Just a Stranger which features The Internet’s, Steve Lacy. Romil from BROCKHAMPTON worked alongside Lacy to produce the track. Uchis and Lacy have collaborated in the past (Only Girl) so it was really nice to get another collab from them. The song basically revolves around surviving in a universe full of hateful and judgmental assholes. “Go and say what you want, you are just a stranger. Watching from the bleachers ’cause you can’t take the danger,” these people constantly criticize Uchis for how she’s making her money but would never be capable of doing the things she’s done for it. In the song you can tell that she has no time for love and that her main priority is success and making it to the top while still being able to have some fun here and there.


You know when you’re madly in love with your vato to the point where nothing else in the world matters as long as you’re together? That’s Flight 22 for you. “And baby we’re not gonna make it, at least I’m going down with you.” It’s a soulful track Uchis wrote about the time Yung Gleesh and her met at the airport. In 2015, the demo was accidentally uploaded with a few other demos on Soundcloud. Having heard it back then you can hear how much more production and instruments were added, it’s sounds whole. Her love for this man is unconditional and regardless what her friends say, she’ll continue to be with him because they share a love so powerful.

One of the songs many fans were itching to hear was Your Teeth In My Neck. Uchis has played it numerous of times at her shows and it’s so good to finally hear the studio version. After hearing it, it feels more mellow but still up-tempo, compared to hearing the live version. Towards the end of the song there is a beautiful breakdown where her vocals magically clash with some mesmerizing ad libs. The song that follows is Uchis’ first single off the album, Tyrant featuring British singer, Jorja Smith. This song came out last year while we transitioned into summer which was intelligent because then we had a summer bop. The song gave us a small peek into the universe Uchis crafting with this album.

The next song really caught my attention with its bold lyrics and hyper-rhythmic beat. Dead To Me captures the complexity of dealing with someone who can’t seem to get your name out of their mouth, no matter how much you block them out, they can’t seem to grasp the concept of them being non-existent to you. It then transitions to the second single off the album, Nuestro Planeta, featuring Colombian rapper Reykon. Hearing an artist embrace their culture through music is always delightful, especially when Uchis does it because she knows how to execute it well. I remember back to when the song was released and there was a fair percentage of people who didn’t understand a word she was singing but they didn’t care because they were still able to vibe to the song which is why NP is so special. The song is even more special because she was able to do a video for it in her home country, Colombia. Just like in Ridin’ Round she was able to display some essence of Colombia in the video while adding her own spice to it.

In My Dreams, this song caught me off guard because it sounded different then everything before it. Before Isolation came out she had said that it’d be a mix of genres which is correct but I never imagined a song like this on the album. Somehow it seemed to fit perfectly with the other tracks. How? While it may have been a whole different sound, it was still her. It’s very 8-bit futuristic song with deep lyrics about not wanting to wake up from her own utopia that was created within a dream. “Every day is a holiday when you’re living inside your dreams. Why would anyone stay awake after being so sound asleep?” It’s like, why face reality when everything is so much better and calm in your sleep? Damon Albarn who produced the song, later chimes in with “the moments we are happiest, are the moments that we don’t exist.” It’s almost as if these dreams were real but you wake up and realize that it was all a blur. Ironically, the next song is Gotta Get Up (Interlude). It’s like a continuation to In My Dreams because she sings about the struggle of getting up because everything seemed so picture perfect in her dreams but it’s getting tiring sleeping in all the time. She wants to find herself something worthy of her getting up. Something real. I will also say that this is a great example of what an interlude should sound like. I’ve heard many that sound more like unfinished songs that were cut short to fill up an album but Uchis was able to keep it short and beautifully minimal.

Another one of my personal favorites is Tomorrow, it was produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. It’s a very psychedelic and soulful song about setting yourself free from reality and all the hopelessness you’re feeling, no matter what repercussions may follow, you gotta just go for it and never look back. The outro is hypnotic and mesmerizing. Uchis urges her lover to come along with her because she doesn’t plan on going back but she assures him that they’ll be together forever. “Las horas se me hacen siglos aquí, dame un beso que me dure una eternidad porque nunca voy a regresar, nunca. Te invito si quieres, y como un cometa en el cielo, nos quemaremos juntos.” 


Listening to “Coming Home (Interlude)” it felt like she’s singing about facing reality and realizing that no matter what you do, there will always be people who are going to harshly criticize you and you can’t do much about it but move along and not let them phase you. As we come close to finishing the album we make one more familiar pit stop when After The Storm starts playing. It’s the third single off the album and it features Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins. Every time Uchis and Tyler have come together for a song, it always comes out being a banger. They’re both beyond creative individuals so they always end up creating eccentric and invigorating music. This song is a very “pick me up” anthem, she encourages listeners to never give up regardless of how stressful and dreading their situation may seem, they can overcome anything if they just try hard enough.

Feel Like a Fool. My god. The jazzy soulful instruments, lush vocals, and heartfelt lyrics constructed a work of art. Listening to this song was an emotional rollercoaster with the meaning behind the song and Amy Winehouse vibe I got from it. Uchis sings about her discovering her lover has been cheating on her and how much it’s hurt her. “I can’t look, closed my eyes. Can’t believe it could look in mine.” Despise the unfaithfulness she can’t seem to let him go which makes her Feel Like a Fool because she knows she could be doing better but there’s something about this lover that has got her hooked.

Closing the album out is Killer, another one of my personal favorites. Now this is another song Uchis played live at her shows and it’s also one of the very first songs she wrote for the album. The production behind this song is sonically pleasing and simply astonishing. In this song Kali sings about a lover who’s truly hurt her and destroyed the future they could’ve created together. “And if you loved me, you would never do this. Our future’s battered and bloody, you’re so fucking ruthless.” While the tone of her vocals are soft, it feels almost as if she’s angry with this lover for all the damage they caused which is why she calls them a Killer.

Kali Uchis has truly outdone herself with this album and it just excites me for what is next to come. While she has put out 2 other projects in the past, it feels like this is still only the beginning of her journey.

Pack your bags, buy Isolation, and never look back.

My Dear Melancholy,

Albums/EPs, New Music April 14, 2018
(Written by Miguel Anderson)

My Dear Melancholy, gives us a piece of what The Weekend once was, almost going back to the mystery man synonymous with Abel Tesfaye. This album uncovers the pop-facade that Abel has been hiding under and along the way, reveals secrets.

Since The Weeknd landed a spot as one of the biggest pop stars in recent history, his evolution from explicit R&B singer to pop star has been somewhat disastrous; dead ends and false hopes have pervaded his growth at almost every turn. This route started when he first popped up onto the scene with his three mixtapes that presented a bruised world surrounding themes of drug use, lustful experiences, and self-hate. Soon after this, false hopes start to appear on his debut, Kiss Land. It was a lackluster performance, considering that the Weeknd pursued a topic typical for a debut, as most of it revolved around the idea that fame changed things. Although his breakout produced some of his best work released as The Weeknd, like “Tell Your Friends,” it also produced his most pop-formulaic songs, such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In The Night.” Lastly, On Starboy, his persona fully transformed and so did his sound; it was now fully studded with an electro-R&B flair and this is where it suffered the most, a major pitfall for conforming to pop’s electronic infatuation.

Despite the disappointing change he made on StarboyMy Dear Melancholy, marks a move towards darker sounds and opens the door for a more vulnerable narrative, and in The Weeknd’s case, it marks a change for the better, a change that still manages to keep The Weeknd at his most interesting. The truth is that, The Weeknd didn’t soar to extraordinary heights on Starboy where he went full fledged into his newly refined R&B-electronic image. My Dear Melancholy, lets us know that the extraordinary heights that he put in place on Beauty Behind the Madness and in the Trilogy series are still in reach and the reaches towards those heights sound amazing on this album.

The Weeknd picks up where he left off on Beauty Behind The Madness, continuing to deliver his dark bruised world. However, what makes My Dear Melancholy, different is the fact that so much emotion and vulnerability is poured onto this breakup album. It sounds perfect for post-breakup sulk and relief, given that the album comes flooding with dark brooding synths and many pleas as he sulks in regret and realization. “Call Out My Name,” sets the scene for the album: The Weeknd is in a battle with himself, finding himself having to either indulge in past pleasures or move onto better things. He fights with his regrets, as he delivers several emotion packed punches and belts of notes, stating “You gave me comfort / But falling for you was my mistake,” over a sample of “Earned It,” that gathers intensity until he reaches his breaking point eventually pouring out: “So call out my name / Call Out my name when I kiss you so gently / I want you to stay.” “Try Me” sees Abel begging for acceptance after the two have parted ways; it may sound like a call to a fight, but it’s a call to home instead. He pleads with his ex to leave her current partner to “try him” one more time. Abel then moves past the relationship and accepts his regrets, sorrows, and states his goodbyes throughout the songs “Wasted Times,” “I Was Never There,” and “Privilege.” These three stand out as the most emotional in The Weeknd’s career and reintroduce his cloudy dark sound along with his vulnerable narrative. They embrace his past of substance abuse and his ominous production and you see Abel confront his feelings for the first time. “Wasted Times” sees The Weeknd starting to accept his regrets. Abel sings about substance abuse on “I Was Never There,” even acknowledging the use of it to ease the pain, stating “So, I posion myself again, again / ‘Til I feel nothing.” Finally, on “Privilege,” Abel states his goodbye by addressing the relationship first hand and how he is going to forget about it — he gives his action plan: “and I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay,” coming to the conclusion that maybe love isn’t for him afterall.

Although My Dear Melancholy, is not a complete 180 turn around, nor so innovative as the Trilogy series, it does serve it’s justice putting him back right before his electro-studded Starboy, on the route where The Weeknd is at his most interesting. The outcome of it all is a cloudy emotional album that concludes that The Weeknd sounds best when he has experienced the worst.

A Magical Evening with Kali Uchis at The Ace of Spades

Photo Diaries March 10, 2018

(Photos taken & edited by Louis Cano)

(Written by Louis Cano)

As the lights dimmed down, the crowd knew it was time and began chanting Kali’s name. Everyone was already hyped up and ready thanks to El Tio, a nickname the crowd gave the DJ who opened up. Kali’s band started to come out one by one and that’s when she approached the stage in a retro/genie look, a mix between the 60s and “I Dream Of Jeannie”.

She opened up with “Speed” and man did her band go off. This year she has a new band on tour with her, Mike on the bass, Angélica on the guitar, Branden on the drums and Vicky on the keys. Last year she toured with Phony Ppl, not only as her band but as her openers as well.

The show was full of smiles, screams of excitement, and tears. Kali has such a magical presence on stage. Never a bad moment at a Kali show. No matter how much the crowd tends to get rowdy with the pushing, the moment she starts to perform, you forget about everything and lose yourself to the music.

When you go to a Kali show, prepare for a wig snatching (twitter lingo) because she KNOWS how to put on a show. Make sure to keep an eye out for more dates because I have a gut feeling that this is just the beginning of the many shows she’s about to do this year (aside from festivals).


Black Artists Who Revolutionized Music

Favorites, Music Catalogs February 28, 2018

Throughout history, black artists have been at the forefront of music, but for the most part, their influence and work in music have been undermined. However, their legacy and impact on music lives on and continues to inspire and shape the music industry to this day. Stage Confessions is honoring the most influential black artists whose work has helped revolutionize music. We are honoring the Motown legend, Marvin Gaye; The greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix; the outspoken Beyoncé, and more. We’d like to thank all the black artists for their contribution to music because quite frankly, music wouldn’t be the same without these fantastic people.



Marvin Gaye

Motown legendary, Marvin Gaye helped pave the road for creative freedom and contemporary music. As a producer, his music was set in soul and gospel but had a modern refreshing quality to it. This refreshing quality was driven by the forward-thinking Motown, which blended the genres of R&B, jazz, soul, and funk. His social conscious and raw vulnerability also aided his craftsmanship towards contemporary music and challenged what was perceived as “good” to record labels. He fought for creative freedom by breaking the standard approach and releasing to what he thought was good. In turn, he then released “What’s Going On,” in 1971, a defining piece of soul music. His impact is found everywhere on artists across genres from Aaliyah, to The Avalanches, Diana Ross, and even The Strokes. – Miguel Anderson


Portrait Of Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill became one of the most influential figures in hip-hop along with being apart of one of the most influential groups, the Fugees. In a genre dominated by males, she took down barriers setting male MC’s apart from female– proving that females are just as capable and even more capable to tackle hip-hop than their male counterparts. She was often better than her male counterparts too, her pen and words spoke with wise conscious, and she rose past her peers and became the most prevailing member of the Fugees. – Miguel Anderson


35th Annual Grammy Awards - Press Room

Janet Jackson & Michael Jackson

Dance and music became famously intertwined in the 80’s by sibling pair Janet & Michael Jackson. By intertwining these mediums together, the two were able to transition music into the modern age, making music a much more substantial piece of entertainment. They gave music a rejuvenated energy and a new look with their outstanding performances, all of which are legendary and scatter the line of controversial and utterly epic. These two pioneers set a standard for how music should be done, especially when on stage, capturing audiences alike. Janet and Michael truly made music synonymous with entertainment. – Miguel Anderson


Various - 1967

Jimi Hendrix

Though black musicians built the foundation for Rock n Roll and continued to heavily influence it later, white artists quickly dominated the scene, making Jimi’s rise to fame extremely crucial and accomplishing. In an era of oppression, Jimi was constantly against the odds, he received criticism on every level and was often accused of stealing the styles of other guitarists. Despite this, he still shined through. He headlined the famous Woodstock festival in 1969 and became known for his unique stylistic guitar work which led him to become known for being the greatest guitarist of all time. Jimi passed away in 1970 but his legacy continues to live on and inspires others. Jimi Hendrix, along with his skills, made a huge mark on music that will never be erased. – Ashley Flamenco



Erykah Badu

What Erykah Badu has done for the black community in music is irreplaceable. She intertwined appreciation of oneself, and embracement of one’s roots into her music while addressing issues that haunted the black community. By offering a say on these topics, she was able to voice a generation and spread the message that black is beautiful She let black people know that they were not alone, opening a door of representation for a community that didn’t have much in the industry to look up to. – Miguel Anderson




Causing a shift in how hip-hop was delivered and known for, N.W.A was able to encapsulate their dangerous realities into their music. This “new” delivery at the time, took rap to a whole new level. It let people know the realities from a perspective often overlooked, and added some flair to hip-hop. N.W.A ushered in a new age in hip-hop and ushered out an age in hip-hop which was used for informative and fun purposes. N.W.A. along with their sound became pioneers for hip-hop, making “Gangsta” rap the standard for hip-hop in the process. – Miguel Anderson




Most artists don’t take advantage of the platform they’re given but Beyoncé does the exact opposite. She uses her music to speak on issues the black community faces on a daily. Not only does her music talk about the issues they face but she encourages them to embrace who they are. You see it in her visuals and performances as well. Beyoncé’s song “Formation”, not only has a powerful message, but the music video does as well. The video touched on events like Hurricane Katrina and the protests going on over the police killing unarmed black men and women. The video also showed scenes where she sat on top of a police car in a flood, a young black boy dancing in front of a line of police with “stop shooting us” graffitied on the wall, and much more. Her performance at Super Bowl Halftime show paid homage to the Black Panthers. Aside from her music she’s done a lot of charity work that has helped out various of communities. Her and Jay-Z donated 1.5m to the Black Lives Matter movement and other organizations. Almost everything she has done has had a huge impact not just in the music industry but the world. – Louis Cano



Kanye West

Kanye West is one of the few artists whose actions of embracing individuality impacted communities and generations. His individuality strayed from the gangsta rap image that was popular in hip-hop in the early to mid-2000’s and went towards a more vulnerable and honest image. He showed the community how to be themselves and be as creative as they can, they can still reach success without having to conform to what’s popular. Since then, rap has never been the same. This paved the way for artists such as Drake, Kid Cudi, and Tyler, the Creator. – Miguel Anderson

A Lovely Valentine’s Day Spent With Cuco, The Marias, and August Eve

Photo Diaries February 25, 2018

(Photos taken by Kiara Morales & edited by Louis Cano)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Cuco’s performance at the El Rey Theatre couldn’t have taken place on a more perfect day: Valentine’s Day. Regardless of whether people were with a date or a friend, love, joy, excitement, and energy were exuded by everyone in the room and you could feel it.

Not one moment of the entire show was boring because leading up to Cuco’s set were breathtaking performances by August Eve and The Marias. Prior to August’s performance, I had only heard of her and hadn’t yet listened to her, but during her set, she immediately blew me away with her soulful voice. I had recently become a fan of The Marias so I was incredibly excited to see them and I found that their psychedelic-pop music sounded even dreamier live. When people weren’t dancing or grooving to music, they were waiting in line to take photos in front of Cuco’s pink heart-filled backdrop or greeting artists in the crowd.

August Eve:

Processed with VSCO with g8 preset



The Marias:


Later that night, the moment that everyone had been waiting for finally began: Cuco’s band appeared on stage and started off the set with “When We Meet” right before Cuco ran out onto the red glittery stage to join them for “Lonelylife.” A few songs later, Cuco pulled out his trumpet for the ending of “Lo Que Siento” and I had never seen a group of teenagers more excited. My favorite live song of the night was “Amor De Siempre,” it was his longest performance; midway through the song the band tricked us into believing it was over and waited until the entire crowd was calm and completely silent before abruptly resuming the chorus and getting everyone to jump again. Before saying goodbye, Cuco did his famous cover of “Devuelveme A Mi Chica” and everyone in the middle of the floor moshed to it. By the end of the night, everyone had screamed, cheered, and sang at the top of their lungs so much that our voices were practically gone but it was totally worth it.

Cuco and his band:








This was a truly euphoric experience and definitely a Valentine’s Day well spent. Thank you to August Eve, The Marias, and Cuco!


Albums/EPs, New Music February 18, 2018

(Photo from Atlantic Records)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Crush is the R&B romance-filled work of soulful singer Ravyn Lenae and executive producer Steve Lacy. The record was released right on time, just a few days before Valentine’s Day.  It’s the perfect music to listen to, not only on the Day of Love but, if you’re in an amorous mood or in your “feels.” The collection of love ballads include Ravyn’s wide-ranged vocals and Steve’s groovy instrumentals, running through all the different types of love and relationships one can have and the passionate emotions felt in each of them.

The EP begins with its first and only single, “Sticky,” a song centering around one being glued to and unable to step away from a partner who treats them badly. This is otherwise known as a toxic relationship, which Ravyn describes as “sticky-icky.” The track is introduced by a hooking glide of a keyboard that is eventually accompanied by lo-fi guitar riffs that are obviously the work of Steve Lacy. Containing a disco-esque vibe and high-pitched vocals, “Sticky” is the most upbeat song on the record.

“Closer (Ode 2 U)” describes the feelings of infatuation that often come before a relationship and displays what it’s like to crush hard on someone and may be referring to the innocent puppy love that is typically felt among adolescents. The track is joined by sensual sounding guitar and contains a lot of passionate “woooos” and “whys” where Ravyn questions why she feels this burning “love.”

“Computer Luv,” one of two songs on the EP that feature Steve’s vocals, is about an intimate online long-distance relationship; both partners long to see and be with each other but at the same time question whether their feelings are true since the two have yet to meet in person. The two sing “when will I meet you/ I’m down to see you/ I wanna see you right now” in unison — their yearning and desire for each other are felt deeply through the Ravyn and Steve’s soft and passionate singing. Ending off  “Computer Luv” is a heartfelt voicemail from Ravyn’s online lover.


Contrary to other tracks on the record that discuss relationships between two people, “The Night Song,” is a wonderful ode to the most important relationship: the relationship with yourself. It explores the fact that one’s happiness shouldn’t be relied upon someone else, as it explores being single and being content with oneself: “I wanna be no one but me/ And all I really need is my own company,” making “The Night Song” a sweet serenade to oneself.

The EP ends with “4 Leaf Clover,” where Ravyn and Steve sing back and forth to each other. The two converse, opening up about feelings of jealousy, fears of commitment and possibly ruining their close friendship. One partner trusts that a romantic relationship is meant to be between the them meanwhile, the other believes that it can only go wrong.

Whether you’re deeply infatuated with someone else or simply yourself, Crush, an affectionate work of art infused with passionate singing and funky yet amorous instrumentals, is a great record to listen to. And with both artists seemingly having similar visions with their sounds, Crush, although only consisting of 5 songs, has proven Ravyn Lenae and Steve Lacy to be a perfect duo.



Night On Broadway 2018

Photo Diaries February 7, 2018

(Photos by Araceli Almanza)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco)

Night On Broadway is an event that is hosted annually in one of the most lively places in LA — Downtown. Musicians and DJs from everywhere perform at the festival and due to the incredible diversity of the city, not only do you get to see artists share their music but you get to see them proudly sharing bits and pieces of their cultures. In addition to music, there were many art installations to look at in between sets and lots of good food to eat. Stage Confessions fortunately got the opportunity to photograph artists at the event such as La Santa Cecilia, who’s set was probably my favorite. Wearing a long beautiful green dress with a sparkly embroidered virgen on it, Marisol of La Santa Cecilia moved a crowd full of generations of families to tears; I saw so many lovely mothers and daughters holding each other. People of all ages and ethnicities from all over LA attended the festival where they got to see some of their favorite artists, new and old, and had the chance to come together as a community.

La Santa Cecilia:






Jasper Bones:








Anticipated Releases of 2018

Favorites, Music Catalogs February 6, 2018

2017 was surely a great year for music and now that 2018 is upon us, we can anticipate some new music this year from our favorite artists that will possibly make 2018 another great year for music if not better than the last. Some of these albums have been in the works for quite a while, for most of these artists, it’s been years since they have released any music which makes all of these releases sure to be a refreshing treat for music-lovers. We’ve really missed these musicians and we can’t wait to find out what new sounds they’ve explored.




It’s been 3 years since experimental-pop artist Grimes released her raved-about Art Angels, a fantasy pop world of music, and fans are definitely ready to see where she’s taking her music next. Since last summer, Claire Boucher has continually shared on social media that there have been new tracks in the works and last month she tweeted that her Art Angels follow-up was pretty much complete: “just played label new music they rly dig it so hopefully smthn soon.” She gave another update on Instagram a few days later stating “when u have all the songs but need to do vox and fix drums on p much everything and it’s been almost a year of isolation and despair…” Grimes has mentioned that the album will encompass “unexplored sonic landscapes” and I’m sure listeners are excited to see what kind of majestic strange world she transports us to next. – Ashley Flamenco

Travis Scott

Travis Scott

Back in 2014, Travis set the bar for his ability with Days Before Rodeo, showcasing some of his best work (“The Prayer,” “Drugs You Should Try It,” and “Don’t Play,”) while developing a signature and packed “dark” production style (“Mamacita,” and “Skyfall”) that worked extensively well for Scott, syncing his reckless energy to a brooding sound. Then he dropped Rodeo in 2015, capturing a growth from Days Before Rodeo to producing more complex work that had vulnerable depth to it. He was surely at the center of his work, crafting sounds that catered to a wider audience and showed his versatility. Now, let’s skip to 2016 where he dropped Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, this is when his work started developing stylistic flair as he experimented a bit in delivery and sound. Now, seeing that Travis’ work has refined, grown, and overall gotten progressively better since Days Before Rodeo, taking in a sense of energy, character, versatility, and style, this makes AstroWorld something to be excited for. – Miguel Anderson



Kali Uchis

Kali has been working on her debut album for a long time and according to her, it’s done and ready to be released but piece by piece. She has mentioned in the past on twitter that it’s a summer album so we could expect it during late spring (April/May). The last project she released was her EP, Por Vida, which left fans wanting more music. Ever since the release of Por Vida, she’s put out a few singles here and there to keep fans quenched. This album is packed with stars from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker to Damon Albarn from Gorillaz. Kali recently released the third single off the album, After The Storm”, which features musical icons Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins. We can definitely expect to hear a few more collabs on the album. – Louis Cano



Arctic Monkeys

I’m sure most of us remember hearing “Do I Wanna Know?,” “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?,” and “R U Mine? being played repeatedly on the radio. AM, released in 2013, was the album that we saw being plastered all over Tumblr blogs and that caused the Arctic Monkeys to blow up and gain an increasingly large fanbase. Fast forward 5 years and they’re making a comeback with a sixth album so people can obsess over them once again. In a September interview with For The Ride, a motorcycling magazine, Arctic Monkeys Bassist, Nick O’Malley, revealed that the band had begun recording the new record in a “secret location.” According to Nick, if the album’s not out by 2018, they’ve “got problems.” There’s no set release date for the new project but seeing as their name has been popping up on music festival lineups everywhere, we can hope that it’ll be out around the spring or summertime. – Ashley Flamenco




The LOONA debut process has been pursued ambitiously since day one. Their process has been noted as the most expensive K-Pop debut in history, costing the company 4 million which is spent on music videos, choreography, promotions, and music. Not only has the process been noted as expensive, but it’s also extensive. In the span of 18 months, BlockBerry Creative plans to reveal 12 girls and 3 subgroups, all of which lead to the eventual debut of the whole group. So far, each reveal has been more intriguing, building an artistic one-of-a-kind charm with each release that has been filled with personality and sonic character. It’s an unorthodox project that prevails because of the showcase that displays each of the revealed subgroup & member’s potential. It’s the alluring quirkiness of “ViViD” by Heejin, the theatrical and dramatic “Kiss Later” by Yeojin, the dark facade of “Love Cherry Motion” by Choerry, the pulsating-yet soft “new” by Yves, the energetic push of “Girl Front” by ODD EYE CIRCLE, and the beautifully demanding “One&Only” by Gowon that draw you closer to the Loonaverse which is a charming venture, sonically rich and diverse. With all these outstanding songs and a diverse cast, one is left in awe of LOONA. They prove with visuals, amazing music, and diversity that they will have an impact. – Miguel Anderson




Mark Ronson x Tame Impala x SZA

Mark Ronson, Tame Impala, and SZA are scheduled to release an album in 2018. SZA confirmed this through an interview with the LA Times, stating “People grapple with labeling me…I’m just making music…I’m making an album with Tame Impala and Mark Ronson. When you try to label it, you remove the option for it to be limitless.” We’ve seen Kevin Parker, mastermind behind Tame Impala, work with Mark Ronson, incredible producer, on groovy songs like “Daffodils” and “Summer Breaking” and have watched their DJ sets at festivals across the world. We know that just the two alone make a great duo so it makes it all the more exciting that SZA has joined the group, adding to the musical genius that will without a doubt compose this album. With SZA rocking the music world with the release of her debut, Ctrl, last summer, Tame Impala’s Currents taking off shortly after its release in 2015, and having songs produced by Mark Ronson such as “Uptown Funk” become radio hits, this record is going to be a great one. – Ashley Flamenco



Blood Orange

Devonte Hynes, or Blood Orange, captured hearts all around the world with his 2016’s release Freetown Sound, a funk fueled perspective about identity and politics. Since post-Freetown Sound, we are left with a voice silenced, from someone who is usually open about topics that devastated politics and communities of color in 2017. Now that 2018 is upon us, we can expect some things from the masterful Blood Orange, especially since he has been very low key, but also very active in the studio in 2017. He’s released music as VeilHymn, backed writing on a couple of tracks from Haim to Blondie, and even went to be featured on. In addition to that, he’s also made his prerogative clear for 2018, teasing us through an Instagram post that music is coming. Now, all we have to do is wait for his silence to break. – Miguel Anderson

Meet Katzú Oso

Artists Confessions January 7, 2018

(Interview by Ashley Flamenco and Miguel Anderson)

(Photos by Leila Grillo)

About a week ago, Stage Confessions got the chance to chat with Paul Hernandez who goes by Katzú Oso; he’s a rising artist who makes deeply romantic synth jams, the perfect songs to groove to with your crush. It was the day before Katzú’s big show at The OC Observatory where he would open for Tyler, The Creator, performing alongside artists like BROCKHAMPTON, Clairo, and Jasper Bones. We met outside of a tiny Starbucks, surrounded by constant blaring car horns, where he told us about releasing his first song, “Sophie,” on 420, the experiences of love and heartache that have shaped his work, being a person of color in the growing indie scene, and how it was receiving the news that he’d be opening for Tyler. Katzú Oso has just barely begun his career but with his talent, we know there’s much that lies ahead of him; we truly feel that he’s going to blow up so watch out.

Quick Qs:

What artists have you been listening a lot to lately?

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mild High Club, HOMESHAKE, Steve Lacy — his demo is f***** dope, and pretty much everyone I’m playing with tomorrow at the show. They’re all under my related artists and it’s weird because I’ve been listening to all of them lately; I’m playing with them tomorrow so that’s exciting.

What is an all time favorite album?

Lonerism, for sure, by Tame Impala. It got me through a difficult time in my life.

What are some of your pre-show rituals?

Damn, that’s a hard one….I take a lot of breathers, I try to take a shot or two just to try to loosen up the nerves because if not, I’m really stiff up on stage. And I like to dance up there, when I’m feeling a type of way, I dance a little more.

When you’re making a song, what’s the vibe in the studio?

If the song gets me dancing in the moment, like in my room, I’ll continue to work on it. If I’m not vibing to it, then I don’t continue it, I push it aside and work on something else.

Actual Qs:

What music did you grow up listening to?

I grew up on The Beatles, as weird as that sounds. My dad’s a huge Beatles fan and he plays guitar too so he taught me. He’s also a big Carlos Santana fan so I kind of grew up with those old school vibes.

Does that influence your music in anyway?

Yeah, totally! My songs are all love songs and The Beatles are all about love so I resonate with that.

Are there any specific artists who you would credit with getting you into music?

Like I was saying, The Beatles are #1 for me, as corny as that sounds.

So you started putting out music this year but when did you decide that you wanted to pursue that as a career?

When I was getting the feedback from my first song, “Sophie.” I had dropped “Sophie” just for my friends, for my stoner friends actually, I dropped it on 420. I thought “because people are going to be smoking today, they’ll want to listen to some jams so they might as well listen to this.” And out of nowhere I was receiving a bunch of feedback and people were loving the song so I just continued and started doing more.

Did “Sophie” just blow up?

It was Sophie that got most people’s attention.


We know that your music is very romantic so we’re wondering what kinds of experiences have shaped that romantic music?

Honestly, everything happened this year: I lost relationships, I gained relationships; I got out of a 5 year relationship so that impacted me a lot. Also, I tried to put myself in my friends shoes sometimes and write from their perspective. For example, with “Honeydew,” I was still with my girlfriend at the time and that’s a breakup song, it’s kind of a sad song. My friend was going through a breakup so I kind of wrote it from his eyes.

Oh okay, so when you wrote it, it wasn’t coming from what you necessarily felt?

No, I tried to write it from his perspective and my girlfriend hated it at the time, she was like “are you gonna leave me, what are you trying to say?” because it’s a breakup song.

When you’re writing a song, what’s a common starting point for you or what inspires you to create something?

I would say a new synth sound. Whenever I find a new sound or something that really gets my attention, I’m like “people are gonna vibe to this live, I need to put this in a song.” It’s nice to groove to synth in music.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Well, my family, they’re all from Mexico. My parents both moved here from Mexico so I’m first generation.

How has it been living in Montebello?

This is such a boring city, I don’t even do much here. It wasn’t up until this year where I just got motivated to make music. I’ve been playing in a band for the past four years but it was more indie-rock, less synthesizers.

What was the name of that band?

Spoken Folks.

Do you still play with them?

No. They play for me, they’re my backup band for live performances. We decided to just focus on Katzú and leave Spoken Folks behind.

Does your background play a role in your art, if so, how?

It does, totally. Well, I grew up listening to a lot of old ballads in Spanish and Rock en español, all of that. I noticed that a lot of those artists, they carried light synthesizers, it might not have been extra as f*** but they’re really light and stuff like that just inspires me.

The indie scene has definitely had a large growth in artists of color recently so how do you feel being apart of that wave of new minorities in the music industry?

Honestly, I never thought I’d even be apart of the wave. It’s exciting, it gives me hope in the music industry. Like damn, people are gonna put time and effort into listening to music that I made.

It gives us hope too because we’d say that the indie scene is really known for being mostly white.

Yeah. With other musicians, I always thought it was probably their parents paying for their recording time and all that but I actually didn’t really invest money into my production, I just use my sh***y equipment at home and make it happen.

What are some messages to other artists of color that you have?

Honestly, don’t give up. As slim as your chances may be, just keep going. I honestly still feel like tomorrow’s show is not gonna happen, it feels like it’s all a dream; it’s crazy, it’s surreal. If you believe in what you’re doing, just keep at it. If you’re passionate about it, just keep doing it, people will listen. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s yours and there’s other people who will like it as well. People hate on me all the time, I get people messaging me like “dude you write p**** sh**, you write love songs and no one listens to love songs,” but honestly, I’m writing it for the people who are listening and for myself.

It was really exciting for us to hear that you got added to the lineup as one of the openers for Tyler, The Creator’s show, how did you feel receiving that news?

I was driving somewhere and my manager texted me and I literally went apesh** and yelled. My friend was with me in the car and we f***** went apesh**, I was hyperventilating, I didn’t believe it, it was crazy. Then I messaged the band and everyone was freaking out. No one on social media believed me until they saw my name on the flyer.

We heard that you have an EP coming out soon, can you tell us anything about that?

There’s no official release date yet but there is a big project coming out in 2018.

Next, we’re gonna ask you a few music related questions and we need you to give us the first answer that comes to mind.

SATURATION 1, 2, or 3?


Who are you most excited to see perform tomorrow?


What’s a venue that you’ve always wanted to perform at?

The Fox Theater (in Oakland). I’ve been there and the sound there is amazing.

Last song that you listened to?

Jose Jose – “Almohada”

Favorite artist at the moment?


We were actually about to ask you “HOMESHAKE or Mac DeMarco?”

I’m a big DeMarco fan but HOMESHAKE gets my heart.

Thank you so much Katzu! You killed it with your groovy performance at The OC Observatory.


Follow Katzu Oso on:





The 10 Best EPs of 2017

Favorites, Music Catalogs January 5, 2018

EPs are truly essential projects; they can encapsulate so much wonder and potential with so little, letting the mind run wild on what they contain. They often represent milestones for artists, displaying some of their first official work, capturing the essence of their art and laying the groundwork for future releases. Though these EPs are first projects for the majority of the artists on this list, with just small collections of songs, they’ve managed to make their marks on the music industry, proving to be stars on the rise.



10. Cuco – Songs4u

Label: Cuco
Release date: January 28, 2017

Songs4u captures the heartbreak and romance Omar Banos AKA Cuco has experienced throughout his relationships. In “Lava Lamp,” he sings about his soulmate waiting for him and desperately trying to find her so he can express his emotions. While he tries finding his lover in “Lava Lamp,” he’s looking for his heart in “Lost / Heart,” not quite sure what happened to it but he knows his recent break up has something to do with it. Songs4u is a tug of war between falling in love and having your heart broken. It’s a psychedelic lovesick EP that you can ball your eyes out to or dance to like no one’s watching, why not do both at the same time?  – Louis Cano



9. Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen

Label: Las Fuegas
Release date: September 29, 2017

The Washington trio, Injury Reserve, takes a journey through different sounds on Drive It Like It’s Stolen. It serves as an experimental effort finding where they fit  in best among different soundscapes which go over a promising mix of dance (“See You sweat”), conscious-yet aggressive hip-hop (“Boom (X3)”), industrial beats (“TenTenths”), unorthodox sounds (“North Pole”), and slow laid back beats (“91 Cadillac DeVille”). The boys definitely shine with their witty lines and clever verses taking a stance on stardom, using varied delivery with an old-school flow. Drive It Like It’s Stolen opens the trio up to a world of sound and versatility previously undiscovered. – Miguel Anderson



8. Cosmo Pyke – Just Cosmo

Label: 70Hz
Release date: February 24, 2017

18-year-old Cosmo Pyke, model, skater, graffiti artist, musician and all around skillful artist, has left his imprint on the indie scene this year with only a 5 song project, Just Cosmo. This collection of songs uses superb instrumentals that are impressively so professional sounding for such a new artist and it perfectly portrays the blend of jazz, blues, indie-rock, reggae, and hip-hop that Cosmo has made himself known for. Using his smooth velvety vocals and lots of reggae guitar riffs accompanied by heavy drums, he beautifully captures the sorrow that young love and heartbreak could bring someone, in a way that’s quite upbeat and summer-y rather than sad and mellow. Just Cosmo is an instrumentally exceptional and heartache-filled yet feel-good EP that many young adults can enjoy and feel connected to. – Ashley Flamenco



7. Yaeji – EP2

Label: Godmode
Release date: November 3, 2017

Yaeji’s second EP of 2017 is affluent in subtle electronic-dance beats, with a hip-hop influence, that could easily be classified as house-music. Beats in EP2 are quiet and sometimes a bit hidden but the captivating repetitiveness of them and her catchy lyrics are enough to get you bouncing to her music. Yaeji adds a minor blend of two different cultures on this project, singing in English and Korean, often with a touch of autotune on her vocals. With a mellow take on house-music, EP2 is the perfect mix of songs to jam out to at any club or include in any DJ set. – Ashley Flamenco



6. Perturbator – New Model

Label: Blood Music
Release date: September 5, 2017

Perturbator’s New Model proves that synth can cover a lot as an instrument. From mimicking other sounds to creating new ones, building new realms, it’s the force that drives New Model to produce a brooding dark atmosphere with bold cutting-edge synth stabs. This dark realm feels like a nightmare as more experimental industrial sounds begin to take place. Every place where intensity increases, it grows into something more dark, aggressive, and manic, expanding its horror-like reach. New Model shows a new wave of sonic ambition that pursue metal and industrial sounds relentlessly with an electronic base. – Miguel Anderson



5. EXID – Eclipse

Label: Banana Culture / Sony
Release date: April 10, 2017

EXID has always been a group plagued by setbacks and misfortunes. They faced disbandment in 2014 and in 2017 their star leader went on a hiatus due to health complications. To respond to the setback, EXID made Eclipse, a perfectly crafted response to their setbacks that has a wonderful  play with sounds and lineup changes that show bouncy versatility and artistry that reach beyond the constricting borders of K-Pop. EXID successfully plays with funk, jazz, R&B, pop, trap, and house on Eclipse, a grandeur triumph where everyone gets to shine. – Miguel Anderson



4. Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference

Label: Young Turks
Release date: September 22, 2017

This EP starts off with an alluring bass tune with not much around it. It’s the focal point until you hear the dreamlike organ which opens your eyes up to the beautifully orchestrated jazzy cosmic world of Kamasi Washington, taking you into the brilliant instrumentation that includes a multitude of instruments such as cello, saxophone, flutes, drums, and a chio just to name a few. Harmony Of Difference is a much more intriguing and appealing effort, clocking in at 32 minutes, delving deep into a rich sonic world that only Kamasi’s magic can take you to. – Miguel Anderson



3. Billie Eilish – dont smile at me

Label: Interscope
Release date: August 11, 2017

Billie is only 16 and is already taking the music industry by storm with her debut EP don’t smile at me. Billie showcases how mature she is through her music, it’s raw and vulnerable which is not the typical music you’d hear from someone who’s only 16. Listening to the EP, you can see how genres like pop, R&B, and jazz were huge influences when crafting it. Alongside her dreamy vocals, she has her brother FINNEAS help her out with incredible production and the two make a perfect team together when it comes to making music. Billie Eilish is a perfect role model and someone for many young artists to draw inspiration from. – Louis Cano



2. Rina Sawayama – RINA

Label: Self-released
Release date: October 27, 2017

RINA is obsessed with cyberspace and how life functions in it. Her EP is able to encapsulate the wonder with it and the sounds which inspired her. It pushes boundaries on it’s own, playing with 90’s and & 2000’s R&B, rock, and dance and putting together a narrative unventured, taking a nostalgic yet fresh and futuristic approach, building a foundation for her ever-conforming hyper-breed of pop. Her vision of pop is extremely bright and playful but curious in the changing world and fascinated with how life works in cyberspace, a place that is unventured. – Miguel Anderson



1. Steve Lacy – Steve Lacy’s Demo

Label: Three Quarter
Release date: February 24, 2017

Though only being 13 minutes long, Steve Lacy’s Demo was a defining piece in indie music in 2017. What makes Steve’s Demo so impressively groundbreaking is how it was created using such minimal resources: an iPhone, GarageBand, a few basic instruments, and Steve’s talent. He makes it apparent that you don’t need much in order to make good music and to be a successful artist, something that he’s also proven through the wide range of musicians he’s produced for including Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, and Ravyn Lenae. The EP represents what Steve refers to as “plaid,” a style that mixes jazz, soul, indie, hip-hop, and R&B. And it briefly captures the essence of crushes and young love through groovy lo-fi guitar driven songs. Steve Lacy’s Demo, an EP that was simply created from an iPhone, is a truly inspiring fresh and innovative work that has kept listeners eyes peeled for what’s coming next from this 19-year-old prodigy. – Ashley Flamenco


The 50 Best Albums Of 2017

Favorites, Music Catalogs January 3, 2018

2017 started off a bit slow for music lovers, it didn’t really start picking up until the later months but once it did, we were gifted with tons of grand and surprising releases from everyone from Kendrick Lamar to King Krule. 2017 saw musicians make music about life intertwined with politics, capturing ideas in a changing nation. Themes of self-appreciation and empowerment became more apparent in music, along with more personal and intimate themes. This year, so many innovative changes were made by artists that lots of listeners definitely weren’t expecting. Hip-hop and Rap really proved to be a force in music while we saw a big rise in the indie scene, having an interesting set of strings pushed on it. We believe it’s safe to say that 2017 was an excellent year for music.



50. Toro y Moi – Boo Boo

Label: Carpark
Release date: July 7, 2017

Boo Boo is an emotional roller coaster into Toro y Moi’s personal life and his process with dealing with newfound success. He contemplates in retrospect, relationships, self-discovery, and mediocrity on stellar funk & groove production that shines with synths and definitive 80’s production giving off an ambient and dreamy yet nostalgic atmosphere. From what Toro y Moi has released in the past, Boo Boo is his most cohesive and personal album yet, resting as a great album for the chill wave movement and hypnagogic pop scene. – Miguel Anderson



49. Drake – More Life

Label: Republic / OVO Sound / Young Money
Release date: March 18, 2017

Drake’s More Life is a collection of songs that were disguised as an album but were really apart of a playlist. As a follow up to views, More Life is a refresher, arriving with a warm welcome and applaud. More Life follows Drake who is curious in different sounds and a different direction. He pulls from his thorough OVO team and catalogue to bring us a variety of different songs that cover R&B, trap, dancehall, and pop, which all settle down to a nice blend through Drake’s versatile pop-rap and his collaborators who don’t outshine him. – Miguel Anderson



48. Moonchild – Voyager

Label: Tru Thoughts
Release date: May 26, 2017

Jazzy R&B trio, Moonchild, return with a more subtle, mature, dreamy effort about the innocent and lustful intimacies of a relationship that go beyond a romantic one. It’s more light-hearted, but light-hearted in a way that has aged, putting down infatuation and exhibiting true love. Lead singer, Amber Navran, sings beautifully with an added style of soul to blend in with the jazzy and R&B instrumentation that surrounds her built by Max Byrk and Andris Mattson who switch off between keyboards, flutes, trumpet, and saxophone. Voyager comes off as therapeutic and calming, calling on mellow romantic tunes to fuel it. – Miguel Anderson



47. Miguel – War & Leisure

Label: RCA / ByStorm Entertainment
Release date: December 1, 2017

War & Leisure is faintly different from the intense sensual R&B that Miguel is widely known for, it’s more summer-y and light-hearted with infusions of pop that are an enjoyable change from his earlier work. The album definitely has a bit of a political side to it, thus the “War” part of the title, but it covers politics in a subtle way that’s not as dark as many other albums we’ve heard this year. And the “Leisure” section of the record is very apparent in the chill funky tunes that formulate it. War & Leisure is a laid-back groovy psychedelic album that moderately alters Miguel’s usual style while balancing and keeping in with some of the romantic passion we know and love from his music. – Ashley Flamenco



46. Sabrina Claudio – About Time

Label: SC Entertainment
Release date: October 5, 2017

From uploading covers to YouTube to releasing her first full length project, Sabrina has truly outdone herself with this collection of songs. The mixtape kicks off with an alluring intro, “About Time (Intro),” where she talks about changes that will and have taken place throughout her life. Each song touches on the subject of time in a different unique way whether she’s singing about how long a relationship will last, how many times she’s made excuses, or the amount of time her and her lover have to develop a stronger relationship. The mixtape is a mash-up between R&B, jazz, bossa nova, samba, and soul which is one of the factors that make this project so different from anything else released this year. Sabrina Claudio is one of the names you’ll see more often in the upcoming years, she’s only just begun her musical journey. – Louis Cano



45. J.I.D – The Never Story

Label: Interscope / Dreamville
Release date: March 10, 2017

Dreamville’s J.I.D was rap’s breakout artist this year, cementing and establishing his presence with one album. The kid shows that he isn’t here to play games, but to take the crown. Simply put, on his debut, he shows that he understands the rap game and the economics that come with it, he understands flow, bars, delivery, and versatility (going personal while having definite club bangers). His raspy unique voice and his mysterious presence make him come out as Dreamville’s latest prodigy, creating a lane for rap artists whose ideal isn’t always “lyricist.” – Miguel Anderson



44. Zola Jesus – Okovi

Label: Sacred Bones
Release date: September 8, 2017

Okovi feels like a thunderbolt of dramatic instrumentation and heart wrenching bass, striking the listener at the right moment for the arrival of her deep moving vocals which recall a warrior cry. She implements a minimalist approach to using strings and hard industrial production to carry her voice to the grandest extents. Over the hitting production, there are hints of lightness which Zola Jesus puts in EDM and electro-pop, all of which seem like a great return Zola Jesus takes and a grand new chapter she is opening. – Miguel Anderson



43. Lil B – Black Ken

Label: BasedWorld
Release date: August 17, 2017

Since Mac Dre died, the hyphy train has been taking a slow ride down the tracks with only little to keep it moving. The Bay Area can thank HBK members for moving that train, but only slowly. But recently, Lil B has been reviving the hyphy movement, moving that train faster, and any Bay Area native can appreciate that. Lil B is utterly funny and self made on Black Ken, using production style that is identifiably Bay Area-esque. His flow is like no other, disagreeing with the production that plays under it but also matching so weirdly well, while calling out the best of the Bay Area and his upbringing. Black Ken will make us want to shake our dreads and do the thizzle dance at the side show. – Miguel Anderson



42. Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe

Label: Rough Trade
Release date: September 4, 2016

About a year ago, Princess Nokia released the standard edition of 1992 Deluxe, this year she put out the highly anticipated deluxe with 8 new songs and reworked versions of a few others. 1992 Deluxe is all about female empowerment, women of color, loving yourself, self-acceptance, pride in your culture, brujeria, and much more. To celebrate the release of the album, Nokia put out a visual for Flava which had a beautiful intro about the features women of color have and how others pay thousands just to look like them, an example of the powerful statements that encompass her music. Nokia isn’t your typical rapper, she has sick flows and is a lyrical genius. While other rappers rap about the same things, Nokia takes it to a whole other level with this album. – Louis Cano



41. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Label: Nonesuch
Release date: June 16, 2017

After a six year hiatus, Fleet Foxes returns with Crack-Up, an album rich in folk instrumentation that transports you to a freeing nature-like atmosphere. The album deals with the concepts of self-discovery and the overcoming of life’s obstacles, a voyage that frontman, Robin Pecknold went on during his break from producing music. Crashing heavy guitar riffs that create traditional sounds and the constant changes in tempo on different tracks are what orchestrate the liberating feeling that the album brings; Fleet Foxes have made quite a comeback with Crack-Up. – Ashley Flamenco



40. Big Thief – Capacity

Label: Saddle Creek
Release date: June 9, 2017

Capacity comes from a place that is dark with it’s desolate folk instruments brimming over passionate unfiltered raw vocals and intense storytelling. Adrianne Lenker captures life’s profanities and it’s grandeur intimacies such as violence, sex, relationships, and growing up, all of which make Big Thief’s take on life honest. Capacity is personal and bittersweet, a bigger step for Big Thief that pushes them past contemporaries, brushing out fancy guitar work and calling for grandeur storytelling. – Miguel Anderson



39. HOMESHAKE – Fresh Air

Label: Sinderlyn
Release date: February 3, 2017

Fresh Air is Peter Sagar’s most sensual and sultry work, using affectionate lyrics and chill R&B influenced sounds to capture experiences of love and relationships. Listening to this album definitely feels like taking a breath of fresh air; it’s brisk, invigorating and allows you to take a moment to sit back and relax. In terms of instrumentation and the laid-backness that the album gives off, Fresh Air isn’t much different from most of Sagar’s past work however, this does not make it any less favorable. – Ashley Flamenco



38. Moses Sumney – Aromanticism

Label: Jagjaguwar
Release date: September 22, 2017

Aromanticism lives in its own world, created by a soulful falsetto backed by dreamy synths, theatrical instrumentation, and harmonious guitar creating a certain ambiance and ethereal experience for the listener, further putting Aromanticism on a cloud far from any other’s reach. Aromanticism examines loneliness, calling the need for intimacy and being a study for an aromantic-like identity. It exudes intimacy, as that’s what it calls for, but praises solitude. – Miguel Anderson


37. GoldLink – At What Cost

Label: RCA
Release date: March 24, 2017

Vibey feel-good electronic beats in front of hooking rap verses devise what Goldlink coins as “future-bounce,” the style that composes At What Cost. Songs centering around relationships, flings, hookups, and lustful attraction build on the fun carefreeness of the album that electronic pulses produce throughout the music, making it the perfect soundtrack to any dance-party. Contributions from a multitude of artists like Brent Faiyaz, Kaytranada, and Steve Lacy only amplify the excellent futuristic production of At What Cost. It isn’t typical to see anodic music combined with rap but that’s what makes At What Cost so ahead of its time, setting new standards for rap artists. – Ashley Flamenco



36. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage

Label: Atlantic / TSNMI
Release date: January 27, 2017

A lot of good music comes after a struggle and turmoil, Kehlani’s journey with SweetSexySavage is no different. She was able to turn over inner-city kid upbringings, unhealthy relationships, and the journey of self-discovery into refreshing pop filtered R&B songs about worthiness and self-respect with an unapologetic attitude on her well reflective debut. She soars and triumphs and isn’t afraid of vulnerability even when shes down to her lowest points which make SweetSexySavage’s most personal moments so savory. SweetSexySavage allows the listener to get a glimpse of Kehlani’s world that we hadn’t heard or seen before. – Miguel Anderson



35. Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog

Label: Captured Tracks
Release date: May 5, 2017

This Old Dog is Mac’s most personal album yet, leaving behind the goofiness, slight immaturity and reminiscing of his “salad days” that typically surround his music. On This Old Dog, Mac opens up about his fear of growing older (hence the album title), discusses the uncertainties of love and relationships, and dealing with depression and the pain of knowing that he’s losing his father. The album’s subject matters may not be so cheerful but, using delightful acoustic guitar and lots of synth, Mac still manages to continue with the wonderful lightheartedness that we’re used to hearing from his work, making it so enjoyable. – Ashley Flamenco



34. Alvvays – Antisocialites

Label: Polyvinyl / Transgressive
Release date: September 8, 2017

The Canadian quintet on their sophomore release has produced their most memorable and best work yet, continuing the potential and endless wonder feel that was captured on their debut. “Dreams Tonite” captures that wonder and memorability, using a well worked pop frame that fuses dream, jangle, and indie-pop altogether. Antisocialites is short and sweet, using the best from the group to create innocent light-hearted melodies and fun upbeat infectious pop songs. – Miguel Anderson



33. Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life

Label: Interscope
Release date: July 21, 2017

One cannot simply listen to Lust For Life and not cry towards the end of the album. This is her most personal album ever where she lets listeners in on her life and expresses her thoughts on this insane world we’re living in. On it, she worked with legends like Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. This album touches on topics like freedom, love, growth, change, strength and much more. And it closes with the most powerful uptempo track, “Get Free,” where Lana sings about being liberated from a dark space she once was in to moving into a more positive space. Lust For Life is a 180 flip from her debut album, Born To Die, she’s in a different mindset now. Lana has grown personally and musically, it’s reflected on this album and will do the same on upcoming projects. – Louis Cano



32. Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives

Label: Warp
Release date: September 8, 2017

An album that is primarily instrumental isn’t always easy to pull off, it can quickly become boring, but Mount Kimbie definitely keeps their listeners entertained on Love What Survives. They manage to master a transition from their older typical simply electronic work to something that is much more instrumental. And features like King Krule and James Blake help exemplify Mount Kimbie’s style change, backing up instrumentals with vocals, providing breaks from the solely instrumental tracks of the record. The slight electronic ambience that Love What Survives produces is what makes it so instrumentally alluring. – Ashley Flamenco



31. Charli XCX – Number 1 Angel

Label: Asylum
Release date: March 10, 2017

In Number 1 Angel, it seems that Charli XCX has finally found her style of pop after years of experimenting with different types: pop-rock, electro-pop, synth-pop, and dance. It seemed that she was never able to fully master one of those genres however, she has now found her lane alongside PC production and help from SOPHIE and A. G. Cook who has synced her style and energy perfectly. Her constructed industrial and experimental pop world is a great place for her to let out her emotions further develop her sound that boasts with glitz, bass, and loud acute techno glitch-pop queues. – Miguel Anderson



30. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: April 7, 2017

Father John Misty takes listeners on a satirical journey with Pure Comedy, making a well-deserved mockery of the American political sphere. This is certainly a change from the affectionate I Love You, Honeybear but a good one that utilizes despairing piano and lots of acoustic guitar (as per usual) to accompany the misery-filled lyrics that compose Pure Comedy. As depressing as it is to be reminded of the fear and division that has plagued the U.S., the album is actually quite comedic and refreshing to hear. Considering the state of the country, it’s something that was definitely needed this year, not only to provide some sort of comfort and make people laugh a bit but also to remind them that there is wrong on both political sides and that it’s important for people to come together during a time like this. – Ashley Flamenco



29. Jay Som – Everybody Works

Label: Polyvinyl / Double Denim
Release date: March 10, 2017

Jay Som’s debut, Everybody Works, is an enduring and relatable work of art that is all Melina Duterte. It shares its moments of intimacy and sensibility with the listener taking us into Jay Som’s uniquely crafted world of rough indie and dream-pop. Everybody Works showcases Duterte’s best, starting from her personal and honest songwriting showcased throughout every track, to the guitar solo on “One More Time, Please,” and to her soft singing which bounces beautifully off acoustics. Everybody Works is beautifully refreshing and comfortable in it’s honesty. – Miguel Anderson



28. Jlin – Black Origami

Label: Planet Mu
Release date: May 19, 2017

Black Origami is the final draft of JIin’s work which he developed rightfully so and picks right where he left off on Dark Energy. It’s a dark hyperbreed monster of production that is complex and vastly layered. Jlin uses a variety of different elements such as different production techniques, varied samples, and a diverse range of instruments intermixed which layer atop of each other building steady paces and delivering epic crescendos that get more grandeur through every track. Black Origami is ever so pressing and exciting, taking abrupt swift turns that leave the listener curious for what Jlin has in store for us next. – Miguel Anderson



27. Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet

Label: Dead Oceans
Release date: July 14, 2017

Soft Sounds From Another Planet intimately captures the process of grief and recovery experienced after a loss in a way that is beautifully vulnerable. After losing her mother, Michelle Zauner began making music as a way to help her cope; Soft Sounds From Another Planet, her second project, deals with her healing process and her becoming more at peace with the concept of death. Inspired by the Mars One Project, Zauner uses a heavy mix of dream-pop and shoegaze to produce ambient sounds and plays guitar chords that make her music incredibly reminiscent of 90s alternative-rock bands such as Mazzy Star and Hole. Soft Sounds From Another Planet will definitely cause listeners to think about death but the beauty in it is that it will also remind them to appreciate life a little more. – Ashley Flamenco



26. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

Label: Atlantic
Release date: August 25, 2017

You can be lost in The War On Drugs’ music, they have a charm that is unmatched supported by dreamy folk-americana instrumentation, layers of rich synths, and passionate vocals creating a vibrant soundscape. A Deeper Understanding is no different from that. It’s a step forward, expansive on influence and is timeless, moving the listener to another atmosphere filled with a beautiful rush and driving melodies. Adam Granduciel’s craftsmanship shows on A Deeper Understanding, an album aware of its roots and that’s breathtakingly new. – Miguel Anderson



25. Milo – Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?!

Label: Ruby Yacht
Release date: August 10, 2017

Poet, philosopher, and pioneer of the underground hip-hop scene, Milo, is back extending his reach into the world of abstract and conscious hip-hop to make a more personal and intimate side of him shown. Bits of spacey cloud rap, music samples, and classic hip-hop beats run the show, while Milo’s spoken word raps offer the punchlines giving us food for thought and a mind to run wild over his terrain. His word play is applied with wit, giving a unique delivery to his nerd-like raps, helping aid Milo’s deep delved curiosity. – Miguel Anderson



24. The National – Sleep Well Beast

Label: 4AD
Release date: September 8, 2017

Sleep Well Beast is the National using all of what they’re known for, and adding more spunk to it. They delve deep into the sound which they’ve worked so well with since Boxer, but go for a more amplified experimental version of their own, using catchy hooks, blood-pumping drums, and guitar solos that shine with an electronic, post-punk, and art-rock type of warmth and glow. Sleep Well Beast celebrates the doom and gloom of life with nocturnal and dark vocals, calling for urgency in the face of a shaping nation. – Miguel Anderson



23. Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free

Label: ATO
Release date: March 3, 2017

Chicano Batman makes a bold empowering statement with Freedom Is Free. In an industry and area of music that has been dominated by white people, Chicano Batman holds on to their culture, creating Mexican influenced rock that has a groovy soulful touch. On this album, they protest and discuss issues that have affected people of color such as enslavement, gentrification and the stealing of one’s culture, ideas that are especially prominent in “The Taker Story.” With a heavy cultural influence and powerful message, Freedom Is Free is certainly unlike much of the music that we’ve heard this year but it’s something that everyone can enjoy and should take in. – Ashley Flamenco



22.  Daniel Caesar – Freudian

Label: Golden Child
Release date: August 25, 2017

On his debut, Daniel Caesar uses R&B with a Gospel influence to create an intensely romantic album. He uses bass and guitar to create sensual sounds and tops it off with vocals from female artists Kali Uchis, H.E.R., Syd, and Charlotte Day Wilson. Freudian is an album full of emotion. Caesar sings about the struggles in a past relationship, physical and emotional connection, and fixing issues within the relationship. Songs like “We Find Love” talk about falling in love with someone who decided to give up and how it was probably meant to burn down because of all the issues they faced in their relationship. The album comes to full circle when he closes it with Freudian which is about him thanking his partner for helping him shape the person he is today and for being the reason he is alive. Caesar’s debut is what will take him far in the music industry. – Louis Cano




Release date: August 25, 2017

SATURATION II is the very essence of BROCKHAMPTON, it shows the effort of teamwork when so many different and unique pieces come together and displays how the camaraderie works so well in action. It’s a surprising non-stop joyride that blends and finds a true trailblazing star power formula that includes extremely catchy hooks, deep yet-complex verses, clever bars, bold statements, queer voices, unforgettable melodies, and a wild style which flow over a self produced production which can be bouncy, experimental, fun, hardcore, and light all at the same time. SATURATION II shows a relentless versatility where everyone is appreciated and acknowledged. – Miguel Anderson



20. Sampha – Process

Label: Young Turks
Release date: February 3, 2017

Sampha was never the one to have the focus on himself, and if he did it was never completely on him. Process sees Sampha changing that and fixing the spotlight on him, delivering a presence in his music and a deeply human record to call his own. Sampha pushes through on Process, giving us a scope where one can see his flaws and his method of dealing with personal devils & haunts. His melodic piano and synths create an ambient backdrop for his light voice and his aching. – Miguel Anderson



19. Brand New – Science Fiction

Label: Procrastinate! Music Traitors
Release date: August 17, 2017

The final Brand New album is a wonderful, mature, and memorable exit that keeps you on your seat with cryptic messages that unfold to seriousness and build-up to hardcore hits, making Science Fiction a very mysterious and sentimental but daring final effort. It’s a dark, eerie, and emotional album inspired by 90’s grunge and the heavy-rock scene. Science Fiction succeeds at its most brooding and melancholic, luring in a deep introspective atmosphere that will make you emotional with each bit of honesty left open. – Miguel Anderson



18. Jay-Z – 4:44

Label: Roc Nation / UMG
Release date: June 30, 2017

After being involved in years of controversy, negative press, and domestic issues that carried from 2014 and well into 2016, Jay-Z came out with his part of the story. 4:44 is Jay-Z’s truth in all the complications that surrounded him, and the bigger picture. It’s a raw and emotional personal account that sheds light on the human flaws we all have and the problems haunting him such as stereotypes, his perception in the media, and racism. 4:44 is bitterly honest in the face of doubters and grueling America. – Miguel Anderson



17. Arca – Arca

Label: XL Recordings
Release date: April 7, 2017

Arca’s self-titled album is a development of the artist Arca and the introduction to himself, Alejandro Ghersi. He juxtapositions concepts such as chaotic and melodic on this album. Chaos, which has pervaded his work since Xen and Mutant, shielding little and giving maximum exposure to hard edge and industrial sounds that wouldn’t normally fit against minimalist production style. And Melodic, fitting tiny pieces of tunes which actually move to — and if it means adding his ill-fitted vocals to the mix to shed light on his “queer” and closeted life then so be it. Nonetheless, Arca is an intimate project that comes from a place that has been hidden for years and is ready to come out. – Miguel Anderson



16. Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom

Label: Brainfeeder
Release date: September 29, 2017

The debut album from Iglooghost is extremely foreign, coming from another planet and immersive to his unique signature style. It’s a manic fusion of hip-hop, pop, colorful instruments, and vocal samples over energetic and dramatic beats pursued by distinct quirkiness and originality. Neō Wax Bloom shows great prospects and talent taking us into the dense and heavily chaotic mind of Iglooghost, pushing boundaries past it’s borders and flipping them on it’s head. – Miguel Anderson



15. Björk – Utopia

Label: One Little Indian
Release date: November 24, 2017

Utopia comes after pain, and that journey from pain to utopia is an account that consumes Utopia. She comes from an awfully hurt place to express her longed emotions and meets a new place, Utopia, carefully curated by her to keep all the past-ridden misfortunes, which have plagued her, out. She shares this utopia with her listener, giving them some grace and optimism to hold onto while amending the mistakes of the world and one’s feelings all in one place. Björk’s Utopia is sent with poise as elegant flutes, catapulting synths, and ambient animal noises project her ideal utopia. – Miguel Anderson



14. Slowdive – Slowdive

Label: Dead Oceans
Release date: May 5, 2017

After their break up, Slowdive returns with a polished and reassuring album unfurling on their stylistic shoe-gaze & dream-pop sound, a well return home to Souvlaki. It runs with a certain ambiance and moving atmosphere that contains lush and warm vocals, creating the ethereal one of a kind experience for the listener. It’s transportive and dreamy, rediscovering and still spreads the magic they had years ago. – Miguel Anderson



13. Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

Label: Mexican Summer
Release date: September 15, 2017

Dedicated To Bobby Jameson speaks to the very essence of Ariel Pink; a forward thinking artist whose colorful strides show his own account of weirdness and originality. Pink continues his weirdness and humor on Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, an album deep in psychedelic, quirky rock, and hypnagogic pop but also deep in his absurdity and himself where he inserts his best and intriguing work yet, filled with unique, bright, and playful instrumentation and eccentric songwriting. This record accurately reflects Ariel Pink as the weird, quirky, and fun genius we’ve always loved. – Miguel Anderson



12. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

Label: Def Jam / Blacksmith / ARTium Recordings
Release date: June 23, 2017

Vince Staples is vulgar, eager, and ready to speak on Big Fish Theory, his “official statement” album announcing his presence and cementing his status in the rap game. Big Fish Theory is his most ambitious effort yet, where he pursues other rappers lack thereof, an aggressive flow, the political climate, and an industrial electronic production which works well for him and his bold statements. He proves himself to be the Big Fish and the greatest rappers of our decade with clever bars, party bangers, and an introspective look at himself and the rap game as a whole. – Miguel Anderson



11. Perfume Genius – No Shape

Label: Matador
Release date: May 5, 2017

The follow up to Too Bright is not at all vulnerable acceptation of identify, in fact it’s a confident comeback that is prideful in it’s identity and an unbashful appreciation of being queer. Mike Handreas’ experiences as a queer male have painfully shaped this record to it’s triumphant highs and it’s devastating lows on his journey to self love, shunning any critics along his way using beautiful synths, different singing styles, and an array of different melodies and instruments making No Shape his best and most confrontational project yet. Mike on his new endeavor is boastful and unafraid, and that triumph is what makes No Shape so beautiful. – Miguel Anderson



10. Lorde – Melodrama

Label: Republic
Release date: June 16, 2017

Listening back to Lorde’s debut album, Pure Heroine, you can hear how much she’s grown musically. Pure Heroine was based on her experience growing up in New Zealand. Now she’s all grown and has experienced so much since her last album. Melodrama sinks the listener into a world of romance, heartbreaks, loneliness and personal growth. One of her most personal songs on the album is Liability which talks about her experience learning how to be alone for the first time and being okay with it. The song is something many listeners can connect with on a personal level and that’s what makes this album so amazing. Seemingly there’s a song for everyone to relate to on the album. And when this project refers to heartbreaks, it’s referring to the ones you learn to love yourself through. This is an album that no one should be ignoring. – Louis Cano



9. Thundercat – Drunk

Label: Brainfeeder
Release date: February 24, 2017

Thundercat is ever so charming on Drunk, a jazz and groove infested universal-yet personal diary that shed light on the good, bad, and ugly commonalities of everyone’s life. Drunk comes off as extremely relatable, humorous, and sometimes dark through content, setting, and vocals where he pairs his unusually high voice to a groove that take us into the mind of Thundercat, where life is on the pedestal, not for judgement or inspection, but for appreciation and praise. On Drunk, everyone shares a moment. – Miguel Anderson



8. LCD Soundsystem – american dream

Label: Colombia / DFA
Release date: September 1, 2017

LCD Soundsystem saw the end of their light in 2011, almost disbanding. Amid the complications, they have brought forth an album that shines from within. It’s a warm welcome filled with stunning guitar and drum performances with an electronic overfold that shines with a modern yet classic feel; it’s a funky electronic album disguised as a punk-rock one that pays homage to the past and looks forward to the future. American dream is a bold statement, made for the current social atmosphere and life itself. – Miguel Anderson



7. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

Label: Multi Alumni / BMG Rights Management
Release date: October 27, 2017

Big Krit is a name you will see soon on the hall of fame. Thats a statement Big Krit & Justin Scott makes explicitly clear on 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time. An introspective of two stories, you find yourself immersed with the man in the background and the man who takes center stage. Both stories are representative of where he came from and where he currently stands which is clearly southern to spotlight. It’s in his flow, his culture, his story, and production which stand still to hold up growth, respect, and loyalty. – Miguel Anderson


the ooz_king krule.jpg

6. King Krule – The OOZ

Label: True Panther Sounds
Release date: October 13, 2017

King Krule takes a very dark turn with The OOZ, straying away from the emotion-filled frame of 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, releasing something very different and inventive that goes beyond anything most would expect from him. Krule’s intensely deep vocals faultlessly suit the bleak creepy nonetheless pleasant sounds of The OOZ, created by distorted yet progressive guitar riffs and lots of jazzy instruments like the saxophone. This album gives you everything from blaring vocals and stormy electric guitar to unsettling however soothing mixes of blues, indie-rock and jazz. Having 19 songs, the album is over an hour long, making it seem daunting to listen to but The OOZ is without a doubt a worthy exception. – Ashley Flamenco




Release date: December 15, 2017

SATURATION III (sadly) brings BROCKHAMPTON’s SATURATION trilogy, a series of albums that took the music world by storm this year, to a close. Being just one part of the trilogy, it’s similar to the other two albums in many ways but what makes SATURATION III stand out as their best work yet is the boldness of it. The group keeps it real, conveying personal issues in a way that’s more in-your-face; they really don’t hold anything back on this project. BROCKHAMPTON, America’s favorite boy-band, surely made a memorable exit with SATURATION III, one that has us feening for more. (And a certain critical music website definitely didn’t do BROCKHAMPTON’s work justice). – Ashley Flamenco



4. SZA – Ctrl

Label: RCA / TDE
Release date: June 9, 2017

After being delayed over and over again, SZA released her highly anticipated debut album, Ctrl, back in June, which became one of the most talked about albums of the year. Though her other projects gained her some recognition, this album became her breakthrough. She sings about some of the struggles she’s dealt with, issues with past relationships, growing up, sexual freedom, and much more. A lot of the things she discusses on this record are real life situations that she’s gone through which is one of the things that makes this album so good and refreshing, it’s raw which isn’t something you hear in music often. – Louis Cano



3. Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy

Label: Colombia
Release date: July 21, 2017

It’s the outstanding production, amazing features, and stunning instrumentation that make Flower Boy go way beyond any other Tyler, The Creator project. On Flower Boy, Tyler takes a more mature and personal route that’s free of anger and is much less vulgar than his previous work. He discusses a range of topics like loneliness, depression, emptiness, materialism, love, and sexuality, adding an intimate touch that makes this album so distinct from his others. Numerous features like Kali Uchis, Rex Orange County, and Frank Ocean make important contributions providing vocals, rap verses and instrumentation that the album wouldn’t be the same without. Flower Boy is an absolutely excellent work of art that’s very innovative, exceeding many’s ecpectations. – Ashley Flamenco



2. Kelela – Take Me Apart

Label: Warp
Release date: October 6, 2017

Kelela’s take of R&B is different than what R&B is currently bubbling over which is filled with heavy bass & drums, chill tunes, and soulful singing. Now, her version of R&B is remarkably different: it contains progressive explosive synths, rhythmic tempos, and silky immersive production that sonically cover and capture the past, present, and future of R&B. This new take on the genre quite literally sets Kelela’s Take Me Apart at the future of R&B. On Take Me Apart, she takes you on a trip which explores the future of her style while exploring the depths of her creation and trials and triumphs with relationships, allowing support for the new style of R&B, offering accessibility on all angles, and giving you a piece of sensuous vulnerability. Kelela lets you know that her sophisticated debut was ran with innovation in mind. – Miguel Anderson



1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Label: Interscope / TDE
Release date: April 14, 2017

After To Pimp A Butterfly, one could wonder and ask “where could Kendrick go?” after producing an instant modern classic that stumped every human on earth, schooling them on classism, racism, and plain morality. How could Kendrick top or even put out an assuring follow-up? With DAMN., Kendrick pushes past said musical limitations which found him in a comfortable position. He pursues his music and even takes it to a new high, rapping over beats we haven’t seen since his early days on Section.80. This is the album that brings back K.Dot which we’ve all been waiting for. Pushing past new boundaries in a fiery way, DAMN. has impressively managed to appeal to such a wide audience of new listeners, something that is difficult for many artists to do, making it an album that so many have been able to enjoy. – Miguel Anderson

The Perfect Albums For Winter

Favorites, Music Catalogs December 25, 2017

Since the colder season has approached us and we’re now preparing for those chilly days spent indoors, Stage Confessions has put together a list of our favorite Winter albums for you to listen to on these days. Winter is a dreamy relaxing time and these albums with their polished snug feel will put you in the spirit of the season making you want to chill with a warm blanket by the fire as you watch the rain hit your window.



James Blake – The Colour In Anything

Label: Interscope
Release date: May 6, 2016

The Colour In Anything is absolutely perfect for those cold days as winter carries on in the later months. In addition to that, the album just exudes coziness– a feeling that is essential during the winter; you almost want to be wrapped up in blankets on a rainy day to get the best listen out of this album. It’s backed by Blake’s deep gospel-esque voice and blends sparse minimal electronic elements as well as Blake’s orthodox trumpet, piano, and gospel to create an assured and snug atmosphere. Even at the most experimental and different, you can still hear winter and cold peak through harsh beats in which they still feel frigid and icy. Check out the tracks “Radio Silence,” “Choose Me,” “I Need A Forest Fire,” “f.o.r.e.v.e.r,” “Love Me In Whatever Way,” and “Modern Soul.” – Miguel Anderson



Björk – Homogenic

Label: Elektra / One Little Indian
Release date: September 22, 1997

Björk’s most icy and ever so chilling piece of work is undeniably Homogenic. Frosty strings and piercing electronic beats cover every nook and cranny of this album, blending them with an eerie feel to recall the feeling of Bjork’s homeland: a barren and cold Iceland which is essentially what winter is. She creates an electronic maximalist industrialist world, which may sound hard-edged but the instruments and strings are meticulously crafted and blended so well together that they sound like an innovative sonic orchestra, taking cold theatrical and dramatic turns. Check out the tracks “Hunter,” “Jóga,” “Bachelorette,” “All Neon Like,” and “All Is Full Of Love.” – Miguel Anderson



Beach House – Depression Cherry

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: August 28, 2015

Depression Cherry is, simply put, quite beautifully depressing but not the kind of depressing that would normally come to mind; in a way that’s tough to put into words, it takes delight in sorrow and loneliness with music that transports you to a dream world. It uses lush synth, keyboard and electric guitar that complement Victoria Legrand’s melodic vocals perfectly to create an out of this world musical atmosphere. It’s the magical instrumentation filled with an alluring melancholy that will make you want to take in the beauty of Depression Cherry on a cold gloomy day. Check out the tracks “PPP,” “Space Song,” and “Days of Candy.” – Ashley Flamenco



Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Label: Jagjaguwar
Release date: July 8, 2007

For Emma, Forever Ago is a humble collection of timeless folk breakup songs that were made in isolation in the Wisconsin wilderness. Folk instrumentation and the feeling of isolation is the very feeling which brings out the strong sense of winter in this album. He covers the separation between him and his girlfriend, the breakup of his band, and the unsatisfaction with himself to create an intimate, true, and collected album which points out the commonalities of every person’s life. All songs are decorated with a folk instrumentation that leaves you feeling calm as you listen to his melodies sung in his falsetto voice that rolls with his guitar riffs.  It’s bare and raw and all you could ask for on this winter season. Check out the tracks “Lump Sum,” “Skinny Love,” “The Wolves (Act I and II),” “For Emma,” and “Re: Stacks.” – Miguel Anderson



Erykah Badu – Baduizm

Label: Kedar
Release date: February 11, 1997

Jazz, soul, and mid-tempo grooves are what hold Baduizm up to its high standard. It’s extremely mature and subtly groovy. Baduizm is there for those days where you want to unwind and fix yourself up to be warm. It’s an essential and an ode, telling you to respect yourself and to not care about the cold that’s coming in for the season. Badu’s bars definitely add to the coldness of this album as she shuns judgment and leads the role for the need of self-care in your life. Erykah’s soulful singing hovers above the instrumentals which is a jazzy mix of hip-hop, silky beats, bass, piano, and drum & high hats. Check out the tracks “On & On,” “Other Side Of The Game” “4 Leaf Clover,” and “No Love.” – Miguel Anderson



Slow Hollows – Romantic

Label: Danger Collective
Release date: November 4, 2016

Romantic is ironically not romantic at all, it’s an album that deals a lot with teen angst, explores other despondent emotions that tend to be deeply felt during one’s youth and uses jazz-infused sounds and dull guitar riffs to do so. Lines from the opening track of the record, “I’d rather dream/ oh can’t you see,” that are sung in Austin Feinstein’s monotone voice, showcase the ample amount of depression that would make someone prefer their dreams over reality. And songs like “Romantic” display a relationship that didn’t end well and really has no hope of being fixed. Dreary guitar, saxophone, trumpet, and horns only promote the somber mood that the lyrics create on their own but produce the relaxing ambiance that makes this album ideal to listen to on a rainy day. Check out the tracks “Spirit Week,” “Softer,” and “Luxury Of Lull.” – Ashley Flamenco

4 Artists Who Are Rocking The Indie Music Scene

Artists You Should Know, Favorites, Music Catalogs December 16, 2017

One of the biggest occurrences in music in 2017 was the rise of the lo-fi indie scene, filled with incredibly talented young artists. With the majority of these artists being under the age of 20 and not having access to a lot of equipment and recording studios, most of them produce their chill lo-fi melodies from home, making them all the more impressive. This list encompasses just some of the musicians who really made their imprint on the indie scene this year, having their music go viral and gaining large followings. Their music shines with smooth synths, original sounds, and melodic guitar riffs. Each one of these artists has their own special talent whether it’s Cuco with his trumpet solos, HOMESHAKE with synths, or Cosmo Pyke with his jazz-infused indie sound — these artists show that they are here to stay.



Cuco is the 19 year old heartthrob who’s shaking up the LA music scene. With his dreamy ballads, trumpet solos, and Spanglish lyrics, Cuco is changing the game, allowing his culture to have an influence on his music, something that isn’t being done by many artists in the indie community. Starting off with just a small platform on SoundCloud, Cuco has been able to gain a large audience so quickly due to the virality of songs like “Lover Is A Day” that will hook you from the first listen; you’ll be singing “time changed we’re different but my mind still says redundant things” all day. His synth-pop beats and sentimental lyrics are sure to give you the feels and make you want to have a summer love (“Summertime is the time, I like to get high with you”). But it’s not just his catchy lyrics and electro-pop beats that his fans love, he’s managed to grab the attention of many young adults so well because he’s relatable, whether that’s through his experiences with love and heartbreak or his background. With Cuco being a minority, especially in this industry, he has become a figure that many Latinx teens look up to and feel represented by which has played a big role in his persona as an artist.  – Ashley Flamenco




HOMESHAKE is Peter Sagar’s solo musical project which has spawned 3 studio albums and 2 mixtapes. Based in Montreal, Peter has made a name for himself with indie rock and synth-pop influenced lo-fi instrumentals that incorporate a nice falsetto voice to back up these instrumentals with ease. His lyrics are potent with a stripped down subject where he speaks about adventure in a somewhat failed relationship which has its up and downs. Peter is one of the most confessional artists on this list. He highlights his insecurities in his music and is vulnerable about love. The way he creates this mood of relaxation is really his strongest trait — he lets this feeling of tranquility unravel with his voice while the production carries you on, synth by synth. – Miguel Anderson




Clairo has impressed many with the indie-pop songs that she makes right from her bedroom. With most likely not having much access to professional equipment, Clairo works with what she has, using GarageBand to record music and Photo Booth to film videos, including the one she filmed for “Pretty Girl” that went viral, hitting over 5 million views. Unlike many other artists, Clairo hasn’t had to build a “different” persona for herself or necessarily do something “crazy” with her music in order for it to stand out, she keeps it simple and that’s what makes her unique. She tends to focus on the sadder side of love through her lyrics but does so in a way that’s very simplistic, charming, and almost doesn’t seem sad. Most of her songs consist of beats that are made up of a few keyboard chords and a catchy chorus (“I could be a pretty girl, I’ll wear a skirt for you”) making them easy listens for anyone. – Ashley Flamenco



Cosmo Pyke

Probably the most up-and-coming out of all of these artists is Cosmo Pyke. He’s a model, singer, graffiti artist, and skater fresh out of South London. At only 18, he’s taking the indie scene by storm, being noticed for his unique style and music; he was even featured in Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” video and sold out a headlining tour. His musical style is a nice blend of the genres jazz, blues, indie-rock, reggae and hip-hop, all of which are recognizable in the sad lyrics, stylistic reggae guitar riffs and rap verses in his songs. Cosmo is able to smoothly mix styles that are vastly distinct from each other, allowing him to take the indie scene in a different direction where lo-fi artists are getting the spotlight. Currently, he has one EP out titled Just Cosmo, a collection of songs about the difficulties he went through in a past relationship that perfectly blend his lyrics into his inventive sound. – Miguel Anderson



Albums/EPs, New Music December 9, 2017

(Written by Miguel Anderson)

Björk is back with her “tinder” record that is a wound in the process of recovering. She is full of hope and newfound love, a departure from Vulnicura, the breakup record which marked the end of the inspiring (and die-hard) Vespertine era and her relationship with Matthew Barney. She starts anew on Utopia, inspired, optimistic, and hopeful for the future.

In 2001, Björk released Vespertine, an album that was a showcase of her strong-willed love for her then-new marriage with Matthew Barney. Vespertine captured the intimacies of love (“Pagan Poetry” & “Cocoon”) and covered the emotions felt being in love (“It’s Not Up To You” & “Hidden Place”) in lush expression and lyrical value. She sang with passionate raw emotion, sometimes describing explicitly what physicalities and emotions drew this special feeling. One could say that this is the Björk that was passionately in love. Now fast forward to 2015, to the breakup album Vulnicura. We see Björk take on themes of melancholy, sorrow, and sentiment as she recalls this breakup. She describes in prolific detail about it, taking note of every event and feeling covered that leads to the eventual split, including wanting to salvage the relationship once lost & questioning (“Stonemilker” & “Lionsong”), the final moments of intimacy (“History of Touches”), the dismantle of the family & rage felt (“Black Lake” & “Family”), and the confront of the sorrow and split altogether (“Notget”). She even added production play where the listener could hear the breakdown of the relationship with glitch-pop and swift changes in instrumentation, as tempos pick up and slow down again to display the intense emotions felt. This album single-handedly ended the Vespertine era, which was about love and lust, and was now overthrown by Vulnicura, an emotional plague of depression that opened a bittersweet wound full of gloom.


Now, Björk is facing utopia. Her open-chested wound has started to heal and transform into optimism, assurance, and hope. She is inspired, in love, an admirer and no longer in distraught. The first tracks of the album showcase an ode, one to display how far the wound has healed, giving off splendor, warmth, and love. Harps, light flute melodies, colorful grandeur synths, and vibrant animal noises cover every corner of Utopia to back up the song with vibrant colors and soaring sounds. Explosive splendor synths, chiseled cymbal paradiddles, and a mystical harp arrangement set the stage on “Arisen My Senses,” and for the rest of Utopia. “Just that kiss…” Björk sings in melody, “Was all there is.” she sings with a breathe, a song about the realization of love to all her senses. “The Gate”, “Utopia”, and “Body Memory” shows Björk for all what Utopia is at this moment, her wound healed. They find her at her best, assured and able to love again. “Features Creatures” calls Björk regaining her ability to love again once lost, bringing her sexuality and attraction to the front.

As the wound is continuing to recover, Björk still hurts. Darkness and the same breaks of glitch-pop and swift changes in instrumentation arise on Utopia. “Courtship” leads the listener up to this darkness, acting as a grand transition from the light & airy to the dark & suffered. It’s a fast tempo track with only a little air time to ventilate recalling her time with Barney once again as she did on Vulnicura. Themes of darkness then build out further on “Losss” and “Sue Me” as the past relationship with her ex still haunts her. Lyrics on these tracks take on themes of sentiment, assertiveness, and universal truth. “We all are struggling, just doing our best / We’ve gone through the grinder, suffered loss.” Björk sings on “Losss,” directly talking about the past detrimental Vulnicura. However, as Vulnicura and Barney hurt her so, she asserts herself in “Sue Me” finally regaining ground as she is no longer hurt. She demands Matthew, through a custody battle for their daughter Isadora, integrity and maturity; to step up to the plate to a fight she does not wish to take part in. She is found at her most vulnerable, the most powerful.


In the last final tracks of Utopia, Björk’s wounds have healed. She finds her utopia and shares her final hope for the future. Her utopia is revealed through her intricate relationship with music and nature; essential callings Björk has made clear album to album. Then, on “Future Forever,” a delicate ending, Björk shares a utopia where we can all take part in and does this using glimmery synths and organ-like chords to back her up, a future with endless possibilities. “Imagine a future and be in it.” she wisps calmly, forming her dream. A future that we can look forward to if we believe in it so, it can come true she forms. This pushes us to be optimistic and forward-thinking; Björk’s true wish.

Bane’s World: “Drowsy” Yet Alluring

Artists You Should Know, Favorites November 20, 2017

(Written by Miguel Anderson)

Shane Blanchard, who refers to himself as “Bane’s World,” a nickname given to him by friends in High School, is an artist from Long Beach, California. Bane’s World has come into the indie music scene at no better time; with the scene not even reaching its peak yet, he has already secured his presence as an outstanding artist among his peers: Cosmo Pyke, Cuco, and Temporex, who all share similarities in style and sound.

Shane has been putting out music for about 2 years now but has already garnered attention from artists like Temporex, who he’s collaborated with, and Tyler, The Creator, who recently attended one of his shows and shouted him out on social media. He’s a small artist who has one full project out named Drowsy, a title that is fitting for an artist like him whose sound gives off a drowsy feel, an effect that is delivered through synth-heavy tunes and guitar strums. His music almost sounds as if it were recorded underwater, giving it a wavy-dreamlike vibe. Shane’s style consists of a blend of slacker rock, lo-fi beats, and blues. A comparison of sound would be HOMESHAKE, who isn’t really confined to the slacker rock or lo-fi style, just as Shane, but whose music blends both of these genres to create a style unique to him. Funny enough, in an interview with Lucid Dreams Magazine, Shane even lists Mac Demarco and HOMESHAKE as a dream collaboration — which is appropriate considering that they both have similar sounds. If you’re into the combination of mellow tunes, slacker rock, and lo-fi, there’s no doubt that you’ll love Banes World. “Drowsy,” his first musical project, is filled with sad sounding love songs that are best listened to on a summer night. You can find him on SoundCloud, where most of his work lives, Spotify, BandCamp, Apple Music, and most streaming sites.