The Black Keys – Turn Blue
I found myself on the ‘Black Keys’ train quite a bit later than most of my peers, but a little music video for a song called ‘Lonely Boy’ reeled me in like a hungry fish. ‘Turn Blue’ was just released in May, and it has since been in constant rotation during my daily drives, cleaning sprees and outdoor activities. Moody and retro cool, it is the perfect soundtrack to relax to. There are hints of 1970’s and Zeppelin-esque influence in songs like “Weight of Love” and “Bullet in the Brain” while songs like “In Our Prime” and “Turn Blue” have a folksy, blues feel to them. In fact, the entire album brings the Beatles to mind, in their eclectic, upbeat overall sound. It is modern but nostalgic, and just flat out comforting from start to finish.
Listen to: Weight of Love, Turn Blue, Fever, Bullet in the Brain
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
You may know Childish Gambino by his real name-Donald Glover- or you may know him as beloved Community cast member Troy Barnes. Either way, you will probably be surprised by the music that he puts out. Unless you have heard his crass and playful standup routines, of course. Then this should come as no surprise.
Gambino’s second album has turned out to be the only rap/hip hop album that I have kept in rotation for the last few months, and is one of the most infectious albums of 2014 so far (it came out in December 2013, but for the sake of this article-its a 2014 album). He has created a genre for himself that I would describe as ‘nerd hop’, with references to nearly every facet of pop culture, from TV, to Star Wars to mobile apps like Vine and Twitter.
When he isn’t throwing out insanely clever rhymes about weed, parties, technology and being generally awesome, he is crooning about relationships, solitude and finding yourself in a world where “because of the internet, mistakes are forever”. His openness and unique perspective as a “rich kid, asshole” is fresh and intriguing, and he embraces it with full steam.
I am hooked.
Listen to: Telegraph Ave, Crawl, The Party, Death by Numbers, 3005
Protest the Hero – Volition
If there is one album that has changed my musical perspective over the last few years, it is Volition. From the operatic vocals to the elaborate and unconventional instrumentals, this album has everything that I look for in music. It is music that digs deep into your core and reverberates through your nervous system, living inside of your stomach and escaping through your throat in fits of adrenaline. Protest’s lyrics have a political and social voice, with dark tones and tongue-in-cheek sermons on moral fortitude. An album that was conceived with the financial and moral support of their loyal fanbase, they have created what I believe to be their strongest album yet. Even the weakest song on the album is far better than 90% of the music out there today.
Listen to: Animal Bones, Clarity, Skies, Drumhead Trial, Tilting Against Windmills