Maddy Cristall

The Best New Albums You May Not Be Hearing

Car Seat Headrest-Teens of Style/Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest are by no means new and unappreciated however Teens of Denial is groundbreaking and needs to be heard abundantly by the masses. The album isn’t officially released until May but several singles are accessible, most notably the modern remarkable ballad Vincent. Car Seat Headrest are based out of Seattle and driven by 24-year-old front man Will Toledo.  Toledo  is originally from Virginia and way too young to be so talented. Toledo started recording at 17 out of his family’s car for a sense of solitude and guaranteed soundproofing. He assembled a generous catalog of contentious, intelligent and genuinely lo-fi songs well paired with the oblivion of youth. In 2014, Toledo assembled a lineup with bassit Ethan Ives and drummer Andrew Katz. Together they formed Car Seat Headrest and released the album Teens of Style which is a prequel to Teens of Denial. Their music is filled with astutely critical observations of our current society, wax-poetic ramblings and complex walls of reverb. Both albums emphasize 2nd generation theology, depression, lack of direction and the complex relationship with alcohol one has in their early 20’s (or potentially evermore). Teens of Style got the band signed with Matador, a record label that is a barometer of talent. Teens of Style is a collection of the band’s catalogue over the past three years, reworked and reinterpreted. Teens of Denial dives further into this concept with new material that is distinctively them, which is notably impressive for such a young band. Their music is a refreshing ethnography of the new generation, reminding us music still matters, art is still thriving and new ideas are being created. Car Seat Headrest do resemble the sounds of The Strokes and Pavement which is part of what makes them so brilliant, yet they are something completely innovative all together. The official release of Teens of Denial is May 2016.


Anderson. Paak- Malibu

This is that jazz infused, well-written, relaxing and sensual hip hop you have been aching for. Brandon Anderson Paak is a west coast based singer/songwriter, he is diversely talented, exceedingly intelligent and remarkably magnetic. Malibu is Anderson. Paak’s (the period is intentional) fourth album and arguably his magnum opus, it is immediately affable and relentlessly stimulating in it’s entirety. His mother was a farmer in South Korea and his father served in the Air Force before he went to prison. Paak shared he didn’t see him again until he was being buried (via Consequence of Sound). At the age of 29 he has a unique and enlightened perspective of the world, he shares his personal stories and inspiring annotations in Malibu in the most appeasing way imaginable. Paak collaborated amply with Dr. Dre in Compton last year, which got him the recognition  he deserves. His previous work, such as the album Venice released in 2014, is great but Malibu is exceptional; it is profound, personal and unapologetic. Other talented artists such as Schoolboy Q, Talbi Kweli and The Game are featured on the album which adds to it’s complexity. Malibu discusses the difficulty he has endured with lyrics such as “ya moms in prison, ya father need a new kidney, ya family’s splittin’, rivalries between sibling,  if cash ain’t king, it’s damn sure the incentive”  from track:  The Season/Carry Me.

Although the album’s content is dark, it manages to be almost impossible not to dance to. It is dripping with soul, funk and everything there is to love about hip hop. His voice is pure molasses, he raps with unparalleled dominion and the beats are a combination of New Orleans and Chicago based blues and jazz. There are moments in Malibu that pay notable homage to James Brown followed by innovative lyrics rapped with precision. Much like Guru’s Jazzmatazz or the Abstract and The Dragon’s Mix-Tape, Paak takes time to thank everyone who assisted him on the creation of the album. This is part of what makes Malibu an inclusive and inviting body of work. On the final track : The Dreamer (which features Talib Kweli and the Timan family choir) Paak shares “ This one’s for all the little dreamers, I’m a product of the tube and free lunch. Who cares if your daddy couldn’t be here”.

Malibu ever-presently emphasizes the importance that you can do amazing work in this world despite the struggles you have endured. It is an record for everyone and even if the lyrics aren’t your thing the musicality of it will hypnotize you. Malibu is available internationally, as it should be, I envy those that get to hear it for the first time.


Rolla Olak-Heavy Feather

Vancouver based Rolla Olak’s latest album Heavy Feather is incredibly inviting yet remarkably resonating. This dichotomy is astutely captured in the name of the record. Heavy Feather is a wistful and poetic album yet void of cliche or over saturation. Olak takes you on a scenic route through stories of friendship, heartache and learning virtues along the dusty road.

Heavy Feather was recorded on Vancouver Island, Canada and produced by Aaron Older (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and engineered, mixed and mastered by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain).In Addition to Olak’s hauntingly appeasing voice, original songwriting and refined guitar playing, the accompanying musicians on this record are impossibly well suited to this project: Kathryn Calder (The New Pornographers) sings and plays piano with great talent, Nick Petrowitch (Bend Sinister) is on percussion and plays with distinctive precision, Louise Burns (Lillix) harmonizes with Olak brilliantly. Aaron Older provides synth and percussion and Francesco Lyon (Sun Wizard) adds  vocal arrangements. Olak’s sound is original, warm and evocative; it’s an invitation to experience a mosaic of gratifying emotions.

Olak explained “So many people were involved in this record. Aaron and Colin made it sound so good sonically. They also helped break down the songs and build them back up again live with an old drum machine”. 

His songs combine the strongest elements of shoe gaze, americana and country resulting in textured sound. Olak is inspired by the likes of Neil Young, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, which is evident in his intelligent songwriting but his sound is unprecedented. Heavy Feather is emotional yet it never feels sorry for itself, which is refreshing in the over-zealous nature of our contemporary culture. The album is flawlessly assembled, mixed with precision and worth listening to abundantly, providing you with something different each time. Heavy Feather is on Older Records and available on itunes internationally.

Why Criticizing Coachella is Useless

Maddy Cristall


Beautiful people somehow managing to have fun

Coachella; a term that may immediately create images of trendy cultural misappropriation,trust fund kids trying to desperately spot celebrities and a sea of people who generally contradict the foundation of music festivals. Coachella may also make one think of the first major festival of the year where an eclectic mix of the world’s most successful recording artists perform to countless beautiful people in ideal desert weather.

The incredibly popular two-weekend festival is less than a month away which is when an abundance of articles are released addressing how terrible the whole damn thing is. Meanwhile, it is common that prior to the event, festivalgoers lounge in Palm Springs or L.A meeting Vince Staples and SZA by the Poolside. Coachella is geared towards the wealthy, lucky and stereotypically gorgeous people of the world.

The countless articles bashing Coachella mainly addresses A) How the festival…

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Scars Don’t Define You, They Decorate You


When I was two years old I got third degree burns, the event at hand was a freak accident. I was enjoying an afternoon at home with my mom and brother. Although my memory of that time was naturally foggy I seem to recall there being a palpable sense of happiness, security and safety in the room. My mother was making a rare treat of Ninja Turtle Kraft Dinner, which I believe has sadly since been discontinued. I was sitting on the counter beside the stove, simply observing life as a two year old does. My mother picked me up with her delicate and gentle hands, as she was doing so my elbow hit the pot of water and scolded my young, fragile and impossibly fair skin. Chaos ensued and we immediately rushed to the hospital. As my mother was carrying me into the emergency ward I was listening to her profound heartbeat; this is my first cognitive memory. Her beating heart was fast, powerful and devoted; much like the woman herself. This memory of her heartbeat comforted me for the entire month we spent in the hospital together. I learned very young that one moment could change your entire life.


That stated, this experience was merely a part of my wonderful childhood. I have a great family, got to know all of my grandparents, played liberally, laughed relentlessly and learned keenly. The sharp and vibrant scars covering 30 % of my body seemed to bother those around me more than myself. This was made fiercely clear when I became a teenager attending high school. Many of my peers told me my scars were ugly; they alienated me for having them as if they were contagious and made me feel as though I should be ashamed of my body. I recall lazy nicknames such as “chicken skin” and “scar girl”. Evidentially people that treat others this way are punished in their limited vocabulary. Luckily, this didn’t get to me, I waltzed around my high school proudly knowing that I was gifted with an accessory that these kids didn’t have:confidence.

Many people  have scars that represent something heartbreaking like a house fire or violence and every morsel of my heart goes out to them. Some people have scars because they transitioned to the gender they were born to be or won a battle against breast cancer and that can represent strength and bravery. For myself, I have been able to transform the traumatic experience of my burn into a celebration towards my beautiful relationship with my mother, my acceptance of being different and the opportunity to share my experience. To anyone out there that is treated poorly by others based off of your physical differences just remember that’s their struggle not yours. You can continue to be a whole person in this life despite any hardship you have experienced. I live a good life, completely unburdened by my scars and I choose to not have people in it that make me feel bad about myself. Life is short; we may as well love our bodies no matter how they look through the whole godamn ride.



The Worst Genre Titles


Chick Rock

Despite the fact that term chick isn’t progressive or politically correct this genre title is also horribly generalizing. Chick rock is the title of both a Last FM channel and very recently the name of a Songza playlist. This term applies to Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Ani Difranco, Liz Phair, Hole, Patti Smith, P.J Harvey and Blondie. If we were to compare and contrast the music of all the women in this category we would find more differences than similarities. Although the initial intention of this genre title was possibly meant to empower women it has certainly lost that objective. The term Chick Rock was generally created in the 80’s and became more prevalent in the 90’s, it essentially refers to women who write their own songs, play their own instruments and contain something of an “edge”. It is  clearly not necessary to put all women who are not typical pop stars into one bananas simplifying category. If we did the same for men then we would put G G Allen in the same category as Chris Martin.

Conscious Rap

Conscious rap refers to a sub genre of rap and hip hop that challenges dominant political, economic, philosophical and cultural issues. This genre is meant to separate the plethora of rappers who refrain from making offensive statements and pertain to the general outdated themes within rap such as the abundance of money and objectifying  women. It is certainly important to differentiate the various forms of rap, especially to educate people who assume all rap sounds the same and is about the same thing because if you love hip hop you know that’s not the case. The problem with this term is that it no longer applies to contemporary rap and is often misused thus generalizing a group of people who are far too often discriminated against. Conscious rap originally applied to artists such Public Enemy (who were also some of the pioneers of hip hop), Immortal Technique and Mos Def to differentiate from “Gangster Rap” such as Dr.Dre, Wu-Tang Clan and Biggy. However,now we have artists such as Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and M. F Doom who sort of fit into the category of conscious rap given its description yet don’t choose to identify this way. Additionally, Macklemore is widely understood as conscious rap mostly because there isn’t really an alternative term to accurately describe his music. In his latest single “ White Privilege” Macklemore states “now I don’t rap about guns, so they label me conscious but I don’t rap about guns cause I wasn’t forced into the projects”. The state of hip hop is so multifaceted and diverse that merely separating conscious rap from the rest of hip hop is not enough. We now have contemporary terms in our society to describe gender, race and sexual orientation; hip hop deserves the same.

Coffee House

Coffee house is an extremely common term in modern music; it’s the name of several satellite radio stations, on air radio stations and online music channels. That stated it’s a relatively new term and is meant to describe music that makes you feel warm and safe inside. Although, that’s all fine and good it is a genre very few musicians strive for and is once again horribly generalizing. Musicians in this category bounce from Van Morrison to Jack Johnson; one wrote Astral Weeks and Into the Mystic, stole the show at the Last Waltz and redefined the use of the organ the other wrote Banana Pancakes. Beck, David Rawlings and Ryan Adams are also featured on these channels alongside Nora Jones, John Mayer and Adele. Let’s truly reflect on this variety of musicians for a moment to really grasp how astounding it is they are categorized in the same genre for a massive international audience everyday.I rest my case.

World Music

World Music has got to take the cake on the most generalizing genre title yet it is still hugely prevalent in North America and the name of several radio channels, album themes and even gets it’s own section at record stores. The idea that music from any foreign country should be stamped simply as “world music” is both vague and racist. In fact, the original description of the term is “non- western musical traditions” which can easily translate to “ music we don’t know how to define”. Secondly, this genre title wasn’t a conclusive decision of any of the musicians contributing to it; one white male in Connecticut named it in the sixties (true story). However, it remains to be a heavily promoted as common musical term. World music is essentially a huge blanket title over a diverse range of music that already has it’s own genre titles such as Bossa Nova, Afrobeat or Klezmer,just to name a few. So, please let’s give this one a rest and people in the future will be amazed we still used this term in 2016.

You Are Not Alone


Have you ever had a period in your life when you were only able to listen to the same musician in heavily generous amounts to do justice on how your’e feeling? This is a common human experience and usually devoted to a melancholic,confusing or tortured time in a listener’s life.

Although this is a generally shared experience we believe that this music in correlation with our pain is blatantly individualized, that nobody has ever felt quite this way before and that this music has never been able to connect with anybody else quite the same way. During this period it is as if a band has entered a recording studio in your subconscious to create an album based off of your thoughts and feelings. It is as if this album somehow belongs to you more than others and you have a rich and infinite connection with this piece of music and nobody understands the way you do.This is just a symptom of the everlasting narcissism and the addiction to sadness that human beings are made of like water and cells.

Many people experience this with Radiohead (album of your choice) as they are a band able to grasp the wide and bizarre variety of human emotion through sonic expression. Listeners that play music are often inspired by their rare and extraordinary melancholic yet technical approach. Non musicians enjoy the abstract and impalpable connection they have to their unique sound. Another skill Radiohead has is to not only grasp your emotions in a song but also grasp your relationship with something in the world at large such as the apocalypse or the fear of dying but it is still YOUR relationship with this giant subject matter.

I personally went through a time when I felt I could only listen to The Rolling Stone’s song  “No Expectations” over and over and over and over and over. Every time I tried to listen to another song it sounded mediocre and inadequate. This was because I was going through a breakup like everybody else goes through but I, of course felt like somehow the Stones got together, recorded my relationship and decided to make a song about it with the perfect amount of slide guitar 40 years before the relationship. Everything about the song engulfed the tumultuous yet undefinable feelings swimming through me. The song eventually taught me to rationalize the situation and appreciate the natural conclusion of the relationship.

I then went through a phase when I felt all I could physically do was listen to Mazzy stars’ album  ‘So Tonight that I might See” on vinyl and fall into the abyss of my bedroom floor while feeling as if each lyric subtly exuded from Kendra Smith’s mouth was an answer to a question I didn’t know I had. Every time I listened to the album which is approximately 70,000 I felt like I just visited the best psychotherapist in the nation and was able to further my personal clarity by listening to the album again.

Then there is Nick Drake’s perfectly wistful  album “Fruit Tree” which made me feel less sad as he was always somehow more sad but made it seem so enticing. He makes me want to be sad forever and that any sign of joy is for fools and stoners. I then realized this notion could be detrimental for my lifestyle and eventually put the record at the bottom of my shelf, which I save for those special days when I am well past the blues and into the reds.

A friend of mine listened to Bon Iver’s iconic “For Emma Forever Ago” and went missing for two weeks.His situation was clearly shared amongst other sensitive men that lost the one that got away and without her their facial hair grows with reckless abandon.Then there the classic musician-emotion combinations: Elliot Smith for misery, Cat Power for insecurity, Portishead for intimacy, Bob Dylan for heart-break, Amy Winehouse for heart-ache, Nina Simone for heart-sake.

The point? We are not alone when we are sad and that is OK, music isn’t strategically designed for our personal experience and that is also OK if there is some kind of interplanetary connection all of us share is this tangled world- it is this.

David Bowie- The Man Who Changed The World




David Robert Jones better known as David Bowie was a walking tapestry of imagination, creativity and human complexity. We lost him this week and the world immediately lost colour and warmth, two things he always encompassed. Bowie was a truly rare marvel of a human being who often didn’t seem human at all. Bowie originally derived from Brixton, London England; he was born in 1947 and musically active for the vast majority of his life. Bowie released 26 successful albums, many of which are considered revolutionary. He was a brilliant actor in several cinematically innovative films, acted on stage  and painted stunning body’s of work. He challenged gender norms way before it was hip and visited various personas he completely committed to. He wasn’t just a brilliant musician, he was a man who inhaled the beauty of life and exhaled works of art.

The Early Stages

Bowie began his musical career at the ripe age of 15, the saxophone is the first instrument he experimented with. He then discovered the guitar and played in a Rock and Roll band called The Konrads, they performed mostly at weddings and social gatherings in and around London. He knew then that he wanted to be a pop star and declared this news liberally to those around him. His mother wasn’t enthused and encouraged him to become a electrician, which was luckily never considered on his behalf. Bowie was omni-presently committed to music and played in various bands throughout the duration of his adolescence.

He eventually went solo and released his debut album titled ‘David Bowie’ in 1967. Although it wasn’t a huge commercial success, it was critically acclaimed and certainly gained him some well deserved attention, especially due to the authenticity of the record. During this time Bowie started dancing and became well acquainted with Lindsey Kemp, an innovative choreographer who truly inspired young Bowie. Bowie described Kemp kindly stating   “he lived on his emotions, he was a wonderful influence. His day-to-day life was the most theatrical thing I had ever seen, ever. It was everything I thought Bohemia probably was”.  During this time Bowie learned miming, expressive satire, acting and wrote the album ‘Space Oddity’ (Also known As David Bowie), which was originally released in 1969. Space Oddity contains the title track which changed his career forever. The album contains mostly acoustic guitar and poetically diplomatic lyrics. Following the release he went on tour with T. Rex that year in and he did both a musical and mime performance (I know, I wish I was there too).

In 1970 he married Angela Barnett who had a huge impact on his success as an artist. This was a profoundly creative time for Bowie and he released the album ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. This album contains powerful lyrics on the subject of schizophrenia and paranoia along with electronic walls of sound. He was now arriving to interviews as a hot commodity in androgynous outfits. The very next year, 1971, Bowie released the album ‘Hunky Dory’ that contains several of his hits and is widely considered one of the most innovative Rock and Roll albums of all time.  However, it wasn’t a commercial success at the time. Later that year Barnett and Bowie gave birth to their son Duncan Jones.

Ziggy Stardust

In  1972 Bowie released the revolutionary album  ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and then Spiders From Mars’. This record is Bowie’s first true concept album that was based on a persona he created. This was the album that made Bowie hugely popular and the base of the his Ziggy Stardust tour in which he always performed in character. Ziggy Stardust is a fictional extraterrestrial character personified by Bowie. This character was clad with short striking red hair, beautiful gender bending suits and feminine makeup. The album and character contains themes of sexual experimentation and social commentary, which was particularly powerful as it was the early 70’s and Bowie’s sexual orientation was unclear. What we need to remember is this was 44 years ago and there is continuing  homophobia and gender binary prejudice in our contemporary age. The track Starman, Moonage Daydream and It Aint Easy are all featured on the album, upon it’s release each song topped the charts and people everywhere went wild for this fresh revival of music. Shortly thereafter Bowie  produced  his close friend Lou Reed’s second solo album ‘Transformer’. In 1973 (again, only  the very next year) Bowie released another iconic album: ‘Aladdin Sane’. This album was completely groundbreaking for both Bowie and the world at large.  Aladdin Sane is another concept album that features nothing but hits and an extension of the Ziggy Stardust persona known as “Ziggy goes to America”. Aladdin Sane is  Bowie’s first album to top charts internationally and contains the notorious look we know as…


This look changed the fashion industry, the art world and Halloween forever. During this time Bowie explained “Offstage I’m a robot. Onstage I achieve emotion. It’s probably why I prefer dressing up as Ziggy to being David.” However, with satisfaction came severe personal difficulties with acting the same role over an extended period. Bowie later shared” It became impossible for me to separate from Ziggy Stardust, that’s when it all started to go sour, my whole personality was affected and it became dangerous, I had doubts about my sanity”. During this time Bowie was on an extensive tour, always performing  in the Ziggy Stardust character.  He would simulate oral sex to instruments, strip down nude and wear sumo wresting outfits on stage. In spit of exhaustion, later that year Bowie released the album ‘Pin Ups’ which was another commercial success.

Thin White Duke

 Bowie left the Ziggy Stardust persona behind an he started experimenting  with new sounds and released the album ‘Diamond Dogs’ which featured more Soul and Funk elements and the  infamous song  Rebel Rebel. The album was inspired by Orwell’s book 1984 and referenced a post apocalyptic city derived from the novel.  The Diamond Dog tour was high budget and international. During this time Bowie struggled with heavy cocaine use and became  temporarily mentally paranoid and emotionally disrupted.Bowie then moved to the U.S and recorded Young Americans , which contained even more funk and soul. It was explained rather eloquently  by author Christopher Sandford as such  explaining that “Over the years, most British rockers had tried, one way or another, to become black-by-extension. Few had succeeded as Bowie did now. The album’s sound, which the singer identified as “plastic soul”, constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees” The album contains the track Fame which was co written with John Lennon,and became Bowie’s first number one single in the U.S. Lennon shared that “Bowie’s music is great but it’s just Rock and Roll with lipstick on”.  In 1976  Bowie released the album ‘Station to Station’ which was also the  official release of his new persona Thin White Duke. This is the fresh, slick, and inspiring look we know as…



Thin White Duke was another fictional extraterrestrial character. He is an extension of character Thomas Jerome Newton that Bowie portrayed in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth which was released that same year. This album introduced Bowie’s heavier use of synthesizer and “Krautrock” style of music. Simultaneously Bowie’s drug use was becoming more public and  the media often called him  incoherent. Bowie later admitted he had become “twisted by cocaine” and overdosed frequently before performing.  Later that year, Bowie performed at Rock against Racism which was a benefit inspired by social justice.  This was a cause he was  committed to aiding. Bowie then went on an extensive tour across Europe and the US promoting station to station dressed as the Thin White Duke.  During these sessions he would  conduct intimate theatrical performances that highlighted his personal internal struggle at the time. Although the tour was highly successful it also led to legal issues, especially when Bowie shared the belief that  “Britain could benefit from a fascist leader” and was detained at the Russian border for possessing assumed nazi paraphernalia. Shortly after this,  he waved to a crowd in London which was interpreted by the paparazzi as giving a Nazi salute. Although Bowie had no intention of expressing Nazi ideologies, he recognized he was running into this trouble based from his statement about fascism and current troubles with  addiction and mental difficulties. Bowie equates this dark period of his life to drugs and his personification of Thin White Duke  so he decided to again change. Bowie later reflected on this time in saying”I was out of my mind, totally crazed. The main thing I was functioning on was mythology , that whole thing about Hitler and rightism, I’d discovered King Arthur”

The Berlin Trilogy

After getting  cleaner and seeking emotional assistance Bowie moved to a chalet on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He discovered his love for painting there and produced a series of post modern pieces. He brought his sketch pad on tour and found this outlet quite healing. Bowie then decided to move to Berlin, Germany and completely cleaned up his drug use. He lived in an apartment with Iggy Pop and started collaborating  with Brian Eno and began experimenting with ambient and minimalist music.  During this time he collaborated with  Iggy Pop on The Idiot and Lust for Life.

In 1977 Bowie released the album ‘Low’ which was inspired by the likes of the band “Neu!” The album Low was much more abstract than his previous work and features far less lyrics. The album initially had low commercial success but was considered “genius” by Phillip Glass and gained Bowie a different demographic of fans. The album eventually became the basis of Glass’ Symphony No. 1.  Low and Glass shared that the album contains “complex pieces of music, masquerading as simple music.” Low was the beginning of a trilogy and was followed by Heroes released the same year. The album Heroes is  different again than anything Bowie had previously done. Heroes was inspired by the 1977 divide of Berlin and the zeitgeist of Cold War. The album is quite accessible and contains title track which is one of Bowie’s most successful songs of all time. Bowie was touring incessantly at this point and had completely beat his drug addition. A live recording from this tour was released in 1978 and titled Stage. The final piece of this trilogy is titled Lodger and was released in 1979. Lodger is a minimalist approach to music and features ambient new wave sounds. The album contains many collaborations from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

The 80’s

 “The Scary Monster and Super Creeps” album  was released in 1980 and contains the hit Ashes to Ashes. The album features guitar synthesist Chuck Hammer and revisits the character Major Tom from Space Oddity. This album helped give birth to the New Romantic Movement in the UK. Later this same year Bowie starred in the  Broadway production of the The Elephant Man. This performance garnered huge acclaim for his acting.

 In 1981 Bowie collaborated with the band Queen and released the smash hit Under Pressure. In 1983 Bowie reached a new level of popularity with the album  ‘Let’s Dance’ which went platinum in both the U.S and the U.K. This album contains title track, China Girl and Modern Love which were all massive singles paired with avant-garde music videos. In 1984 Bowie released another dance album titled Tonight which involves collaborations from Tina Turner and Iggy Pop. The album features a cover of The Beach Boy’s God Only Knows and the song Blue Jean paired with an excellent music video which earned him a grammy that year.

In 1985 Bowie performed in the benefit concert Live Aid which involved a duet of him and Mick Jagger performing Dancing in the Street which quickly became a massive hit. In 1986 Bowie portrayed his most successful film character-the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Bowie wrote the majority of the film score and starred in the film. Labyrinth is still  one of the most popular cult classics of all time. That same year Bowie went on the Glass Spider tour which featured Peter Frampton on guitar.

Tin Machine, Iman and further experimentation

Bowie decided to retreat from his solo career and started a band with Reeves Gabrels, Tony Sales and Hunt Sales called the Tin Machine. Although the band released a relatively successful album and tour most people were interested in just hearing Bowie including Bowie himself. This  disrupted the democracy of the band. Bowie then decided to go solo again before they recorded their second album. He then went on the Sound and Vision Tour as a solo performer and it was was a  brilliant success.

In 1990, after Bowie has been divorced from Angela Barnett for a decade he met supermodel Iman and they were  married in 1992. Later in 1992 Bowie decided to re establish the band Tin Machine, the tour was titled Oy Vey Baby.  Unfortunately the tour   was not a commercial successful. Later in 1992 Bowie performed at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert and sang Under Pressure with Annie Lennox. in 1993 Bowie released another solo album titled ‘Black Tie -White Noise’ which was Jazz and Hip-Hop influenced and became another commercial success.  Later in 1993 Bowie wrote the Soundtrack for  The Buddha of Suburbia which is an album of incidental music composed for the television adaptation of the Hanif Kereishi novel. Bowie and Eno started working together again and in 1995 released the album ‘Outside’. This record  features industrial noise rock and is based on the premise from a short story written by Bowie about murder. The Outside Tour took place shortly after and Bowie selected Nine Inch Nails to share the bill with him across Europe and North America.

In 1996 Bowie was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.   The next year, he released the  album  Earthling which explores the likes of Drum and bass and jungle music. Earthling was another commercial success,  the single from the album  I’m afraid of Americans  was featured in the film Showgirls and later remixed by Trent Reznor. In 1999 Bowie created the soundtrack for the popular computer game Omikron. Later that year he released the heavily electronic album Hours.

The Millennium

 In 2000 Bowie and Iman had their daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones. In 2002 Bowie had a huge comeback album titled ‘Heathen’ which was his most successful since Tonight released in 1984. In 2003 Bowie  released the album Reality and  went on a extensive international tour. During this tour he had his first heart attack in Germany and  the rest of his tour was cancelled. In the following year he spent time recuperating and working more on film scores, including an updated version of Changes for Shrek.

In 2005 he performed with  the phenomenal upcoming bands Arcade Fire and  TV On The Radio and also worked on the film score for the film Stealth. Later that year he did a commercial for XM radio with Snoop Dog then worked on the Danish band’s  Kashmir’s album along with his friend Lou Reed.

In 2006 Bowie was given The Grammy Lifetime Achievement award  where he announced he was taking the year off  with no music releases and no touring. This was truly the only year in his entire career that Bowie stopped producing music.  He did however make a surprise appearance at David Gilmour’s concert in London. In 2007 Bowie curated the High Line Festival which took Place in New York. In 2008 he sang on Scarlett Johansson’s tribute album to Tom Waits.

The Late Years

On the 40th anniversary of the US Moon landing in 1969 and  Bowie’s commercial breakthrough with Space Oddity, EMI Records released the individual tracks from the original eight-track studio recording of the song.  This included  a contest inviting members of the public to create a remix. 

Reality Tour’, a double album of live material from the 2003 concert tour, was released in January 2010. In late March 2011, Toy, Bowie’s previously unreleased album from 2001, was leaked onto the internet. This album  contains  material used for  the studio album Heathen and most of the  single B-sides as well as unheard new versions of his early back catalogue. This was followed in 2013 with another album titled ‘The Next Day’ which was a surprise release.  The surprise was intentional on Bowies part. The album is a powerful body of work and is considered one of the most successful Rock and Roll comeback albums in history. It is  an innovative, bold and dark album that gained almost exclusively positive reception. This same year Bowie worked with Arcade Fire again and provided vocals  on their song Reflektor. Simultaneously, the BBC officially garnered Bowie the title of  The  Best Dressed Man Ever.

On Jan 8, 2016 Bowie Released the album ‘Blackstar’ which also celebrated the mark of his 69th birthday. Two days later we lost  Bowie to a battle he had against cancer.  He kept this   18 month battle  intentionally private and out of the media. Bowie died peacefully in his New York apartment. Blackstar is a powerful body of work that is produced by Bowie’s longtime collaborator Tony Visconti. The single from the album Lazarus  is a sonic masterpiece and features a chilling video of Bowie on a deathbed. Bowie never stopped dripping with genius, not for a moment and now he is truly stardust.

The Love Song Bob Dylan Never Wrote

bob-dylan-hd-wallpapers-free-download-6-2(Photo Courtesy of The Odyssey)

Bob Dylan,  arguably one of the best songwriters of all time has this undeniable ability to string words together that are drenched in pain, humour and poetry- he leaves them up to dry and we watch them in awe. He does this while somehow integrating political statements and odes to Woody Guthrie. He grasps entire lifespans in four-minute songs with his guitar gently wailing alongside. He doesn’t expose himself either, he remains strong and invulnerable which is arguably the opposite of popular contemporary music. He paints visuals of characters that resemble somebody we all know, he breaks your heart and then sews it back together. However, there is one thing Bob Dylan never did which only came to my attention one distinct evening shared amongst some hyper-aware musical masterminds. He never wrote a love song. Yes, he wrote songs about women, heartache and closure but never a ballad about eternal devotion and unmanageable pain without it. Let us tread through examples, shall we?

It Ain’t Me Babe –An explanation of what one may be looking for in an ideal relationship “Someone to die for you and more but it ain’t me babe you’re looking for” Romantic? Not really, self-aware? Absolutely

Don’t think twice it’s all right- A reflection of a relationship that ended poorly, particularly as a result of her actions. “ I ain’t saying you treated me unkind, you could of done better but I don’t mind” This is a single sentence that grasps years of unnecessary vengeful thinking.

Just like a woman- “ And she aches just like a woman but she breaks just like a little girl” An unflattering yet blatantly honest portrayal of a woman deluded she is more mature than she is.

Boots Of Spanish Leather- “ I’m sure your love is not with me but the country to where you’re going”. A story about his true love that explains his understanding of her need to be intangible to him and fonder of leather than love.

All I Really Wanna Do- “  I ain’t looking to fight with you, frighten you or tighten you. Drag you down or drain you down, chain you down or bring you down, all I really wanna do is baby be friends with you”. A ballad that decompresses common yet unfortunate behaviour in romantic relationships that Dylan declares he will never perform, as he is solely interested in partaking in a meaningful friendship.

Lay Lady Lay- This beautiful lullaby has all the qualities of a good ol fashioned love song despite the fact that it’s about his dog.

I believe this is significant as so many other songwriters, particularly active in the sixties and seventies belt lyrics suggesting love is ceaseless, life is rotten without it and there are no exceptions to this. Examples of this style include: Any Kind of Love by Otis Redding- “Any kind of love you want and I’ll be with you”, You Don’t Need A Million Dollars by  Joe Cocker “You’re everything that I need” and Ain’t too Proud to Beg by the Temptations ” I know you want to leave me but I refuse to let you go”. Although these lyrics are sweet they also suggest we are dependent, unyielding and rather plaintive in regards to romance. This way of saccharine songwriting suggests we don’t require further effort, skills or other relationships in our lives once we find love. As people we have inevitably been heartbroken, disenchanted by the often-monotonous nature of relationships or simply just fall out love. These experiences help us become people of texture and maturity. To this day, no one tells the truth in the form of powerful and genuine poetry quite like Dylan, and that’s the real love song.

Best of 2015- The Return of the Record


00a91e37Courtney Barnett

Please allow me to start this article with the confession that I don’t completely love list articles. The reason for that is because I find ranking art slightly artless and more importantly it’s rather presumptuous of me to assume that the music that resonates with me should in turn resonate with you. Now that I have that out of my system I will proceed to merely explain why I think this year was particularly musically important. 2015 had a great deal of album releases, which hasn’t necessarily been the case in the previous years of this wayward decade. Additionally there is something to be said about certain years that were particularly generous with strong albums.

Examples of this are…

1969-The Beatles- Abby Road, Led Zeppelin-Zeppelin 2, The Who-Tommy

1972-Rolling stone-Exile on Main St, Neil Young Harvest, Lou Reed-Transformer 1

1990- Nirvana- Nevermind, Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory, My Bloody Valentine-Loveless

2000- Radiohead- Kid A, Ryan Adams-Heartbreaker and D’Angelo’s- Voodoo .

These albums were well received at the time but unpredictably iconic and at the risk of sounding over zealous I believe 2015 has this potential. The following is a list of my absolute favourite albums of this very year…

Courtney Barnett-Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett hails from Melbourne, Australia and is in the crux of an illustrious career with the release of her first full-length album. Barnett has been widely recognized as a refreshing, innovative and authentic singer songwriter throughout her young career that consists mostly of playing charming and moderately sized music festivals. Common responses of people hearing her music for the first time is “who is this, why don’t I know about her, this is amazing”. Her sound is completely refreshing-it’s bold and fearless yet fun and inviting. Barnett’s music is  relatively reminiscent of other powerful female songwriters such as P. J Harvey and early Liz Phair and resembles Bob Dylan’s stream of consciousness songwriting  yet something new altogether. This album is a deadpan collection of affectionate realizations, groggy reflections and amiable rebellion. Her songs are certainly intelligent and well written but free of isolating those who haven’t experienced the same feelings. Additionally the girl can wail guitar like a machine and is outfitted with an intuitive band that understands her idiosyncratic style. This record is well suited to a diverse mosaic of emotions yet provides a sense that everything is going be all right due to her sense of humor and inviting sound. Barnett certainly isn’t pretentious, angry or esoteric. As John Cage put it “ Barnett has nothing to prove and she’s proving it”. Her music is truly a refreshing cleanse in the sea of other singer songwriters who take everything a touch too seriously and their music and soul consequently suffers for it. She is the voice of an otherwise silent archetype that enjoys being transparent, honest and void of self-importance.

Deerhunter- Fading Frontier

The unmistakable Deerhunter release their sixth studio album, which is like a ticket to further explore a really spectacular part of yourself. Front man, Bradford Cox who is arguably better known for his solo project Atlas Sound is quite possibly the most unique man in contemporary Indie music. Cox was born with a rare disorder called Marfan disease, which accounts for his strikingly long and thin limbs. His childhood was unusually isolated in that he lived in his infantile home alone in the suburbs after the divorce of his parents and he eventually dropped out of High School. He found salvation through both listening to and making experimental music, which is understandably packed with a tapestry of human emotion. Additionally, Cox was recently in a life threatening car accident and just shortly after released this album, so as you can imagine there is a significant emotional backbone to this record.

Although, Deerhunter’s music typically bleeds with the requirement to visit internal despondence it is also incredibly consoling and always musically gratifying. Deerhunter’s music is a combination of Shoe-Gaze, Ambient- Punk and Art-Rock. Their sound is entirely specific to them and each album explores different areas of their sonic mosaic. That stated, Fading Frontier is different from Deerhunter’s previous work in that it is purposefully more normal”. Cox drew an “influence map” in the making of this record, which included the works of R.E.M and Tom Petty. These artists make “agreeable music” according to Cox, which he was ironically daring to explore. The result is an album that is certainly more Pop infused than their previous work, each song could be a single and it is void of the band’s notorious long-winded feedback solos. Although this album is presumably more “mainstream” and could even be interpreted as the band “selling out” it’s really just proof that Deerhunter can do it all.

Cox calls Fading Frontier their “domestic album” although each song tells a heartbreaking story; it comes in an accessible package. The seemingly blissful nature of this album is actually meant to be sarcastic and perpetually more morose than their previous work. Each song explores a different theme of mortality from a songwriting perspective, most notably on “Snakeskin” (“ I was born already nailed to the cross”) or in “All the Same” ( “Take your handicaps/channel them and feed them back/until they become your strengths”). From a musical perspective, Deerhunter has created another brilliant album that bravely explores an experimental soundscape that truly belongs to them.

Destroyer-Poison Season


Destroyer is the creator of one of my absolute favourite albums of all time “Kaputt” (2011) like many other fans of the incomparable Dan Bejar who is also a member of the New Pornographers. That stated, this album was highly anticipated and a great deal of pressure was submitted to Bejar as Poison Season is his first album since the iconic Kaputt. However, Bejar is a storm of talent and Poison Season is an excellent body of work that differs greatly and strongly from his previous. The album is more “radio friendly” than his earlier material but that works for Bejar. His voice is an appeasing stream of melodies that carefully belt poetic and tragic words straight from his bleeding heart. His lyrics are intelligent, tragic and hilarious which is a wonderfully rare tripod. As Pitchfork so accurately put “You listen to Destroyer to hear the smartest person at a party mutter funny and erudite things in your ear”. Bejar practices a different style of singing on this album, which is a tad more accessible and a tad less emotional. Each song could easily be a successful single, a symphony of sound is generously present throughout the record and his voice is flawless. Some fans have critiqued this album for being “too perfect” this is not the worst disapproval one can receive and it was likely intentional for Bejar to make a consistently solid record.

Most importantly, the album contains those heartbreaking and mind blowing lyrics we tend to long for such such as “ I’ve been sifting through these remains for years, bitter tears bitter pills, Oh it sucks when there’s nothing gold in those hills, girl, I know what you’re going through, I’m going there too” (Track: Girl in the Sling) Or, as “ You looked OK with others, you looked great on your own” (Track: Painter in your Pocket). The song “Times Square”  is a smash single from the album and is a exemplary masterpiece;emotional but not corny, lyrically exceptional and musically jazz infused but not limited to. Poison Season will exceed the harsh test of sonic time.

Wilco-Star Wars

Star Wars is Wilco’s ninth studio album, it was offered globally as a free download and released the same year of a tremendously popular film sequel of sorts you may have heard of . That stated, this album clearly wasn’t a money grabber for the six piece, wildly successful 21 years strong band. Wilco simply wanted to make an album void of media and financial pressure so that’s exactly what they did. Star Wars is an extension of Wilco’s array of solid brilliance. The album is explained by Tweedy as “Wilco being Wilco” and meant to offer “something for everyone”. This may exempt new listeners as many of the songs from this record make references to their early work such as A.M and Being There. Alternatively, It may be the most suitable album for new  listeners as it is their most accessible album to date yet concentrates every element of their previous work in a powerfully skillful manor. The opening track “EKG” draws poignant comparisons to Sonic Youth, however it is a charming lullaby verses a trembling 15-minute reverb and noise parade such as many songs from my personal fave A Ghost is Born. Star Wars is  Wilco’s first album in 4 years, which is the band’s longest gap between records. Star wars is playful, charming and genuine, each song is about 3 and a half minutes of pure gratification. Star Wars is ethnography of musical confidence and interpersonal trust between band members. The result is friendly as appose to aggressive and lacks obscure conceit that has historically been projected on Wilco by some. The sound of the album coincides accurately with the free download, lawsuit luring title and family friendly feline cover. Star Wars is an accurate sonic portrayal of the band’s contemporary maturity and refreshing withdrawal from the high pressure and sometimes hostile music industry.

New Badu Review- But You Caint Use My Phone


Something supernatural happens to our society when Erykah Badu releases a new album. There seems to be an increased level of consciousness and general human sex appeal, it’s the magic of Budizm. If I subscribed to any religion it would be to the likes of the sultry, soulful and powerful queen of Neo-Soul. Every fan of Badu seems to also put her on this rather outrageous pedestal and I am one of them. It is indefinable and unavoidable so it’s just best to succumb to the allure and be a bleeding and loyal fan. That stated, it is difficult to conduct an objective review on her latest album but dammit I will try.

The album, title “But you Caint Use My Phone” alludes to something sillier than her previous work such as “Badizum” or “New Amerykah”, however that certainly isn’t the case with this refined album. While making this record Badu travelled extensively including a trip to West Africa for both spiritual and practical music research influences. The album has been brewing for two years and involves collaborations with Flying Lotus, Drake and the father of her child Andre 3000. The album itself certainly considers a common telephone theme. This is consistent with other massive hits of 2015 such as Drake’s Hotline Bling and Adele’s Hello. Is there some kind of intrinsic connection between this music or do these three artists just reflect our phone-obsessed society like prisms? Unlike Drake and Adele Badu is providing an important perspective that we are far too reliant on these millennial devices but she does so in a delightfully playful  fashion. Badu recorded the album in her hometown of Dallas, Texas in an intimate recording studio she often calls home. A fraction of Badu’s intention for this album is to coin a new genre she likes to call ‘Trap and B’. Additionally and more importantly, Badu intended to provide a sense of ‘sympathetic vibration’ a poetic term she has also coined to aptly describe the harmony of music’s natural vibration and the frequency of  sounds waves. To punctuate this effect, the album contains Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks to achieve musical precision, this is a serious album. At age 44 Badu has made her most hip and young sounding body of work to date. Each song is a banger that comes marinated in intelligence and the soulful molasses of her capable voice. “But You Caint Use My Phone” is genre crossing but certainly more hip hop than her previous work and even involves terms she rarely uses such as “bitch and hoe” which is nothing for Hip Hop but something for Badu. This new cavalier vocabulary may be an extension of third wave feminism given the progression and evolution of music since her previous work and the changing view of women and rap lyrics in our contemporary society.Alternatively, this could be a celebration of freedom of speech or it could mean something entirely different, or simply nothing at all. The album’s most paramount strength is the consistent message about the importance of putting your damn phone down. This is an example of Badu’s ongoing and ever present wisdom that always comes in an incredibly appealing package and contributes to her other worldly ways. Speaking of those ways, Badu’s ultimate goal for this album was to create “ a sound that brings peace and tranquilly to the listener”. This certainly happens in the most fun and sexy way imaginable, and that’s why Badu is the reigning queen. But You Caint Use My phone is officially released December 4th, and it will keep you warm all winter.

Why Your Lifestyle Doesn’t Come In A Mason Jar



Thanks for this entirely new concept Kinfolk

There is a popular magazine titled “Kinfolk” which is available online and on print, it is based out of Portland, Oregon. Kinfolk, is a successful and aesthetically pleasing publication that reaches an audience that is typically against standard magazines. It appeals to a young, hip, smart, authentic and fresh crowd who would normally scoff at being told what to do by a magazine. Kinfolk’s slogan is “Slow Living” and includes photographs, articles and interviews that celebrate the notion of a quiet, artistic and poetic lifestyle. The photographs involved normally focus on subjects such as rustic brunch, women wearing linen, rosemary sprigs in apothecary jars, helmetless babes on one-speed bicycles, whisks and spoons, postmodern haircuts, people spending time outdoors in their best wool… you get the idea. These images are inexplicably beautiful, they’re both inviting and isolating. They create a similar feeling of talking to someone who both you think and they think is too cool for you. The reason behind this could be that this magazine is advertising a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. It represents unobtainable minimalism that is only possible to capture in staged photographs.



“Because people ruin brunch”


“Obviously this is my dinner table”


“Yah, this designer sweater looks kind of canoey”

The magazine ambiguously celebrates food, home, and lifestyle, which is certainly not a new concept for magazines that make you feel bad about your life. However, Kinfolk is aimed at a more “artistic” audience and therefore features homes with vintage yet void of character furniture, blank walls and borderline plastic plants in perfectly clean jars. The people in these magazines are often graphic designers or coffee shop owners, they look impossibly stylish yet explain they put very little effort into their look. The food they suggest is normally squash or asparagus and they make these rather boring vegetables sound like they can offer us the sense of purity we are deeply missing in our lives. Kinfolk magazine comes in hard copy tiny book-shaped publications and goes for about 25 bucks a pop. All that being said, I like Kinfolk, it is a magazine that is excellent at what they do, just like Time Magazine or Cosmopolitan. However, I will be damned if I think this is a realistic or even desirable representation of how people actually live. Life is messy, chaotic, colourful, busy and dazzlingly beautiful. Happy homes have paint stains on the carpet, furniture found at garage sales, plants that are vital in dirty pots (because they are filled with mud dammit), inexpensive hairstyles and messy kitchens insinuating that courageous culinary adventures happen there. Like this…


My friend’s studio who makes amazing paintings and always has messy hands


A sincerely happy kid 

messy play in the sink and bath 3

Potentially frustrating for parents, still awesome

Kinfolk, along with countless Instagram accounts and various storefronts in hip neighbourhoods are representing attractive snapshots of a concept but not a lifestyle. Life doesn’t fit into tiny little boxes and that’s part of what makes it so wonderful. Don’t let anyone capitalize on the “life of an artist” because real artists have dirt under their fingernails, messy studios and relics of their lives scrambled throughout their homes. Your lifestyle shouldn’t be advertised, it’s up to you how it looks and that is the best part of it.