ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: TORO Y MOI

TORo Y MOI

// WEBSITE //

If you are not familiar with Chazwick Bundick, get familiar with him. Since 2009’s release of Blessa, and his debut album Causers of This, which was born the following year, he has been writing musical history in a way that most artists can only dream of. Now, we are less than a week away from the release of What For?, and it’s about time for the spotlight to be turned towards him. (Side note: if you look around a little, you might just find a place where the album is being streamed…) Just in time for brighter days, this new LP turns towards the sun and ushers in a more mainstream, melodic, pop-like sound for one of the leaders of the chillwave movement that has nestled comfortably into the hearts of every self-respecting indie-type of the decade. These lovely people will not be let down with this new release; though more polished, What For? still captures the spirit of classic Toro Y Moi with its vintage flair and innovative sound.

Toro Y Moi tracks with guitar-driven and chart-bound qualities are few and far between. What For? is different; it still carries a wide variety of styles, (characteristic of Bundick at this point, given his previous four stunning studio albums) but it is packed with songs made for singing along to in the car. Buffalo, for instance, is like an echo of a top-40 hit, made cool again by grooving instrumentation and a certain fuzzy whine easing through the entrancing melodies, just begging for some impromptu accompanying vocals. Empty Nesters is an obvious single, catchy as can be. I actually heard it once while I was in a TJ Maxx, and it took every ounce of strength not to launch my standard high-pitched howls against the ears of random passerby. Run Baby Run struck me as similar to a certain Wheatus tune. All of the genres he has previously explored and represented with flair are absolutely present throughout the LP. With the thick and seamless integration of guitars, the creative limits on What For? simply cease to exist. I’ll be sitting up at midnight on Tuesday, purchasing the album on iTunes before visiting Spotify. This is a rare occurrence for me, but it is worth every penny. After all, iconic albums are far and few between. Thank you, Mr. Bundick, for everything. Toro Y Moi is about to shoot to the absolute top.

STAY LOVELY, READERS

LISTEN TO SOME BANGIN’ TUNES

This is a quick post… I am way behind in school, so I have kind of been trying to get on top of things. Anyway, today’s episode of Shameless Self-Promotion features my Spotify! 

CLICK HERE TO BE TRANSPORTED TO A WHOLE BUNCH OF HAND-PICKED PLAYLISTS THAT GET ME THROUGH MY INCREDIBLY TOUGH AND STRESSFUL LIFE!!!!!!

I hope you enjoy at least some of the songs. If you don’t, then it’s your loss. The “all-time best” playlist is the most bitchin’ collection of sounds available to mankind.

STAY LOVELY, READERS

MY FAVORITE GRAMMYS LOOKS

In no specific order, here are my personal, completely superficial picks for the best looks at last night's 2015 Grammy Awards.

taylor swift

TAYLOR IS ALWAYS A WINNER. WHEN YOU’RE WEARING ELLIE SAAB, YOU DON’T LOSE.


rihanna

WHY DID SO MANY PEOPLE HATE HER LOOK? I THOUGHT IT WAS BOLD FOR RIHANNA, WHO USUALLY GOES FOR LESS DRESS AS OPPOSED TO MORE DRESS. THIS IS DEFINITELY MORE DRESS, AND SHE BALANCED IT WITH A MINIMAL MAKEUP AND BEAUTIFULLY SIMPLE BUN. WELL DONE, RIRI.


BECK

IT WAS HARD TO FIND A PICTURE THAT WASN’T TERRIBLE QUALITY, BUT HERE’S A HEADSHOT. THIS IS PROOF THAT, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, BECK IS COOLER THAN YOU.


NICKI MINAJ

i really appreciate how nicki has toned it down a bit recently, but still maintained her natural flair for style.


JOHN MAYER

DID I DIE AND GO TO HEAVEN? I RECKON I DID, WHEN I LAID EYES ON THIS AESTHETICALLY-PLEASING BREATH OF FRESH AIR. SPEAKING OF AIR, MY LUNGS NEEDED IT WHEN HE PERFORMED WITH ED SHEERAN, WHO UNFORTUNATELY DOES NOT MAKE THIS LIST :(


anna kendrick

THIS RESTORED MY FAITH IN HUMANITY. SO CLASSY IT HURTS.


CHILDISH GAMBINO

GAMBINO OBVIOUSLY WINS IN THE GENETICS DEPARTMENT, PLUS: ARE THOSE VELVET SLIPPERS? IN A WORLD OF “NO YOU CAN’T,” HE IS A “YES, YOU CAN.” I APPLAUD YOU, MR. GLOVER.


PAT CARNEY & DAN AUERBACH

BECAUSE I LOVE HOW THEY ARE SO UNCOOL THAT THEY ARE THE ACTUAL COOLEST THINGS TO EVER GRACE THE FACE OF THE EARTH. LOOK AT THE BOLD NO-TIE SITUATION. ALL HAIL, THE BLACK KEYS ARE ETERNAL.


katy perry

KATY P IS NOT ON HERE FOR HER DRESS (IT WAS KIND OF DISAPPOINTING TO BE HONEST). SHE MADE THE LIST BECAUSE OF HER HAIR AND HER MAKEUP. I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD LIKE PURPLE HAIR, BUT KATY DEFIED THE ODDS.


GWEN STEFANI

this ensemble would be perfect if it weren’t for the awkwardly uncovere boob. so pretty, so elegant. her hair makes it even better. applause for you and your good taste, gwen.

STAY LOVELY, READERS

BECK WON WHAT?

Nearly everyone at home watching the Grammy Awards last night was expecting the Album of the Year award to go to someone who goes by one name that starts with B. The Academy had the same idea, except not quite.

Here’s a quick recap. Beyoncé’s song Drunk in Love featuring Jay-Z racked up Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song awards, and her self-titled album won Best Surround Sound Album (meaning that the recording has a minimum of four channels and is commercially available in surround-sound quality. Since she is listed as the surround mastering engineer, the award goes to her as well as the rest of her engineering/production team). Beck’s album Morning Phase scored awards for Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, and Best Non-Classical Engineered Album (for the latter, Beck himself did not technically win the award as he was not listed as an engineer or producer on the album, and it went to his engineering/production team).

So, technically Beyoncé won more awards (3) than Beck (2), and people are still launching batches of caps-lock tweets declaring how unjust the world is because Queen B didn’t win Album of the Year. Okay, Beyoncé deserved it, but so did Beck, and it’s just an awards show. Both are incredibly hard-working, classy, talented artists who each made spectacular albums and gave incredible performances. To them, that is rewarding enough in itself.

Morning Phase, though I’ll admit I haven’t listened to one or two tracks, is an impressive continuation of the 2002 release, Sea Change. The grandiose, swallowing strings on the album are what makes it stand out, and they add a certain melancholy depth that is awfully satisfying. I’m not going to delve into it all right now, but the album artwork above has a link to the Rolling Stone review that does a nice job.

Right now, let’s take a look at the factors of why Beck Hansen walked away victorious in arguably the most important category of music’s biggest awards show, and why Beyoncé had to settle with her three trophies.

The most obvious answer is advertising. Morning Phase was put out by Capitol Records (the first Beck release to their name, as he left Interscope DCG at the end of his contract). Since he hadn’t put out a record in over five years, Capitol had a decidedly valid reason to push this new LP through a healthy dose of marketing. Hansen popped in for publicity on virtually every talk show, and his people got Blue Moon to play everywhere they could. The hype leading up to the February 2014 release was loud. Already an indie-dad staple thanks to prior hits Loser and Where It’s At, nobody really has to push Beck to appeal to multiple generations; he just does. The real advertising did not hit until Morning Phase actually hit the shelves, digitally and physically. One example: raise your hand if you use Spotify regularly, and the Morning Phase ads made you actually want to pay for the premium service for a split second each time because you were so damn sick of hearing the same thing every commercial break. If you are a Spotify person, your hand is up.

Beyoncé was put out in December of 2013 by Columbia, distributed by Sony BMG. It was re-released in 2014 in an extended edition. Long story short, it was an illusion of “no publicity.” Dropping unannounced on iTunes in the middle of the night, the album was a publicity stunt in itself. There was no hype leading up to it, but it further solidified Beyoncé as the queen of the recording industry. Right after, she was caught up in a whirlwind of promotion. The staggering chart positions and heavy radio rotation of its singles were the best possible type of advertising that the album could possibly have gotten. The self-titled undertaking had five singles as opposed to Morning Phase‘s two. With Super Bowl and White House performances in addition to a career spanning just as long as Beck’s under her belt, she was already a booming, highly influential commercial mogul, much more so than Beck, who gives off a way more understated vibe, and certainly has not sold nearly as much.

It was the type of advertising that essentially caused Morning Phase to beat out Beyoncé. The words look ugly, but it’s the truth in these awards shows. The Academy loves a comeback artist in this category, just Google the list of previous recipients. They also were more likely to see Beck more often. Although Beyoncé showed up at higher-scale events, Beck was often splashed across their television screens in daily life, or popping up as pretty, artsy ads on their computer screens while they read the morning news. His album was portrayed as artwork for multiple generations while Beyoncé’s was presented as a bundle of hits for the young party crowd. It subconsciously swayed the voters just enough to settle on one of the equally-well-made albums over the other.

Of course, there were more than two nominees in the category, and more factors to the decision. The truth is, the other contenders in the race for Album of the Year don’t quite match up to the two that I’ve been raving about in this post. Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Pharell simply did not make albums that possess the necessary star power. Sorry, guys.

Not to get sidetracked or anything, but Beck is humble and probably cooler than most of the people that were around him in the Staples Center combined. I was not planning on mentioning the K-name and his little joke last night, but when doing some research, I found some evidence of Beck’s class and grace after the incident and what followed. The headlines below say it all. (Click through to read the articles!)

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In regards to that, all there is left to say is that Beck is so cool that Kanye is a little chilly and probably needs a sweater.

The only eyebrow-raising thing that Mr. Album of the Year 2k15 has been involved in (that I can remember) is the Church of Scientology. I can deal with that, I suppose. As long as he continues making great music.

In the end, all that really matters is not what the music means to the majority, but what it means to each of us personally. That’s what artistry is all about, and it’s important to respect that and take a step back from the television with your eyes closed for a moment, if that’s what it takes to remember. Once you recall what the music is all about, it’s just as essential that you open those eyes right back up, because the industry is a predictable yet unpredictable glamour-bomb, and it is right before you, begging for your full and undivided attention with unimaginable things and an ever-promising future that is looming so near with incredible depths that will be waiting for you to dive into.

STAY LOVELY, READERS

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO 001

A RANKING OF MY CURRENT FAVORITES ON MY CURRENT PLAYLIST

5. CROSSED SEVERED FINGERS – ST. VINCENT

This song is making a return to my favorites playlist mostly because of the Grammys, which are on tonight (!!!). St. Vincent most certainly deserves the win for Best Alternative Music Album, in my humble opinion. She’s up against some pretty darn tough (and perhaps a bit more popular) competition -Alt-J, Arcade Fire, Cage the Elephant, and Jack White- but it would make quite a bit of sense if she took home the trophy for the category. This track is the final one of her self-titled album, released a year ago. It is the perfect send-off ballad for this album… as if she penned it as a sort of victory march. Well played.

4. TO DIE IN L.A. – LOWER DENS

I’ll admit that I mainly gave this song a listen because of the snazzy accompanying artwork. It’s so attractive. All of their visuals are really cool, but I’d highly recommend checking out all the music that they accompany. This song in particular is all over the popular music blogs and publications, and it’s pretty clear why. To Die in L.A. is a song that is hard not to like. On repeat for months to come.

3. LONDON, BYE, TA-TA – DAVID BOWIE

I have an incurable David Bowie obsession that’s been cultivating since the first time my father played Under Pressure in the car when I was little. This is one of my all-time favorites, and for some reason, I have been listening to it enough recently to call it a current favorite as well. When I die, I just want the whole David Bowie discography on shuffle for my funeral. I wish I could be there to see it. London is the one nostalgic song that I will allow myself on this list.

3. SARAH – ALEX G

I love how plain old pretty this song is. It’s refreshing. This song seems like it would blend in nicely on the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack. I am very much looking forward to the wave of indie pop like this that will be rolling in for spring. Although I’m pretty sure this is a re-release.

1. gold silver diamond – generationals

I love this group for how consistent they are. I may have told a small lie in my number three pick about slipping solely one nostalgia-induced song on here. Oops. My dad was all over the 2009 release of Con Law, so I have a substantial amount of road trip memories with that album as the soundtrack. Basically, with every release, Generationals successfully delivers insightful new-wave indie pop that appeals to any audience that enjoys catchy, hook-like melodies constructed to scream along with while the windows are down and the air is warm. Gold Silver Diamond is no exception, sweet as pure sugar. This song off Alix from September takes my number-one current favorites slot for this very first edition of What I’m Listening To. (Keep an eye out for an artist spotlight post featuring Generationals sometime soon…)

STAY LOVELY, READERS!

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: THE GROWLERS

THE GROWLERS

COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA, USA // WEBSITE


LISTEN: BIG TOE (FROM CHINESE FOUNTAIN, SEPTEMBER 2014), SOMEDAYONE MILLION LOVERS (BOTH FROM HUNG AT HEART, JANUARY 2013)

As 2014 faded out, I became worried that the year would go down without an abundance of solid albums. 2013 was a tough act to follow, in my opinion, and there was only a (very) small handful of standout albums by September. But my worries dissolved as I dove into The Growlers’ Chinese Fountain, a strong, hypnotizing body of work.

The band had its own standout album of 2013: Hung at Heart. Ushered in by a sweet-as-honey single (Someday), and given momentum by catchy hooks and Californian cool vibes, it swiftly climbed up my mentally-stored favorites list. All of their music has timelessness woven into each second of playing time. When the whole of their discography has been played through, it feels as if no time has passed at all. With a strikingly eccentric blend of influences, leaning heavily towards the 1960s and surf rock, they have dubbed themselves as “beach goth,” which is a term that seems to fit perfectly. Nobody on the East Coast could quite replicate their sound… although it’s hard not to compare to Mac Demarco in certain aspects (who, by the way, is originally from British Columbia in Canada, but currently based in New York… so technically he’s from the West Coast? I still consider him East Coast). On the topic of sound, in 2012, the band went through some recording sessions with Dan Auerbach, but the music was “too clean” and the results were scrapped altogether. It takes guts to pull a maneuver like that in the music industry, but, hey… the pickiness paid off, since it contributed to the impressive lazily-perfect material that came after.

LOOK HOW COOL THEY ARE

Really, this is a group who could be called “lazy perfectionists,” except that truly lazy people could not have come forth with such dazzling music. The laziness is only implied, invoked by the stylistic matter in the work and the overall tone. Looking beyond the surface, the Growlers have a remarkable dedication to and belief in their work. With their assurance of what sounds right, they will surely stick around for as long as they want to do so.

Stay lovely, readers!