Etc.

Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine share new “Time” video

Singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine has released a live version of his track “Time.” The video features Sufjan Stevens on piano. Watch their performance  from Manhattan’s Reservoir Studios below. “Time” is a single from Augustine’s upcoming album Tomb, which is set to be out January 18 via Sufjan’s Asthmatic Kitty Records. The LP was produced by Thomas Bartlett.

Sufjan Stevens also directed the music video for Angelo De Augustine’s song “Crazy, Stoned & Gone” from Augustine’s last album Swim Inside the Moon last year.

Kip Berman announces solo EP

The frontman of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Kip Berman, has announced his debut solo EP under the name Natvral. The EP, Know Me More, is set to be out October 5th via Kanine. Berman has shared the title track, featuring Fear of Men’s Jess Weiss, from the release. Listen to it below.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=423792103/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

In a statement, Berman discusses his new moniker. “I wanted to pick up my guitar and sing songs in a natural way, without all the things about music that aren’t music,” he says. The four-track EP, which was produced by Andy Savours, was recorded at London’s Wolf Den Studios in single takes. A cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” is the closing track in the project.

Adrianne Lenker shares new song “symbol”

Adrianne Lenker has released the second single off her upcoming album, abysskiss, titled “symbol.” Listen below. The frontwoman to Big Thief announced the album last month with its first single “cradle.” abysskiss is set to be out via Saddle Creek October 5th. Lenker has also announced a solo tour in support of her new album. Find the dates below.

Adrianne Lenker:

01-15 London, England – Union Chapel
01-16 Dublin, Ireland – The Button Factory
01-17 Manchester, England – YES
01-19 Ghent, Belgium – Charlatan
01-20 Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
01-22 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso Tolhuistuin
01-23 Berlin, Germany – Baumhausbar
02-04 Los Angeles, CA – Pico Union Project
02-05 Santa Barbara, CA – SOhO
02-06 San Francisco, CA – Swedish American Hall
02-09 Seattle, WA- The Vera Project
02-10 Portland, OR – The Old Church
02-14 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
02-15 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
02-16 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
02-18 Toronto, Ontario – Longboat Hall
02-20 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
02-21 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center

The Melodic Tree’s Weekly Playlist

1. National – James Vincent McMorrow

2. Too Much – Tora

3. Contra – Talos

4. 5 a.m. – The Millennium

5. Back Around – Dessert

6. Crab Supernova – Percolator

7. Sorrow – Life Without Buildings

8. Forest Fires – Axel Flovent

9. Colerain – Way Yes

10. Hallucinate – Oliver Riot

11. Fear of the Water -SYML

12. The Wisp Sings – Winter Aid

13. Epicurists – Jack in Water

14. Porz Goret – Yann Tiersen

15. Migratory Birds – Western Skies Motel

16. Cheeks – Shoecraft

17. Them – Nils Frahm

18. Februray Tales – Pill-oh

19. I’m Here – Rosemary & Garlic

20. The Quiet at Night – Mary Lattimore

What is Vince Staples Saying?

Vince Staples just dropped a great album. It seems ignorant to think that Staples was not artistically inclined in this album and was not using metaphors throughout the project. Here are some parts of the album that beg further examination and my hypotheses on them. You would be best served to listen to the album while reading this as the sound of the songs are just as important as their lyrics.

 

First we must examine the use of boats in the visuals for the album.

 

Why would Vince so heavily include the imagery of a boat in distress? Well there are a couple hypotheses.

One is that Vince is commenting on the ridiculousness of this common dream in the rap community of yachting and boating. Yachting and boating is only a dream because it is a declaration of wealth and power. Staples could be saying that such a dream is futile as material goods and materialism as a whole, is fleeting and unfulfilling. In the video for Big Fish, Staples could be saying that once the material good fails (as it inevitably will), you will be thrust into a cold and harsh world (the sharks).

Another could simply be that Vince doesn’t like this dream. And while he understands the inaccessibility of boats to the inner cities. He simply is not a fan of fetishizing the ownership of boats. He thinks it is wack.

Who knows? The use of boats in music videos have always been prevalent, Staples’ spin on this is clever and new, regardless of what he is saying.

 

Something that is more prevalent in this album than in other Staples’ projects is the use of house beats. Flume is a producer on the album and Love Can Be sounds like a U.K. house track.  This serves as a metaphor of shucking the preconceived boxes that Staples has been put into. House beats are often seen as a white form of production (even with roots in Chicago and Detroit) and Staples’ use of such beats are a deviation from the traditional form of Hip-Hop. Staples has never been one to conform to those around him and this shows that. Staples is actively flipping off the community that tries to label him and put him where they think he should be. By switching up the entire narrative re: production, Staples continues to assert control of his creative process and through that, his art.

 

Fish. It is all over this album. But what does it mean? In one phrase it can be summed up, the futility of man and his endeavors.

Crabs in a Bucket: a critique of the inner city and society as a whole, Crabs in a Bucket references crabs pushing each other down in order to escape the bucket. This critique of our current capitalist culture can apply to humanity as a whole. Humanity, as a whole is always trying to grow and make itself better. But because we are all trying to do that, we will inevitably end up hurting our peers and cancelling out any good we do.

Yeah Right: similar to Crabs in a Bucket, Yeah Right critiques the things that motivate us. The material possessions that are in front of us, preventing us from true harmony and true success. (maybe Staples is a socialist)

BagBak: in this song Vince is pretty much saying that no matter what he does, things will always follow him. No matter what anyone does, things are predetermined.

Most of all, Staples is calling humanity a big fish in a small pond. It may seem like we are the big predator of the world but in the grandest scale of things we are simply little guppies.

 

Shamana + Soundcloud songs for your summer

I don’t know who Shamana is or any of the history behind this song. But if you pride yourself on finding really cool stuff that not many others have found outside of the Soundcloud-verse. Check him out and check out this song.

On a related note, here are some Soundcloud songs, not all new, that you should be bumping heading into summer:

https://soundcloud.com/mxmtoon/the-idea-of-you

 

 

Drake, it’s 2017 bud

Unless you were living under a rock for the last month, you know that Drake recently dropped his *******playlist******* More Life. The album is already topping the charts and will, no doubt, make Drizzy a lot of money. Yet, it is far from a good album and acts as another data point in the downward trend of Drake’s work and image.

Ever since the album Views, Drake’s work has lacked any sense of artistic integrity. Rather than take elements from songs and genres that he likes, something that many rappers do, Drake hijacks the latest trend in worldpop and then claims it as his own (Also what the hell is up with his Jamaican fetish???). The lack of storytelling or a common theme in recent projects have forced most people to write him off as a sellout, something that I fully believe he is.

The last time that Drake showed any resemblance of artistic vision was on What a Time to be Alive,  the mixtape with Future represented the end of a 2014-2015 campaign that saw Drake fully embody who he wanted to be. A hyper masculine figure fully capable of flexing not only rapping prowess but also of physical image. 2015 brought with it the Meek Mill beef, Back to Back, and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, between these two projects Drake established himself as raps power monger. During this period his bars were clever and angry, the perfect mix of what Drake wanted to embody. Having grown from the renown sadboi from Marvin’s Room, Drake was now where he wanted to be. And then 2016 came around.

In 2015 Kendrick Lamar cemented himself as the best rapper since the 90s. To Pimp A Butterfly was a magnum opus, the likes of which we may never see again for another decade or two. While Drake could not, in any way, shape, or form, compete with Compton’s prodigal son, 2015 was a strong enough year for Drake that he could lay claim to the top of rap. 2016 changed that in a big way, Kendrick released untitled unmastered and Drake released Views around the same time. untitled unmastered, an eight track compilation of rejects from previous albums, ethered Views in the eyes of the critics. Views was a steaming pile of trends with ugly cover art and bad lyrics (“Chaining Tatum”, are you kidding me!?). There was so much hype around the release of the album that this got most thinking that Kendrick’s worst were still better than Drake’s best. Drake went on tour for Views and each night was an over the top visual spectacle, it looked as if Drake might find a niche of his own. Then in October 2016, he ridiculed Kid Cudi’s mental health, this was the last straw, Drake was officially a jerk-sellout-muscle bound-tool of the industry.

More Life sees Drake acting as a curator of worldpop. Taking elements from nearly all continents and compiling them into a single body of work. This would be interesting, commendable even, if the list of features indicated that Drake was creating something rather than slapping his name on something that Popcaan cosigned. More Life and Views, to many, sound as if label executives were DJing a 9th grade dance. There is little to no substance to either album and the songs sound filtered and photoshopped. Simply, the albums are bad.

That being said, the music sounds good. As with all of his work, Drake has figured out a way to make his music sound appealing and is able to make it popular in the mainstream. “Passionfruit” will probably be the most ubiquitous song of 2017, the smooth beat and wholesome message makes it perfect for elevator listening. But that isn’t where rap is going, and Drake should know that. Rap is going in a more raw and intellectual direction. While there are out liars (Kodak Black, I’m looking at you), as a whole, rap music is not what it was ten years ago. Ten years ago rap was the very definition of unenlightened, Soulja Boy had the biggest song of the year. It was still pre-808s and Heartbreaks, the album that would pivot rap into an introspective and brooding genre. After 808s, rap became more intellectual and emotion driven. It became more personal and real. It seems like Drake hasn’t gotten the memo.