For the past two years, Lil Uzi Vert has stood out as one of rap's brightest stars. The ascension from Soundcloud sensation to self-proclaimed "rock star" has been fast-tracked, powered by multiple mixtapes, two top ten Billboard singles ("XO TOUR Llif3" and "Bad and Boujee"), and a #1 debut album in Luv Is Rage 2 released in late August. The Philadelphia native took advantage of his momentum this year by kicking off his holiday tour A Very Uzi Christmas with 6,000 fans in attendance for the Anthem's first hip-hop concert.
Yes, NPR Music is only ten years old. Although All Songs Considered is going on 18 years strong, the coalition of NPR member stations from across the country was founded in 2007 to centralize the regional tastemakers that bring us shows like World Cafe or Jazz Night in America. It's hard to overstate its cultural influence on music in that short time, most notably with the Tiny Desk Concert video series, where up-and-comers like Diane Coffee and established arena acts like Adele come to perform. In the spirit of the brevity-focused music series, seven bands and musicians took to the stage to play three or four songs each. The event quickly sold out the day it went on sale. But the plot twist? NPR kept the lineup a secret until the moment they came on stage. Of course, when you're NPR Music, it's not hard to ask the public to place your trust in them.
WAMU's Bluegrass Country is on the chopping block and up for sale. Help save it, and by doing so, save a little bit of us all.
Bon Iver returns after a five year hiatus, and the results are polarizing. We're choosing sides in the war of 22, A Million.
Ever wonder how to make great, kinda weird, super-intellectual pop music that actually works? Louis Weeks has the answers that you seek. All of them.
Will his performance wake people up to the world to the type of (awful) person that Trump really is? Probably not, so we made a playlist that has the power to save us from our darkest timeline...hopefully.
SOUNDS LIKE: Your favorite bar band..fronted by the most sensitive man in the world, Hindu Love Gods, ZERO CABINS
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Sometimes “superstars” gotta lay back and indulge their inner 14 year old and get back to their bluesy, Crate practice amp roots. Sometimes that’s actually a good thing.
"What the f@$% Justin Vernon?"
That's how I pretty much ended my review of the new album, and now that's how I'll start this review of his bands performance last night at the 9:30 Club.
The biggest question at hand is where was this Justin Vernon when his albums were being made? Assembling a 8 piece orchestra to perform your work isn't an easy feat..bringing together a great one is damn near impossible, yet there before me lay the powerful, sublime, and quite frankly perfect, Bon Iver “orchestra” turning "lead" into gold, over and over again...
We are now officially half way through the year folks, and it's turning out to be a pretty damn good one for music. Stylistically, the releases this year have been all over the place, but each and every one that we're going to talk about over the next two days are great, if not special in their own right. Don't believe me? check out the list of just the runner ups:
- Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
- Other Lives - Tamer Animals
- Peter Bjorn and John - Gimme Some
- Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
- Generationals – Actor-Caster
- Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
- Cass McCombs – Wit’s End
- Jill Scott - The Light of the Sun
- Cults - Cults
See what I mean? Impressive right? And some of those won't be staying out of the top 10 before the year is over. So now that you've seen what didn't make it, let's get on with what did, shall we?
Still on the fence for Bon Iver's latest release? You sort of should be. It's not the type of easily digestable release that we expected or that we get everyday. And then there's that last song. But the fact of the matter is that we actually think it's one of the better albums released this year (well...Paul doesn't), and "Perth", the opening track, happens to be one of the main reasons why. So take a listen, then join in the fray of talking about this deeply divisive, stylistically head scratching release.
Bon Iver - Perth
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
So the giant release this week would seem to be Bon Iver's self titled second album, Bon Iver. I wrote a 1000+ words reviewing the damn thing (you can read that review here) so there's no way I'm gonna right more, so I'll sum it up like this. Peter Gabriel. Peter Gabriel. Peter Gabriel. Bad 80's song. And yes, it's still one of the best albums of the year so far.
Jill Scott - The Light Of the Sun
Awwwww yeah. Lookout Lauren Hill, because Jill Scott went and got educated and is creeping up on ya. Soulful, complex, jazzy, funky and dirty when it's gotta be, The Light of The Sun takes cues from Hill, Ms. Janet and last years wunderkind, Janelle Monae, and blows out a sound that laughs in the face of the bad R&B it threatens to become as if to say, "This is how it's done". To say anymore would actually be doing the album a disservice, as part of the fun is discovering where it will go next. Suffice to say, if you can make it through this musical exploration of life, and love in Ms. Scott's world without blushing at least once, then you must be made of stone. This is our pick for the week and one listen will tell you why.
Liam Finn - FOMO
Rounding out the top picks for the week is the latest from Liam, spawn of Neil, Finn. You'd think people would get tired of pointing that little fact out, but when they younger Finn is eschewing so closely to the elder's previous work, it's sort of impossible to ignore. That's OK though because if you are setting the bar that high and are consistently hitting that bar, then what is there really to complain about? Fomo isn't quite as exciting as 2008's I'll Be Lightning, but it definitely has it's charms. If you are a fan of Liam Finn at all then there's a good chance you already have this record in your possession, and if not then it's something you need to check out especially if it's the first you've heard from this musically gifted family.
Who is Bon Iver?
That's the question that his second, self-titled release seems to be asking. The simple answer is that Bon Iver is Justin Vernon. Vernon is the guy who famously packed up his shattered life in North Carolina, headed back home to a cabin in Wisconsin, and poured all his pain and loneliness into what would become 2008's surprise hit For Emma, Forever Ago. What stood out about that album, besides its stark emotional openness, was Vernon's otherworldly falsetto. It's an affect that on first listen sounds gorgeous and raw, but for this reviewer at least, those charms wore thin pretty quickly. As such, it’s a record that holds my highest respect; it's just not one that is revisited terribly often. So that's one answer to our question.
Another answer is that Bon Iver is not the actual personality of Justin Vernon. Instead it is simply a dumping ground for whatever he seems to be inspired by at the moment...