An Intro to Raveena Aurora.

by Paola Barreto

Raveena Aurora’s voice is as smooth and slowly captivating as “Honey”, the title of her 2018 single. The 24 year old Sikh-American R&B singer has been gaining traction and is close to reaching one million listeners a month on Spotify. She even has a spot performing at Tyler the Creator’s music festival this year, Camp Flog Gnaw. Here are three songs to check out:

 

Sunflowers, pearls, gold, milk, lip gloss, and mehndi. The single “Honey” came out May 2, 2018. It’s a song about ending your day in a warm, calm, and lovely way. The video’s aesthetic holds a hazy warm glowing dream that sticks to you along with Raveena’s steady unwinding voice. It depicts an inclusive visual of love and positive LGBTQ representation with POC same-sex partners in video.

“I sleep better without you around…it’s too late to hold me” Raveena sings smiling.  “If Only” is a song off her 2017 EP Shanti and its words echo independence. She proclaims it’s too late with lyrics like “you still don’t understand, a woman is holy” and in return wraps self worth in her message. This song is one of healing and moving on from toxic relationships.  

Blush blossoms, Nikes with frilly ankle socks, blood oranges, long necklaces, glistening chokers, and ladybugs. “Sweet time” is another song off the EP Shanti, which is as delightful to consume as the light shades of pinks and fresh raspberry stains in its music video. The song, with lyrics like “I’ve been meditating, I stopped medicating, I’m taking advice from the moon”, is an anthem of self-care.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall on KZSC!

Listen to LC’s interview with Herb Alpert and Lani Hall!

Alpert is the co-founder of A&M Records, an iconic trumpeter, a composer, a sculptor, painter and philanthropist. He has won nine Grammys and is the only artist to hit No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist.

Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall — a Grammy-winning singer and composer in her own right, who was the lead singer of Brasil ’66 from 1966 until 1971 — are on tour with their latest project, “Music Volume 3 – Herb Alpert Reimagines the Tijuana Brass”.

HERB AND LANI ALPERT, 2013

Be a Boy (Also a quick review of The Garden at the Catalyst)

By: Nicolas Amerkahnian

*Parts of this article heavily blur the lines of satire and actual opinion

Just murdered another yerba mate so it’s time for a blog post. The Garden performed at the Catalyst on May 23rd. The show went smoothly. They played the hits – Banana Peel, All Smiles, Call This # Now – but something was off. At least three different people in the crowd had flashlights on looking for their lost Juuls on the ground. About 45 minutes into the show everyone started coughing. Half the crowd darted out the door – the other half unphased. Someone, whether intentionally or not, had their pepper spray go off in the middle of the crowd. It sucked. At the end of the show, twin brother leads Wyatt and Fletcher stepped off the stage and walked through the remaining crowd out the backdoor of the Catalyst. They were clearly frustrated by their audience leaving.

Watching the two model brothers with their dangling earrings and fishnet shirts walk out the door gave me the first half of a realization, however. The other half came last night when I was watching the music video, “Fake Love” by Korean boy band, BTS. It features the half dozen androgynous super boys in a variety of dramatic set pieces, ranging from explosive cityscapes to a room full of candy bars. The boys were dressed in extravagant blouses and made up to look smooth skinned – both boyish and ghastly. Earrings dangle from their ears, half obscured by the two-block mop top haircuts that they all dawn. Eerily like the boys in The Garden. This brings me to my realization.

Boys are back. Global culture has decided – men are out, boys are in. You may be wondering, “What does that even mean?” If men weigh in at 100% masculinity, boys land anywhere between 1% and 99% masculinity. With boys being back, it means it’s time to shave your beards and embrace any sort of androgyny you can. Sell all your stock in sports, uninstall Fortnite (or maybe install Fortnite, as actual 8-to-35-year-old boys do seem to love that game), whatever it takes to get rid of at least 1% of your masculinity. 2018 is the year of the dog, and the year of the boy. All your favorite alt-right heroes – Ben Shapiro, Paul Joseph Watson, Alex Jones, Jordan Peterson – seem to agree that masculinity is dead, at least that’s the headline that I read on the side of my Facebook newsfeed. So, the solution is obvious: embrace boy-dom like all the great heroes of our time, and many great heroes of the past.

DJ Fizzi Pop Attends LIB!

BY: DJ Fizzi Pop

The sun was setting, the floats were floating, and the musical vibrations from the loud stages were pumping through our bodies. Not a single face in sight had a frown on their face, and pure bliss was in the air. This is my experience of Lighting in a Bottle 2018.

Being my first LIB, I had no idea what was coming my way. I had camped at smaller festivals before, but not for 5 days in a row (meaning I did not bring enough spare sunglasses). I had arrived Wednesday night for the Early Entry pass, and hundreds of people already had their campsites up and ready, music blasting and friends in the making. I had previously dreaded the rumors that Bradley, CA is blistering hot and would be suffering most of the time, but surprisingly the temp stayed in the mid 70s to low 80s the entire weekend and was thoroughly enjoyable to walk around the campsite the explore.

The drive was only a short 2 hours to the campgrounds, so we were ready to set up and explore by sunset. There isn’t much music on the bigger stages until Friday, but the Pagoda and Favela Bar stages were poppin’ with smaller (but big sound) artists. At night, the festival grounds turn into a blacklight wonderland, where all the art structures glow (and are even interactive!). It was nice to get a feel of the grounds before all the commotion started; I recommend to anyone to get Early Arrival passes to get the full experience because there is way too much to explore and you just might miss an Easter egg!

Friday was the first big wave of music to hit the festival. Before we ran to the stages, I got to experience a short but wonderful session at the Yoga Luna exhibit, where yoga and flow classes were held all weekend long. Not only were there yoga exhibits, but you could walk into a random structure and there would be a meditation session, a hooping class, a cooking class, you name it. If you needed a break from the music, there was always something else to experience. Around 3 o’clock we headed to the Woogie stage, which is one of the favorite stages of LIB. Surrounded by enormous neon butterfly structures that refracted lasers off of them, the overall vibe was welcoming and groovy. The main theme of this stage was house and techno music, where we caught the last part of Walker & Royce’s set.

On our way back to the main grounds, we decided to check out the Favela Bar, which is a stage that has interactive treehouses surrounding the dance floor, and a gigantic disco ball that twirls during the night. To our surprise, 2 members of the Glitch Mob were having a secret set at this stage (and we got to meet them after!).

Before getting dinner, we headed to the infamous Meditation Mountain to catch the gorgeous LIB sunset. As the sea met the sky, every attendee unleashed their fellow animal and let out a howl to the sun. Practically everyone on the grounds partook in this spiritual moment!

To start the night off, we ran to the Lightning stage to get front-row views of sets by Sofi Tukker, the ultimate party groove master Griz, and the almighty Glitch Mob (all 3 of them this time). This by far was one of my favorite consecutive sets I’ve caught at a festival. The party was nonstop!

On Saturday, I ran between the Thunder and Lightning stage to catch sets from Edamame, Partywave, Tokimonsta, Tipper, and Anderson. Paak. All their sounds are super different so I wanted to keep it within variety! Each stage has a certain theme, but I wanted to jump out of the loop and check all the different music out. My favorite out of this day was definitely Anderson. Paak for his funky vibes, but Edamame also had a beautiful chillwave sound to his set.

On Sunday, I got to spend most of the day on the beautiful Lake San Antonio which was right by our campsite. There were probably 300 different species of animal floaties bouncing off each other, and house music was bumping all day long. Sunscreen was passed around, and so were the laughs. Everyone was sun-drunk in love with the beautiful atmosphere the lake had to offer. By the evening we got to check out Dirtwire, the folk-rustic-electronica group that features members of Beats Antique. We also got to check out Monolink, Beats Antique (their 10th time playing at LIB), Clozee, Zhu, and Emancipator. This lineup was stacked, and I was so happy to see such a great mix of talented artists. My favorite had to be CloZee, for her beautiful world-influenced flow of a set. Not a single person danced like they cared.

Overall, this is a festival I will be returning to over and over again. The atmosphere is filled with bliss, and everyone you meet is in a good mood and willing to share a good story. The art structures are out of this world, and there are fire dancers, flow hoopers, talks, meditations….the festival is PACKED with things to enjoy and maneuver. There is even an art car shaped like a beetle driving around the festival blasting music. The music lineup is amazing in taste, and not a single set was disappointing. I could go on, but it really is something to experience for yourself. The one downside is that the food is a little expensive, but I am personally willing to pay $14 for an exquisite bowl of mac and cheese. I will be back, this time with more sunglasses to spare!

 

A ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ Retrospective

Listener’s discretion is advised.

Recently I was having coffee with an old friend. I was drinking my third cup for the day. He was surprised at my caffeine intake. I hadn’t even realized anything was off about my habit. I wondered where all that energy was going. I think I’ve figured it out.

In celebration of the recent Nine Inch Nails come back, I’ve been returning to their seminal debut, Pretty Hate Machine. It seems that its dark grooves have been syphoning out my negative energy like it’s popping some sort of cathartic pimple. This record is very near and dear to my heart. It is a classic in the genre of industrial music, but also a classic in my personal music canon. Its an album loaded to the brim with emotional energies, despite being composed, recorded and produced solely by Trent Reznor. It has moments of ecstasy, and moments of absolute despair. I am celebrating its 29th year of existence (It turns 30 in October of 2019) by going over some of my favorite bits from the album.

The album opener (and lead single) is “Head Like A Hole.” This track was the world’s first encounter with NIN. “Head Like A Hole” begins with an orchestra of insect-like drum hits. Trent deliberately sequenced every little click that appears in the track, and result is a track that’s as groovy and funky as it is creepy and crawly. This is a recurring theme on the record. Its music is wrong but so right, evil but so danceable, owed in part to all the wonderfully 80s drum hits, but also the arpeggiated synths that appear on later tracks like “Terrible Lie” and “That’s What I Get.”

Third track, “Down in It,” is a dark take on 80s hip-hop, like a goth reinterpretation of LL Cool J. It features samples that accent beats not unlike what a DJ would place into a beat for an MC, but these accents sound like the roar of a crowd in the gladiator arenas of hell. The lyrics and the title reference to at one point feeling as though you were better than something – some behavior, person, or idea – only to find yourself caught up in that very something. Like saying “I listen to everything but rap and country,” only to find your future self at a Florida Georgia Line concert, shilling out 40 dollars for a tour t-shirt. You were up above it, but now you’re down in it.

“Something I Can Never Have” just about marks the halfway point on the record. The track is a Trent Reznor love-ballad, with all that that descriptor entails. Trent has a few of these types of tracks in his discography, all of which stand out in different ways. His most famous is “Hurt,” a track off his third album, The Downward Spiral. The track really blew up after Johnny Cash covered it during his come-back sessions with producer Rick Rubin. Trent really isolates a specific human emotion with “Something I Can Never Have,” as the title suggests. At the center of the track are Trent’s vocals and a dissonant piano part that repeats unending throughout the track as synthesizers swell around it. The track captures the longing for that which you depend on – love, drugs – that empty feeling; an unfillable void. The track is one of Reznors magnum opera, capturing a feeling that he continues to portray years later in NIN as well as his soundtracks for several recent David Fincher films (Gone Girl, The Social Network).

The second half of the album returns to the pace set by the first four tracks. “Kinda I Want To” brings the drums once again. It chops up classic breakbeats sampled from jazz records and intersplices them with synthesizers that evoke a capsizing Starship Enterprise. Combined with Reznor’s aggressive vocal delivery, a bouncy and distorted anthem of desire is birthed from the fire and brimstone. “That’s What I Get” is another highlight of the album. It beautifully contrasts hectic drum sequences and synthesizers of the other tracks with sparse instrumentation and Trent’s vocals on the verses. The standout moment on the track for me is the bridge where Reznor laments: “Why’s it come as a surprise – to think that I was so naïve // maybe didn’t mean that much, but it meant everything to me.” This bridge, where the isolated vocals and synthesizer really shine through, keeps me coming back to this track.

Just as the track swells to a climax, the album takes you in a different direction with the penultimate track, “The Only Time.” This track is a lyrical highlight if you enjoy pure and unrefined edginess. I won’t quote any of the lyrics as they are a bit raunchy, but the track has a sinister sort of lust to it that does not fail to entertain. The breakdown around the 3-minute mark of this track is another highlight of the album, with an ascending baseline and punchier than punchy drums as Reznor barks “This is the only time I really feel alive” repeatedly.

The album is bookended by “Ringfinger” on the original release of the record (I mention this because on the remastered version there is a B-Side repurposed as a closing track that follows “Ringfinger”). “Ringfinger” is an industrial-house classic. Its driving 4/4 bass drum and syncopated synthesizers form a foundation for Trent to work his black magic over. It features distorted guitar stabs, sustained square wave synthesizers, and panning record scratches, and of course Trent’s vocals. The track, and the album, fizzles out into glitchy feedback, evoking the digital Dante’s Inferno that seems to characterize every track of this album as it cycles through the different circles of hell on each track, from limbo to treachery.

So, as finals season approaches once again, next time you feel like you have too much negative energy, purge it with a listening of Pretty Hate Machine, available to stream or purchase on all your favorite platforms.

Written by Nick Amerkhanian

 

A Wave of Black Snow

“Black Snow” is the lead single from Oneohtrix Point Never’s (Electronic experimentalist Daniel Lopatin’s most famous moniker) new LP. Lopatin is known for the electronic soundscapes in creates on his records. His previous record Garden of Delete, had an album cover reminiscent of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, but its ties to analogue music ended there. Paired with the bizarre visuals and world building of the music videos for several songs on Garden of Delete, the album grabs you by the collar and drags you into a sort of hell reminiscent of a turn of the millennia junkyard. Lopatin remains consistent on his new single. The new single is just as deliberate and detailed in the world it builds, but this world is on a much smaller scale.

Hopes are high for the next Oneohtrix Point Never record, especially with this lead single. The track is tonally like Garden of Delete – it feels as decayed and full of unintentional sounding (but secretly deliberate) digital artifacts. It features a vocal performance by Lopatin himself, a rarity in the Oneohtrix Point Never discography. The vocals are just as post-apocalyptic and sort of off as his instrumentals, though amazingly the vocal and instrumental tracks do not clash on “Black Snow”. Instead they perfectly conjure the tone conveyed in the music video – they portray a sort of “imp of the perverse,” a normalization of the most detestable evil possible. The video is set in a plane of existence other than our own, where a red-skinned demon, takes off his hazmat suit to reveal his sleazy summer-wear that is hidden underneath. This hellish creature with a smile of top row normal teeth and bottom row gross (I can’t describe them any other way) teeth turns out to be just like us, he’s got a messy room and a passion for music.

Watch the video here:

Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album, Age Of, will be out June 1st on Warp records.