Soundtracks: Stardew Valley

If you’re a gamer like me, you have your own unique standards that you use when evaluating a game.  For me its the whole package. But above all, the plot, the aesthetic, and the soundtrack.  There are so many video game classics with amazing soundtracks: Legend of Zelda, every Final Fantasy, Halo 3, just to name a few. Although there are many amazing video game soundtracks, its not like I’d ever listen to them other than while playing the game.

When I got Stardew Valley I was surprised to find that the game included a soundtrack. I’ve never purchased a video game that came with a soundtrack, I thought it was quite strange. I also was not too keen on playing the game as it was taking it back to the old school 8bit style.  Not that I have anything against this choice, I just made the assumption that the game would be a very simplistic version of other games like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing.  I was so wrong, it was a unique combination of the two. After 10 minutes of playing this RPG, I realized its depth and was amazed at its detail, all the way down to the music.  Indie games are special in that they put the time and effort into details like these, and these skills are beautifully highlighted in this game.

At the beginning of the game you inherit your grandfather’s farm.  You are entrusted with his legacy. Where you go from there is your choice, the game has endless possibilities and opportunities.  Its addicting.  I think that what makes it most addicting is the music that keeps you going.  Each unique track creates soundscapes that perfectly compliment the aesthetic.  At one point I was totally immersed and forgot the game was 8bit.  After playing the game for so long I realized why one would want to own a soundtrack.  Each song is unique with its own flavor of synths and drum kits; above all they are deeply relaxing.

The general musical theme of the spring months are bright banjos and guitars.  The summer is tropical and hazy. The fall has warm synths with hints of a cold brightness that follows.  Winter is by far my favorite season of music.  It’s melancholy ethereal synths perfectly compliment the magic of a white winter.

But my favorite song on the whole entire album is the 2:05 minute track, “Spirit’s Eve Festival.” If you’re not into video game music thats fine, but just give this track a shot, you won’t be disappointed.  The track  plays while you are in town  for the festival having a fun ghoulish time playing games while skeletons walk around in a large cage.  The song’s syncopated synths are so dark, I would want to sample this song if I were a producer for sure.

Eric Barone, under the alias of Concerned Ape, created everything.  The music, art, programming, and design.  Not only did he do all these things, but he was teaching himself to do all of these things while making the game.  Four years later it released on February 16, 2016 and sold one million copies in only two months.  I am blown away that one man could develop this game.

I personally don’t listen to video game music other than when I’m playing the game. But when I’m feeling own I throw on Stardew Valley while I’m drinking my coffee, and feel a bit better.

Listen to “Spirit’s Eve Festival,” on YouTube.

Listen to the album on Spotify.

Sources:

“ConcernedApe.” Stardew Valley, Concerned Ape , stardewvalley.net/presskit/sheet.php?p=Stardew%2BValley.

 

Seemingly Unknown Artist: Fragrance

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Genre:  Synth pop, dark pop, dream pop, cold wave

Get lost in a dark dreamy world with French group Fragrance.  Their underwater sounding vocals lull you into a colorful world of airy and grimy synths. I’m really starting to get into dark pop and this is a good segue into the subgenre.

Songs you might like:

  • “Malibu” – L’An2000
  • “Into those woods” –  Bragolin
  • “Lust for Life” – Fragrance

Artists you might like: Liste Noire, HoRD, Black Nail Cabaret, Paradox Obscur, Antipole, Geometric Vision, ACTORS, L’An2000

Listen to my dark pop playlist here.

Visit their Spotify page here. 

 

The difference between hip hop/rap/ hip-“pop”

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In an era filled with mumble “rappers,” many are searching for substantial rap and hip hop amongst the vast array of hip hop and rap sub genres. Are you searching for substantial hip hop or rap but struggling to find anything? You’ve come to the right place if you find that you like the playlist below. This is my interpretation of what I find to be good rap and hip hop.

“Hip hop” was born out of 1970 block parties in the Bronx.   Hip hop originates from artists like Sugar Hill Gang and Fab Five Freddy.  These artists focus on positive, uplifting messages; these messages encourage the listener to be optimistic for the future. Drums, synths and turntables are staples of hip hop. While hip hop generally remains on the positive side of the spectrum, rap is quite the opposite.  Rap focuses on societal issues, candidly presenting pressing issues and debates to the listener.  Rap takes a more cynical, realistic, and critical tone, bringing awareness to societal qualms. Yet, rap has moves towards mass production, the mainstream media has taken hold of the genre and changed one of its most defining aspects, the lyrics and their delivery.

 We’ve seen how hip hop and rap are very similar in that they each incorporate a certain cadence in their poetic lyrics. I know the question on your mind is, “what about mumble rap?” Mumble rap has done away with this tradition. If you can make a case to me that Lil’ Pump and his creative “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang” can stand up Tupac, please speak up now. This consumer driven genre’s topics are money, sex, and drugs, and not in the way that socially conscious rappers have.

Mumble rap has taken the hip hop/rap tradition and distorted the complex fabric of  artists that came before them.  I believe they have shown disrespect for that tradition with their words and actions. In an interview with The Guardian, Lil’ Yachty stated “Older hip-hop people, they don’t understand evolution, or just don’t want it. One of the two.” I don’t think that this suburbs born rapper meant this with any malicious intent.  Yet, he insults the older generation of hip hop’s intelligence by staying that they can’t comprehend change.  Lil Yachty has described his music as “bubble trap,” and in that classification and the interview with The Guardian, so he does acknowledge his consumer driven brand.  This is exactly what hip “pop” is, a genre with a tinge hip hop/rap overlaid with the sugary consumer culture lyrics about friendship and partying.  Instead of “bubble trap,” I’ll call this mumble pop and classify it with hip pop.

Clearly hip hop and rap are very similar. The two familiar genres are cohesive, and often difficult to distinguish from one another.  Ultimately the main difference is the culture that is produced from the genre.  Some people believe that hip hop and rap are the same, some people don’t.  I see it as two sides of the same coin.  Mumble rap on the other hand is an outlier that makes me feel uneasy for the future of hip hop and rap.

There are many differing options on the definition of rap and hip hop. Ultimately the debate continues; these labels are elusive, constantly changing, and always contextual.

I think that lyrical legend KRS One puts it best, “Rap is something you do, but hip hop is something you live.”

Do you like mumble rap? Who are your favorite rap and hip hop artists? Comment below.

Here is a mashup of my favorite old and new hip hop and rap tracks:

DISCLAIMER: This playlist is NSFW

  1. “Honest Expression” – Binary Star
  2. “Rapp Snitch Knishes” – MF DOOM ft. Mr. Fantastik
  3. “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” – The Roots
  4. “How Many Mics” – Fugees
  5. “Hip Hop”- Dead Prez
  6. “Bubblegoose – Bakin’ Cake” – Wyclef Jean
  7. “Pump Pump” – Snoop Dogg ft. Lil’ Malik
  8. “Quiet Storm” – Mobb Deep
  9. “Spaz Out”- Jedi Mind Tricks
  10. “Alphabet Aerobics” – Blackalicious (he raps through the alphabet, so good.)
  11. “Trunk Muzik” – Yelawolf
  12. “Like I Am”- Ritz
  13. “HiiiPower”- Kendrick Lamar
  14. “Pink Matter” – Frank Ocean ft. Andre 3000
  15. “Slow it Down” – Little Brother
  16. “My House” – MF Grimm
  17. “Da Rockwilder”- Method Man and Redman
  18. “When I B On Tha Mic” – Rakim
  19. “You Ain’t a Killer”- Big Pun

Find this playlist on Spotify

Sources:

Aroesti, Rachel. “Lil Yachty: ‘Older Hip-Hop People Don’t Understand Evolution – or Don’t Want It’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 May 2017, www.theguardian.com/music/2017/may/18/lil-yachty-im-like-the-outcast-of-hip-hop.

Glynn, John. “Rap vs Hip Hop: What Is the Difference?” I Am Hip-Hop Magazine, 2 July 2015, www.iamhiphopmagazine.com/rap-vs-hip-hop-difference/.

Kane, Peter. “’Mumble Rap’ Poorly Represents Hip-Hop’s History and Tradition.” The Daily Cardinal, 8 Feb. 2018, www.dailycardinal.com/article/2018/02/mumble-rap-poorly-represents-hip-hop.

Majestic , Mikee. “Review: KRS One At The Garage – London! (@IAmKRSOne).” I Am Hip-Hop Magazine, 16 Apr. 2015, www.iamhiphopmagazine.com/review-krs-one-at-the-garage/.

Nikita. “Difference between Hip Hop and Pop.” Difference Between-Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons, 13 Aug. 2015, Nikita. “Difference between Hip Hop and Pop.” Difference Between-Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons, 13 Aug. 2015, www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-hip-hop-and-pop.

Workout Playlist #1 (6/8/2018)

If you workout like me, you know how hard it is to find a good playlist with music that actually gets you pumped to workout and keeps you sustained through the workout.  Here’s one of my go to playlists, filled with songs that get you singing along and allows you to twerk out while you work out.  This playlist is dominated by fast paced:  hip hop, rap, reggaeton, acid rap, electronica, throwbacks, and dancehall.  Just the right combination of hype jams to keep you going. You’re welcome.

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Tracks: 

  1. “Shake Your Bam Bam” – RDX
  2. “Diplo Rhythm” – Diplo
  3. “Back That Azz Up” – Juvenile
  4. “Gummy” – BROCKHAMPTON
  5. “IM DEAD” – Duckwrth
  6. “Wish You Would” – Princess Nokia
  7. “Very On” – Team Dynamite
  8. “The Morning” – Raekwon
  9. “Still Run It” – Lil B
  10. “Mayor que yo”- Tony Tun Tun
  11. “Can’t Get Enough” – Tiombe Lockhart

To access this playlist on Spotify, click the link at the top of the page.

Review: “Face Up” – Washed Out

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Genre: Synth Pop, Dream Pop, Chillwave

With the overarching postmodern thought, it seems that irony taints everything with its cynicism.  Sentiment is something that we are lacking, and something that we crave. Yet most artists today are heavy handed in their use of irony.

In an interview American writer David Foster Wallace talks about the effects of postmodern thought on artists, and his hope that this oppressive trend will come to a close:

“Postmodern irony and cynicism become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”

Ernest Green breaks free from the bondage of irony and starts a trend of sentimentalism with his new single “Face Up.” We find relief from cynicism in this soothing new track.  Although the song evokes nostalgic sounds, it does not step over the line into a postmodern self-conscious meta pop culture.

The song was produced for the Adult Swim Single Series, an ironic nighttime programming, and yet the song is anything but ironic. This song is not a product of postmodern irreverence, instead the track goes back to the basics with its smooth “Take My Breath Away,” inspired synth and light shoegazy vocals. Ernest Green elaborated on the sentimental nature of this song to Stone Throw Records, “This song was the first thing I wrote post-Mister Mellow and it contains none of the sample-driven craziness or detached irony found in that era. Instead it’s a simple song with a simple sentiment.”

Far removed removed from last year’s “Mister Mellow,” this fresh new single restores my hope for dream pop.  Thank you Ernest, we need more simple songs with simple sentiment.

Watch a “The problem with irony” here to learn more about the issue of irony in pop culture.

Songs you might like:

  • “For Phoebe Still A Baby”- Cocteau Twins
  • “Colored Emotions”-  Night Moves
  • “Pretty Haze” – Summer Heart
  • “Cassie(Won’t You Be My Doll)”- Part Time

Artists you might like: Craft Spells, Moses, Inner Wave, Part Time, TV Girl, Operators, Blouse, Still Corners, Night Moves, El Ultimo Vecino, Von Sell, Drab Majesty, Lost Tapes, Keep Shelly in Athens

Sources:

David Foster Wallace, in interview with Larry McCaffery, in “A Conversation with David Foster Wallace,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. 13 (Summer 1993): 147.

Schoder , Will, director. The Problem with Irony The Problem with Irony, YouTube, 6 Oct. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2doZROwdte4.

Stream. “Washed Out – ‘Face Up’ | Stones Throw Records.” Stones Throw, 11 May 2018, http://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2018/05/washed-out-face-up.

Greetings earthlings, let’s solve a mystery

First post! I’ve been thinking about starting a music blog since college, but I was always too intimidated by the many amazing music blogs out there.  My goal is to make this page easily accessible, with enjoyable playlists and new music. In addition to new music, I want to bring attention to some older music that is still relevant.

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Lets begin with a little mystery, a music mystery.  This mystery is something that I’ve been trying to solve for a couple years, ever since this artist blessed my ears with his music.

In grad school circa 2014, I stumbled upon an artist named “Dylan Hill,” on one of my then go to music blogs, “Indie Shuffle.” This Melbourne artist track listings were bare, only four songs.  But those four songs made an impression on me. I’d never heard melodies so beautiful, so well composed, the syncopation filled me with faith for the electronic music industry. The production was so crisp and the melodies had a driving force behind them that made you want to sway to the beat forever. His brand of ambient electronica was so perfectly executed, I could not understand how more people didn’t know about him.  I could not get enough.  I listened to “She Fell,” and “The Fall,” on a nonstop loop.  I even went so far as to find Dylan’s FB, add him, and tell him how much I loved and appreciated his music.  To my surprise he replied with great thanks. We chatted a bit more about mundane things.  I continued to listen to his music  and I  anxiously anticipated more music.

Then all of a sudden Dylan disappeared. Disappeared from the internet.  One day I went to his soundcloud page, and it was gone.  I scoured the internet for any signs of him or his songs, songs I felt I could not live without, songs I should have downloaded. All I could find were old posts from music blogs, with the tracks disabled and non existent. This is his only trace of his on the black hole of the internet:

https://www.thisismyjam.com/song/dylan-hill/she-fell-what-of-him

https://www.indieshuffle.com/get-people-back-to-dust/

http://www.ripemusic.com.au/dylan-hill/

This link actually has one of his old songs, along with a music video: https://vimeo.com/136590627

Since then I have been unable to track Dylan down, and trust me, I tried.  I even went so far as to email that random “Mysteries,” podcast to see if they could help. Whelp, they never answered, and here I am, still puzzled about Dylan Hill’s whereabouts.

Then a couple weeks ago, I decided to try my luck again.  I found that Dylan is now performing under the stage name “Casper Cult,” along with a girl named Alisha Lindsell. I was excited to hear this new music, but was disappointed with what I heard. Ambient electronic syncopated beats still dominates his style, but they are nowhere as original and catchy as his original tunes.

It seems that the song “Industrial Love,” follows in the same vein of his previous works.  Check it out here : “Industrial Love,” by Casper Cult

The mystery still lingers, why did Dylan completely scrap his beautiful music for new songs that are subpar? His old music stood out from the generic ambient electronica, while his new releases are anything but unique.  What happened, Dylan?