Music Moment: Superbody

Music Moment: Superbody

A mullet comparable to that of John Stamos. A crew neck paired over a collared shirt. A single cross earring dangling from his left ear. This is Robert McCurry, frontman of Superbody. He walks through the door of our local coffee shop, looking like he stepped right out of a DeLorean before walking in.

Funky synth beats and electronic voices blare into my headphones as I sip coffee, waiting for him to walk in. I’ve been listening to his album on repeat for the past 24 hours. Expecting to see the 23-year old clad in typical college kid attire, I blink multiple times in disbelief as he walks through the door.

Small Town, Big Dreams

Superbody is the creation of Robert McCurry and Caleb Dills, two kids who made their music debut in the rolling hills of Chattanooga, Tenn. As an eclectic mix of Tears for Fears meets Joy Division, Superbody epitomizes the revival of the ‘80s maximalist. McCurry describes his upbringing as typical, suburban, and middle-class. “But I started, of course, playing in different punk and rock bands when I was in middle school, like everybody else.” Bass guitar is his instrument of choice, noting that a lot of his favorite music “actually has bass lines on it as opposed to synth bass lines.”

The duo released their first album, Hades Land, in 2015 and featured a lo-fi vibe. “We didn’t even know what we were at that point. We had no idea how to mix, so we ran a bunch of stuff through tape machines. We were scared of people calling us out for doing everything with software because we didn’t know how to work the software that well.” This explains much of the experimental sound incorporated into their first album.

“I’m not scared of that anymore,” says McCurry, “like, that’s so pretentious that I would think that anyone would do that. But at the time, we were so scared of people calling us out because we never produced something.”

The days of hesitant music production were long gone after Hades Land was released. Technology and software quickly became integrated into their newest album, Youth Music. Once this album dropped, a few national magazines, such as the Office Magazine and The 405, picked up on Superbody. They went on tour up the East Coast and into Canada.

From the looks of McCurry, you would never guess he was a pop artist in the 21st century. In fact, you might assume the exact opposite; he resembles someone from an 80s movie. When it comes to his appearance, McCurry shares a funny story about how the mullet came to be. “We started recording, and I started singing with that weird, deep voice, and I was like, ‘No one’s gonna even believe that this is me.’ I looked more freaky with the fact that I just looked normal. So for the first record, I grew the mustache and bleached my hair. We started writing the second record, and I was like, ‘I have to grow a mullet for this.’”

McCurry’s whole persona is an antithesis of the DIY punk artist. The entire “I-look-lazier-than-you” personage is the exact opposite of what he wants to portray. “I just wanted to be expressive in whatever way I can because the music is extremely expressive and bright.”

From Indie to Pop

After being in countless punk and indie bands, McCurry has developed a very distinct pop music philosophy. “Caleb and I just set out with this: we wanted to make the most creative, accessible pop music that we can stand by. That anyone can listen to and anyone can have an opinion on as well.” After seeing how indie music can play it a bit too safe, McCurry ran to the opposite extreme with his music.

His drive for distinctiveness led him to create Youth Music. The opening track, Real Luv, is a conglomeration of techno vibes and robotic ‘80s voices. The entire album flows in this manner: extremely pop dance and extremely ‘80s. “It was very intentional for the rhetoric and everything to be, like, oh-so-80s because that’s what we were obsessed with. Maximalist early ‘80s music. Everything about that. That’s the explosion of creativity to me.”  

Though Dills recently left the band to pursue other endeavors, McCurry is still prepared to take on the pop scene with fresh ideas and content. McCurry labels himself a poptimist– someone who spread positivity through pop music. “As soon as I started trying to actually write pop songs, I was like, ‘This is the highest form of art. Period.’”

With the release of Youth Music, the return of ‘80s pop has never been more apparent. McCurry drew much of his inspiration from the ‘80s hit band Wham! “They just found a way to affect youth culture with pure positivity,” McCurry says. “The fact that there were high school kids walking around with ‘Choose Life’ shirts and ultimate positivity in their lives when most of the youths, especially boys, seek out darker things almost always.”

Modern Love: Synth Pop in a Digital Age

The fact that ‘80s pop is making a comeback is actually very significant. Music production has completely changed in the past 30 to 40 years. From analog to digital, some artists are still adapting to the process. Many prominent “indie” artists– BØRNS, Bleachers, LANY, and The 1975, to name a few– are re-inventing this ‘80s sound in the modern music world. “We [Robert and Caleb] were so obsessed specifically with one hit wonders. All of that early ‘80s pop and dance music still stands up today, and they didn’t have computers. They were doing all of that shit on a tape reel. They didn’t have any of the software that we have right now.”

Another aspect that makes ‘80s music stand the test of time was the pure quality with which it was produced. With the rise of MTV, it was almost impossible to get on the charts without a music video. Ironically enough, even with the rise of social media, music videos are on the decline. Many #1 singles on the radio don’t even have a video to accompany them. “[With] things like Instagram stories and Snapchat, I try to stay away from it as much as possible. Actually, with the small fan-base I do have, surprise people. I like that.”

McCurry admits that the shift in music is continuously changing. “In this day and age, people can arrange and compose without barely even knowing how to play music. When you’re sending stuff off or recording, you just leave someone to work on it for weeks and then you get it back. There’s no excuse for that anymore. You need very minimal money, minimal experience to produce music on your own. Now you can make anything sound like anything with just the software.” McCurry is somewhat of a paradox: he loves the vintage sound and the modern technology.

 

For a hint of Superbody’s style, check out their hit single Patricia or their Instagam. Featured image by Juniper Jeffries.

 

Music Moment: Bleachers

Music Moment: Bleachers

“Your hand forever’s all I want

Don’t take the money.”


After watching a super stellar, informative video about 80s music (my favorite genre ever), I came across an artist named Bleachers. With just a sample of his music in the video, I decided to look it up on Spotify, half-expecting a sad excuse for an indie artist. Instead I listened to his entire album twice in one night and bought the CD the very next day.

I have been absolutely gushing about this album for the past two weeks. With it’s totally 80s synth vibes, the album is artistically complex and catchy. Without further ado, here is my brief analysis and review of Gone Now.

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This is Jack Antonoff’s (aka Bleachers) sophomore album. It was released on June 2, 2017. There are 12 tracks. The greyscale album cover gives an ambiguous vintage feel to the album (as does the royal outfit he’s sporting).

 

The album itself is an absolute whirlwind of emotions. The opening track is a mix of strange voices that reappear throughout the album. In many songs the essential 80s drum beat is very noticeable (particularly in “Don’t Take the Money”). The mellow ballads, such as “Nothing Is U”, are very telling of the deep emotional strain Jack was experiencing while writing the album. “Everybody Lost Somebody” is a surprisingly sad song, despite the upbeat pop sound. He speaks of loss (specifically the loss of his sister at the age of 18) and how it is necessary to keep moving on in life. “All My Heroes” shows how Jack can take a cynical point of view and put a new spin on it. Each track is a very intricately composed song that carries the weight of a new discovery in his life.

I think much of the reason this album resonates so strongly with me is simply because it completely, whole-heartedly channels 80s music. I absolutely adore the synth beats, the sprinkling of electronic trumpets, and the intense drum reverb that is repeated throughout the album.

The themes also make it very compelling, especially with the repetition of lyrics. He continuously speaks of heartbreak, loss, anxiety, excitement, change, and depression. His tendencies toward extreme emotions are prevalent in his songs, and I love that he channels them in bizarre lyrics and funky beats.

 

Fave song: Don’t Take the Money or Goodmorning or Let’s Get Married (there’s just so many great ones I can’t really pick!)

Least fave song: Foreign Girls

 

Overall, I give this album a 8.1/10 for aesthetics, flow, and content. While the lyrics can be somewhat confusing and peculiar, the messages he conveys are strong. I applaud his ability to bring back the 80s with a modern, indie pop vibe. I think it will be interesting to see where his next album leads him.

Bleachers, you’ve earned yourself a new fan.

 

KV

Playlist du Jour.

Playlist du Jour.

So, as we are all aware, today is August 21. The day of the solar eclipse.

Predicted to be the busiest travel day in the history of the US, it is kind of a big deal. And of course, social media has blown up the event x1000. However, it should be celebrated! It is quite the exciting thing to see (but don’t look directly at it please).

For most of us, this is a one time event. And so, being the music fanatic that I am, I thought to myself, why not make a playlist? We have Halloween playlists, Christmas playlists, etc. Why not an eclipse playlist?

 

So, here is my fabulous Eclipse 2017 playlist. Enjoy. And be safe.

 

 

KV

Playlist of the Month: July 2017.

Playlist of the Month: July 2017.

Hello everyone! I’m super excited to be sharing this month’s playlist with you. I put a lot of heart and soul into this one.

This playlist reflects what you might catch me jamming to on any given summer day. It’s a massive compilation of an extremely bizarre mix of music. I’m convinced, however, that you’re sure to find something you like in this playlist, whether it’s George Michael or Drake. (And yes, you can quote me on that.)

But there’s a catch: the order of the songs is essential to the playlist. Don’t worry, I have a method to my madness.

 

1-10: Morning.

11-20: Afternoon.

21-31: Evening.

31-41: Late Night.

(Click HERE for my ultimate summer playlist.)

Coast through your day with this playlist as your soundtrack. Happy listening!

KV

Music Moment: Harry Styles

Music Moment: Harry Styles

As I sit in Barnes & Noble writing this blog post, Harry Styles’s album is on repeat throughout the store, as if they knew I would be here today. The smell of coffee + a good album + being surrounded by books? I’m in my element.

 

Mes amis, it is long past time for another album review. And what better way to get back on track than with Harry Styles’s debut solo album? Warning: Be prepared for lots of cliché, fangirl comments. (I will, however, try to keep those to a minimum.)

I think I can speak for almost all One Direction fans when I say that we held our breaths in hesitant anticipation for this album. And it did not disappoint.

Let’s start with the basics.

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The album cover has a light pink color scheme, which was a bit surprising to many. Rolling Stone had the opportunity to ask Harry what made this particular color stand out to him. Styles responded by quoting the Clash’s Paul Simonon: “Pink is the only true rock & roll colour.”

As for the content, there are 10 songs: the golden number for an album (in my oh-so-humble opinion). Not only that, there are essentially 10 different genres jammed into this one album.

Upon listening to the album the first time through, I had the thoughts of a skeptic. But after the third time it played (my rule of thumb), I fell more and more in love with Styles’ solo work.

Each songs carries a different atmosphere or energy. However, it all seems to revolve around a certain raw, vintage vibe. Whether it’s Beatles or Bowie inspired, not many up-and-coming solo artists can make an album filled with different genres of music. From the psychedelic opening track “Meet Me in the Hallway” to the alternative rock vibe of “Only Angel” to the acoustic, dark Jack Johnson feel of “From the Dining Table”, Harry has definitely not shied away from experimenting with his musical talents.

I think the reason this album works so well is partially because he is being completely open with his audience. As Styles says in his Rolling Stone interview, “I didn’t want to write stories. I wanted to write my stories, things that happened to me. The number-one thing was I wanted to be honest. I hadn’t done that before.”

And one could say he is being honest almost to the point of recklessness. His lyrics are a 180 degree difference from the One Direction days. Forget the happy, feel-good songs about puppy love. More risqué than ever, Harry is jumping onto the current music scene with a classic twist. He opens up about his personal experiences and life, discussing women, drugs, and relationships. From the sexy sound of “Kiwi” to the more subdued folk twang of “Two Ghosts”, each song is diverse and creative.

Favorite song: Kiwi or Woman

Least favorite song: Ever Since New York

Overall I give this album a 8.5/10 for aesthetics, content, and originality. I truly applaud Harry for his efforts in creating a style that is all his own. I love that he branched out and played around with his music. While I don’t think he has necessarily found his niche yet, I truly believe Harry is well on his way to becoming a future music legend. I cannot wait to his what he continues to do. And to those who are condescending or doubtful of this new persona… I don’t think this is the “new” Harry Styles. I just think it’s Harry Styles as he has always wanted to be.

Love you, H. x

 

-KV

Soft Sound: A Synopsis of The 1975’s New Album

Soft Sound: A Synopsis of The 1975’s New Album

Everyone has their little obsessions. It just so happens that I’m obsessed with music. I absolutely love listening to almost any kind of music. (My mood determines the day’s tunes.)

I strongly believe that you should listen to an album at least three times all the way through before you make a judgement of its quality and content. And on the way back home from my little road trip this weekend, I decided to do so. I spent some quality time with my copy of The 1975’s new CD, “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.”

Wow. That’s a mouthful.

Being a fan of them since 2013, I was very hesitant as to how this album would sound. I knew they were changing their aesthetic, and I wasn’t sure how it would work. They had a very distinct sound and look in my mind. However, I am extremely thrilled with the way the entire album is composed and presented. There were pros and cons, as with any album, but as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When I first listened to this album, I was trying to compare it to the first album. However, that simply isn’t fair to them and all the hard work they put into both albums. Don’t try to compare the albums. They’re both wonderful for different reasons.

The 1975’s sophomore album was an eclectic mix of modern sounds and 1980s alternative pop. (My ’80s obsessed self was internally screaming.) It payed tribute to Bowie and his influence on pop culture. It intrigued and enamored with each new track. Each song transition was nearly perfect. The album, as a whole, seemed to be very complex and intricate.

Favorite Song: All of them????? (I can’t choose.)

Least Favorite Song: Nana

I really enjoyed the transitions and beats of the songs on this album. The instrumentation (is that a word?) was so much more elaborate and creative than before. However, I feel like some of the lyrics were repetitive from the last album.

Overall I give this album an 8.9/10 for content, creativity, ingenuity, and aesthetics. Thank you to Matty, George, Ross, and Adam for being absolute musical geniuses. Rock on.

 

P.S.: If you liked what you read, I would be totally down to review more albums. Let me know what you think.