i,i Bon Iver Album Review

Last week the world of indie rock was buzzing over Bon Iver’s album release: i,i. This is coming 3 years after the Eau Claire, Wisconsin based band released their experimental transition into folk-tronica, 22, a million. I was interested to see how they would follow up such an experimental yet beautifully crafted album.

i,i is Bon Iver’s 4th album and it is rumored it might be their last. This project started out infamously alone one winter in a cabin in the woods. Then thawed and bloomed with their self-titled album that brought 2 grammy’s. 22, a million endured the harsh rays of an electronic summer. Now as we are entering the fall, i,i seems like a fitting step for Bon Iver. Whatever happens in the future they’ve made some spectacular music.

i,i

Bon Iver really honed in on the sound they started to play with on their previous album. i,i opens with a sporadic noise intro that transitions in the first song “iMi”. The song itself starts a little mild but quickly develops into a very strong first track. “We” is a strange kanye-esque song that is just alright. Followed by “Holyfields” which is an ambient, rhythmic, soft jam that i really enjoy.

“Hey, Ma” was one of the first singles released a couple months ago. I thought the track was decent as a single but hearing it placed in the album really changed my opinion about it for the better. It’s the first pop-type song after 3 rather distinct opening tracks. It’s a really good song and features a nice soft ambient interlude that is common in many Bon Iver tracks.

the repeated act of self-discovery

Bon Iver has always been about Justin Vernon trying to discover himself. He has often song of isolation, anxiety and depression. He has used this music to find his voice and put his stamp on the world. Over the last decade, we have seen the changes in his life and music and caught a glimpse of the person behind the music.

“Naeem” is a powerful song where Vernon is almost screaming while beautifully banging on a piano. The refrain, “I can hear crying”, is repeated over and over. There is excellent instrumentation and good use of sparse electronics. It’s right in the middle of the album and the biggest song on the record.

Throughout i,i Vernon uses much more of his chest voice, compared to other albums where he sticks to his haunting falsetto. Vernons singing voice has been established over the last decade and sounds really good. “Naeem” ends with a beautiful chorus and a soft saxophone that is just amazing. Really well done song.

the last half

The second half of the album really comes together. The next three songs, “Jelmore”, “Faith”, “Marion”, compose my favorite section of the album. These three seem like the most Bon Iver sounding songs.

Vernon returns to his falsetto for “Salem” which is an uplifting powerful call for something more. “Sh’Diah”, which stand for “Shittiest Day in American History” (Nov. 9th, 2016) slows down but remains emotional. The instrumentation is marvelous and starts to bring the album to a close. The last song is “RABi”. It features great acoustic guitar with plenty surrounding it. Really wraps up the album well with the lyrics “Well its all fine and we’re all fine anyway”.

Gallivan Plaza gets packed for Young the Giant at Twilight Concert Series

On August 1, 2019 people from all over the state came to see Young The Giant; accompanied by The Aces and Sego. The temperature was a pleasant 84 degrees, which was nice compared to our usual summer weather. The night was full of drinks, food and most importantly good music. Anticipation was high. One of the photographers for the show, Justin Lagman, said “People were already lining up around 3 in the afternoon”.

Gallivan Plaza filled up quickly, with more people watching from the top of the surrounding buildings. The occasional cheers to the sound and lighting crew were hilarious and just raised the anticipation even higher as they got the stage ready for the headliner.

The main performance

It was finally time for the band to take the stage. The crowd quickly blew up with cheers as the beginning notes of “Oblivion” played off their most recent album Mirror Master. Bleeding into the next song “Something to Believe In”. The crowd rocked together back and forth in unison singing with conviction, “Now give me something to believe in.”

Already two songs in, it was easy to see that the band had quickly established crowd control and the audience were along for the ride. Toning it down a bit, the band transitioned to “Heat of the Summer”. They eventually ended their set with the melancholy “Call Me Back”, joined with couples slow dancing.

The band quickly thanked Salt Lake City and walked swiftly off stage. The crowd chanted together saying, “Encore, encore, encore!” With no hesitation, the band quickly got back on stage with lead singer Sameer Ghadia changing into a glittery robe. They played three more songs; ending it strongly with “My Body”. The lines, “But I won’t quit, cause I want more”, rang loudly across the venue as the lights intensified with every beat of the drum.

Crowd reaction

When asked about their favorite performance of the night, majority of concert goers agreed on Young The Giant.

When asking a group of concert attendees why, they said, “We grew up on them.” The majority of those who were asked agreed on “Something to Believe In” as the song of the night.

Even after the performance ended I could still feel the guitar chords, the banging of the drums running through the air, and the lines, “But I won’t quit, cause I want more”, as I was walking out of venue, joined by the crowd in the once again quiet streets of Salt Lake City.

Concert review: Vince Staples (8/8/19)

On August 8th, Vince Staples performed in Salt Lake City, Utah as part of the weekly summer Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center. The concert was the fourth of the summer following shows headlined by Hippie Sabotage, Blind Pilot, and Young The Giant. The last two shows of this year’s concert series are Courtney Barnett on August 15th and Santigold on August 30th. 

Of all of the shows announced for this summer, I had been looking forward to this one the most since it was announced earlier this year. Keep reading for my analysis of the show and what you missed out on if you didn’t attend!   

Beginning of the show

The gates of the Gallivan Center opened at 6pm and the music started around 6:30pm. Everything was running smoothly with the openers performing their sets until about 7:15pm. Right around that time is when a huge thunderstorm hit and the show had to be delayed due to lightning strikes. The delay went on for nearly an hour, making for some shocked and peeved concert-goers.

Luckily the rain started to clear up around 8:15pm and the crowd ended up getting blessed with mostly clear skies for the rest of the evening. There were still sprinkles of rain here and there, but nothing worth shutting the show down again over. Now that the skies were clear, everyone was on edge while waiting for the Long Beach native Staples to come out and perform for them.   

Staples makes his appearance in SLC

After the DJ warmed the crowd up with music for around 30 minutes, Vince Staples finally made his appearance in SLC around 8:45pm. He came out to FM! track “FUN!” and pumped energy into everyone immediately. Following the intro track, he performed a few of his Big Fish Theory songs including “Big Fish” and “745”. These ended up being some fan-favorites for the evening, gathering great reactions from those in attendance. 

As the show went on, Staples played tracks from nearly every era of his music with the inclusion of some of his most popular features. He played Summertime 06 bangers “Senorita” and “Lift Me Up”, as well as Prima Donna titular track “Prima Donna”. He then played his feature on Gorillaz track “Ascension” to the delight of many mutual fans, along with his Black Panther The Album feature on “Opps”.

Near the end of the show is when the crowd really started getting into it and having a great time. Possibly the best reaction of the night came when Vince performed one of his most popular tracks, “BagBak”. The crowd went crazy when the politically-charged bouncy banger came on. You could feel the energy and it was my personal highlight of the whole show.

As the show was ending, Staples capped it off with a bang. He performed an essential banger in “Blue Suede” and then ended the show with his magnum opus (as he referred to it) in “Norf Norf”. The crowd roared in appreciation as Staples gave them a final shoutout and walked off the stage into a cool SLC night.          

Final thoughts

It would be easy for me to say the typical “wow, that was such a great show”, but I feel that it is necessary to heap praise on Vince Staples for his performance in SLC. That show, especially for being such an affordable one, was honestly amazing. You could tell that Staples is very passionate about giving everyone in attendance a great experience. 

Overall, even if you aren’t a huge hip hop fan I would recommend seeing a Vince Staples show when you get the opportunity. He involves the crowd very well and performs all of his essential tracks. He sets the precedent for what a hip hop show should be and could be a model example for other up-and-coming hip hop acts. 

Drake releases Care Package, reminding fans of his influence

A day before dropping this collection of previously “unreleased” songs, Drake announced Care Package. Confusing some fans and exciting others, but nevertheless generating buzz for songs that already existed.

Mac Miller once said his motto was D.A.D.D. or Do As Drake Does, meaning he hoped to emulate Drake’s success through releasing as much music as Drake did. At the time, Drake was releasing an album almost every year. The span of time between Take Care, Nothing Was the Same, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and ultimately More Life, was very short. His strategy leading up to the long-awaited Views was to produce as much music and amass as large of a discography as possible.

It certainly worked, as Drake is one of the biggest names in hip-hop and music in general. But somewhere in the mix, certain songs fell to the wayside. With the release of Care Package, Drake collected these tracks and packaged them into a searchable streaming “album”.

Aptly named by playing on the title of his first major album release, Take Care; Care Package is a look into the influence that Drake has had on pop music and hip hop. A care package is often delivered in a hospital when someone is sick. Titling this release Care Package is metaphorical; as if Drake is delivering a bouquet of flowers, a common form of hospital care package, to the rap game. Drake aims to bring “more life” into a rap game he views as sick and in need of rejuvenation. In proper Drake fashion, the cure is more Drake music. Not necessarily new music, but the more Drake music the healthier the game, I think.

Haven’t I heard these songs before?

For die-hard Drizzy fans, Care Package seems a bit redundant. Most of these tracks have been accessible for quite some time, leaked on less “certified” streaming services like YouTube and Soundcloud. Although by the numbers YouTube is the most widely used “streaming service”, the influence of Spotify and Apple Music is apparent with Care Package releasing on these platforms. For the casual Drizzy fan, this “album” could be an introduction to 17 Drake cuts they may not have previously heard.

With the Care Package drop, Drake is mainly aiming to reignite the number of listens that these tracks have. Most of the songs are familiar, they could have easily made it on to the albums from which they were cut. But albums need editing, and run-time is tricky to get right. Drake and his team of producers must be discerning in their choice of tracks to allow on albums.

Care Package is Drake’s equivalent to Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered. On this eight track EP, Kendrick showcased what didn’t make the final cut on To Pimp A Butterfly. In the case of Drake and Care Package, a decade of releases left him plenty of choices when it came to tracks that didn’t make a final cut.

Every fan of an artist has their favorite album, and some can experience cognitive dissonance when that artist doesn’t produce music that lives up to the record they loved so much. This is why Care Package works; it reminds fans of the eras in which their favorite Drake albums were released.

Stand out tracks include:

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any images in this piece.

Concert preview: Vince Staples at Twilight Concert Series

For pretty much every summer Thursday night since I can remember, the Twilight Concert Series has been taking place in Downtown Salt Lake City. It has become a staple (haha) for music lovers in SLC, especially those who enjoy quality and inexpensive concerts. The summer of 2019 boasts another great lineup full of artists of many genres, creating shows that most music fans will love. 

Historically up to this point, Twilight hasn’t been super full of hip hop artists. Sure there is at least one hip hop-centric show per year if we’re lucky, but there are many fans that have been clamoring for more. Yet again this year there is only one true hip hop show in the lineup, being Long Beach’s own Vince Staples. If you don’t know much about Vince Staples, I’ve got you for everything you need to know before the show on August 8th.


Important info

Before I introduce you to Vince Staples, here is some important information that you should know about the show and Twilight in general. The Twilight Concert Series is being held at the Gallivan Center in Downtown SLC at 239 Main Street. Parking is available in the parking garage below the center and on surrounding streets. Guests are allowed to bring an empty water bottle inside the venue, with other beverages and various food options being sold on site.   

The gates for the show open at 6pm, but the music doesn’t start until 6:30pm. Tickets for the show start at $10 if you buy them online and $15 if you buy them at the venue. There are also VIP tickets available for $50 that come with a closer viewing experience and a 21+ bar. 


Who is Vince Staples anyway?

Truthfully, it is hard to describe Vince Staples as just your everyday run-of-the-mill hip hop artist because he is so much more than that. Since breaking onto the scene in the early 2010s, Staples has turned into a force on the West Coast. He’s released three studio albums and a plethora of mixtapes and EPs thus far in his career. His studio albums, Summertime ‘06, Big Fish Theory, and FM!, have all been met with critical or near-critical acclaim from critics and fans.

While he may not have the chart topping numbers of his rap game peers, Vince Staples always tries to make interesting music with a concept behind it. He is very experimental, gaining notoriety for it back in his days of working with Odd Future. You may have even heard some of his music before but didn’t recognize it because it all sounds so different from each other.  

Being that this concert is a one-off and not part of a larger tour, you can expect Vince to perform music from his entire catalog instead of just his latest album FM!. Some of his most popular and best tracks that you’ll be more than likely to hear include “Blue Suede”, “Norf Norf”, “BagBak”, “Big Fish”, and “Feels Like Summer”

Come say hi to K-UTE!

As with every other Twilight show this summer, K-UTE Radio will be present with our own table! We will be playing tunes before the show and giving out merch, so come through and say what’s up to us. It is sure to be a great night for hip hop fans and music lovers in general! Follow us on Instagram @k_ute_radio for ticket giveaways leading up to the Vince Staples show as well as other Twilight shows. 

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any images in this piece. 

Twilight Recap: Blind Pilot

 

There’s something to be said for a single event having the ability to bring people of various ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles together. Concerts are a prime example of this phenomenon, sparking solidarity over the love and appreciation of a specific artist and their music.

Setting the Stage

Last Thursday evening, Salt Lake City locals began to stream into the Gallivan Center eager to see Blind Pilot, Foxwarren and The Hollering Pines. Anticipation rose throughout the night as each band played their set to an ever-growing crowd. Families sat together in the grass, dancing and swaying to the beat. Young adults casually bobbed their heads, careful not to spill their local brews and food truck bites. Just right of the stage, trash pong was a hit with old and young alike. The surrounding office building windows sparkled in the setting sun as it fell between the downtown skyscrapers, and the Walker Center Tower was lit just as Blind Pilot appeared on stage.

From concert to community

The cheers from the crowd were soon drowned out as Blind Pilot began their first song. Each instrument flowed together in perfect harmony: Israel Nebeker on guitar and vocals, Ryan Dobrowski on drums, Luke Ydstie on drums, Dave Jorgensen on trumpet, Kati Claborn on guitar, and Ian Krist on percussion. As the band played on and the night drew to a close, the mass of concert attendees became a community. When the show ended around 11pm, we all streamed out back into the streets of downtown Salt Lake. Everyone a little more united with the people walking next to them, connected by the joint experience of that one night.

-Written by Victoria Barrera

-Photos by Sage Holt

“The Big Day” album review

The Big Day, Chance the Rapper’s debut album, or OWBUM, as he prefers to stylize it, is a quintessential summer LP. With this release, Chance conveys a nostalgia for the summers of old; the endless summers of youth and adolescence.

At first, The Big Day feels a bit like a Tarantino film that could use some condensing. Although it is long, the length progresses the theme. With that in mind, the final cut of The Big Day can feel a bit overwhelming. At 22 tracks and 1 hour and 17 minutes in length, it’s an undertaking to sift through. But on subsequent listens the album seems to feel more whole, like one long summer vacation.

The bars are witty and inventive, fresh and “hot” like a summer day. Chance clearly wanted to showcase his talents and convey the clarity and peace of mind inherent to a summer vacation.

The second track, “Do You Remember”, with a hook performed by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, primes the listener for this message:

  • “Do you remember how when we were younger the summers all lasted forever. Days disappeared into months, into years. Hold that feeling forever.”

As this hook concludes, a school bell rings. As a child, the feeling when that bell rang and school released for summer was incomparable.

Analysis

With 10 Day, Acid Rap, and Coloring Book under his belt, Chance was primed for a full LP release. Although, the months leading up to this album were somewhat tumultuous for Chance and his relationship with his fans. With the release of the single, “GrOceries”, far from a fan-favorite, Chance was faced with a split fanbase. Those who missed the quirky, loud, and funky ad-libs that stuck out on Acid Rap and were few and far between on Coloring Book, were worried by the direction the album might take given the poppy single.

It was rumored that Kanye West would include Chance in his string of seven track albums. This, like most of Kanye’s supposed recent work, has not come to fruition. It would be interesting to see a shorter album from Chance that harkens back to the style of 10 Day and Acid Rap, but The Big Day feels more thematic and polished compared to his mixtapes of old. This is a direction Chance has clearly been hoping to make for years.

As an artist, Chance has evolved and continues to do so. Acid Rap, the project that garnered him an almost cult-like following, was released on April 30th, 2013. Fast forward six years to July 26th, 2019, and Chance releases his first official album, The Big Day. With this album, July 26th was truly a big day for Chance and it’s exciting to witness his evolution through his unconventional route to success.

Standout tracks:

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any of the images found in this piece. 

A preview of Life is Beautiful 2019

WHAT

Life is beautiful is a three-day music festival and art event located on the streets of downtown Las Vegas. Nominated for festival of the year by billboard magazine on numerous occasions, Life is Beautiful seeks to break the monotony of the classic music festival by creating an atmosphere that both entertains and inspires the imagination.

Life is Beautiful offers so much more than just a three-day event packed with all of your favorite musicians. In the past, the festival has been known for it’s insane art displays and attractions. The streets of Vegas turn into immersive art exhibits with murals, sculptures, and other displays that add to the already dizzying scenery of Las Vegas.

WHO

Life is Beautiful will be hitting Vegas with a lineup that has never looked more stacked. This will certainly be a festival event you will not want to miss, with huge names coming out from every musical genre including Chance the Rapper, the Black Keys, Billie Eilish, Die Antwoord, Zedd, Portugal the Man, and Rufus Du Sol just to name a few of the headliners.

In addition to live music and art exhibits, attendants can also look forward to seeing comedians like Jonathan Van Ness, Desus & Mero and other speakers on each day of the event. There will also be cuisine from over seventy local restarants, acclaimed chefs, bars, and mixologists to make your time at the festival both pleasurable and comfortable.

HOW, WHEN, & WHERE

Everybody is going to be anxious to get their flannels out for fall, however, it will still be very hot in Las Vegas in September, so summer wear and sun protection is still advised. Attendants should also know that they will be subject to a full search before entering the premise to ensure the safety of every one.

The sensory overload all goes down September 20, 21, 22, in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. A more detailed map of the event perimeter and location are provided on the Life is Beautiful website. Daily schedules will be released soon as well.

We’ll see you at Life is Beautiful 2019!